Vinyl Plank Flooring Tutorial: No Nails, No Glue.
*I installed vinyl plank flooring as a DIY project. I am not an affiliate with any of the brands listed below, nor are any sponsors apart of this post in any way however this post does contain affiliate links. This tutorial is here solely for your entertainment and is based on my personal experience, I am not a professional.
I just finished installing vinyl plank flooring. So let me start off by saying my knees are killing me. My hands are completely cut up – I feel like I can feel my heart beating in the tips of my fingers. My back hurts. My shoulder hurts. That spot where the shoulder meets my arm pit hurts. And my hamstrings hurt (but that could be from the Yoga I did at lunch in the middle of the living room on my brand new floor because I was just that excited).
But mainly it’s from installing the vinyl plank flooring we bought for the apartment renovation. Now, don’t get me wrong, I really think almost anyone can do it but it’s a CHORE.
I already have bad knees so this was a big undertaking as I did most of the apartment by myself. So if you can, enlist the help of someone else, if not just for handing you things you forgot to bring down on the floor with you. Because it really sucks when the situation goes like this…
Bend down. Forgot tape measure. Get up. Retrieve tape measure. Kneel down. Forgot pencil. Get up. Get pencil. Kneel back down. Forgot speed square. Get up. Get speed square. Kneel back down again and CUT THE FREAKING PIECE.
Because that situation will happen. A tool belt might help though… any suggestions?
Anyway, before we get on with the tutorial, let me tell you exactly what I used.
I used Armstrong’s Luxury Vinyl Planks from the “Vivero Good” collection, the specific color I chose was west side walnut underground brown. The planks are 6 in. wide and 36 in. long and they lock together for easy install! So this is technically a floating floor and the best part is, it can be installed right over almost any type of subfloor, including tile!
No wait, I lied, the best part is that it can be installed in bathrooms and kitchens (and basements!) because it’s water proof. So this is the perfect type of flooring to use for a flip or a rental! It has awesome “sale points” and it’s also durable.
This type of luxury vinyl plank also can be installed over concrete, tile and other well glued down laminate. But the reason I decided to give this a try is because it’s supposed to be one of the most scratch, stain, spill and scuff resistant flooring available (in my price range) which I figured would be really good for a rental. This specific flooring is actually rated for light commercial use, so it better stand up to one tenant!
So this tutorial is based on this brand and type of flooring specifically. Always check the directions that come with your flooring as some things might be different. (Like this flooring needs to acclimate, while other types don’t.)
Enough talk… on to the tutorial!
|Tools & Supplies||Optional Tools & Supplies|
Acclimate the flooring.
This is really important for this specific flooring as the planks are prone to shrinking and expanding. You don’t want your joints contracting and leaving ugly gaps in the floor, or the planks expanding and causing the edges to buckle.
In order to acclimate the vinyl plank flooring, leave the unopened boxes in the middle of the room they will be installed in for 48 hours prior to installation. (If you’re not living in the space that is being renovated, make sure you bring the temperature to where you’d normally keep it if someone were living there before and during installation.) It’s that simple.
Prepare the floor.
While this type of flooring can be laid over almost any subfloor it is important that the floor you’re laying over is dry, clean and flat. We had some areas on our floor that had large divets so we wound up using floor patch.
At this point, you should also remove all the wall baseboard and don’t forget to save and label it if you’re re-using it!
Figure out which way to run the planks.
Plank flooring looks best, but doesn’t have to be, run parallel with the longest wall in the room. It will make the room appear larger and the plank flooring will be the most visually appealing that way. However, this is not a set in stone fact, so if you like the plank run the other way then by all means, go for it.
Play with the planks before you start.
This is a very important step and one of the first things I think everyone should do. Laying out planks will help you figure out how it clicks together, what the pattern will look like and how the flooring looks with the other finishes you picked out.
Cut door trim.
