You've probably admired the seamless, easy-to-maintain look of vinyl flooring and relished its affordability. On the other hand, you may not have anticipated the way it can bubble up, and worry that it's destined to be an eyesore unless you spend even more money to fix it. No matter how carefully it's installed, sometimes bubbles appear in vinyl or linoleum flooring for weeks, months or even years after installation. Trapped between the vinyl above and the subfloor beneath, the bubbles won't go away on their own. But an everyday needle or utility knife and a rolling pin or floor roller are your secret weapons to spell each bubble's doom.
Removing Small Bubbles
Sweep and mop the floor to completely to remove dirt, food, grease or oils. Use soapy water, commercial cleaning formula intended for vinyl flooring or a mixture of hot water with a splash or two of vinegar for an all-natural cleaning and disinfecting formula.
Kneel down and inspect the floor carefully. Look for small blisters and larger bubbles where trapped air and off-gassing pushes up on the flooring material. Pierce each bubble with a large, heavy-duty sewing needle, very small ice pick or the tip of a utility knife for larger bubbles.
Spread a hand towel or similar cloth over the pierced bubble. Place a hot iron on top of the towel. Push down on the iron and move it slightly to avoid burning a hole in the cloth. Heat the flooring until the bubble is smooth and the vinyl adhesive is reactivated. Small holes -- about 1-inch in diameter or less -- respond particularly well to this method.
Set a heavy brick, cast-iron frying pan, stack of books or another weighty object on top of the bubbled and heated area. Wait 12 to 24 hours before removing the weight.
Inject vinyl adhesive into the bubble if previous steps fail to eliminate it. Purchase an injectable glue that comes in a syringe. Alternatively, choose your own injection needle and a separate adhesive designed for vinyl flooring. Insert the glue-filled syringe into the bubble and squirt a few drops of glue. Remove the syringe and immediately smooth the bubble, using a rolling pin. Cover the bubble with wax paper and set a weight on top. Wait 12 to 24 hours before removing the weight and wax paper.
Repair Large Bubbles
Heat the bubbled area, using a hot iron over the top a towel or similar cloth. Move the iron slowly and continue to spread the heat to avoid burning the cloth. Iron for several minutes, until the vinyl beneath is hot. Remove the cloth and iron immediately.
Slice through the vinyl in an "X" shape, using a utility knife or similar cutting instrument. Pull up on the cut's edges to break the vinyl free from the subfloor. Work carefully to avoid tearing the vinyl.
Scoop a dab of vinyl flooring adhesive onto a small plastic knife or other applicator capable of fitting into the vinyl bubble without enlarging the hole. Spread the adhesive around the edges in an even layer.
Smooth the edges of the bubble and ensure the cut edges join precisely. Use a rolling pin to help flatten the edges and force any air out of the opening, if necessary. Press down on the bubble and wipe away any glue that oozes from the repair, using a wet cloth. Cover the bubble with a piece of wax paper and set a weight on top. Leave the area undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours.
Wipe on vinyl flooring seam sealer according to the manufacturer's instructions, using the applicator enclosed with the product. Spread the sealer on each seam covering the bubble, using a back-and-forth motion. Wait a few minutes then buff away the excess. This helps seal and smooth the repair.