How To Install Allure Traffic Floor Tiles, Plus Product Review

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When the kitchen cabinets guy at Home Depot gave me his personal product review of Allure Traffic Master™ floor tiles, I was immediately fascinated by his “how to” instructions for installation.

I had not gone into the store that day with flooring in mind. Pam and I’ve been living on our off grid southern Arizona acreage for nearly four years now (February of 2013) and occupying the Border Fort I built single handed for nearly three years. We had floors, walls, windows, flush toilets, one sink, electrical power from both solar and gasoline powered generators…but the kitchen still needed work.

Whille Dave and I waited for the computer to finish processing my order for custom sized kitchen cabinets, we got to talking about floors. I mentioned that my wife is none too fond of the rubber flooring I installed in 2010. It helps cushion her bones when she falls, what with her balance not always being the best, but it also shows every speck of dirt and remains virtually impossible to keep clean.

Not the way to keep a perfectionist Virgo redhead happy…and if Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

“You might want to check out our Allure tiles,” he told me. “No glue, mastic, nails, or carpet tape needed. It just sticks to itself.”

“A floating system?” I asked, my ears perking up. “Loose lay?”

He nodded. “Exactly. But in your kitchen, wait until your cabinets are installed before you put in the Allure. If you hold it down tight with the cabinets, it can either buckle or separate over time.”

I got it. Made sense. But…”What about stuff like, you know, the kitchen table? That would be holding it down some.”

“That doesn’t matter,” he assured me. “The table can move.”

Huh.

I understood what he meant. After all, our entire flooring system was loose-lay from the get-go. First, a layer of black plastic set right down on the Earth to moisture-proof and dirt-proof each room. On top of that, a layer of 15/32″ OSB strand board, just big old sheets of sheathing wood, connected to absolutely nothing, just lying there. Then the topper, 3-foot square, 3/8″ thick interlocking rubber flooring tiles of the type you see in a lot of weight lifting rooms these days.

If there was a commercial, flexible vinyl floor tile out there that was designed for loose lay installation…yeah. Get me some of that.

A day or two later, I stopped back by Home Dept, discovered they had a sale going on the flavor of Allure Traffic Master™ tile I liked best…and hauled it all home in a seriously overloaded Subaru (which is another story in another Hub).

Note: On the box, they list it as “TrafficMASTER™” tile…and aldo declare that it’s “The Easiest Floor Ever”. I liked the sound of that!

Some of the Allure Traffic Master tile brought home in the overloaded Subaru.

Some of the Allure Traffic Master tile brought home in the overloaded Subaru.

It would have been simpler to install these Allure floor tiles (be they Traffic Master™ or TrafficMASTER™) at the time the home was built. Most importantly, the decision was made to tile my bathroom first because its current built-up floor was nothing but a layer of OSB strand board topped with a couple of coats of paint. However, it also (a) covered a relatively small area, (b) had less clutter on the floor than any other room in the house, and (c) sits way back in the back corner of the place where my early learning curve mistakes wouldn’t be visible to most visitors (not that we get many of those).

When I get around to installing the tiles in the front half (i.e. “Pam’s half”) of the house, I can’t afford any boo-boo’s.

First, however, the stuff in my bathroom had to be moved. It might be the least cluttered room, but that didn’t mean it was uncluttered.

Moderately cluttered bathroom floor before adding tile. The darker areas show how tracked-in dirt has been grinding through the two coats of paint.

Moderately cluttered bathroom floor before adding tile. The darker areas show how tracked-in dirt has been grinding through the two coats of paint.

Steps leading into the mucked-out bathroom.

Steps leading into the mucked-out bathroom.

Mucked-out bathroom floor.

Mucked-out bathroom floor.

Allure has several available tile sizes, including some long, skinny items designed to fool the eye into thinking you’re looking at wooden boards. I didn’t like those at all, choosing instead the 2′ x 4′ version that’s designed to fool the eye into thinking you’re looking at expensive Italian marble.

