Removing old vinyl tile and patching concrete cracks
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Photo 1: Scrape off tiles and adhesive
Scrape off as much of the adhesive residue as possible with a razor scraper. If any
leftover adhesive is sticky, loosen it with a chemical adhesive remover.
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Photo 2: Prime cracks
Vacuum the area around cracks and apply a “peel-and-stick” primer with a roller or paint pad.
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Photo 3: Isolate cracks
Apply a layer of crack isolation membrane
over cracks to prevent cracks
from appearing later in the overlying tile.
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Photo 4: Bond membrane to the floor
Push air bubbles out to the edge with
a J-roller or the edge of a grout float.
Then apply pressure to the entire membrane
to complete the bond.
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Photo 5: Tile with thin-set mortar
Force a thin layer of thin-set into the
membrane fibers with the flat edge of
the trowel just before combing on the
thicker layer for setting the tile.
Want to upgrade an aging basement floor to ceramic tile? Popping off old vinyl tile is fairly easy—
just use a heavy scraper and elbow
grease. Then attack the adhesive with a
razor scraper (Photo 1). Scrape up as
much adhesive as possible, keeping
the blade sharp with a sharpening
stone as you go. If the adhesive is hard
and brittle, use a chopping motion to
break it up. Then scrape again. Even
then, some of that old adhesive may be
impossible to remove. If you can’t get it
all off, don’t worry. Newer latex-modified
thin-set can be applied right over
the small amount that remains.
After you scrape off the adhesive,
touch the floor to see if there are any
sticky areas. Use a chemical adhesive
remover on those parts. Find one in the
flooring department at home centers.
Next, locate all the cracks. You’ll
have to prime those areas and cover
them with a peel-and-stick crack prevention
mat (also called anti-fracture
or crack isolation membrane; Photo 3)
before you lay the new tile. Skip this step and we guarantee your new tile will crack right
over the cracks in the concrete.
Cut the membrane so it’s 1-1/2 times
the width of your tiles. Then prime the
concrete (see Photo 2) with the recommended
solution (consult the membrane
manufacturer’s literature). Let
the primer dry, and then apply the
membrane (Photos 3 and 4).
With the cracks patched, apply a
latex-modified, crack-resistant thin-set. Then move on
to the fun part, the tile setting (see Photo 5). Scrapers, thinset and crack prevention mats are sold at home centers and tile stores.
Most floor tiles made from the 1920s
to the 1960s contain asbestos and
require special procedures for removal.
If you’re unsure about yours, remove a
tile and send it to a local asbestos
abatement firm for testing. If it tests
positive, follow these asbestos abatement
procedures. Seal off the area
with poly sheeting. Wear an asbestos-rated
respirator. Change clothes before
moving into a “clean” area. Clean the
entire room with a damp cloth before
removing the sheeting. Follow your
local environmental codes for disposal.
For more information, search the Internet for “removing asbestos tiles.”