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I've got a small closet in my 1985 condo that contains the water heater, HVAC, and W/D. I'm trying to figure out the best way to get a new floor in there. The existing floor seems to be vinyl tile on top of sheet vinyl, on top of a thin plywood underlayment (in the first photo, you can see the exposed and peeling bottom layer of vinyl where the broom is - this is where the W/D sits so isn't normally exposed). There are areas where both of the existing vinyl layers are peeling up and/or warped a bit (presumably due to the temperature and humidity conditions in this room).

I'd like to lay new peel-and-stick vinyl tile (since that seems easiest…), but I'm not sure what to do with the existing floor. I figure my options are (from least to most thorough):

  1. Just prep and lay on top of existing floor. To properly do this, would need to somehow secure the peeling layers back down to the underlayment - that seems like it might be really difficult!
  2. Remove existing vinyl. This sounds doable with heat and perhaps chemical solvents, but would need to be careful of potential asbestos? Then new floor goes on the existing plywood underlayment.
  3. Remove ALL of it, inc plywood underlayment, and add new underlayment + new floor. This seems most challenging because it would require removal of all the staples in the underlayment, and then getting new UL in there

A particular challenge will be dealing with the drain pipe you can see in the photos - it doesn't look to me like it'd be possible to disconnect without cutting it. I can lift it up 1/4" or so, which would give me enough room to work at getting out the existing vinyl, but would especially make installing new UL a total bear. That's why I lean toward option #2.

Would love to hear opinions from anyone experienced with this type of project, thanks!

overview warped vinyl top layer drain pipe

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    The best and proper way for a long lasting flooring, is to remove all the bad flooring first. Might get away with putting new underlayment down on top, before new flooring, but this will raise floor up more, maybe too much.
    – crip659
    Jul 17, 2021 at 22:50
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    do you have access to the underside of the floor? ... I would chage the pipe so that it passes through the floor at the top of the third picture
    – jsotola
    Jul 17, 2021 at 22:53
  • @jsotola no I don't have access to the underside - i'm in a second story condo :-(
    – aknodt
    Jul 17, 2021 at 23:22

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If you read the manufacturers installation instructions you’ll notice that no manufacturer would recommend that their tile be installed directly over old tile.

If you don’t have clearance to install new plywood Underlayment over the existing material, then I’d remove the existing tile and underlayment so you can install new underlayment then install the new tile.

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