Resilient Flooring Choices for Kitchens and Baths

  • 01 of 09

    Introduction

    vinyl plank flooring
    Plank style vinyl flooring such as Allure by TrafficMaster and sold at Home Depot is flexible and easy to install. TrafficMaster

    Resilient flooring for the bathroom and kitchen has come a long way since the vinyl tiles of the 1900s that contained asbestos, or the thin, brittle sheet vinyl flooring of the 1970s. Today, you have many different choices of quality resilient vinyl floor materials as well as other flooring options constructed from natural materials, such as cork or linoleum. While hard flooring materials like ceramic tile and wood have their place, bathrooms, kitchens, mudrooms and other heavy-use areas are...MORE especially good for these resilient floors, which are somewhat softer underfoot as wall as fairly impervious to water and easy to clean. 

    Some of the products can be installed pretty easily by an average home repair weekend warrior, but other flooring choices, such as sheet vinyl, are more difficult. Some should be tackled only by more experienced DIYers, or even left to professionals, as is the case with sheet linoleum. 

    Resilient flooring comes in three basic categories:

    • Sheet goods (can be difficult to cut and fit, but offers a mostly seamless floor).
    • Tiles (is fairly easy to cut and fit, but has many seams).
    • Planks (is fairly easy to cut and fit, offers a quality surface, but is slightly more expensive).

    Resilient flooring can also be installed using a variety of methods: 

    • Self-stick (adhesive-backed flooring).
    • Floating floor (interlocking planks).
    • Loose-lay (taped at seams).
    • Glue-down (adhesive applied to floor).

    In this tutorial, you'll learn about several types of resilient flooring, their characteristics, and an overview of how they are constructed and installed.

    This tutorial will discuss, in order of their ease of installation (easiest to most challenging): 

    • Self-stick Vinyl Tile Flooring 
    • Self-stick Vinyl Plank Flooring
    • Interlocking Cork Plank Flooring 
    • Interlocking Linoleum Plank Flooring
    • Glue-down Vinyl Tile Flooring
    • Glue-down Linoleum Tile Flooring  
    • Loose-lay or Glue-down Sheet Vinyl Flooring 
    • Glue-down Sheet Linoleum Floor (professional installation only)
    Continue to 2 of 9 below.
  • 02 of 09

    Self-stick Vinyl Tile Flooring

    vinyl tile
    Self stick vinyl tile is easy to install and comes in many styles. (Unfortunately not all of them should be used). Armstrong/Driving South

    Recommended Uses: bathrooms, kitchens, laundries.

    Characteristics: Vinyl tile is durable, affordable and is a good choice for bathroom flooring or kitchen flooring use. It comes in a vast array of styles, including geometric patterns and realistic wood, stone, and ceramic looks. Vinyl is easy to clean and maintain if it has urethane wear layer. Lives of these floors may range from 5 to 20 years, depending on the quality of the tile and quality of the installation

    Installation Difficulty: Easy.

    Insta...MOREllation Summary: Tiles have a self-stick adhesive protected by a plastic sheet that is removed for installation against a clean, smooth subfloor.

    Construction: The construction of vinyl tile generally consists of these elements:

    • Urethane or similar wear layer (used on premium tiles).
    • Protective clear film layer for durability and protection from rips and tears.
    • Printed and sometimes embossed design layer, which can range from realistic-looking natural materials to unique patterns.
    • Vinyl tile backing layer providing tile structure, strength, and durability.
    Continue to 3 of 9 below.
  • 03 of 09

    Self-Stick (Floating) Vinyl Plank Flooring

    Allure TrafficMaster Vinyl Floor
    Floating plank vinyl flooring such as Allure™ by TrafficMaster® is easy to install but requires special attention to proper temperature acclimation of the planks and room temperature. TrafficMaster

    Recommended Uses: bathrooms, kitchens, laundries.

