Why is my Vinyl Floor Turning Yellow?

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    LESLIE: Angela in Georgia is on the line and would love to tackle some vinyl floor discoloration. How can we help?

    ANGELA: We have vinyl flooring in our kitchen and it’s more than 20 years old. And there are just a few areas where it’s starting to yellow. And it’s coming, probably, from underneath because bleach doesn’t work. And it’s got nicks on it – in it. Anyway, I was thinking, I have always wanted to have a black-and-white checkered floor. And this pattern is like a grid – it’s 6-inch squares – so it’s already all lined out. And I was thinking about painting it black and white or whatever color scheme I decide upon. But I don’t know what type of product to use.

    TOM: Yeah, I don’t think painting a vinyl floor is a very good idea. I don’t think there’s any product designed for vinyl floor discoloration, especially a 20-year-old vinyl floor. If you wanted that type of pattern, I would just get a new piece of vinyl. I mean they’re not that expensive. The yellow that you describe is not a stain. It’s a chemical reaction. What happens with vinyl floor discoloration: as the floor ages, especially if it’s had throw rugs over it or rubber-back carpets over it, is it’s an oxidation that occurs that changes the color of the vinyl. A lot of people think those are stains but they’re really not. It’s just a physical change of the vinyl material. But I don’t think vinyl can be painted. Vinyl siding can barely be painted and I don’t recommend that, either. There are some high-adhesion primers that you use for that but take that to the floor and now you’ve got to have something that’s really durable, that can take chairs being rubbed across the floor and that kind of thing. So, I don’t think painting is a possibility. I would be considering another type of product. And you know what? There are so many new floors today. The prices have come so far down. You can get beautiful laminate floor now, that’s super water-resistant, for under about three bucks a foot. So, I would take a look at the new flooring and treat yourself to a floor that looks like that pattern that you envisioned but is much newer and more durable. That’s the best way to solve that vinyl floor discoloration.

    ANGELA: OK. Could that new type of flooring just be applied on top of this, just right on top of it?

    TOM: You can put it on top. If the old flooring comes up easily, I always like to take as much of that up as I can. I don’t like putting layers down. But you know what? If it’s solid and it’s flat and it’s well-adhered, then I think it’s OK to go on top of it. Just keep in mind that when you do that, you make the floor thicker than it was before, taller than it was before. And sometimes, not so much just with vinyl – but sometimes, if you have a dishwasher – if this is a kitchen and you have a dishwasher, you could be at risk of sort of flooring in the dishwasher, so to speak. In other words, you could have flooring that’s thicker than the legs of that dishwasher. So, what you really have to do is take the dishwasher out, floor all the way into it and then adjust the legs and slide it back in again.

    ANGELA: Alrighty. Well, all of the appliances probably could be pulled out. Yeah, that wouldn’t be a problem.

    TOM: Alright. Well, then, good luck with that vinyl floor discoloration project. The good news is you’re getting a whole new floor. It’s going to be a lot easier than painting the old one, I’ll tell you that.

    ANGELA: A lot less work, I’m sure, yeah.

    TOM: Absolutely. Yep. Now and in the future. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

    ANGELA: Thank you.

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