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How to Install Vinyl Flooring

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You’ve picked a stunning vinyl flooring product for your home renovation and the material has arrived. Now it’s time for do-it-yourself installation. This part of the process can be challenging, but the work you put into installing your flooring will be worth it in the end – beautiful, durable and easy-to-maintain floors sure are a nice home feature. Of course, proper installation is necessary for achieving the outcome you want. With that in mind, check out these steps for installing your vinyl plank flooring.

Step 1: Preparation

Vinyl plank flooring requires careful preparation prior to installation. The product conforms to whatever is underneath it, so if you leave a protruding nail in your subfloor, the vinyl will form a bump over time. As such, you want to make sure the surface upon which you install your vinyl plank flooring is completely level and free of debris. Arrive at that clean slate by doing the following:

Remove existing floors: Replacing carpet with vinyl? Or what about tile? While some vinyl products allow you to place the material over old flooring, others require you to install it directly on top of the subfloor or underlayment. Because old floors can be uneven, placing vinyl on the underlayment is generally ideal. So, your first installation step is to remove old flooring. If you use a scraping tool to remove tiles, for instance, apply pressure horizontally rather than downward. That way, you’re less likely to dent your subfloor.

Level your subfloor​: Check the condition of your subfloor. If it’s level and undamaged, it’s good to go. However, a surface that’s in disrepair may need to be replaced. You can drill in a plywood underlayment with screws fairly easily (the screw heads should be below the surface of the wood). If you install an underlayment over your existing subfloor, make sure the surface is level. You can fill in holes and even divots caused by screws with caulking. Take care to ensure your caulk job is even.

Clean the floor: Because dust, debris and wood chips can cause bumps in vinyl plank flooring, you should thoroughly sweep before moving on to the next step. Use a broom first, then pull out a vacuum with with a hose attachment to pick up the remaining particles. Avoid tracking new dust and dirt once you’ve cleaned the subfloor. In fact, if you’re doing the project over the course of several days, you may want to stop after leveling the subfloor, then start the next day by cleaning.

Measure and plan: Take measurements of your room in order to properly place your tiles – you may have already done this when ordering your vinyl plank flooring. Then, decide how you will lay out your tiles. You can stagger where breaks fall (kind of how bricks are stacked) if you want. In many cases, you may need to cut some of the boards to fit into the room. Per the old adage, you should measure twice (or more) and cut once. You may want to leave the cutting for later in the installation process – that way, you can see exactly where pieces will fit. To cut the boards, score a line on either side using a box cutter, then fold the pieces and pull them apart.

Step 2: Installation

vinyl

Direction of boards: The vinyl plank flooring boards should lay parallel to the longest run of the room. For instance, if the space is 5-feet-by-8-feet, the boards should run along the 8-foot wall. This layout will look best. Start on the left side of the room and work right.

“The vinyl plank flooring boards should lay parallel to the longest run of the room.”

Lay down flooring: Many vinyl products have adhesive on the back already, saving you from having to place it on your floor first. Peel the coating away from the boards, revealing the sticky side. When you install the boards, place the back end against your starting wall. You should bend the board as you place it down so the end you’re installing is against the floor while the part yet to be placed is in the air. Roll the board down and onto the floor. This technique prevents the formation of air pockets and gives you an even final product. Use your hand to press the boards to the ground.

Most vinyl plank flooring boards have a lip that juts out. Place each successive board on top of that lip so the flooring fits together like a puzzle. Remember to stagger board lengths.

Trim and molding​: After your floor is set (you’ve cut pieces to fit in the remaining spots and each board is in place), you can return door jams and molding to their original places. Doing this last gives the room a finished look.

Additional tips

  • You may have to cut some pieces as you install, especially if your room has some odd corners or curves. Make sure to measure those pieces carefully prior to cutting them.
  • Follow the manufacturer instructions associated with your flooring.
  • Take it slow – you’re better off being careful then fast when installing floors.
  • Make sure your boards are flush as you lay them.

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(75) Comments

  1. I have tile floors and want to change to vinyl flooring- Vesdura Vinyl Plank – 5.5mm WPC Click Lock – Rainsford Collection. My question is can I lay this over the tile?

    Thanks

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Doni,

      Thank you for your inquiry! Technically you can install over the tile but we don’t usually recommend it. You need the floor beneath to be as level as possible for the vinyl floor to stay together and it is too hard to tell with tile whether you will have issues down the road. I would suggest at least using an underlay beneath to help hide the grout lines. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  2. I want to install a floating vinyl plank floor (click lock) in my basement. The basement has a concrete subfloor. Can you provide any advice or recommendations for a vapor barrier? Also, due you recommend 2 or 6mm thick vapor barrier?

