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How to Install Vinyl Plank Flooring

How to Install Vinyl Plank Flooring

Vinyl Plank Floorings are plank-sized vinyl products that we can install in rooms that look similar to hardwood or tiled floors. These vinyl pieces have the appearance of wood; hence they are referred to as planks, just like actual planks.

You can install these planks in three methods. The first is a float installation method where a click-lock system connects planks. No adhesive is required for this method.

The second method is a glued-down installation where the planks are permanently glued to the sub-floor. This method is permanent.

The third method is a loose lay installation where we just lay them flat on the floor without any adhesive.

If you want to do a DIY project with your flooring, we recommend choosing the float installation method.

Cost of Installing Vinyl Plank Flooring?

These flooring planks can range anywhere from $3 per square foot to $15 per square foot only for the materials. The shipping cost, installation cost, and trimmings may vary from retailer to retailer.

Types of Vinyl Plank Flooring

Luxury Vinyl Planks

Luxury vinyl planks are an improvement on the previous technology of vinyl planks. It is thicker than traditional vinyl planks. They tend to have several layers ranging from 4 to 6. These layers are generally product or category-specific. 

They use both stone polymer and wood plastic cores depending upon the product. Various designs are printed on the top using a 3d printer to replicate natural wood or stone.

Luxury vinyl planks range from $5 to $15 per square foot normally in terms of prices.

Core 

The planks will either have a rigid or flexible core. The planks have the options of Stone polymer core, wood plastic cores, or hardened vinyl/standard in terms of rigid core.

The standard rigid core is not as widely used as the other two due to its lack of durability. Note the cost of the vinyl planks will increase on rigid cores versions as they are more stable and durable.

Wood Plastic Composite Vinyl Planks

  • The plank is very durable.
  • Due to its core, the plank is waterproof.
  • Wood composite planks are resistant to rot for a long period.
  • They come with an easy float installation method and an attached underlayment.

Stone Plastic Composite Vinyl Planks

  • These planks are very durable.
  • Due to its core, the plank is waterproof.
  • The plank is resistant to dents.
  • The stabilizers in the core make the structure dimensionally stable.
  • These planks come with an underlayment.
  • Most of these planks follow the float installation method.

Wear layer

The wear layer is the clear layer of virgin or recycled PVC on the top of the vinyl planks. They are present as protection to the printed layer of the vinyl. The wear layer can range from 1 mil to 40 mil. If you check online, we will find that the thicker the coating, the better the warranty on the product. We recommend you get at least 20 mils or higher products as it will work for homes, commercial settings and get a good warranty. Please do not go below 12 mils even in the worst-case scenario.

Waterproofing

Floors with wood polymer composite or stone polymer cores are generally waterproof and advertised as such. We, however, will say that they are waterproof if installed correctly. Gaps in the seam while installing may render them inefficient.

Underlayment

Vinyl planks getting an underlayment will entirely depend on the brand and the product. Most brands nowadays have created planks with an attached underlayment on the bottom. You may also have to get an underlayment yourself.

The underlayments available in the market are cork, polyurethane foam mixed with granulated rubber tires, a blend of recycled cork, and EVA foam granules.

We recommend getting products with attached cork or foam underlayment as it is a much easier installation process. You will also find the most attached underlayment planks that use corks and foam.

Things to Prepare Before Installation

  • When we first receive the planks, we must place them in the intended room beforehand. A general rule of thumb is 24 to 48 hours.

Note: We do this because the flooring may contract or expand depending on the room’s temperature and humidity. Manufacturers also provide an instruction manual with pre and post-installation temperature and humidity requirements. Some brands do not need the previous acclimate. Be sure to check in with the manufacturer or retailer.

