Asked on Jul 03, 2016

Fixing uneven spots under vinyl tiles on a kitchen floor

Kelly Martin
by Kelly Martin
Does anyone have advice on how to fix an uneven kitchen floor? We had vinyl squares installed on our floor a few years ago. Over the years, my husband applied layer after layer of wax, not realizing the vinyl needed to be stripped in between waxings, and the vinyl became dull looking. He decided to pull up the old tiles and replace with new tiles. The problem is, he's been partially pulling up pieces of the floor with the old tile and then installing the new tile over all the bumpiness and unevenness so now the floor is an uneven, bumpy mess in places. How can I even out the floor under the vinyl tile the best/easiest way in order to try to fix this?
Floor under tile
Bumps under tile
  16 answers
  • Elaine Burdick Olsen Elaine Burdick Olsen on Jul 04, 2016
    you can buy levelling compound at lowes or hhome depot or probably any hardware store. It is sort of like a very runny fine cement. Works great.
    • Kelly Martin Kelly Martin on Jul 04, 2016
      Thank You Elaine Burdick Olsen. This seems like the easiest "quick fix". While I realize the whole floor probably needs to be redone (and redone "the right way" as so many have pointed out, yes, I get it), we don't have the money to do that at this point in time. I was looking for a quick, inexpensive fix for the tiles that are bumpy. Thank you for all the responses and suggestions.
  • Johnchip Johnchip on Jul 04, 2016
    Unfortunately you will have to remove them again. Before you do, reconsider the entire floor and the time, cost and frustration you are taking on. Whatever you do. this time, don't cut corners, do it right. You must have a clean, smooth and even underlayment first for any product you use. You may have to use an industrial sander to remove the old material. Some of these 'leveling compounds' will disintegrate or separate if the prep is done done right.
  • Crystal Cochrane Crystal Cochrane on Jul 04, 2016
    Johnchip is right, you will need to start over:(
  • Debs Debs on Jul 04, 2016
    I agree, taking up the existing mess is the only way to do it. Sanding down the rough places, then get luan sheets, ( like a thin version of plywood) and put them down first. When I put down luan sheets down, I used a staple gun and made sure all corners, and edges were down tight. Cover the whole floor, then add your floor tiles back. It makes a lot better and smoother surface for your tiles or any other floor coverings.
  • Laura 'King' Dobell Laura 'King' Dobell on Jul 04, 2016
    I have the same sort of problem and I am planning to use the levelling compound as mentioned in a previous post.
  • Grandmasue10 Grandmasue10 on Jul 04, 2016
    Perhaps your husband is talented in some other way. My son uses Utube videos for almost everything. He says you can find "How to..." nearly everything there.
  • Barbara Barbara on Jul 04, 2016
    the only way to help this situation is to sacrifice the floor to the bin. Then buy some floor leveller -see Home Deppot for suggestions and get a level surface to begin anew. A bump will eventually become a hole and a dip will be a crater in time.
  • Crystal Meyer Griffith Crystal Meyer Griffith on Jul 04, 2016
    If you use the luan sheets, you wouldn't necessarily have to remove the tile. Think of it as extra insulation. Be sure to check adjacent flooring for height. There are trim pieces to bridge between 2 different floors. I like the luan that is used to re-face doors. Very thin at 1/8" and very flexible & easy to cut. I've used them to replace backs on dressers, etc.
  • Terry applebee Terry applebee on Jul 04, 2016
    do not lay down any kind of thin plywood or veneer. I am a retired maintance forman for the nps. and I am sorry but their is no quick or cheep fix for your problem. do it right, tear up the old floor and lay down new 1 half to 3 quarter plywood and it will be over done with and done right.
  • Lainey Howell Lainey Howell on Jul 04, 2016
    I had contractor installed vinyl and when I decided to replace it with Forbo, it had to be professionally installed. I wanted to keep the vinyl for a softer feel than installing directly on the concrete. The installers brought in the leveler and poured it on the old vinyl. As it flowed over the floor, they used a tool similar to a cement leveler, on a smaller scale. When the material was almost dry, it got one more scrape, which left the old floor all filled in. The new Forbo installed over the dry leveler like a champ! Good luck.
  • Lemons Lemons on Jul 04, 2016
    What he is pulling up is the original floor leveling cement. After a slab is pored it is not perfect so before they add vinyl tile they use floor leveling cement.
    • Lemons Lemons on Jul 04, 2016
      Pull up all the tile and clean the remaining cement then, unles you are comfortable with it and learn the process, have someone level your floor again.
  • Betsy Boeve Betsy Boeve on Jul 04, 2016
    Sorry, I agree with Terry Applebee. Once you get the old tile up, I would probably put a new sub floor in. It's not hard to put down ceramic tile and skip the vinyl.
    • Lemons Lemons on Jul 05, 2016
      I just see that as a huge and unnecessary expense when she will still have to have to use a floor leveler over the plywood. I would suggest she hire the leveling done by a professional and have the tile ready to put down asap.
  • Lori E Dunbar Lori E Dunbar on Oct 30, 2016
    I have this too in areas because I have an old farm house. When I first moved in, there was a well-worn solid piece of vinyl in the kitchen. I removed it because anytime it got wet, it was so slick that I was afraid that someone would fall. Under it, I found a plywood subfloor. In a few areas, I wasn't able to get all of the glue from the previous vinyl off, and you can see the dip in the floor in those areas (after I put the new vinyl in). I believe that with a more thick type of vinyl flooring, you're not going to see that. I originally did try the floor leveler as well but it's too grainy and did not resolve the problem. So I think that a the more firm types of vinyl (not bendy) will prevent that. I'm leaving mine as is for now.
  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Mar 15, 2023

    Quick way is, Cover with a Mat or Runner until you can get your floor fixed by a professional, as it will never look right trying to bodge it!

  • Deb K Deb K on Apr 11, 2023

    Hi Kelly, you can easily pull up the peel and stick tiles by steaming them to heat up the glue, once you have removed the tile use a sander to smooth the lumps, vacuum the debris up and replace the tile. Hope this helps you out.

  • Mogie Mogie on Feb 06, 2024

    A self-levelling compound is a polymer-modified cement solution that has high flow characteristics. It's applied prior to the flooring being installed and when applied correctly, creates a smooth surface for you to work on. There are many types of self-levelling compounds available, all with different characteristics.