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vinyl_floor(MCT)—Q: When Sandy flooded our basement, we had a contractor pull up the carpeting and install vinyl tiles.

He prepared the concrete floor by scraping up the rug glue that remained, and used commercial adhesive to put down the new tiles.

Some of the tiles do not lie flat against the floor; their edges bow slightly, creating a space that rises above the adjoining tile. This looks bad, and I expect that dirt — or water, when the floor is mopped — will eventually accumulate in the spaces.

The contractor says the floor is not even. Is there a way to correct the way this looks? Should some sealant or grout be used to close the spaces?

A: I assume you paid the contractor for this job.

In its do-it-yourself vinyl tile installation instructions, Armstrong says it all:

“Make sure the floor you’re laying over is clean, dry and flat.”

I’ve done laminate, vinyl, wood, and ceramic tile floors and the first thing I’ve done in each case is make sure the surface on which each is installed is level. Otherwise, you are going to have problems, and you are.

What compounds the problem is that these are glue-down tiles rather than self-adhesive, which are easier to install and to fix.

With self-adhesive, you simply cut the affected tile, pry it up, and sand the glue. Glue-downs are embedded in mastic, which is tougher to remove.

The unevenness should have been determined beforehand and corrected with a leveling compound designed for use on concrete surfaces.

Vinyl tile is not designed to be grouted. You snap chalk lines and then you butt each tile up against the next.

Solution: It is a do-over.

©2013 The Philadelphia Inquirer
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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