  • Inspect all planks for any type of defects or damages.
Urban Surface/ YouTube
  • Clean your sub floor thoroughly and patch any holes. Check which subfloors are allowed for this installation through the retailer.
  • Make sure the room is moisture-free and level. The manufacturer will provide leveling specifications. If you can see visible dips on the floor, you might need professional help.
  • Remember to mix planks from all boxes. Mixing planks make the flooring uniform in texture, color and hide any imperfections.
  • Most plank brands come with some underlayment. It entirely depends on the specific product. If they do not have it, you need to have an underlayment done first on the floor before installation.
  • Have the required height cut in your door frame so that the planks slide through. The standard practice is 1 cm. The requirement will vary according to the plank height. You may have to adjust the cut according to the plank’s thickness.
Door Frame Preparation
Love Create Celebrate / Youtube

How to Install Vinyl Plank Flooring

Vinyl Plank Flooring can be installed either by float or Glued Installation.

Float Installation Method

Tools Required for the Job

  • Tape
  • Utility knife
  • Rubber Mallet
  • Spacers
  • T square
  • Safety Glasses

General Steps

  • Choose a starter wall.
  • Put your spacers on both the length and breadth sides of the row.
spacers installed before flooring
National Carpets / YouTube

Spacers are installed to create a space between the wall and the planks. Spacer sizes can be different according to the product. We can get the required spacers from our retailers.

  • Start laying out the planks on the first row. Vinyl planks are made with a tongue and groove system called the click lock. Lock the short end of the second plank with the first one with the click-lock system.
Click clock system of vinyl joints
Shaw Floors/Youtube
  • Continue the same process for the first row. In the end, you might need to cut the end plank to fit the room.
End trim piece first row
Fix This Build That/YouTube
  • This point is the start of the staggering process. Check out the steps of staggering before moving on to the next steps.
  • Once the second row has started, do not forget to lock the length side of the new row to the previous row. Remember, all rows need spacers at the end. The room’s starting and ending rows also need spacers on the length side.
  • Use a tapping block with your rubber mallet and gently lock it. Remember, there shouldn’t be any seams seen.
  • We recommend using a scrap leftover piece of vinyl to bridge the gap at the end of the planks.
ruuber mallet to seal planks
COREtech Floors/YouTube
  • Use a pull bar to lock all the length and breadth sides of the room with the click-lock system. The pull bar will especially be useful for the final pieces.
Pull bar for end planks
COREtech Flooring/YouTube

Glued Down Installation Method

Tools Required

  • Level checker
  • Chalk Line
  • Utility Knife
  • Square Tool
  • Trowel (according to manufacturer specification)
  • Roller

General Steps

  • Choose a starter wall. Remember to install planks parallel to your longest wall.
  • Draw your guideline from the starter wall by measuring 2 feet out or the size of two plank widths and mark on one point. 
  • Do another measurement down the line and mark another point.
  • Connect the two points with a line & trace them over them with chalk or pencil.
  • Start to spread adhesive; make sure your guideline is visible. Hold the trowel at 45 degrees for optimal spreading. The spreading should be even.
Urban Surface/YouTube
  • Allow adhesive to dry as per manufacturing guidelines. The glue needs to be tacky.
  • Start installing planks and securing them along with the guideline; make sure no gaps are visible. 
  • The staggering process is the same as the floating installation method stated above.
  • Continue installing rows two at a time. 
  • We may have to adjust the width or length at the end. Do remember that all planks near walls need expansion spacers. Once the final cuts are done, lay the last planks.
Shaw Contract /Youtube
  • Use the roller on the whole floor so that the adhesive sticks well.
  • Clean any adhesive on top of the planks using mineral spirits on cloth.
  • Do not put furniture in the room for 24 hours. 
  • Do not let anyone enter the floored room for 6-8 hours or according to manufacturer specification.

Loose Lay Installation

 These loose planks do not need adhesive to keep the floors in the room. When purchasing the planks, you will most likely get a peel and stick tab system.

