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How to replace linoleum flooring

Updated on December 16, 2012

Finding someone to just do a small bath room floor can be difficult and expensive.

With the cost of labor and gasoline plus repeat trips to let floor leveling compounds to dry, contracting with a professional to replace the linoleum in a small bath or utility room can be very expensive.

With a little exploration you may be able to do this yourself with even limited experience.

Most linoleum will be anchored around the edge with base shoe trim.

Using a stiff putty knife carefully break the base shoe away from the base board and gradually work along the edge to free it without damaging the trim.

Do the same on the adjoining wall until you can expose a corner of the linoleum to pull back to see how well it is glued to the sub-floor.

If you’re lucky the linoleum may only be glued around the edges to secure it in place.

This method is often used as it saves time and prevents small debris from becoming stuck in the glue and pushing up under the new linoleum.

If this is the case you should be able to easily pull back the old linoleum, remove and use it as a template to cut a new piece. The only scraping should be the glue around the edge.

Carefully remove the remaining base shoe. If this is in a bathroom the toilet will need to be pulled. Turn off the water, drain and dip out all the remaining water in the tank and bowel to pull the toilet.

Have a board handy in an adjoining room to set the toilet it on. It will have the wax on the bottom that can make a mess if sat directly onto another floor material.

This wax ring will need to be scraped off to prepare for a new wax ring on the re-installation.

Use a large rag in the flange to prevent sewer gas from coming up as you are working on the bathroom, use a large enough rag that won't fall down into the sewer pipe.

If the old linoleum has been completely glued to the sub-floor, your replacement task will be more difficult.

Removing and scraping up the old glue is very difficult and will likely leave a sticky mess to trap more debris.

If you are working on a wood sub-floor your best and most simple option will be to go over the old linoleum with ¼” luan sheeting and then add the new linoleum.

The luan will need to be nailed to the sub-floor using a small headed cement coated or ring shank nail. Consideration will need to be made to thickness levels of adjoining rooms. Most metal edging will compensate for the ¼” difference.

Use the old linoleum as a template for the luan as well, spacing out the 4 x 8 sheets to minimize joints as much as possible.

If you’re on a concrete floor the old linoleum will need to be removed and the floor scraped and sanded. This is a labor and time consuming task that might be better left to a professional installer.

Using the old linoleum as a template is what turns the novice into a professional. Simply place the old over the new trace and cut. (be careful not to cut into carpet or linoleum underneath)

If the edge needs to butt up against a bath tub, use a straight edge a sharp knife and a board underneath the area that will be cut.

When working with complex turns like the adjoining piece to go back into the toilet area, leave the opposite side from the tub and the area behind the toilet ½” longer.

This allows for any adjustments that might be needed when matching up against an object like a bath tub that will not have a base shoe to cover the edge.

The excess can be trimmed with a sharp knife after the ½” section has been folded up against the baseboard.

If the toilet base is cut completely around like the one in the picture, placement of the toilet flange cutout will be critical to be sure the toilet will cover the new linoleum.

When measuring for a cut out like the toilet flange always measure over from only one stationary side to obtain both the inside and outside measurements.

Measuring from both sides can throw off the measurements and cause a cutting mistake. We also used a smaller diameter bucket to give us room to trim around the flange just in case we needed to move the new linoleum over to match up with the tub.

If you’re not lucky enough to use the old linoleum as a template, or are replacing floor tile, you can make a template out of heavy brown paper. Just take your time and tape your joints together well so the template will roll up into on sheet and stay together.

The sub-floor will likely need some filling and sanding. Use a floor leveling compound for this purpose. Floor prep is something that you will not want to rush as it will show through your finished floor.

Be sure to vacuum the floor well including up under the base board so that you don’t pull out debris when gluing the edges of the new linoleum.

Carefully roll the edges of the new linoleum without creating a fold or crease. Roll out on to the floor and position and trim to fit.

Once the new linoleum is fitted, simply roll back the edges to apply new glue and roll back. Clean up the old base shoe, paint or touch up stain and vanish and re-nail back into place.

We prefer to use a water based caulking for bathrooms to caulk along the tub and toilet base. The excess can be simply wiped away with a wet cloth leaving a solid professional looking bead.


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    • profile image

      Virginia 6 months ago

      We took the old linoleum off and we are scraping off all the old glue from the wood subfloor. Do you recommend that the wood breath or be painted before adding the new linoleum? There is some water damage but it's not bad. Thanks!

    • KDeus profile image

      Keely Deuschle 5 years ago from Florida

      Thank you for sharing this! I will be embarking on this adventure of replacing the linoleum soon.