Vinyl plank floors are a great choice for people who want to have the look of hardwood without the upkeep. They’re also resilient, meaning they can withstand high traffic, and they don’t require any special treatments or cleaning techniques. But before you buy your vinyl planks, there are some things you need to know about how best to install them.
In this article, we’ll take you through the steps involved in proper vinyl plank flooring installation, as well as provide some other valuable information to help you make an informed decision. Keep reading to learn more.
Find a level surface to work on
Find a level surface that is as clean as possible and free of debris, dust, and cobwebs. The easiest way to do this is to remove any carpeting or existing flooring to expose the subfloor. If you already have vinyl flooring in place, the easiest method for removing it will be pulling up each plank one at a time to ensure they can lay flat on your working surface (and won’t stick underneath).
Plan ahead before installing plank flooring
Allow yourself enough space to work comfortably without running into walls or obstacles. You don't want anything hindering your ability to apply pressure when adhering the vinyl planks together.
Make sure there is adequate ventilation; this may require temporary removal of window coverings and opening windows and doors. Vinyl planks are normally sold in boxes containing 12 full-size pieces or 6 half-sized pieces, depending on the size of your room. This means that it may be necessary to purchase more than one box if you're covering a larger area with vinyl planks. Once you’ve figured out how much flooring you need, have the manufacturer deliver the correct amount right to your doorstep. Keep in mind that heavy items are best delivered during hours when you’re there to observe the delivery, so as not to damage your home or belongings.
When ordering, make sure you know what type of subfloor is currently underneath your space and what kind will work best with your new vinyl planks. If you have a subfloor structure that is made of particleboard, plywood or masonite, you will want to consider replacing it with boards that are impenetrable by moisture.
If your subfloor features a cement base, it should be level and dry. It is not necessary to replace the cement unless there are cracks or holes in it; if this is the case, patching compounds can be purchased at most hardware stores for this purpose.
Purchase the right adhesive
Once you’ve selected your vinyl flooring, make sure that you also purchase an adhesive that is compatible with your chosen material. This adhesive is normally sold in a tube for one-time use, and it should be applied to the underside of each plank before installation. It can be purchased at most home improvement stores, hardware stores, or on Amazon
Some manufacturers may recommend that you put glue on the seams of their planks instead; this will help them adhere to one another when they are pressed together. If you decide to go this route, make sure you apply an even coat in small sections – about 3 feet by 3 feet in area – then press down on one end of each piece until it sticks securely in place before moving onto another section of flooring.
If your vinyl planks have a grid system cut into them (which allows you to lay them on top of each other), make sure that you apply adhesive on the inside and outside of each grid. This will prevent your flooring from shifting when walking upon it or installing it on a concrete base.
You should never attempt to install vinyl flooring without using an appropriate adhesive; if this is done, it becomes very easy for planks to come loose and become damaged by water or dirt.
Installation begins with the new subfloor
Before setting up your workspace, we recommend removing any existing carpet or vinyl flooring (or anything else that might get in the way). If there are large holes in your old subfloor, they should be patched with a cement patching compound before you begin laying down the new vinyl planks. If you are working on a concrete subfloor, make sure it is dry and free of cracks or holes before installing vinyl flooring.
Once the area has been prepared, start by laying down one half-sized or full-sized plank at an angle toward your working space. This will help create a bit of ease when connecting the other pieces later, as well as making it easier to fill gaps that may appear between slats. Make sure that you take into account the angles around outside walls so that there are no unsightly gaps in your finished product.
If you want to ensure secureness, use small nails to hold each section together while gluing if necessary. Do not place adhesive on the areas where nails are being placed. Continue this process until you have laid all the vinyl planks in place in your designated area. Ensure that there are no gaps between the pieces, and make use of a tapping block or rubber mallet to smooth out any bumps or ridges if needed.
If you are installing your vinyl flooring on top of an existing subfloor, you should ensure that it has been installed correctly before continuing. If done incorrectly, moisture can seep underneath tiles and cause them to curl; once this happens, they become very difficult to remove without causing damage.
Allow everything to dry up
Once installation is complete, allow adhesive 24 hours to dry completely before using the new space. Make sure your home is clean and free from dirt and debris before getting started as well – unclean workspaces are breeding grounds for insects, which are not something you want to be encountering in your finished flooring.
