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What Are the Best Tips for Laying Linoleum?

Plywood sheeting should be used to reinforce the subfloor when laying linoleum.
It's easiest to install linoleum with at least two people.
The subfloor should be free of bumps and level before laying linoleum.
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  • Written By: Amy Hunter
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2014
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There are several basic tips for laying linoleum. Overall, this is a very practical do-it-yourself project, but is more likely to be successful after careful planning, and meticulously following all instructions. Most people find that having two people on the job makes the process both faster, and physically easier to accomplish. There are three different types of linoleum: rolled sheets, linoleum tiles, and floating linoleum. Each has its own requirements for correct installation, but all start with the subfloor.

The first step in laying linoleum is to check the status of the subfloor. The subfloor, or the floor that will be under the linoleum, should be strong and in good repair. It also needs to be level. In a new construction, the subfloor should be in good condition. For installations in an older home, careful inspection of the subfloor is important. If repairs are necessary, it is important to do those before the new flooring is installed.

If it is necessary to reinforce the subfloor, use plywood that is recommended for "underlayment" use. Plywood that is less substantial will not be strong enough to provide adequate support. If the subfloor is concrete, or below grade, take special care during this stage. Use either plastic sheeting or a painted on moisture barrier to prevent water from infiltrating the floor. Moisture trapped below the linoleum will quickly render the adhesive useless.

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If there are areas of the subfloor that have a buildup of materials, such as drywall or paint over spray, scrape the area thoroughly so that the floor is level. If there are still high spots in the floor, sand them down until they are even with the rest of the floor. If there are spots that are lower than the rest of the floor use a commercial self-leveling compound to even the surface.

Feel carefully under the door jambs. Sometimes there are pieces of the door frame that are lower than the trim. Laying linoleum is much easier if these door jambs are undercut to allow the linoleum to slide easily under the frame. Removing all of the molding from the room may seem like a tedious task, but having it out of the way also makes the linoleum installation process much quicker. Finally, if using sheet linoleum, remove the doors from their hinges so they are out of the way during the installation process.

When laying linoleum that comes in one sheet, do not unroll it until it is time to install. While unrolling, have several weighted objects handy to set on the linoleum. This will keep it from moving around, while the adhesive cures.

For linoleum tiles, pay attention to the manufacture's instructions on expansion seams. Some manufactures recommend that the tiles have a small space in between to allow for expansion, while others do not. Follow the directions of the manufacturer for the brand you are using, as each is a little different.

Floating linoleum is a good choice for many applications, including those where there are minor concerns about whether the subfloor is level. The linoleum panels click together, creating a one piece flooring unit that floats over the top of the subfloor. When installing floating linoleum floors, stagger the end joints so that none of the adjoining pieces end within 12 inches (30.5 cm) of each other.

Laying linoleum can be an easy, and money-saving, home project. The most important tip is to thoroughly inspect and repair the subfloor, before the installation process begins. Problems with the subfloor will weaken and shorten the life of the new linoleum.

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