Step-by-Step Guide: How to Install Vinyl Plank Flooring

It’s not that hard to learn how to install vinyl plank flooring! However much or little DIY experience you have, this is a very easy skill to pick up.

Gray vinyl plank flooring installed

Vinyl plank flooring is a popular choice due to its durability, affordability, and easy installation process. It’s actually designed to be easy enough for non-professionals to install.

Take a Good Look at Your Floor

Take some time to evaluate the space you’re going to floor. Gather the tools and materials you’re going to need, and follow these steps:

Measure the Area: Start by measuring the square footage of the room where you plan to install the vinyl plank flooring. This will help you work out how much of the flooring you need to buy.

How’s your Subfloor? Vinyl plank flooring can be installed over various types of subfloors, including concrete, plywood, and ceramic tiles. Make sure that the subfloor is clean, level, and that you’ve filled in any cracks or holes with an appropriate filler.

Gather Tools and Materials: To complete the installation, you’ll need some tools. A tape measure, utility knife, rubber mallet, and a straight edge. Additionally, make sure to have your vinyl plank flooring, underlayment (if necessary), adhesive (if required), and transition strips.

Can You Install it Over Old Tiles?

Yes, you can install vinyl plank flooring over old tile. You don’t have to rip out the tiles and go down to the subfloor. Just make sure of the following:

Level Surface: The tile floor should be even and level. Uneven surfaces can cause issues, such as lumps and bumps in your new flooring.

Clean Surface: The tile surface should be thoroughly cleaned. Any dirt or debris can affect the installation process.

Grout Lines: If the tile has deep grout lines, they might need to be filled in to create a smooth surface before installing the vinyl planks.

Adhesive: Ensure to use a suitable adhesive that can bond the vinyl plank properly with the tile surface.

Moisture: Check for any moisture issues. Excessive moisture can lead to problems like mold or mildew, which can damage your new flooring.

Remember, if the existing tile floor is in poor condition, it might be better to remove it before installing the vinyl plank flooring. Always consult with a flooring professional if you’re unsure.

Preparing the Subfloor

If you’re working on subflooring, then you need to prep it to ensure a smooth and long-lasting vinyl plank floor.

Clean the Subfloor: Remove any dirt, dust, or debris from the subfloor using a broom or vacuum cleaner.

Repair Imperfections: Inspect the subfloor for any cracks, holes, or unevenness. Fill any gaps with a suitable patching compound and sand down high spots for a level surface.

Install Underlayment (If Necessary): Depending on your specific subfloor type and manufacturer’s recommendations, you may need to install an underlayment. Underlayment helps reduce noise, provides cushioning, and improves the overall performance of the vinyl plank flooring.

Acclimate the Flooring

Acclimating the vinyl plank flooring before installation is crucial to prevent any issues later on.

Unbox the Flooring: Remove the vinyl plank flooring from its packaging and lay it flat in the room where it will be installed. Leave it for at least 48 hours to allow it to acclimate to the temperature and humidity of the space.

Maintain Ideal Conditions: During acclimation, make sure that the room temperature and humidity levels are consistent with those recommended by the manufacturer. This will prevent the flooring from expanding or contracting later on and causing problems..

Planning the Layout

Proper planning is key to achieving a visually appealing vinyl plank floor. Consider these steps when planning your layout:

Decide on Plank Orientation: Do you want to install the planks parallel or perpendicular to the longest wall in the room? This decision can affect the overall look of the space.

If you can’t picture it in your mind, look at photos online to get an idea what it will look like. Or just lay a few planks out on top of your floor to see what they look like in each direction.

Create a Layout Plan: Measure and mark the centerline of the room and use it as a reference point for laying out the planks. Dry-fit a few rows of planks without adhesive to visualize the final look and make any necessary adjustments.

Account for Expansion Gaps: Remember to leave a small expansion gap (usually around 1/4 inch) around the perimeter of the room and any fixed objects like cabinets or doorways. This allows for natural expansion and contraction of the vinyl planks.

Installing Vinyl Plank Flooring

It’s finally time to start installing your vinyl plank flooring.

Prepare the First Row: Start in one corner of the room and lay the first row of planks along the reference line. Use a straight edge to ensure they are perfectly aligned.

Cut Planks: Measure and cut your planks as needed using a utility knife or a vinyl cutter. Remember to account for expansion gaps when measuring.

Apply Adhesive (If Required): Some vinyl plank flooring requires adhesive for installation. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to apply adhesive evenly on the subfloor or directly on the back of each plank.

Interlock Planks: Install subsequent rows by interlocking the short ends and gently tapping them together using a rubber mallet. Make sure each plank is securely locked in place before moving on to the next one.

Stagger Seams: To create a visually appealing pattern and enhance stability, stagger the seams between planks by at least 6 inches. This prevents weak spots in your floor.

Continue Installation: Repeat the process until you reach the last row. Measure and cut planks accordingly to fit into smaller spaces.

Install Transition Strips: If you’re transitioning between different types of flooring or rooms, install transition strips along doorways or where necessary.

And surprisingly, that’s it! It’s one of the easiest DIY projects you could hope to tackle.