Home Improvement : How to Put Patch in Damaged Sheet Floor : Repairs: While not as easy as working with tile, sheet flooring can be restored.

<i> Los Angeles Times Syndicate</i>

When it comes to do-it-yourself flooring, most homeowners find it easier to work with tiles than with sheet goods. The reason is fairly simple: Working with tiles is like working with blocks. You build as you go, and if you make a mistake, all you lose is a tile or two.

With sheet flooring, everything goes down in one shot, and if you make a mistake, you may ruin your entire new sheet of flooring.

The same thing applies to making repairs in floors that are already down. If a tile in an existing floor gets damaged, you can remove it as a unit and replace it.

It’s not quite that easy with sheet flooring. But if you use the right techniques, you can make it almost that easy. The trick is to treat your sheet flooring as if it were made up of tiles, and here’s how to do it:


First of all, you’re going to need some new flooring material for your patch. Ideally, you’ll have saved any leftovers from when the floor was installed. If not, you may be able to get a scrap or sample piece to use as a repair patch from your dealer.

Failing that, you may be able to steal a piece of your own flooring from a hidden spot such as a closet or underneath the refrigerator. This works well if the flooring has been applied with the loose-lay technique and there is no cement under the piece you are stealing. But if your flooring is glued down, it’s hard to clean all the old adhesive off the back.

At any rate, go back and examine the damaged area of your floor. If the floor has a geometric pattern like the one shown in the sketch, you can cut out the damaged section along the pattern lines for an inconspicuous repair. If not, just make your patch a convenient rectangular shape.

Once you have decided on the size and shape of your patch, take a piece of new flooring at least a few inches larger than the patch on all sides, and lay it down right on the old floor, over the damaged area. Make sure the pattern (if any) in the patch piece lines up with the pattern in the floor. Then tape the patch material down along all four edges (only one edge has been completed in the sketch).

Next, take a sharp utility knife and a straight edge, and start cutting your patch material to size. In the sketch, we are cutting along the perimeter of four blocks in the pattern. Cut right through the patch and on into the flooring below. If your blade gets dull, replace it with a new one. You need a fresh blade to make a smooth, clean cut.

Leave your entire patch piece in place as you continue to cut through the flooring beneath it. This gives you a slot to guide your knife and prevents you from slipping off the desired line of cut.

Once you have cut through both the patch and the flooring below, remove the tape and set your patch aside. If your flooring is loose-layed, you can now simply lift out the damaged section of flooring. If it is glued down, you’ll have to work harder.

You can either try chipping and scraping the damaged section out, or cover it with a towel and iron it at medium heat to soften it and the adhesive remaining behind on the floor.

Setting the New Patch. Different flooring types require different adhesives, so take your patch to your flooring store and have the dealer identify its type. He can then supply you with the right adhesive and trowel for the job. While you are there, ask the dealer how to handle seam sealing. With some flooring types, no sealer is needed. Others require a solvent-type sealer to weld the seams together. With others you can use an iron to fuse the seams.

Back home, spread your adhesive according to label instructions. If you are working with a loose-layed floor, be sure to lift the flooring surrounding your patch and work adhesive a couple inches back under it in all directions. Then apply adhesive to the area of the patch as well. If your old floor is glued down, you’ll only have to apply cement in the area of your patch.

Now you can place your patch in position, making sure you have the pattern lined up properly. Seal the seam around your patch (if necessary) according to the advice your flooring dealer gave you. Then keep traffic off the repair for a day or so and you are back in business.