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A Quick and Simple Guide to Installing Vinyl Plank Flooring

Vinyl plank flooring is more popular than ever with its easy installation and variety of finishes. Learn how to install it with our beginner's guide.

ByAbbey Hughes| Last Updated:08/09/2022
A man installing vinyl plank flooring.

Tips for Installing Vinyl Plank Flooring

Luxury vinyl plank (or LVP) has steadily gained more traction since its introduction to the public in 2009 — and it is easy to see why. If you choose to install it without a contractor, you’ll have control over the layout and color options and the process usually takes less than a day. Plus, LVP is quiet, easy to clean, and is completely waterproof, making it a great option if you have kids or pets.

Vinyl Plank Flooring FAQs

What is vinyl plank flooring?

What is the fastest way to install vinyl plank flooring?

Is vinyl plank flooring easy to install yourself?

Should I install floating vinyl plank flooring or glue it down?

How long does it take to install vinyl flooring?

Do you need an underlayment for vinyl plank flooring?

Where to Start Laying Vinyl Flooring

Thankfully, installing new vinyl flooring is easier than installing hardwood or tile. Many experts recommend beginning by preparing your space and making sure you have the appropriate tools to get the job done. Below you’ll find the tools you need, as well as step-by-step instructions to lay floors, from mapping out your flooring design to laying your final plank.

To begin, make sure your floor is level. If you plan on gluing the planks down or giving the floor an underlay, make sure your old flooring is torn out and your subfloor is appropriately cleaned and prepped. If you're opting to install underlayment, there are several options including foam, cork, plywood and more. The best underlayment for your vinyl plank flooring will depend on several factors, so be sure to do a little research on each to choose the best one for your needs.

Step 1: Gather Your Tools

Vinyl Plank Flooring Tool and Supply List

Tools

Supplies

Utility knife

Pencil or chalk

Pry bar

Measuring tape

Hammer

Nails

Pliers

Carpenters square

Fine-tooth saw

Straightedge

Spacers (if necessary)

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Blueprints with flooring options, a magnifying glass and other tools.

Step 2: Plan Your Plank Flooring Layout

Vinyl plank flooring can be laid out in a variety of intricate or basic patterns. Make sure you know what pattern you would like to do before you lay your first plank. The more intricate the design, the more you should have mapped out. That way, you’ll know how to stagger your vinyl plank flooring to make it look how you want. If you do plan to stagger your flooring, just make sure the plank at the end of your first row is no less than six inches in length, and that the end of the first plank in your second row is six to eight inches away from the closest seam in row one.

Decide Which Direction to Lay Your Vinyl Plank Flooring

To lay your flooring in a basic pattern, design experts recommend starting from the most visible wall of the room from the entrance. Lay your planks so that they run from end to end, parallel against this wall. It’s recommended you start ¼ of an inch off the wall. Once you lay your planks parallel to the most visible wall, work outward toward the door. If you find that your vinyl planks don’t reach the other end of the room, you can either cut a plank to fit the space or rely on your baseboards to cover small gaps later.

Step 3: Prep the Floor

Before you start laying your LVP, it’s important your space is prepped and ready for the flooring. Here's how to prepare the room for your vinyl plank flooring installation:

Hardwood floors and a wall with removed baseboards.
  • Remove Your Baseboards: Use your pry bar to carefully remove your baseboards. This step ensures that the flooring seamlessly blends with the walls and you aren’t left with any awkward gaps. Removing the baseboards will also prevent them from getting damaged when you are laying your floors. If the baseboards don't come off easily, try cutting through excess dried paint with a putty knife.
  • Remove Old Flooring: Tear out any transition strips that separate different types of flooring and begin working to pull up any old flooring. If you are having a hard time a pry bar might help. Check out these guides to help remove your old flooring:
  • Clean the Subfloor: Clean the floors and make sure your space is level and free of damage. If necessary, fill cracks in the subfloor with a concrete filler. Using a putty knife, run the material over any uneven spaces or gaps in the ground and sand them down after the filler dries to ensure a strong subfloor.
  • Install Underlayment: If you opt for underlayment, now is the time to install it. Working from left to right, lay the floor padding in the direction you will be installing flooring planks and tape the pieces together before you start laying the flooring to keep the underlayment in place.
Light bulb icon.

Safety Tip

Don’t try to sand down existing linoleum or vinyl flooring as it might be filled with asbestos. This is especially likely if the home was built before 1980, the flooring looks dirty or discolored or the flooring adhesive is black. If you're not sure about the contents of your existing flooring, you can always get it tested.

A person measuring a plank of vinyl flooring.

Step 4: Lay Your First Row

Now that you have your tools ready, flooring mapped out and a clean workspace — it’s time to lay your first row of planks. Begin by trimming off the short tongue edge of the first plank with a knife. Then, lay the first plank about ¼ inch from the wall. You can use spacers as you work to help mark the distance you need. Continue this process for the length of the wall.

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Step 5: Cut for Odd Spaces

Not all rooms are perfectly square, which can make laying a bunch of rectangle planks a little tricky. Here's how to cut your vinyl plank flooring for odd corners or spaces:

  • Measuring out the angle you need to cut your plank.
  • Score the plank using a utility knife and a carpenter square.
  • Go over the area multiple times if you are having difficulty cutting the plank deep enough.
  • Fold back the plank along the line to snap it off.
  • Use tin snips or shop scissors if you can't separate the pieces.
A person cutting along a straightedge.
Light bulb icon.

Pro Tip

Pro Tip: If you need to install vinyl plank flooring around a toilet, we recommend removing the toilet completely. Later, you’ll cut angles in your VPF to fit the drain so the flooring lays flat underneath the toilet.

Step 6: Fit Your Final Planks and Reinstall Baseboards

Now that your floor is done, it’s time to finish up the room. First, you’ll want to reinstall the baseboards you had before or install some new ones. If you left that ¼-inch gap, this process should be easy. Fit your baseboard on the wall and recess the nail heads into the surface of the trim.

Show Off Your New Floors

Now that you’re an expert in laying vinyl plank flooring, it’s time to enjoy your space. With a new floor that's comfortable and durable, your newly refreshed room is ready for any guest, whether it be family or four-legged friends. Plus, what’s more rewarding than telling admirers that you installed this flooring all on your own?

Interested in other projects that will transform your space? See how our other home renovation projects can give you the home makeover you’ve always dreamed of.

What Do You Think?

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