What Does Self-Stick Primer Do?

What Does Self-Stick Primer Do?. Self-stick primer, more commonly known as self-stick tile primer, is the substance used on sub-floor to provide a good sticking surface for self-stick tiles. Self-stick tiles are those with an adhesive backing so that using additional adhesive is unnecessary. Instead, a protective film is peeled off the back of the tile to expose the adhesive, and then the tile is stuck into place and pressed to ensure proper adhesion.


Use self-stick tiles with a variety of sub-flooring options, including plywood and concrete. You may even place self-stick tiles to existing vinyl as long as the vinyl is secured and not coming up anywhere. If using concrete as your sub-flooring, it is important to use a basement proofer to take care of any moisture coming out of the concrete that will cause your tile's adhesive to fail. If using a basement proofer, do not use self-stick tile primer.


Thinner than a paint-type primer, self-stick tile primer is typically applied in two coats. The first coat is watered down so it is very thin, applied and allowed to dry. A second full strength coat is put on top of the first. This is also allowed to dry adequately. Apply with a short nap roller equipped with a long handle to save your back. Completely cover the entire surface area where you intend to stick down tiles.

Regular Primer

Depending on the brand and recommendations of the tiles you choose, it is sometimes suggested to prime very porous floors with a regular paint primer prior to using the self-stick primer. Porous floors, like concrete and plywood, absorb much of the liquid, and a thicker paint primer can help seal these materials.

Before Installing

Before installing your tiles, allow them to sit in the room you intend to stick them in for at least 48 hours. This allows them to acclimate to the temperature and relative humidity in the room, and they are less likely to change size post-installation. If working from more than one box, alternate tiles out of different boxes to conceal any slight batch color variations.


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