How to install vinyl flooring
A successful installation requires that the subfloor be flat and smooth. With the right preparation and construction adhesive, here is how to install vinyl flooring over nearly any clean dry surface.
Vinyl flooring in sheets is available in a wide array of colors and patterns, including realistic designs that simulate tile, stone and wood, at a fraction of the cost of the real thing. Known for its water resistance and durability, vinyl flooring stands up well to heavy traffic and is comfortable under foot. It can also help reduce noise.
Although extremely versatile and affordable, vinyl sheet flooring does have some limitations. It can be damaged by sharp objects, and it will fade with exposure to direct sunlight. It is also limited to indoor applications because it cannot withstand extreme temperatures.
According to Superior Corp. of Illinois, providing installation services for Home Depot customers in Illinois and St. Louis, Missouri, installation methods and recommended adhesives vary by brand, as well as by type of vinyl, so contractors should review the instructions for the specific flooring carefully. The installation described here uses adhesive on the entire subfloor.
Step 1: Measuring for vinyl flooring installation
Measure the length and width of the room and multiply to determine the area or square footage. Include any closet areas or nooks that need to be covered. Add at least 3 inches to each dimension to allow for cutting, trimming and centering the pattern.
Divide the total square footage by 9 to determine the total number of yards needed. Vinyl sheet flooring is typically sold in rolls 6- or 12-foot wide.
Step 2: Subflooring/underlayment
A successful installation requires that the subfloor be flat and smooth. With the right preparation and adhesive, vinyl flooring can be installed over nearly any clean dry surface, including wood, vinyl and concrete.
To install over an existing vinyl floor, joints and small holes should be filled with a patching compound. Remove any paint or adhesive and be sure the floor is level. When the compound has dried (follow manufacturer’s specifications), sand the repaired area and vacuum up any loose debris.
Step 3: Preparation
Keep the vinyl flooring rolled face out and allow it to acclimate to the temperature of the room for 48 hours before installation. Remove appliances, furniture, toilets or any other obstructions, and remove base molding and thresholds. Undercut the door trim and jambs to allow the flooring to slide underneath.
Step 4: Layout
Position the flooring in the center of the room. If possible, align the factory edge of the material with a straight wall. This saves fitting one wall and can also help center the pattern in the room. When installing over an existing vinyl floor, lay out the installation so that seams are at least 6 inches away from original seams.
Unroll the vinyl and slide it under any door jambs and casings. Cut the vinyl to fit leaving approximately 1½ inches around the entire piece to allow for non-square rooms and other fitting problems.
After the material is in position in the room, make cuts as needed so it lays flat on the floor and won’t tear. With the flooring is correctly cut and positioned, carefully fold half of the vinyl back.
Step 5: Apply adhesive
Holding a notched trowel at a 60-degree angle apply a thin, even coat of adhesive to the subfloor on one side of the room. Use the notch size recommended by the adhesive supplier.
“Be careful not to miss a spot,” says Yubi Agurrie, installer for Superior. “The floor will bubble up without it.”
With a permanent adhesive, the floor can be repositioned as long as it is still wet, giving installers 15 to 20 minutes to lay the vinyl down. An alternative is a releasable adhesive that gives you the ability to pull back, re-position or remove the product with ease.
Step 6: Laying and fitting the floor
Fold the vinyl back into position and firmly press it to the subfloor. “Work from the center out to remove any air bubbles,” says Agurrie. Superior uses two people to place large sheets. Agurrie uses a carpet tool to first score the edge where the vinyl meets the floor.
Use a utility knife and straight-edge to cut the flooring along the baseboards. To trim around obstructions, first cut vertically to allow the vinyl to lay flat. Then trim horizontally along the baseboard.
To trim an inside corner, cut small half circles until the vinyl lies flat to the floor. To cut completely around an object, such as a pipe, flash the material up the front of the object and push it in against the juncture of the floor and the object. Slit the material almost to the floor.
Double-cut seams ensure the edges of two vinyl sheets are cut exactly the same, with no gaps or fullness. Spread adhesive under the half along the wall to keep the sheet in place, but do not apply adhesive 1 to 2 feet back from the seam. Overlap the second piece at the factory edge, matching any pattern. This too, has no glue.
Place a 2-inch wide piece of scrap under the seam area and place the straightedge where you want to cut the seam. Cut through both pieces of vinyl in one cut, keeping the knife blade parallel to the straightedge, at a 90-degree angle to the floor.
Remove the excess vinyl, spread adhesive on the subfloor and roll the seam into place with a hand roller. Roll again with a 100-pound roller. Apply recommended seam treatments.
A 100-pound floor roller is used to remove any air bubbles and ensure a strong bond. Start in the center of the sheet and roll back and forth across the sheet to each end. Repeat the process on the other side of the room.
It will take 2 to 4 hours to develop a solid bond. Keep heavy traffic and furniture off the floor for at least 24 hours.
If there is a bubble in the floor, wait a day to see if it settles. If it doesn’t, cut a pinhole in the center of the bubble to release the air and then inject glue into the hole with a flooring syringe.
When installing vinyl flooring that has a design that simulates tile or wood, position the flooring so seams will naturally fall on the “grout lines” or between “planks.”
Tools and materials you’ll need
- Circular saw
- Putty knife or joint knife
- Notched trowel
- Utility knife
- Carpet tool
- 100-pound roller
- Seam roller
- Nail gun
- Vinyl flooring
- Vinyl adhesive
- Patching compound
- Seam treatment