Laying Linoleum

Almost anyone can lay linoleum tiles, according to Walt Bamonto, who's been installing flooring in upstate New York for 30 years. Just spread swaths of latex adhesive on the floor with a notched trowel, snug the tiles against each other, and flatten with a 100-pound roller.
Laying sheet linoleum is another story. To achieve tight seams, Bamonto first trims seam edges with a two-bladed beveled edge trimmer. "Factory edges aren't good enough," he says. And when he unrolls sheets into the adhesive, he leaves 18 inches adhesive-free at each end. Why? "When it hits the glue, linoleum shrinks in length and expands in width," Bamonto says. So he waits a half hour for the material to stabilize, before overlapping the next sheet. Then, pulling both sheets back slightly, he trowels on the adhesive and traces the edge of the lower piece onto the top piece using a special seam-scriber tool. A cut along the scribe with a hooked knife leaves a gap the width of his blade but, Bamonto says, "it closes right up." The adhesive takes 24 hours to set firmly enough to support furniture. Park a table or chair on it too soon, Bamonto warns, and the floor will have dimples forever.

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