Q: We will be renovating our bathroom soon but I want a "quick fix" now because I hate the ceramic tile floor's color. I found a great sale on some Armstrong urethane that I'd like to install. What should I use for an underlayment? The salesperson suggested cement underlayment and patch. The back of the box of tile suggests that or an embossing leveler. Which one would be better? — Arlene, Rochester Hills, MI

A: Tom Silva replies: A good quality vinyl floor is thick enough to be installed without an underlayment, which will only raise the level of the floor and give you headaches around built-in vanities, heat registers, baseboards, and other areas.

Your greatest concerns when installing a vinyl floor over the existing tile are the tile's joints and the floor's height. Before you start, see if any tile is broken or damaged. Once you've removed lose or broken pieces, patch the empty sections with a liquid cement or mortar, letting it settle level with the tile floor. Next, if the tile's joints are deep, you'll want regrout them to bring them flush with the tile so that the lines won't telegraph — show through — the vinyl floor. Once the tile is leveled off, your next step is to remove the toilet so that the floor can be laid under it, not cut around it.
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