  3. I am looking at the vinyl wood look planks, they appear to be click lock, but the pictures show grout. i would like to do a wood look vinyl plank floor with 1/8 grout lines. Is this possible? Would I use something other than the click lock?

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Sarah – thanks for reaching out to us! It’s hard to say if that’s the case for sure without seeing the pictures that you are referring to. We have heard of vinyl tiles that you can use grout with, but not the vinyl planks (woodgrain look). Using grout with a wood look vinyl tile would make it look less realistic, as it is not a regular part of wood installation, and it is also not necessary with this type of product, so it is an additional cost that you don’t have to incur. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  4. I am going to be laying floating vinyl plank in my upstairs hallway. At the top of the stairs is the widest part of the hallway (6.5’x4′), and then there is a long narrow walkway (only 28″ wide and 11′ long). Now I know the rule is normally to run the plank with the longest wall, but I don’t think that would look right at the top of the landing, having the flooring run ll when my stairs are =. My question is, can I lay it in a staggered L shape? I know you can do this with hardwood, but not sure the rules with floating vinyl click. I wish I could draw a picture or something so you could get a better idea of what I am talking about, lol. But hopefully you understand…

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Tiffany – Thanks for reaching out to us. If you are using a glue down vinyl, then yes this would be possible. If you’re using a floating vinyl product then this would not be a possibility, as the locking systems would not lock up properly. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Thanks!

  5. We are looking to install Vinyl Planks in new constructed home, can we install directly over the builder installed sheet vinyl ?
    Also since the house is an open concept, the flooring could have runs as long a 35 feet, do you have to put in a transition? Seems like this would take away from the overall looks.

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Vaughn,

      Thank you for getting in touch! You should be able to install over the sheet vinyl as long as it is adhered down. If it is a floated vinyl you will need to take it up before installing.

      Yes, you will need a transition piece anywhere the floor will have a run longer than 30 feet. You can minimize the visibility of the molding by putting it in a door way though. This usually looks best and it the least noticeable area. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  6. We’re about to install 4mm vinyl plank. All the advice says score with a utility knife and snap to make a cut. Seems from the sample Thatd be REALLY hard to do! What various methods are there to cut a plank. If I used a small skill saw or a chop saw what teeth blade is best?
    Need more direction on good and tricks for cutting safely. Also cutting out notches and wide notches to go around a vent for example
    Thanks

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Mandy,

      Thank you for getting in touch! You can use a circular saw or a jigsaw, the teeth blade doesn’t really matter as long as it is a new blade. It is not a difficult material to cut. I would also suggest the jigsaw for the notches. Another thing to remember is that the cuts don’t have to be 100% clean because they will be covered either by a transition piece or baseboard. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  7. We plan to install vinyl plank flooring over our existing commercial grade, smooth finish, sheet vinyl flooring, with welded seams. The existing floor is in good shape. It is firmly attached everywhere except for the edges where it hits two exterior doors and one sliding door. In these places it is still in good shape, but it is no longer glued down. Can we nail it down, then proceed? Or is it best to re-glue these areas? Would a combination of both these techniques be better?

    This is a level, well-built house with raised wood floor construction. If applicable, we have wet winters, and dry, hot summers. Yearly temperatures extremes range from 25 to 115 degrees. We use a swamp cooler and forced air heating.

    Is it best to install a floating or glue-down floor? If glued, will the glue adhere to the sheet vinyl? We’ve been given conflicting opinions from area professionals. The floor will be installed throughout the house.

    I hope I didn’t ask too many questions. Thank you!

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Anita,

      Thank you for getting in touch! You will need to glue down the existing floor again.

      As long as your home is temperature controlled you can go with a floating floor, just use an expansion gap that is a bit bigger than the thickness of the vinyl floor. If may be hard to glue down the vinyl because of the finish on the existing floor. You would need to either have a concrete or wood subfloor or take a very coarse sandpaper and scratch up the existing floor so the glue can adhere down.

      Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  8. Hi, I have a question ,,, Do I need underlayment Under my VINYL I want to install self stick Vinyl in the kitchen floor

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Yerdan,

      Thank you for getting in touch! If it is a peel and stick vinyl you do not need an underlay or vapor barrier. You only need a vapor barrier if you are installing a floating vinyl over a concrete sub floor. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  9. Hi,
    I just finished laying down vinyl planks in my basement, but I don’t know how to lay the connectors down. The connectors we bought are to connect the vinyl flooring and the carpet together, but the flooring underneath the carpet and vinyl is concrete. So my question is how do I install the connector correctly with concrete as my subfloor?

