How To Install Vinyl Flooring

Are you tired of the same old flooring and ready for a change? Look no further than vinyl flooring! This popular option offers both beauty and practicality, making it the perfect addition to any room in your home. With a virtually endless selection of designs and colors, it’s easy to find the perfect match for your unique style preferences.

While the idea of installing your own flooring may seem daunting, don’t let that scare you away from this project. With the right tools and techniques, you can successfully install vinyl flooring and enjoy the benefits of your new and stylish floors. But before beginning, it’s important to take some crucial steps.

What equipment and tools should you prepare?

  • Sander 
  • Flat pry bar
  • Pliers
  • Tape measure
  • Utility knife
  • Fine-tooth saw
  • Straightedge
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Drawbar tool
  • Hammer
  • Nailset
  • Pneumatic brad nailer
  • Rubber mallet

Detailed Guide on How to Self-Install Vinyl Plank Flooring Step-by-Step

I. Plan the Flooring Layout

Start by tackling the wall that catches your eye first when you walk into the room. Working your way outwards, focus on any distinctive features in the space. For instance, if it’s a compact restroom, make sure to pay attention to the wall that runs alongside the bathtub. Place the first row of planks parallel to this striking feature and keep going until you’ve covered the entire floor. Don’t worry if the final row looks a little uneven – it’s rare for rooms to be perfectly square. Simply use baseboards or shoe moldings to conceal any imperfections.

II. Remove the Trim Moldings

Just get rid of the stuff that touches the ground – baseboards, shoe moldings, and door moldings. Stick a thin board between the pry bar and the wall to be safe. Leave that pesky door molding where it is – it’s a real pain to remove. You can make it work with an undercut saw or nifty electric multi-tool.

III. Prepare the Floor

Just lay that vinyl plank right over your current flooring. And if you’ve got any bumps, just sand ’em down until they’re flush with the rest of the floor. You want it to be nice and smooth for that new floor. If you’re working with concrete, go ahead and patch up any cracks or divots. If it’s plywood, you’ll wanna use a floor-leveling compound to fill in any low spots. That’s it, you’re good to go!

IV. Test-Fit the First Row of Planks

Confidently test fit the first row of vinyl planks down the length of the wall. For the most visually pleasing flooring layout, ensure that cut planks are of similar lengths at the opposite side walls. Begin with a full plank at the center of the wall and work towards each side, so that cut planks at the ends have equal lengths. Establish a 1/4-inch gap at the wall and the ends and utilize spacers against the walls to ensure this expansion gap is achieved.

V. Cut Planks to Size

To ensure a precise cut, use a carpenter’s square and a utility knife to score the plank’s surface multiple times instead of attempting to cut it all at once. Remember to flip the board over so that the finished surface faces downwards. Once folded, the plank should naturally break off. If necessary, complete the cut by gently running the utility knife through the fold.

VI. Connect Interlocking Flooring Planks

Install luxury vinyl planks using a fold-and-lock type of tongue-and-groove system. Begin by placing one plank flat on the subfloor and then insert the next plank at an angle into the receiving groove of the first plank. Fold the second plank until it is parallel to the first plank to secure both in place. Repeat this process across the floor with subsequent rows, making sure to first join the planks end-to-end before positioning the new row along the edge of the previous row and folding its tongue into the groove of the previous row. End joints should always be staggered at least six inches away from the end joints in the previous row for optimal results.

VII. Cut for Protrusions

To ensure a seamless fit around obstacles like door frames or floor ducts, it is recommended to trim vinyl planks with a utility knife. For precise cuts and shaping, tin snips or heavy-duty shop scissors may also be utilized.

VIII. Fit Planks Around Protrusions

It may be necessary to cut planks to navigate around obstacles when installing vinyl plank flooring. This flexible material can usually be bent enough to fit around door frames and protrusions, but in some cases, previous planks may need to be disassembled to make way for the cutout plank. To install the cutout plank, attach it to the adjoining plank while holding it upward at an angle, then slowly fold it down until it locks into place.

IX. Cut and Fit the Final Planks

For precise fitting, it is recommended to trim the final row of planks lengthwise, while ensuring a 1/4-inch gap. A clean cut can be achieved by using a utility knife and metal straightedge. Once the narrow planks are joined together, carefully fold the tongues into the grooves of the previous row. For additional assistance, a flooring pull bar may be used to securely position the final plank in its appropriate place.

X. Reinstall the Trim Moldings

It is recommended to reattach the baseboards and trim with a pneumatic brad nailer following the floor installation. Hammering nails manually may lead to damage of the trim, whereas using a brad nailer ensures effortless work. In case of manual nailing, recess the nail heads below the surface of the trim with a nail set. If the level of the floor is raised enough, trimming the ends of door case moldings may be necessary to fit the reduced space.

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