We continue now with the tutorial to repair minor damage in residential vinyl flooring. The previous page we gathered material, tools and supplies and prepared the area for patching. Now we are going to remove the damaged portion. Let’s refer to it as…
Out With The Old
Just as we very carefully cut the patch piece along the grout lines, using the framing square and a very sharp knife, we will now use the same technique to cut the first side and end of the damaged area. You absolutely must lay the square along the same side and end you cut the patch on. We already know the square is, well, square. If you lay the square along the side you cut first, but along the end you cut second, they won’t be square. Lay the square along the side AND end you cut first. Cut vertically, one pass (this time there’s no worry about the floor underneath). You will not cut the other side and end yet. For now, just cut to the inside of the grout line – leave about a half inch on, which will be cut off later.
Peel the damaged material off the floor. If it was originally installed properly, you will leave the paper backing on the floor. Scrape the paper backing up, being extra careful along the side and end that you cut along the square. You do not want to damage the edges of the vinyl, but you must remove the old material all the way to the bare floor. I use a sharp 1½” wood chisel, but you can also use a scraper or any other suitable tool. On wood floors, you will have to be very careful not to gouge or splinter the floor.
Once you have removed all the material, including all the paper backing, it is time to fit the patch into position so you can cut and remove the final side and end. Push the patch into the corner tightly and make sure it fits snug along both the side and the end. If there is a gap, you may have the patch turned the wrong way, or you may have moved the square while cutting. I’m sure you didn’t cut the wrong side or end, because you were very careful about that, right?
Lay the patch piece flat. It should be a snug fit along the cut side and end and over-laps the other side and end. The grout lines are perfectly lined up. Lay the long side of the square along the long side of the patch piece (on a square patch, pick either side). Push the square up very snug to the side of the patch, but do not buckle the loose patch piece.
Holding the square firmly in place with your hand and a knee on the leg, pull the loose patch piece out of the way. Again, keeping the knife vertical and with enough pressure to cut cleanly through in one pass, cut along the square from one end of the patch to the other. The secret to doing this kind of patch is getting the patch piece to fit tight all the way around. By pressing the square up tight to the patch piece, the thickness of the blade, minute as it may seem, is enough to give you a great fit.
Using the same very careful technique you used on the other side, remove the material and paper from the side you just cut. Slow, firm passes with the chisel or scraper will remove the backing right up to the cut line. Place the patch piece back in position, pressing it into the first side and end and along the second side. You’ll notice it bubbles up ever so slightly because it’s a tight fit. Now lay the square along the final end, push it in snug, hold the square down firm, remove the patch piece and cut through the end of the damaged flooring. Finish by scraping the floor clean and make a last test fit.
Now we are ready to begin gluing. Please follow along on the next page, while we complete this repair.
Jim McClain grew up in rural Plumas County, CA. After a short, but exciting stint in the US Army, where he dodged work in Germany and incoming rounds in Vietnam, he settled back into country living and took a part-time job as an installer’s helper to work his way through college. He fell in love with the business and turned it into a career. Retiring from sales & installations in 2006, he still carries on his love affair with the industry through the use of a computer, a digital camera and a little space in “teh Ether”.