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Cody. Thanks so much for reaching out to us! The connectors or transition strips should come with a metal mounting track. You have to glue the track to the concrete subfloor and then the strip clicks into the track. Here is a useful link regarding this process: http://www.versatrim.com/products.html. Please let us know if you have any other questions. Thanks!

  10. We are planning to install vinyl plank flooring in our basement. The room is approximately 15X 40 or so which exceeds the recommended span of the flooring on the product information sheet. It advises a transition strip. What does that mean and where do we get it? We ordered the Ovio rustic slate vinyl click lock planks.

    Help!

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Andy. Thanks so much for reaching out to us! Yes, you’ll have to use a transition strip or a t-molding. It would be the same type of product that you would use when transitioning from one room to the next. If we have this available for the product that you’re interested in, it’ll be listed in the accessories section on the product’s product page under “compatible moldings”. If we don’t have this available for that product, then you can try to source a match locally through a Home Depot or Lowes. If you’re having trouble finding this information on our website, please feel free to give us a call toll free at 1-877-631-2845 or chat with one of our online customer service reps. Please let me know if you have any other questions. Thanks!

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Mike. Thanks so much for reaching out to us! Sorry, I’m not understanding the question. Can you please elaborate a bit more :)? Once we get a better idea, we are more than happy to answer your question! Thanks so much.

  11. I have ordered the sample of plank vinyl flooring and believe it is what I want to order to do my kitchen to a sub-flooring, My question is would it be a good idea to put in my kitchen with a 3mm thickness and a floating material installed underneath, I have seen some thinner put down in homes in the past but just would like to be sure before I begin and understand the manufacture has installation instructions with the product also to help this DIY project Please, any advice will be appreciated very much Stanley Amweg, Texas This will be a replacement flooring onto an older floor as well

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Stanley,

      Thank you for getting in touch! I’m not sure I fully understand your questions but you will be fine installing a 3mm floating vinyl or a vinyl that adheres down in your kitchen. Floating will have an easier installation if you are installing yourself though. In a higher traffic area you will also want something with a 0.3mm or 0.5mm wear layer to ensure you have a durable enough product. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  12. I feel like it would be a good idea to remove old flooring. I think it’s best just to start new and avoid any future problems. I wouldn’t have thought how much even dust can cause a problem. Sounds like it has to be pretty clean before you do anything. Thanks for the info.

  13. We just purchased the allure vinyl flooring that looks like Wood. My question is does the flooring need to be Acumated for any length of time before installation?

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Brenda,

      Thank you for getting in touch! You will need to acclimate the vinyl floor for at least 48 hours before installing. Please let me know if you have any other questions!

  14. I want to replace the half carpet, half lenolieum floor in my RV. Is vinyl plank flooring a good idea?
    The sub-floor is 1/2 inch and I am in the southwest desert with extreme summer heat…
    Suggestions ?
    Thanks for your time.

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Dwayne,

      Thank you for getting in touch! Vinyl would be a good option for you because it is quite durable and very easy to clean as it is water-resistant. It does expand and contract with large changes in temperature so I would highly suggest making sure you have the correct size of expansion gap around the perimeter of the area you are installing as well as where you are butting the floor up against any stationary objects. This will help when the floor expands slightly in the heat so that it does not buckle. Please let us know if there is anything else we can help out with!

  15. I am getting ready to purchase vinyl plank flooring for two houses. Both have linoleum. One house is in tact. The other however has linoleum patches that I cannot remove. Please, for the love of God, tell me that I don’t have to remove it.
    Do I need a moisture barrier and a pad? What is the best way? I will be ordering Pitch Mocha Vesdura Float.
    Any other words of wisdom for me?

    Thank you for your help. I am very excited to get these projects done.

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Karen,

      Thank you for getting in touch! As long as the flooring beneath is flat, level, clean and dry you should be fine installing the vinyl on top of the linoleum. If it is concrete beneath you will need at least a basic vapor barrier to ensure the subfloor is sealed off from the vinyl flooring. If you would like some sound dampening and temperature insulation you can use a more substantial underlay beneath but it is not 100% necessary, it’s all personal preference. If you have any other questions please feel free to let us know!