Tools Required

  •  Tab
  •  painters tape
  •  jigsaw
  •  Vacuum
  •  Leveling floor compounds in case the floor isn’t level.
  •  Chalk line, marker, or pencil
  •  speed square
  •  Utility knife 

 Number of tabs in the plank

 A general rule of thumb is four tabs minimum per plank, but we recommend following the manufacture’s specification.

 General Steps

  • It’s best to start from the length side of the room and go toward the other end.
  • Slide the first plank into pace. You need to leave a gap against all walls to ensure the floors do not get damaged during contraction and expansion. 
  • Manufacture specified spacers are recommended.
  •  Start laying all the pieces in the first row. Apply the tabs to the end to lock all planks from the start of the row to the end.
  •  Do not forget to apply tabs on the length side of these planks.
  • Follow manufacturer specified tab spacing. The general rule is to install one every 12 inches. The sticky side of the tab should be up. The short end to end should also get a tab.
  • Once done, use one of the boxes of flooring and place it on top of the first row so that it doesn’t let the row move.
  •  When you start the second row, keep in mind that you will have to stagger the planks for a natural look. The process of staggering is the same irrelevant as the installation method.
  • Peel off the liner and place the second row. Make sure that you leave the end pieces tabbed at the end. Only after laying the entire row, tab the end pieces.
Birdz of a Feather/ YouTube
  •  As you start filling up more rows, remember to roll the seams of the planks.
  • For pieces that are against doors, make sure you cut around them. Use a jigsaw to cut out the shape of the door. You may need to cut the planks for the final pieces to fit.
Birdz of a Feather/ YouTube

Which Direction Should I Install Vinyl Plank Flooring?

It is your room, so you can install it however you want, but take some of the considerations stated below into account.

  • The general way to not mess up is to run the planks along the room’s length instead of the breadth, as this is what installers do.  This method is also done in corridors, hallways, etc. For example: if your room is 9 by 12 feet. Try installing planks parallel to the 12 feet wall.
  • Another common tradition is to install it in the direction of the light source. 
  • If you have stairs in the room, it may be best to do it horizontally, matching the steps.

What we recommend: Every room is different. Try assessing what you like by loose-laying these planks. In the end, it’s what you want that matters.

Time Estimation to Install a Vinyl Plank Flooring?

It entirely depends on the preparation, acclimation, and installation period. Some vinyl planks need 24-48 hours to acclimate. Some vinyl planks don’t need any previous acclimation.

After preparing the floors, professional installers will most likely have it done within the day. If this is a DIY project, take about 2-4 days as a general estimation from preparation to installation.

How to Take Care of Vinyl Plank Flooring?

  • Be sure to clean your planks regularly by sweeping or vacuuming the floors. Please do not use a vacuum with the beater bars. It will damage the surface.
  • Use PH-neutral cleaners with a soft microfiber cloth or spray it on the vinyl floors. Do not use scrubbers or mops with bristles. Some of the brands in the market are Zep cleaners, Encore Cleaner, Bona Cleaner, Once n Done, etc.
  • Never let dripping water on the floor while cleaning. You can use a damp washcloth to clean. Do not use a bucket and mop system. The water will seep through the seams.
  • Do not use polishers, wax on the floors. They already have a visual coating. That will only damage the floor.
  • It is best to use doormats to prevent bringing dirt into the house.
  • Use felt pads beneath heavy furniture.
  • Use isopropyl alcohol on a cloth for areas with stubborn stains. Once the stain or grime comes out, use a damp cloth to clean the alcohol.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do we differ vinyl sheets from vinyl plank flooring?

 Vinyl planks are one long sheet that needs to be completely removed if damaged. Vinyl Planks, however, are singular planks, so you can isolate one and replace it if you have a spare.

 Why do we need spacers installed on the perimeter of the vinyl floors?

 The flooring might expand or contract according to the temperature and humidity. The house too contracts and expands in the way. Homes also move ever so slightly from time to time.

Spacers are installed to protect your floors from these contractions and expansions.