    Characteristics: These products, such as Allure™ by TrafficMaster, work well for bathroom flooring or kitchen flooring when installed properly. Unlike self-stick tile, these planks adhere to one another side-to-side only, and "float" over the actual subfloor. Failure of the adhesive strips may occur if the plank vinyl flooring is not properly acclimated before installation to room temperature above 65° F.  Properly installed, though, plank...MORE vinyl flooring is durable, very affordable, and is easy to install as it floats over the subfloor.

    It also comes in a broad variety of realistic wood, stone and ceramic looks for great bathroom flooring or kitchen flooring options. It is easy to clean and maintain and comes with a 25-year limited warranty (based on proper installation). Like any product, the life of the floor will depend on the quality of the installation.

    Installation Difficulty: Easy.

    Installation Summary: Most products have edges that interlock and also have self-sticking adhesive. The product shown here is Trafficmaster Allure, a private label  sold at Home Depot, made by the manufacturer Metroflor. Other home improvement centers sell similar products. 

    Because these planks are flexible, creating a floating floor that is not bonded to the floor, they may be installed over a variety of properly prepared subfloors, including plywood, OSB, wafer board, and gypsum underlayment. Many products can even be effectively laid over existing resilient floorcoverings if they are in good shape. 

    Theoretically, this product can be installed in basement locations, but this is not recommended, due to uncertainty about the level of concrete slab vapor emissions/ hydrostatic pressure present. Due to the common problems of moisture in the basement slab, there are many failures of the adhesive joints with this product. 

    In order for the adhesive strips to work properly, the product must be acclimated in the space where the tile is being installed. Follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully on acclimating the planks. Do not remove paper from strips until you are ready to install, as it is critical that the adhesive remain free from dirt or oil.

    As each piece of planking is laid and joined to the others, it must be rolled carefully across the joined seam to ensure the proper bond. After the entire floor is complete, then the entire surface must be rolled in both directions with a 100-pound flooring roller.  Not rolling may void the manufacturer’s warranty. 

    Construction: 4-mil (thin) urethane wear layer. Patterned vinyl upper layer and vinyl under-layer that is offset 1” creating an adhesive edge along two sides of each flexible plank.

    Continue to 4 of 9 below.
  • 04 of 09

    Interlocking Cork Plank Flooring

    cork flooring
    Cork flooring is one of the most comfortable and beautiful floors you can have in your home. Home-Cost.com 2008

    Recommended Uses: kitchen, bedrooms, recreation rooms.

    Characteristics: Cork flooring is environmentally friendly, since cork is considered a renewable and sustainable natural resource. These floors can be a little expensive and their installed cost per square foot can come close to that of a good-quality ceramic tile floor. However, they are definitely worth the cost when used in smaller areas. While suitable for kitchens, cork flooring may not be the best choice for areas that may see standing...MORE water,  because of the panel fiberboard material used as the foundation for the planks is not waterproof. 

    Installation Difficulty: Average

    Installation Summary: Cork flooring comes either in glue-down or interlocking floating floor applications. Interlocking cork flooring is recommended, since it is much easier, more versatile, and less expensive as an installed system. The cork flooring planks come with a specially designed edge that interlocks with the adjacent panels. Some manufacturers' floating floor products can be installed over most hard surfaces, such as vinyl floor coverings, wood flooring, and ceramic tile, but carpets must be removed. The subfloor will have to be even, flat, dry, and level to within 0.1" in 6 feet, and the substrate surface over which the floor will be installed will have to be completely dry.

    Construction: Although the actual construction of cork floors will vary slightly between manufacturers, it will generally consist of the following components:

    • Wear surface: Factory or field applied and will usually be a UV hardened varnish, oil or other sealer.
    • Cork bark veneer or top layer: The visible cork veneer.
    • Cork core: Provides additional insulation and impact absorption comfort for walking and standing.
    • Stabilizing core: This is the structure of the floor panel and is made from either HDF (High Density Fiberboard) or MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard). The edges of the core will be milled in such a way as to allow the interlocking of the panel to adjoining pieces.
    • Cork underlayment: Flexible low-density cork material used to provide acoustic insulation.
    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Interlocking Linoleum Plank Flooring

    linoleum plank flooring
    Linoleum flooring also comes in planks such as Marmoleum brand "Click". Marmoleum

    Recommended Uses: kitchen, bedrooms, recreation rooms.

