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How to Install Vinyl Plank Flooring on Stairs

If you’ve installed vinyl flooring in your home, you may want to consider extending it to your stairs. Updating your landing can give your home some more freshness, and matching the stairs to the room they are in keeps your design cohesive. Additionally, many homeowners use vinyl flooring on their stairs as well as elsewhere because it’s easy to install and clean. Before you buy more vinyl pieces for your home, take these items into consideration:

Type of vinyl

Vinyl flooring comes in planks, tiles and sheets, each of which require a different installation process. Some vinyl has tongues and groves while others do not. For example, sheet vinyl comes in one large, well, sheet that you lay out and cut as needed. With such variation in vinyl flooring, you may pick the material you’ll use for your stairs based on ease of installation and your project’s requirements.

Many homeowners prefer vinyl tiles for stairs because they are smaller and therefore simpler to lay. However, sheet flooring may be ideal if you need to wrap the vinyl around the edge of the stairs. Consider the look you want for your stairs and the installation process that will be easiest for you when deciding on a type of vinyl flooring.

Furthermore, you can purchase stair treads, or the pieces that go over the edge, made of vinyl. Instead of cutting tiles to cover the front of your stairs, just use the treads.

Measuring, drawing and planning your vinyl flooring layout will help your stairs look great.

Careful planning

You probably measured and planned your vinyl flooring layout for other areas of your home, and you should most certainly do so with your stairs. You might even want to draw up to-scale designs to discover the best way to lay your vinyl tiles or planks. Without planning, you may end up with tile slivers oddly stuck at the edge of your stairs. However, by measuring and planning, you can place your tiles in a way that doesn’t leave awkward pieces in the design.

Factor treads into your layout by starting with those and centering them on your stairs. Afterward, you might need to cut more pieces for the rest of the stairs.


No matter where you install vinyl flooring, you should always prepare your space. Make sure the subfloor or underlayment is perfectly level, or the final vinyl product will have bumps. You can use caulking to seal joints and cover screws (which should sit beneath the surface of the underlayment). Additionally, clean the floor thoroughly before you begin installation so no dust or debris is caught under your vinyl flooring.

“No matter where you install vinyl flooring, you should always prepare your space by making sure the ground is level.”

Peel and stick vinyl: Many vinyl products come with the adhesive already on the back. All you have to do is peel the protective sheet away and lay down your flooring, per your planned design. Peel and stick vinyl is preferred by many do-it-yourself enthusiasts as it’s quick, clean and easy.

Glue-down vinyl: Glue-down vinyl products do not have an adhesive back, so you’ll have to put glue on the substrate first. Spread some down, and use a trowel to make sure the ground is evenly coated. Then, your surface will be ready for vinyl installation.

With peel and stick and glue-down vinyl flooring options, you want to press the product to the ground and work out any air bubbles. In the case of sheet vinyl, that may mean starting by the inside of the stair’s L shape (where the vertical and horizontal pieces meet), then working your way outward. If you use tile, you can also start at that spot.

(12) Comments

  1. Hi there! Just wondering about luxury vinyl on a new house. Should the flooring be laid before the stair railings?

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Laurir,

      You will want to install the stair railings first and then the vinyl plank floor. I would suggest checking with an installer as well as it is hard to say 100% what would work best without seeing the area in person. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Jo,

      I’m not sure if I fully understand your question but most vinyl planks will have bull nose available for the stairs. They will attach right at the end of the tread and you shouldn’t need to finish it off. Please let us know if you have any other questions or if we can clarify anything!

  2. I don’t seem to be able to find a recommendation for what kind of glue to use to glue vinyl plank to stairs. It seems to me like it should be something soft and pliable like rubber cement rather than something that cures rigid and hard like Liquid Nails? What would you suggest?

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Karl,

      Thank you for getting in touch! There is no general rule for which to lay down first, as it won’t affect the success of the installation. Aesthetically it may look better to install the bottom of the step first and then the back, but that is person preference. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

  3. When cutting the vinyl plank for the glue down installation on stairs, is it necessary to leave space around all edges for expansion or can I cut to size? I’ve asked several flooring “experts” but keep getting different answers. Home Depot said you can just cut to size if it will be glued down, but carpenter flooring installers say I need to leave space for expansion. Now, as far as I’ve researched, vinyl does not really expand all of that much, which leads me to believe it would not need space. But I would appreciate a definitive answer if you are able to provide it. And, if I do need to leave space, what should I use to make the stairs still look finished? My stairs are enclosed on both sides. I previously purchased caulking as that was what was recommended to me before. Thank you for you input. Much appreciated.

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Tiffany. Thanks for reaching out to us! It is recommended to use 1/8″ expansion gap and trim it off with a quarter round/shoe nose molding. Vinyl is a lot more stable than that of wood species, but it will still expand and contract. If you have any more questions, please feel free to call in to our general line at 1 877 631 2845, and ask to speak to a product expert on the vinyl team. Thanks :)!

  4. You have given direction on how to lay peel/ and stick vinyl flooring and glue down vinyl flooring on the stairs…. But do not talk about how to install plank vinyl flooring (floating ) on the stairs. This is misleading because the title of this page is “How to install vinyl plank flooring on stairs”. Is the lack of direction regarding vinyl plank flooring because it is not recommended for installation on stairs?

    • BuildDirect Product Expert Team
      BuildDirect Product Expert Team - Reply

      Hi Katie,

      Thank you for getting in touch! All building codes prohibit any floating installation on stairs of any type of flooring. You will have to take the floating planks and glue them down using the glue down installation instructions. Please let us know if you have any other questions!

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