How to Install Floating Vinyl Flooring
There are two types of floating vinyl flooring: glued vinyl planks and luxury vinyl tiles. The installation procedure is similar for both.
Floating vinyl flooring is a water-resistant, easy-to-install option for kitchens and utility rooms, and you may like it enough to use it in the living room and bedrooms as well. You may also like luxury vinyl tiles, which are another type of floating vinyl flooring. Vinyl plank flooring and luxury vinyl tiles differ in assembly methods; the latter snap together like laminate flooring boards, while the former stick together with adhesive strips. As with any flooring installation, proper subfloor preparation is a must.
Preparing for Installation
You can install vinyl flooring over a wood or concrete subfloor and on top of existing tiles, sheet vinyl or linoleum. The floor must be level to a tolerance of 1/4 inch over 10 feet, or the planks may separate after installation. Moreover, the floor should not slope more than 1 inch in 6 feet.
- Fill cracks with floor patching compound.
- Level the subfloor by knocking down high spots with a belt sander and filling depressions with floor leveling compound.
- Cover new concrete with a 6-mil plastic moisture barrier to prevent moisture from corroding the underside of the vinyl flooring.
Like wood flooring, vinyl flooring must be acclimated to prevent warping and swelling after installation.
- Unpack the flooring, spread it out the in the installation space and leave it for three to five days.
- Undercut doorjambs with a handsaw so you can slide the flooring underneath them.
- Vacuum the subfloor to remove all debris. Any small object left on the subfloor can damage the flooring.
Measure the width of the room and divide by the width of a plank to determine the number of rows you need. If the remainder is less than half the width of a regular plank, trim an inch from the first row of flooring to prevent having to install a very narrow strip at the end.
Use a sharp utility knife and a straightedge to cut the planks. Measure cuts from the top edge of the plank, not from the edge of the glue strip, tongue or groove.
Orient the first row along the a wall that runs in the same direction as the flooring with the glue strip facing out. If you're installing luxury vinyl tiles, the tongue-side of the planks should face away from the wall. Place removable spacers between the planks and the wall to maintain a 1/4-inch gap.
Dry-fit the first two or three rows of vinyl planks, maintaining a 6-inch stagger between the ends of the boards in adjacent row and cutting the boards on the ends to fit. When you're certain everything fits, remove the planks and reinstall them, this time gluing them together. If you're installing luxury vinyl tiles, simply snap them together as you go, maintaining the same stagger pattern between the ends of the planks.
Glue planks together by removing the protective covering from the glue strip, holding the board you're assembling at an angle relative to the one on the floor, touching their edges and laying the board flat. Assemble laminate boards in the same way, but snap them together instead of gluing them.
You'll probably need a vinyl tapping block and a laminate pull bar to assemble vinyl tiles. Use either with a hammer to lock the tiles together securely.
Finish the installation of a vinyl plank floor by rolling the floor with a weighted roller to press all the glue joints together. Baseboards are a requirement for both glued vinyl planks and luxury vinyl tiles -- they cover the expansion gaps at the edges and hold the floor down. If you couldn't avoid visible gaps around cabinets and doorways, fill them with siliconized acrylic caulk with a color that matches the floor.
Chris Deziel has a bachelor's degree in physics and a master's degree in humanities. Besides having an abiding interest in popular science, Deziel has been active in the building and home design trades since 1975. As a landscape builder, he helped establish two gardening companies.
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