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How to Install Glueless Vinyl Flooring

William Adkins

Installing glueless vinyl flooring is easier and less messy than regular vinyl tile or planks. It does tend to be less long-lasting than vinyl flooring installed with adhesives. However, this can be an advantage in apartments or any room where a long-lasting floor covering isn’t necessary.

  1. Measure the room’s length and width with a measuring tape. Multiply the length by the width (measured in feet) to get the number of square feet in the room. Do the same for any closets or adjoining areas where you are going to install the vinyl flooring. Add up the square footage and add 10 percent to allow for trimming. This is the amount of vinyl flooring you need to buy (for more information see “How to Measure a Room for Flooring” under Resources).

  2. Inspect the existing floor for cracks and holes. Use a putty knife to fill these with a patching compound and level off the surface with the putty knife. Allow the patching compound to dry. This will take anywhere from an hour to overnight, depending on how large the spaces you’ve filled in are. After the patching compound has dried has dried, use sandpaper to smooth the surface if necessary.

  3. Remove thresholds and baseboards. If a threshold is screwed down, use a screwdriver (Phillips head or flat head, depending on the screw type) to remove the screws. If the threshold is nailed to the floor, slide a pry bar under the edge near one end and gently lift. You will need to do this at each end on both sides of the threshold to remove it without damage. To remove baseboards, start at the end of a strip of the baseboard by sliding a putty knife behind the baseboard from the top. Pull the knife out and gently work a pry bar into the space until it touches the floor. Pull the pry bar toward you (again, gently to avoid damaging the baseboard) until the nails come out. Move the pry bar down a few inches and repeat until the entire strip of baseboard is freed. Use a small pair of pliers to remove the nails.

  4. Roll out the vinyl flooring and place it in its final position. Cut away most of the excess, leaving an inch or two as an overlapping edge along the walls. Use heavy scissors to make a straight cut where the flooring goes around a doorway and a V-cut in corners so the flooring lies flat. A straight cut is simply a cut in the overlapping edge of the vinyl flooring exactly at the corner at a 45 degree angle, just long enough to reach from the floor. Start a V-cut the same way, then cut away enough material to either side of the first cut to allow the flooring to lie flat. You may need to cut around other obstructions using heavy-duty scissors.

  5. Roll one edge of the flooring back from one wall. Place craft paper on the floor against the wall and anchor it with small pieces of masking tape. Now place a piece of double-backed tape every 1 to 2 feet on the craft paper where the floor and wall meet. Remove the tape backing. Roll the vinyl flooring back over the craft paper and press down so the double-backed tape adheres firmly, then pull the flooring back up. You now have a template to guide your final cut.

  6. Use a straightedge and utility knife to trim the excess vinyl. Repeat step 4 for each wall and then remove the double backed tape and any craft paper from the flooring. Next, place vinyl flooring tape on the floor around the edges of the room. Make sure it is flush against the wall. Remove the backing from the tape and lay the flooring down. Press firmly to bond the flooring to the tape.

  7. Roll the floor with a floor roller to smooth it out and make sure the flooring is firmly adhering to the vinyl flooring tape. Install glueless vinyl flooring in closets and other areas using the same procedure. Apply seam sealer wherever two pieces of flooring meet. Seam sealing kits come with a disposable applicator. The kits vary by brand, so follow the manufacturer’s instructions for applying the sealer.

  8. Replace baseboards and door thresholds. Replace the baseboards in the reverse order you removed them. Use a nail gun or nail set to sink finishing nails below the surface of the wood. Fill the nail holes with wood putty using a putty knife. After the putty dries for at least 2 hours lightly sand away any excess. Use the same procedure to replace thresholds that have to be nailed in place (you may need larger nails, depending on the threshold). For screw installation, carefully place he threshold in it’s original position and re-insert the screws. Wiggle each screw around until it turns easily in its hole (this will make sure it’s lined up properly) and then tighten down all of the screws.

  9. Warning

    When working with knives, scissors, or any edged tool put safety first. Do not use a dull tool as these can slip and cause injury. Never cut toward your body. Cut away or from side to side. Always put edged tools away when not in use. Don’t smoke or have an open flame near the seam sealer—-it is flammable until it dries. You should open the windows when you apply the seam sealer so the room is well ventilated.