How to Install Vinyl Plank Flooring – Forbes Advisor


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Work time: 1 to 2 days
Total time: 1 to 2 days
Competence level: Intermediate
Project cost: $300 to $600 for 100 square feet

You want a waterproof, budget-friendly flooring option that’s suitable for kitchens, bathrooms, or just about any room. Vinyl plank flooring is the way to go and it is also very easy to install. Many types of vinyl plank flooring have a floating feature, so there is no need to glue or nail them to the subfloor as the floor’s own weight holds it in place. As long as there is a solid subfloor, you can install vinyl plank flooring in one or two rooms in about a day.

When to install vinyl plank flooring

A vinyl plank flooring installation can be done successfully in any season and in most weather conditions. Just make sure the room temperature is above 50 degrees Fahrenheit and below 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Unlike other types of flooring, such as laminate or wood, vinyl plank flooring does not need to acclimate to the room before installation, but check your manufacturer’s instructions. specific product. Install flooring after other commercial work such as drywall, plumbing, painting and electrical has been completed.

Security Considerations

If you are considering removing an existing floor covering, be aware that some floor coverings or adhesives may contain asbestos. Cutting, sanding, chipping, or other tasks that break up asbestos-containing materials can release asbestos into the air. It is generally safer to leave the asbestos in place and lay the floor over it.


  • utility knife
  • Tape measure
  • Straight edge
  • rubber mallet
  • Ground hitting block
  • Pencil
  • Multi-tool or stud saw
  • Circular saw or jigsaw


  • Vinyl plank flooring
  • Gasket spacers (1/4 inch)
  • painter’s tape


1. Assess the subfloor

The subfloor must be structurally sound. It must be level with a slope or rise less than or equal to 1/4 inch per 10 feet (horizontal), with no bumps or dips. Use the hammer to drive in protruding nails or pull them out and replace them with screws. With a putty knife, scrape off any dried drywall compound, paint, or mud. Remove debris by sweeping or using a shop vacuum.

2. Layout of the plan

Decide which direction you will install the boards. Generally, lay the boards in the direction of the longest side of the room. You may want to change the direction of the boards if there are extenuating circumstances, such as the need to parallel the direction of the floor in an adjacent room. If you are covering an entire house, lay the boards in the direction of the longest sides of the house.

3. Remove baseboards

Baseboards, shoe moldings and other types of moldings around the perimeter of the room should be removed. Use a lever to gently lift the top of the molding. Set aside trim for reuse or purchase new baseboards.

4. Undercut jambs

If the door jamb is to remain in place, cut the jamb to allow the vinyl flooring to slide underneath. Lay a piece of vinyl flooring against the door frame. Mark with a pencil, then remove the board. Cut with a multi-tool or door jamb saw and remove waste.

5. Add common spacers

To create expansion space, place joint spacers on the wall, around the perimeter of the room, approximately every 24 inches. Scrap boards 1/4 inch thick can be taped to the walls with painter’s tape. If you use joint spacers made of plastic, these are not installed on the walls but on the boards.

6. Plan the first plank of the first row

You will lay a first full or partial size board. The goal is for no board to be less than 8 inches long. With the tape measure, measure the length from the floor. Divide this measurement by the length of each plank. If the resulting number is more than 8 inches, install a first full-size plank. If the number is less than 8 inches, subtract enough inches from the first plank so that the last plank in the row is over 8 inches.

7. Start the first row

The first row will be against a wall. The grooves of the boards should face the room (tongues facing the wall). Start by installing dry 6 to 12 inches from the wall. Install the entire row of planks for this row. Secure the short sides of the planks by pushing the tongue of the top plank down into the receiving groove of the adjacent plank. If the planks do not click into place by hand, tap with a mallet.

8. Remove the tongues from the planks of the first row

When installing the first row, use the utility knife to cut the tongues off the boards. This helps the first row fit more tightly against the wall, with less risk of visible gaps.

9. Complete the first row

At the end, cut the last board to fit the remaining space. Cut the board by incising two or three times against the right edge, then separating the two pieces from the back. It often helps to break the board on your knee, but watch out for flying fragments. When the row is complete, slide it into place against the wall spacers.

10. Plan the first plank of the second row

The short joints of the boards should be staggered for better stability and visual effect. Aim for the seams to touch about 1/3 or 2/3 of the board of the adjacent row. For example, if the first plank in the first row is 48 inches long, the first plank in the second row should be 16 or 32 inches long.

11. Start the second row

Secure the vinyl flooring planks by locking them in place from the side. With most floors of this type, the installer holds the plank at an angle of approximately 15 degrees to the plank already installed. The tongue of the new plank fits into the groove of the second plank. Then the new board is folded flat.

12. Tap the boards in place

It may be necessary to tap the new board on the edge to wedge it against the other board. Always use a tapping block on the ground between the mallet and the board to avoid damaging the edge of the board.

13. Finish the following rows

Continue laying rows of vinyl flooring planks. Continue staggering the joints as before.

14. Cut the boards of the last row

The last row of vinyl flooring planks usually needs to be cut lengthwise to fit. The score-and-snap method can be tricky, so cut with a circular saw, jigsaw, or handsaw.

15. Install the planks of the last row

Insert the tabs of the last row of planks into the grooves of the row of planks already installed. Fold down the boards. Remember that the entire periphery should have 1/4 inch expansion space, even that last row. So be sure to apply joint spacers to this row or use the spacers glued to the wall.

16. Install the floor molding

After the flooring is completely installed, install the baseboards or other floor trim. The bottom edge of the floor trim should cover the expansion gap. Sometimes the last row of planks tends to tilt upwards slightly, and the floor molding will help hold it down until it flattens out naturally.

When to call a pro

Like some other types of flooring, vinyl plank options are often best left in the hands of trained flooring installation professionals for large or difficult projects. Larger projects, like an entire house, can be challenging due to the large amount of flooring to install, as well as difficult related tasks like moving furniture and removing baseboards.

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