Repairing Linoleum Floors

So you have linoleum tiles down in the kitchen, bathroom, baby’s room, wherever – places that get too much moisture and potential damage for carpets or hardwood. Wise decision, but linoleum and similar flooring materials, though durable, are not indestructible.

You dropped a heavy iron pot on it, or the pipes backed up and flooded it with water for several hours, or the toddler decided it was great fun to poke the floor repeatedly with his Tinker Toy concoction and observe the artistic pattern of dents. What now? One reason for putting down linoleum, besides the fact that it’s durable, is that it’s cheap compared to many other types of flooring. Isn’t that purpose defeated if you have to call in the professionals to repair the damage?

Yes, it would be, but luckily that isn’t a requirement. All you really need to make good-quality repairs is:

1)      A piece of scrap linoleum (you should have this left over from installing the floor in the first place);

2)      Some tape;

3)      A sharp knife, like an Xacto blade;

4)      Something to spread substance with (e.g. a putty knife); and

5)      Some linoleum glue.

It’s especially easy to do the repair job and have no one notice if your floor has patterns in it, particularly if the patterns include straight or curved lines. You can still do the repairs to a solid-color floor, but sometimes it may be a little more visible. What you want to do here is to cut a piece of flooring out around the ding or dings in a regular and measurable pattern, cut a piece of the scrap linoleum to fit, and glue it into place.

You’ll want to match not only the size and shape of the patch, but also the pattern if any. (This is why a patterned floor is easier to patch without it being visible. The patterns themselves create the illusion of continuity and draw the eye away from any imperfections arising from the patching itself, always supposing that you have the patterns matched up properly.)

One way to do the cutting is to place the scrap piece on the floor over where the ding is, lining up the patterns so match, and cut through both pieces of linoleum at the same time. With a good sharp knife this is quite doable. The patch will match the size of the floor perfectly, and because you’ve fitted the lines together correctly you will have a pattern match as well.

Next, you want to remove the cut-out linoleum from the floor. A heat gun is ideal for this, but a hair dryer will work in a pinch. After softening the glue, prize out the cut section, and then fit your patch into the hole to check the fit. Make any adjustments necessary, then glue the patch into the hole. Wipe up any excess adhesive, and tamp down the patch by standing on it for a moment or two.