If moisture does come into contact with vinyl flooring during the drying process, it can warp or cause adhesive to become loose. If this happens, do not attempt to remove planks on their own; instead, let them dry completely then try removing them using a pry bar. Once they have dried out, clean them thoroughly with warm soapy water before reinstalling
When working with large rooms containing many pieces of vinyl flooring, it is best to start by laying down an entire row at one time. This will provide you with a solid starting point when creating the pattern of your slats. If you aren't sure what pattern to use, checking the direction of your existing flooring is a great place to start. Most vinyl floor products come with a suggested installation diagram as well, which will help you decide on a pattern.
When the installation is complete you will want to vacuum the new floor thoroughly before filling any holes or cracks that may be visible from your subfloor – if these are left alone they become magnets for dirt and debris. This step should also include cleaning all tools used during installation. Vinyl does not respond well to adhesives that have been left out too long, so make sure you clean everything immediately after using it.
If you have created a hole in your new vinyl flooring during installation, do not despair. All holes should be filled with vinyl repair compound, which is available at most home improvement stores. Repair compound comes either in putty or paste – whichever you prefer to use is up to you, but it should be applied and allowed ample time to dry before walking on the new flooring.
There are few things more satisfying than installing your flooring – and it's even better when that flooring is durable enough for everyday living. Vinyl planks can take a lot of abuse without needing replacement, making them perfect for any room in the house.
Should you do the job yourself?
If you are the type of person that finds completing projects satisfying, then your inner DIYer may be jumping out in joy at this point. You should, however, remember that when it comes to flooring installation there is no substitute for professional workmanship. If you are unsure what steps are involved in installing vinyl planks or if you have any questions along the way, call a professional – they can give you valuable advice before beginning this project.
One of the most important things to remember when working with the flooring is to always protect yourself against injury by wearing proper safety equipment. When using chemicals it's best to wear gloves and eye protection because these materials can cause damage or irritation to skin or eyes.
How to install vinyl plank flooring – FAQ
How long does it take to install a vinyl plank floor?
The actual process of installing a vinyl plank floor usually takes about 1 day. If you're also going to be putting down the underlayment, it's going to add another 2-3 days onto that time frame.
How do I lay out my room before I install vinyl flooring?
Make sure that you pull out the items in your room that you think might get in your way like furniture, appliances, etc. You want to make sure that you can fit all of the necessary pieces together with ease. A good method is the ‘box within a box' approach where you will designate two boxes around your perimeter walls and then pull them together at the end. This way you know that your room will fit within the designated area.
What if my subfloor is not level?
Most vinyl planks are designed to be installed on wood, concrete, or even cement subfloor, so shouldn't have too much of an issue with this. However, there's a chance that your subfloor may not be completely even due to things like settling or construction issues.
You want to try and find out what the problem areas are by doing a couple of floor tests before starting installation just in case. Recruit some help for this process because it will require someone standing in different spots around the room while another person outside reads off measurements from a measuring tape.
Once you have determined where the problem areas are, you can decide how to proceed with fixing them. You may need to rent some floor leveling equipment or even jack up those problem spots before proceeding. However, if your subfloor is completely uneven and not salvageable(like completely rotted wood), then you're going to want to consider laying down a solid underlayment on top of it instead.
Is installing laminate flooring different from vinyl plank flooring?
Installing laminate flooring is very different from the vinyl plank. The difference is that with laminate you will be putting down a floating floor (meaning no nails or glue required) and the planks are already connected, whereas with vinyl it's really up to you to decide how much space should be between each plank and how they should be connected.
Will I have to suffer through squeaky floors with vinyl planks?
One of the best things about using vinyl flooring planks is that they are a very forgiving material, so squealing shouldn't be a problem.
Also, fixing a squeaky floor is relatively easy. You can go under the floor and try to tighten up screws that are attached to the subfloor or even just put down some more underling – depending on the severity of the squeak.
Final thoughts on How to install vinyl plank flooring
As you can see, installing vinyl planks is relatively simple. Just take your time to make sure that you are measuring properly and keeping good records, then follow the instructions carefully while the installation takes place. The result will be an attractive floor that is durable enough for everyday use in any room of your home.