  16. We are thinking of replacing carpet with plank vinyl in our garage, which our son lives in. It has a concrete floor. In the summer the room gets very warm with the carpet, but nice in the winter. Will the vinyl become cold in the winter? the room is heated, but with the concrete floor underneath, is there a way to keep it warm? Thank you

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Nancy,

      Thank you for getting in touch! If the flooring is installed with only a basic vapor barrier beneath the floor will get cold on the concrete. I would suggest getting a full underlay that offers insulation to keep the flooring from getting too cold. It won’t necessarily be a warm floor, but the underlay will be able to take some of the chill out of the flooring. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  17. Hi, I am looking to install vinyl plank flooring in Naples Florida. There is an existing wood subfloor under carpet. How does it attach to floor? Glue down? Do you recommend vinyl for South Florida with the high humidity? How long after I place my order will it be delivered? Thanks, Jim

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi James,

      Thank you for your inquiry! Vinyl is a great option for you because it is a water resistant product. This means it will do fine in high humidity areas. The way the floor adheres to the subfloor will depend on the type you choose. We have some options that are glue down, peel and stick as well as floating options that don’t adhere down at all. I have included the link to all our vinyl plank options below for you to browse through:

      https://www.builddirect.com/Luxury-Vinyl-Tile-Results.aspx

      The delivery time of your order will also depend on the specific floor you choose because we don’t have all our products in all our warehouses. Please give us a call at 1-877-631-2845 and one of our customer service consultants would be happy to go through and check on delivery lead times. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  18. I plan on laying vinyl flooring planks in my kitchen. Can I just install it over the existing linoleum floor? The existing floor does have a textured feel to it so it’s not completely smooth. Thanks

    • I’m going through this right now. When we bought the house in ’08, the kitchen had the linoleum planks. With a baby on the way, we have decided to take out all of the carpet in the house and do all of the floors in vinyl planks. In our kitchen, I’ve pulled up the old linoleum planks only to find that whoever installed those put them on top of tile which was glued down to linoleum sheet glued to the subfloor. Theres a right way to do it and an easy way.

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Andrew,

      Thank you for your inquiry! You can install over the existing linoleum floor as long as it is clean, dry and level. As you will be floating the floor, you will need to ensure the floor level variation does not exceed 1/8″ over an 8 foot span. I also suggest using a vapor barrier on top of the linoleum to completely seal it off from the new vinyl floor. I’ve included a link below to the vapor barrier we carry for you to take a look at:

      https://www.builddirect.com/Underlay/MoistureBlock-Vapor-Barrier—100-sq-ft-Roll/ProductDisplay_10575_p1_10076337.aspx?bdpdp=new

      Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  19. I am looking into putting vinyl plank flooring in the basement over a concert floor. What is the weight limit for the vinyl? There are shelves to move around and a freezer. Is there a weight limit for the vinyl?

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hello K. Loveland,

      Thank you for getting in touch! We don’t have a concrete weight limit for vinyl but the shelves and freezer should be fine. We just recommend not installing under cabinets in kitchens that have all the dishware and pots and pans because that can become too heavy when it is attached to the walls. Please let us know if there is anything else we can help out with!

  20. I have laid a complete bed and bathroom using vinyl plank flooring. Unfortunately, a leak has occurred and I must take the flooring up. Can I repair the flooring where I fixed the subsurface water damage? Do I have to replace all the flooring?

    Thanks,

    Wade M.

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Wade,

      Thank you for your inquiry! You should be able to reinstall the floor if it is a click lock installation method. I would check over all the locking mechanisms on the planks and if they are intact the floor should be fine to install again. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Arlette,

      You are correct, swamp coolers could damage natural wood flooring products because of the extra moisture. Vinyl plank flooring should be fine because it is a water resistant product. Please let us know if there is anything else we can help out with!

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi there, That is a great questions. We have many different types of vinyl flooring and the main difference in thickness would actually be the core material. Some thinner tiles may just be a straight PVC vinyl tile however as you get into thicker products you can see different types of cores such as composite, HDF, and cork. These cores will add the to durability and comfort to your flooring.

      If you have any other questions like this please feel free to contact a product representative at 1-877-631-2845.

      Thanks so much

  21. I have a hall running into a 10×12 room. I understand running the plank parallel to the 12 ft side starting on the left side. The hall intersects the room on the right side. If we lay the plank up the hall along the same pattern then the hall will have planks running perpendicular not parallel with the hall walls. That can’t be right. What do we do?

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Becky,

      You can continue the flooring in the same direction or you can have it perpendicular and just connected with a transition piece, it’s completely up to you. We’ve seen it done both ways. If you are still unsure I would highly suggest speaking to an experienced installer to get their opinion. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any other questions!

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