Monday, January 5, 2015

How to repair and replace water damaged flooring

   A leaking toilet damaged the sheet vinyl flooring and underlayment in our bathroom. The damage was restricted to about five square feet around the toilet. The sub floor was protected by an old vinyl floor that limited the water damage. Only the damaged part of the ¼” underlayment will have to be removed. I chose to remove a 2 by 4 foot section of the floor, since a ¼ inch thick sheet of birch plywood, suitable for underlayment, was sold at Lowe's in that exact size.  I decided to replace the sheet flooring as well. This post begins with the toilet already removed. Here is a link to the toilet post

                                                   Job Overview 
  • Safety: rubber, eye protection, dust mask, hearing protection 
  • Tools: Putty knife, large flat screwdriver, circular saw, side cutter pliers, utility knife, scissors.
  •  Parts and materials: Replacement underlayment (2 by 4 feet) Replacement vinyl flooring.
  •  Cost of parts and materials: underlayment $7.99, Tarkett flooring 12 by 6 feet, $72
  •  Contractor cost ?  
  •  Home mechanic estimated time: 6-8 hours.   

Removing the old material

1) Make sure to cover the toilet drain so nothing will fall in the opening. I cut a piece of cardboard to size and put a weight on it to hold it in place.

2) Cut out the part of the damaged vinyl. I intend to use the old floor as a template for the new, but the bad piece is moldy so I cut it out, bagged it up quickly and threw it away.
3)  Remove the damaged underlayment. I used a putty knife on the damaged parts and a long screwdriver on the rest to pry it up. The staples can be pulled out with side cutter pliers. Any that break off can be pounded back in.

4) I decided to remove a two by four foot section of the old underlayment. Replacement ¼” thick plywood is sold in that size, among others. On the side away from the wall, a circular saw will do a good job. Make a line where the cut will be needed. Set the blade height so it only cuts through the old underlayment and plunge cut on the line.  Now pry out the old piece.

Using a circular to plunge cut only through the old underlayment

5) Prep the floor for new underlayment. It needs to be clean and flat, so make sure all the old staples are pulled or pounded in and the floor is clean and dry.

6) But suitable underlayment and cut to size.

7) Make an opening to fit around the toilet drain.  Measure from each wall to the middle of the drain. Mark the edge of the underlayment to match the wall it will be mounted against. Make a mark on at the intersection of the two measurements. Now set a protractor to the radius of the outside of the drain flange. Tightened the protractor and make a circle with the intersected mark as the center. Now drill a hole with the outside of the drill bit just touching the inside of the circle just scribed on the underlayment. The hole should be big enough for the wood cutting jig saw blade to fit through. Cut out the hole with the jigsaw.
8) Check the fit of the cut hole with the drain. File as necessary for best fit.

9) Mount the piece of underlayment with flooring staples and staple gun. I did not have a flooring stapler so I used 1 1/8 inch coarse drywall screws direct drilled and counter-sunk.

Out with the old and bad and in with the new

10) Fill in the any cracks and cover the screws with wood filler. Sand the seams where the new and old underlayment meet with a belt sander or other if they aren’t perfectly flush. End of underlayment installation.

11) Remove all casings, registers and door trim. 

12) With all the trim off it should be easy to remove the old sheet vinyl flooring in one piece. It will be used as a template to cut the replacement flooring. I did have to re-create the toilet drain portion since the old vinyl was damaged.  

Installation of new sheet flooring

1) In a suitable workspace, put down the replacement sheet vinyl and lay the old vinyl on top in one piece.  Now outline the old flooring on the new with a marker.

If you can get away with it, use the old flooring as a template for the new

2) Using a scissors and utility knife, carefully cut the new sheet vinyl on the inside of the lines. I used Tarkett sheet flooring.

3) Lay down the new flooring and check the fit, trimming as necessary to allow a small gap at the edges. I did not use an adhesive as this flooring did not require any.

The template worked great!

4) Re-install the toilet. Here is a link to the toilet post

5) Caulk the tub.

6) Re-install casings and door trim. Lookin’ good.




  1. Great post on flooring. It’s really going to help people to install floors in their homes in an easy way.
    Laminate flooring

  2. Very useful point you have taken on the topic of flooring to discuss here. Thanks for sharing such a great thing that covers home improvement.
    Regards, Brain Garcia
    Vinyl Flooring Malaysia

  3. Nice things you have shared on flooring. In this, you have choosen great point of flooring. Thanks for making such a great effort for public awareness on home improvement.

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  4. I love the step by step guide on how to redo the flooring after water damage in your home. I did not know you could take moldy pieces out of your floor and replace them with new bits of flooring. I would have thought you would have to take out all of the tiles rather then just replacing the one piece. water damage restoration contractor

    1. Thanks for viewing the post and commenting. I was fortunate in that there was an old floor under the damaged one and the damage was restricted to that floor and not the sub floor itself. The damage was also only a few square feet. The bad finished floor was sheet vinyl so I just changed the whole thing out.

  5. Often times when I am looking into a home repair, I only find a parts and supplies list. I really appreciate that you have put a price to everything that I will need. Now I can properly budget for my water damage restoration project. Let's hope that I can acutally fina ll the needed supplies.

    1. I appreciate the comment and wish you success on your project.

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