DEAR MIKE: In my kitchen I have a vinyl floor. Around the perimeter of the room I would like to install some vinyl base molding so that the entire thing is washable. Is this any different from installing wood molding? -- Donald B.
DEAR DONALD: Although vinyl is not as popular as wood, you can still find a decent selection at a home center. The vinyl base is resilient to scuffs and can easily be cleaned.
You can buy vinyl-base molding by the roll or in sections. With sections you will have a lot of seams that may make it look ugly. You can buy base molding with either a straight profile or one that has a slight curve at the bottom. The curve makes for a nice transition to the floor.
Plan to start the first run of molding in a corner of the room or at a doorway and work your way around. Measure the piece of vinyl (particularly if you are using the rolled base) and cut it squarely so that it fits perfectly along the length of the wall.
When you reach the inside corner, run the vinyl to the end until it meets the adjacent wall, then push the next run of vinyl into the corner to mate with the first piece.
To cut the vinyl, lay it flat on top of a cutting surface, like a piece of plywood. Use a carpenter's square to square up the cut and run a sharp utility knife along the edge of the square. Use several light passes with the blade instead of trying to cut the vinyl in one heavy pass.
If you are using the vinyl with a curve, you will need to cut the curved profile into the new piece so that it butts together seamlessly. Another option is to cut each piece at a 45-degree angle, which can be difficult since the vinyl tends to be a little flimsy. Trust me, you will have better luck cutting the profile.
Now glue the vinyl to the wall. Naturally, the base of the wall should be clean and not have any holes.
The vinyl adhesive will have instructions, but generally you will apply it to the back of the molding and then use a notched trowel to comb the adhesive along the back of the molding.
For outside corners, bend the vinyl around the corner instead of cutting it at each edge. To do this you will need to remove a small amount of material from the backside of the vinyl.
Measure and mark on the back of the vinyl where it will hit the corner. Gently fold the vinyl (don't crease it) so that the back of it is exposed and on the outside of the fold. Run the utility knife along the mark with light passes to remove about half the thickness of the vinyl. You want to thin the vinyl so that it will easily bend and follow the corner of the wall without lifting off.
Make sure you are in a well-ventilated area when working with the adhesive. And when you stick the molding to the wall, push along the entire surface to make good, sticky contact.