It’s all really vinyl on top of resilient underlayment, of course.

I went with a shade called Ivory Travertine, and did I ever get lucky! Picked it out without consulting my wife…and she loves it.

If Mama’s happy, everybody’s happy.

Besides the pattern, I liked the 2′ x 4′ size and shape of the tiles. It intuitively felt like they’d be easer to work with than those long, skinny puppies.

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The underside of each tile is a slick, smooth black material edged on one side and one end with black glue strips. This strips attach to battleship gray glue strips bordering one end and one side of each tile’s upper surface.

Allure floor tile, bottom side.

Allure floor tile, bottom side.

Allure floor tile, top side.

Allure floor tile, top side.

The first challenge was going to be cutting tiles to fit around the base of the toilet. I’ve never had to do that before; the linoleum (or whatever) was always glued down to the subfloor with the toilet sitting atop the whole shebang in other houses I’ve owned.

So…how to tackle this little puzzle?

It wouldn’t be necessary to get a perfect fit because we could always buy one of those little throw rug thingies to cuddle the toilet base and hide any minor imperfections…but it did need to be close.

Hmmm….

Enter ye olde cardboard template concept. Grab a piece of cardboard, cut it like a sculptor shaving away the unnecessary parts until he’s got what he wants, and–okay, that should work.

And it did. With the cardboard templates (one for each side of the toile) cut first, it was possible to carve the tiles without making any “fatal errors” (to use computer terminology).

Note: Tiles that run along a wall edge need to have their “black glue” edges trimmed away before placement. Either that, or an “extra” gray-glue piece would need to be attached on the bottom side so for support.

Usually, it’s easiest to just cut it and forget it.

Allure tile with the "black glue edge" trimmed away for next-to-wall placement.

Allure tile with the “black glue edge” trimmed away for next-to-wall placement.


The first (wall side) cardboard template. The raggedy little curve toward the top of the photo is not accurate--but that's where my "artist's eye" comes in. When the knife is applied, the curve is smoothed out for a better fit.

The first (wall side) cardboard template. The raggedy little curve toward the top of the photo is not accurate–but that’s where my “artist’s eye” comes in. When the knife is applied, the curve is smoothed out for a better fit.


One tile, sliced and placed. Close enough.

One tile, sliced and placed. Close enough.

It was getting late in the day by the time that first tile was in place. In order to feel like I’d “gotten something done”, the other half of the “toilet surround” was left for another day. “Easy” tiles were cut where necessary and placed in position as fast as safely possible.

“Safely” being defined as “doing it without screwing up” and/or ruining a tile.

It was here that the real, functional beauty of the Allure Traffic Master™ system with GripStrip™ edges really came into play.

Yeah, I know that sounds like a freaking commercial, but I gotta tell ya, they’re not just whistling Dixie when they tout this as the easiest floor ever. I’ve struggled with a number of flooring installations over the years, and I do mean struggled. Those small square glue-’em-down tiles? I can never run those in a straight line. Never. Carpet? Not so bad, except for the stretching part, which can be an art unto itself. Linoleum?

Well, okay, I’m dating myself now. Nobody uses linoleum sheets any more. Do they?

The plus points for simplicity of use with Allure are:

    1. The tiles line up perfectly with ridiculous ease. Not once did I have to struggle with alignment.

    2. When you do make a mistake, you’ve got a bit of time to correct it. The glue strips can be pulled apart if you don’t let them set together “forever”. In tight spots especially, that’s an absolutely crucial advantage.

There was one minus point regarding ease of installation:

    1. That black underside is slick. It floats, all right. In fact, you can all too easily bump-slide a newly laid tile to all sorts of places where you don’t want it to be.

Second tile down.

Second tile down.


Third tile down.

Third tile down.


Fourth and fifth tiles down. (If you're getting bored, just scroll on down till something looks interesting.)