    Characteristics: Linoleum flooring is natural material made fromLinoleum is made from natural components like linseed oil, tree resin, wood and cork flours, limestone, and pigments. Because it is made from natural raw materials, you may see slight color and structural differences between the production batches and samples. Linoleum flooring coverings wear like iron and maintain a warm natural look and feel. While sheet linoleum products...MORE installed by professionals are nearly impervious to water, the plank versions are not a great choice for bathroom flooring, because the plank's high-density fiberboard (HDF) construction can delaminate when subjected to standing water. 

    Installation Difficulty: Average.

    Installation Summary: For proper acclimation, boxes should be stored flat, and unopened, for approximately 2-3 days (6 days in winter) in the center of the room in which they are to be installed. Planks are easy to install using a simple tongue & groove mechanism. The linoleum flooring panels simply "click" into place requiring no adhesive, and the floor can be walked on immediately after installation

    Construction: Representative of the category, the Marmoleum Click product is a linoleum laminate with a protective layer on HDF panels and cork. The planks incorporate the Marmoleum surface layer and the subfloor system in a single product, and can be installed on almost every type of floor. Since the product is linoleum, its main ingredient is natural linseed oil, mixed with wood flour, rosin and limestone. Marmoleum gets its color from "ecologically responsible pigments" according to the company. The linoleum is pressed onto a jute fabric under high pressure producing an extremely durable and environmentally friendly flooring.

    Continue to 6 of 9 below.
  • 06 of 09

    Glue-down Vinyl Tile Flooring

    Vinyl tile flooring comes in a glue-down variety for tiles that are usually a bit thicker than standard self-stick vinyl flooring tiles. Armstrong

    Recommended Uses: bathrooms, kitchens, laundries.

    Characteristics: Tile vinyl flooring is durable, affordable, and comes in a vast array of styles, including geometric patterns and realistic wood, stone, and ceramic looks. Vinyl flooring is easy to clean and maintain if it has a urethane wear layer. It may be used as bathroom flooring or kitchen flooring. The lives of these floors may range from 5 to 20 years depending on the quality of the tile and quality of the installation

    Installation...MORE Difficulty: Intermediate.

    Installation Summary: Bonded to subfloor with a full layer of glue applied by trowel before tile is placed down for installation. Not recommended for installation over old resilient flooring.

    Construction: The construction of tile vinyl flooring generally consists of these elements:

    • Urethane or similar wear layer (used on premium tiles).
    • Protective clear film layer for durability and protection from rips and tears.
    • Printed and sometimes embossed design layer which can range from realistic looking natural materials to unique patterns.
    • A backing layer providing tile structure, strength, and durability.
    Continue to 7 of 9 below.
  • 07 of 09

    Glue-down Linoleum Tile Flooring

    linoleum marmoleum flooring
    Linoleum flooring tiles require glue-down adhesive installation but come in a variety of beautiful colors creating a long lasting easy maintenance floor. Marmoleum

    Recommended Uses: bathrooms, kitchens, laundries.

    Characteristics: Linoleum flooring tile is very beautiful and durable, providing flexible design possibilities through the use of colors and patterns. A great choice for bathroom flooring or kitchen flooring. This material is natural and since it is made from natural raw materials, you may see slight color and structural differences are possible between the production batches and samples. Linoleum flooring wears like iron and maintains a warm...MORE natural look and feel. Lives of these floors may exceed 40+ years depending on the quality of the tile and quality of the installation.

    Installation Difficulty: Intermediate.

    Installation Summary : Bonded to the subfloor with a full layer of glue applied by trowel before the tile is placed down for installation Not recommended for installation over the old resilient flooring. Cartons of tiles should be installed in consecutive order, installing tile in alternating directions (quarter turned), to minimize color variations.  Install tiles into wet adhesive and roll immediately with a 100-lb. roller. Always check for proper adhesive transfer. In order to achieve a secure bond, there must be a complete wet transfer of adhesive to the tile backing. Do not allow heavy traffic or rolling loads for a minimum of 72 hours following the installation. Additional time may be necessary when installing over non-porous substrates. In order to allow the adhesive to dry and cure properly, wait at least five days following the installation before conducting wet cleaning procedures or initial maintenance.