Vinyl plank flooring goes underneath door trim, not around it. So you will have to cut all door trim that the plank doesn’t fit under (and any other trim it won’t fit under as well). I usually do this after I have cut some pieces and have a scrap vinyl plank to use as a height marker.
Start with variety.
It’s really important to open up 2-3 boxes of the vinyl plank flooring and grab planks from a rotation of each box. There are so many reasons for this but just to name a few: the dye lots on each box could be slightly different which could make your final project look weird or the printed pattern on the vinyl plank might be the same for two or three pieces in a row if you grab from only one box… so mix it up!
Start in the left corner.
My first question after reading this on the directions was “who’s left?” Do they want me to start on the left while standing in the room or while looking at it from the doorway or what?! But this might only be me. If you’re having trouble figuring out where to start, play with the planks in the corner you believe is the left corner and the planks should fall so that the next one easily clips in. Because believe me, working backwards is difficult (but sometimes necessary.)
Another really important point… When laying the planks, make sure to keep a 1/4″ gap between the vinyl plank flooring and the walls, doorways, plumbing etc. The only time you shouldn’t leave that 1/4″ gap (and even this is still up to your discretion) is where you won’t be putting trim or quarter round back on to cover the gap. In these cases, make sure your cuts are perfectly straight and line up with the last cut so the reveal is even the whole length of where the gap will be seen.
Stagger your planks.
Check out the picture below, it gives you a really good idea of the pattern you’re looking to develop. For your very first plank, you can either use a full plank or cut one in half. If you start with a full piece, cut the locking lip off the one side facing the wall. I actually don’t know why you have to do this but the directions say to do so, so I did so.
Once you’re ready to lay the next plank, use the cut off from the last piece of the last row as the starting piece for the next row. You can continue doing this so long as the piece you’re using to start the next row isn’t shorter than 8″. If it’s shorter than 8″, use a half piece or a full one with the lip cut off, just make sure you’re seams don’t line up.
Find the pattern.
A pattern will eventually develop if you keep going with this method, which makes for an aesthetically pleasing layout. Better yet, it leads to the least amount of waste because you’re always using the cut off from the last row to start the next one!
You WILL run into weird cuts.
It’s okay, don’t panic… you will run into cuts that seem impossible. Just try it. This is why you (hopefully) ordered extra for waste and mistakes (usually about 5%-10%). Take a look at some pictures below of what I ran into while installing the floor in the apartment.
Lay your last row.
Laying your last row (unless you’re really lucky and a full piece fits) will be the most tedious. You will most likely wind up having to cut the vinyl plank flooring lengthwise, which is what the 3′ straight edge is for. When doing this, just make sure you cut off the correct lip so the piece still locks into the previous one! (Yup I made that mistake twice!)
Lastly, you may need a small pry bar for the last row if you can’t fit your fingers between the wall and the vinyl plank to click it in place. If you do use a pry bar, make sure not to push too hard and blow through your drywall!
And now you stand back and admire your work.
Maybe I should say sit back and admire your work. Also, give yourself a pat on the back, because that was hard work, but how accomplished do you feel!?!
So there you have it! That’s how you install vinyl plank flooring…. BUT… I would be lying if I told you my install was completely error free and flawless. So if you’re worried you’re going to make mistakes.. it’s okay just go for it.
Because it’s okay if you:
- Wind up having to take up half the living room floor because you realized a little too late that the seams are only 5″ apart.
- Wind up gouging the floor with your knife while cutting, rendering the piece useless.
- Wind up having two seams 7-1/2″ apart and leaving it go.
- Wind up cracking a piece in half because you’re pushing too hard with the jigsaw.
- Wind up with an gap that fluctuates between 3/8″ to 1/8″ instead of a 1/4″ gap.
It’s all okay because I did every one of the things listed above and my floor still turned out beautiful. And believe me, even professionals make mistakes, so don’t be afraid to try this or any other DIY projects your itching to try! If I can do it, you can too, believe me!
So are you ready to try this!? Don’t forget to come back and let me know how it went!
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