Fourth and fifth tiles down. (If you’re getting bored, just scroll on down till something looks interesting.)


Eleven tiles down and time to call it a night. The shadows are getting long, and our wild desert cottontail rabbit buddies are waiting for their evening carrot treats.

Eleven tiles down and time to call it a night. The shadows are getting long, and our wild desert cottontail rabbit buddies are waiting for their evening carrot treats.


Desert cottontail bunny wabbit with tweat, five minutes after the above floor tile photo was taken. Gotta keep our priorities straight.

Desert cottontail bunny wabbit with tweat, five minutes after the above floor tile photo was taken. Gotta keep our priorities straight.

The trickiest part of the tile work–except for the area beneath the bathtub–would be the second half of the cardboard template carving for the tile curving around the lefthand side of the toilet base. Unable to think of any better way to go about it with the materials at hand, I finally decided to simply start carving the cardboard, bit by bit, trusting my eye to get it more or less right in the end.

It worked out. There was a bit on the far side I should not have cut away, but the missing portion of the curve could be eyeballed well enough.

Because of the previous evening’s tile placements, a couple of those tiles would have to have their edges forcibly lifted enough to allow the curved piece to “tuck under”…but once again the glue Allure uses proved itself. There was a fair amount of cussing going on, but the end justified the means.

The cardboard template, lefthand side.

The cardboard template, lefthand side.

The cut piece.

The cut piece.

(*GULP!*) Do I really want to do this?

(*GULP!*) Do I really want to do this?

Almost--oh, foo. Gotta trim a little more. But those scissors won't work; where'd I lay that utility knife...?

Almost–oh, foo. Gotta trim a little more. But those scissors won’t work; where’d I lay that utility knife…?

Ah, piece of cake! Told you there was nothing to it!

Ah, piece of cake! Told you there was nothing to it!

  See all 22 photos Cat tested and approved.


See all 22 photos
Cat tested and approved.

That should give you an idea of how it goes with Allure Traffic Master™ (or TrafficMASTER™) floor tile installation. Now for the Product Review rating.

Bottom line, this product rates a full Five Stars, A+.

The only “tricky thing to remember” is that when molding trim and/or aluminum edge protectors are applied, only the “wall side” of the trim gets nailed down solid. The “floor side” must allow the Allure floor to “float”. Perhaps that’s the way it’s usually done, anyway, but I was glad to hear the Home Depot dude clue me in–because there are no specific instructions to that regard in or on the packaging that comes with the tiles.

I did leave a slightly oversized “hole” in the tiles where they joined together around the four bathtub legs–because that tub sits on steel pins that run right down through the subfloor. My wife and I may want to drop a washcloth (or rag or some such) around each leg if we’re going to play water polo in the tub. You know, to catch stray splashes, if any.

Overall, the key advantages and benefits of this system include:

1. Reasonable cost. We got this on sale at $1.69 per square foot.

2. Water resistant. Allure is recommended for every room in the house, including “wet rooms” such as bathrooms and/or sometimes soggy basements.

3. Easy to install. It really is. Allure tile is to other flooring products as PVC pipe is to other plumbing products.

4. Looks clean all the time. No kidding. I knew I had to be tracking dirt onto the floor from the first night it was installed, but you couldn’t see a bit of it.

5. Easy to clean. Again, no kidding. For a test, an old white tee shirt was dampened and used as a hand-mop. It pulled up plenty of our red clay dirt, slick as could be–but like I said, the tee shirt was the only place you could spot it.

6. Pretty! Both Pam and I really like the way this flooring looks

7. Durable. It seems to be–and it had better be; Allure warrants their TrafficMASTER™ tiles for 25 years of residential use.

If it’ll last for 30 years (and I’m betting it will, since we’re retired, not raising a bunch of rowdy kids), I may not have to replace this floor till I hit my 100th birthday.

