How to Fix Gouged, Cut, or Scratched Sheet Vinyl

Sheet vinyl has far fewer seams than tile, so when it comes to making a patch, it can be a little trickier than replacing a single tile. Obviously, the best patch is a piece of the original flooring material, and one that gives you a chance to make an unnoticeable repair. (Look for squares or distinct patterns or lines you can use to hide your cuts.) If you or the previous homeowner didn’t save a scrap, you can steal a patch from under the refrigerator or stove.

  1. Place the patch over the damaged area, match up the pattern or lines exactly, and then tape the patch in place.

    Again, it’s best to place your cuts in the lines that define squares in the pattern or something (anything!) other than “blank” areas.

  2. Cut through both the patch and the damaged area.

    Use a utility knife with a fresh blade. Set aside the patch and make sure the cuts went all the way through the damaged vinyl. Carefully deepen any cuts that are too shallow.

  3. Make two corner-to-corner diagonal cuts in the repair area.

    Doing so makes it easier to remove the damaged section.

  4. Peel back the damaged section from the middle.

    You might have to use the old iron-and-towel (or hot-air gun) trick to loosen the glue. Work slowly and carefully. If you’re using a pristine, never-been-glued patch, make sure to remove as much of the glue and stuck-down backing material as you can. If you’re using a “borrowed” patch that has some of the backing torn off, it’s okay if you leave some of the backing material stuck to the floor — it’ll help even things out.

  5. Apply vinyl adhesive to the floor.

    Tub-and-tile caulk works great, too.

  6. Carefully place the patch in the hole. Cover the patch with wax paper; then place several heavy books on top.

    The bottom book should be bigger than the patch to avoid pushing the patch below the level of the surrounding floor.

  7. After 24 hours of curing time, remove the books and use mineral spirits to clean excess adhesive.

    Older vinyl floors may have been waxed, and wax tends to yellow (especially in exposed locations). To make sure your patch matches the surrounding vinyl as closely as possible, remove all the wax from the entire floor using a commercial-strength wax remover (available at a janitorial supply house) and floor scrubber. It’s a good idea to remove the built-up wax and re-wax every few years anyway.

  8. Apply clear vinyl seam sealer and let it set a day before allowing traffic in the area.

    The key to applying seam sealer is to apply just enough to cover the seam. Again, less is more. The material is self-leveling, will bond with the vinyl, and is designed to disappear.

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