How to Fix Bubbles in Linoleum

Tuesday November 11, 2008
Article Word Count:444 Comments (4) Permalink

There's nothing more frustrating than the bubbles that can form under sheet flooring like vinyl and linoleum. The result is a floor that looks uneven and blistered. Fortunately, this can be repaired without having to replace the entire floor.

When fixing bubbled linoleum, you'll need the following tools:

  • Sheet flooring adhesive (specifically for linoleum)
  • Metal straight edge
  • Utility knife
  • Putty knife
  • Rubber gloves
  • Straight board
  • Several cloths
  • Heavy weight (i.e. full paint can)

After you've gathered these items, you can start removing the unsightly blisters.

  1. You'll want to begin by cutting each linoleum bubble open with a utility knife. Do this by making an incision in the center of the bubble and cutting it from one end to the other. When making each cut, use the metal straight edge to keep the incision aligned.

  2. After the bubble has been cut, press the edges of the open bubble down until it's completely flattened. If the edges of the two semi-circles overlap, trim until the overlap is gone.

  3. Once steps 1 and 2 are completed, you'll want to cut and lift up the edge of the linoleum tile where the bubble is located in order to apply the adhesive. Scrape away any old adhesive underneath with a putty knife.

  4. After you've adequately removed the old adhesive, it's time to apply the new adhesive (remember to wear gloves when handling adhesive). Using a clean putty knife spread the adhesive onto the underlayment until it's thoroughly covered.

  5. Before being pressed into place, the adhesive will need to sit for a while (duration depends on the brand of adhesive being used).
  6. Press the loose edge down. With a damp cloth, wipe up any excess adhesive that oozes out.

  7. Finish up by laying out a clean cloth along the linoleum floor section you just fixed and place a flat board on top. On top of the board you'll want to put something heavy, such as a full paint can. Leave this in place until the adhesive dries (confirm dry-time on the can/bottle of adhesive).

If your linoleum flooring bubbles often, you may want to look into getting a tool specifically for filling in linoleum blisters that are up to 3 square inches in size. The tool is basically a metal-needled syringe that can inject adhesive directly into the blister without having to lift up the entire linoleum floor tile.

If your linoleum floors are less than a year old and are starting to bubble, you may want to contact the linoleum manufacturer. Also, when removing or repairing vinyl or linoleum flooring installed before 1986, handle with care, as it could contain asbestos. Learn more about asbestos in our article: "The Dangers of Asbestos Floor Covering."

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Talkback – Leave a commentThere are 4 comments

I rolled an older, large, heavy, television across the floor and it left indentations in the floor. Is there a way to get rid of the indentations?
April 8 2009
Part 2 of Fixing Bubbles
If the retailer doesn't seem inclined to help, I would get a second opinion, along with a quote to re-install a comparable product and put some real pressure on the original shop's owner or manager to stand behind the products they sell. There are several things that could be going wrong, but without seeing the floor, it's tough for me to make a recommendation. If you'd like to give me some more details (the brand and style of flooring we're dealing with, the type of glue originally used, the type of subfloor, etc. or even some pictures) I'd be happy to take a stab at determining the cause of the bubbles, but there's no substitute for an on-site inspection by a qualified professional. I should add to that response that there are times when products fail for various reasons that are truly not the fault of the retailer or installer. There is a chance that the adhesive is indeed "bad." Manufacturing defects occur in flooring just like everything else.
April 6 2009
Fixing Bubbles in Linoleum
The first question I have to ask is if it is actually linoleum or if we're talking about vinyl. If it's truly linoleum, or a standard felt-backed vinyl, the odds are you will not be able to re-install the same floor. It will likely be adhered in many places and will be impossible to remove without damaging the floor. If it's a fiberglass backed vinyl, and the installer did use the wrong adhesive, it might be possible to carefully remove the vinyl, scrape-up the bad adhesive and re-install using the correct pressure sensitive adhesive, but the next installer would have to make a visual inspection of the flooring to make that determination. As for your first course of action, I think I would trust the retailer who sold your mom the floor to make it right. If they've been around for any length of time, they will value their reputation and they should be willing to do everything necessary to help you.
April 6 2009
I have a question. My mom had linoleum flooring laid 4 months ago in a room 15 x 50 (big room). shortly after, bubbles (very big ones, some 3 in wide and 12 in long)started showing up. Not just here and there, but from one end to the other!!! We called the flooring company we brought from ( they also laid it) and they said it was the glue and not them. The man who laid the floor did tell me he did not press down the floor when he laid it. My question is, is it the glue or bad linoleum and can it be fixed? My mom spent alot of money on this floor and is very pset about how this is turned out. The flooring company wants to pull up the floor and re-lay it. Will this work?
April 1 2009
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