 Newly floored bathroom, doorway view.


Newly floored bathroom, doorway view.


Interior view.

Interior view.

9 thoughts on “How To Install Allure Traffic Floor Tiles, Plus Product Review

  1. So glad you love your allure flooring! Wow, 5 Starts A+ review, thank you! Not sure when exactly your published this, but would love to connect with you about your experience.

    ~Aaron

    Allure Online Customer Outreach Team

  2. Thanks for checking in, Aaron. Publication date shows October 10, 2013–although it could have been a bit earlier than that, as it was right around that time that I finished migrating my articles from a writer’s website to this “home of my own”. Memory says the install was done earlier in the year. The Allure tiles are still doing their job beautifully in both bathrooms. At the time, I purchased enough additional tiles to do the rest of the house…but they’re still stacked in their boxes, not applied, for two reasons:

    1. The bathrooms are the only rooms in the house with stable, level wood subflooring. Everything else is 100% loose lay, interlocking rubber tiles (like you see in a workout gym) over strand board 4′ x 8′ pieces over 6 mil black plastic, set right down on Mother Earth. As a result, it’s not perfectly level and sometimes shifts a bit as this or that area of the house settles a little from traffic, etc. On reflection, I became far from certain that the Allure tiles wouldn’t take that as an excuse to separate on occasion, so I procrastinated.

    2. In July of 2013 (which was definitely some months after the bathroom floors were done, now that I think of it), heavy rains overwhelmed our French drain and we got flooded a bit here and there before I realized we were under attack and ran out in the middle of the downpour to hand dig a quick upstream diversion ditch. It won’t happen again…but the loose lay flooring was easy to lift & dry out in sections, which an entire room of glued-together Allure tiles would not be.

    Thus I continue to stare at the $2,000 pile of tiles in their boxes, pondering….:)

  3. U did a superb job. Especially with ur template and fit around the toilet. Very nice. I just wonder why didn’t u just pull the toilet off and just cut a hole around the flange. And u would have to waste so much time on being perfect. The toilet will cover the flange. ?

  4. That’s a logical question, Bruce…and the answer is that I’m not about to pull that toilet off the flange until it’s absolutely necessary. I installed it in the first place (in fact, I built the entire house single handed), but to me it was a WHOLE lot less stressful to fiddle around with fitting the tile than it would have been to remove and replace the toilet.

  5. I did my bathrooms with the same product. HOWEVER it was much easier to remove the two nuts on the toilet, turn off the water to the toiler, disconnect the water hose, suck the water out of the toilet bowl and simply lift it out. Took 5 minutes. As long as you keep the toilet level when removing you don’t have to take the water out of the bowl, simply turn off the water and flush; Replace the wax seal and reinstall………. too hard to cut out and put it in the other way.

  6. That makes sense, Harold–for anybody but me. I’m simply willing to cut like crazy to avoid doing just what you did. Not that I haven’t replaced wax seals beneath toilets before; in fact, I installed these in the first place. But believe me, it would take ME a lot more than 5 minutes to accomplish. 🙂

  7. hey the proper installation of any flooring product in a bathroom is to lift the toilet any other way allows moisture to get around the flooring and you will eventually having lifting of the product no matter what it is, the only remedy is to use silicone and that looks very shoddy and unprofessional, showing pictures like this makes anyone believe they can do the job when most times bathrooms and large jobs they can’t

  8. Suit yourself, Jeff. I’ve never been one to worry about “proper” installation of anything, preferring to focus on what works for me. This tile system is specifically designed to be free floating, however–not pinned down to anything except for the glued edges of the tiles being connected to each other–so I was not about to “pin it down” by clamping it under the toilet. This tile was installed a couple of years ago and no moisture has caused any lifting of the tile to date. Finally, I have zero use for the word “can’t”. If a homeowner looks a job over and says “Nope, not for me!”…that’s fine, but that’s his or her decision, not mine.

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