    Construction: Linoleum flooring tile, such as that manufactured by Marmoleum®, is made primarily from natural ingredients including oxidized linseed oil, rosins, cork and/or wood flour, all of which are embedded onto a carrier backing sheet. Different linoleum types depend on the embedding process used and the composition of the various materials. Marmoleum linoleum flooring tile uses a dimensionally stable polyester backing.

    Continue to 8 of 9 below.
  • 08 of 09

    Loose-lay or Glue-down Sheet Vinyl Flooring

    rolled vinyl floor
    Rolled vinyl floors are a great choice for the bathroom or kitchen. © Armstrong

    Recommended Uses: bathrooms, kitchens, laundries

    Characteristics: Sheet vinyl flooring has long been a favorite in homes for areas receiving heavy use, such as the bathroom or kitchen. It is durable, affordable, and comes in a large variety of styles, including  geometric patterns, and realistic wood, stone and ceramic looks. Vinyl is easy to clean and maintain if it has a urethane wear layer and is a great choice for bathroom flooring. Sheet vinyl flooring can also last much longer than vinyl...MORE tile flooring. The life of sheet vinyl flooring may range from 20 to 30 years depending on the quality of the vinyl flooring and quality of the installation, compared to 5 to 20 years for a vinyl tile floor

    Installation Difficulty: Advanced.

    Installation Summary: Depending on the backing used, sheet vinyl flooring may be designed for use with either a modified loose-lay installation method using acrylic double-faced tape under seams, or installed by the glue-down method requiring a full spread of adhesive. 

    With felt backing products, use full-spread or perimeter adhesive; with fiberglass backing, use loose lay, modified loose-lay (adhesive tape under seams) or full spread.

    Full spread requires a trowel applied full spread adhesive in which the adhesive is spread across the entire underside of the floor before the flooring is placed down for installation. Do not install over substrates such as OSB, particleboard, or wafer-board panels, existing resilient tile floors that are below grade, existing cushion-backed vinyl flooring, carpet, hardwood flooring that has been installed directly over concrete.

    Construction: Sheet vinyl flooring typically comes in 6-foot and 12-foot rolls. The construction of sheet vinyl flooring generally consists of these elements:

    • Urethane or similar wear layer.
    • Protective clear film layer for durability and protection from rips and tears.
    • Printed and sometimes embossed design layer which can range from realistic looking natural materials to unique patterns.
    • Felt or fiberglass backing layer to provide structure, strength, and durability.
    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Glue-down Sheet Linoleum Floor

    linoleum flooring
    Rolled linoleum flooring requires professional installation. Marmoleum

    Recommended Uses: bathrooms, kitchens, laundries.

    Characteristics: Linoleum is very beautiful and durable, providing flexible design abilities for bathroom flooring, kitchen flooring, mud room, bedrooms or other areas, through creative use of colors and patterns. This material is natural, and since it is made from natural raw materials you may see slight color and structural differences between the production batches and samples. The floor is extremely durable, easy to clean, and maintains a warm...MORE natural look and feel. Lives of these floors may exceed 40+ years depending on the quality of the installation. 

    Installation Difficulty: Requires professional installation.

    Installation Summary: Professional installation is required, as sheet linoleum flooring installation requires very specialized expertise and techniques, such as heat-welded seams. This flooring uses full spread trowel-applied adhesive applied across the entire underside of the floor before it is placed down for installation.

    Construction: Linoleum flooring, such as that manufactured by Marmoleum®, is made primarily from natural ingredients which consist of oxidized linseed oil, rosins, cork and/or wood flour, all of which are embedded onto a carrier backing sheet. Depending on the embedding process used and the composition, various types of linoleum can be manufactured. Marmoleum linoleum uses a dimensionally stable polyester backing.