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Installing Vinyl Floors Do–It–Yourself (DIY) Guide

With so many options available today, resilient vinyl is one of the most popular floor coverings for your home or office. Below are the essential things you'll need to know during your vinyl installation. For more detailed information on what to do before, during and after your vinyl installation, see the full Installing Vinyl Flooring guide on FindAnyFloor.com.

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Download Vinyl Flooring Installation Instructions | PDF's
PDF icon for PDF fileQuick Guide on How–to–Install a Vinyl Floor
300kb pdf | Our short installation guide for those with DIY experience.
PDF icon for PDF fileFull Guide – Complete Installation Instructions on Installing your Vinyl Floor
1.0 mb pdf | Our full set of DIY installation instructions.

Our Vinyl installation quick guide has been posted below for your convenience. Should you choose not to download the free pdf of our install guides, feel free to browse below using the green navigation at the top of the page to go to each vinyl installation section.

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How to Install Feltbacked, Fiberglass Sheet Vinyl & Vinyl Tiles & Planks.

Vinyl Installation Methods

Vinyl is installed one of three ways depending on the type of vinyl you choose:

  • Felt–Backed Sheet Vinyl – Installed with full spread adhesive (the vinyl is completely glued to the subfloor) or perimeter adhesive (the vinyl is only secured around the perimeter and at seams).
  • Vinyl Tiles/Planks – Secured to the subfloor with a factory applied adhesive (peel–and–stick vinyl), with tab or spray adhesive or with full spread adhesive.
  • Fiberglass Sheet Vinyl – Installed as a loose lay (floating) floor, a semi–loose lay (only secured at specific points) or with full spread adhesive.

Tools and Materials

You will need most of the general tools and materials plus anything specific for your installation method.

General Vinyl Flooring Installation Tools

  • Carpenter's square
  • Gloves
  • Masking tape
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil and/or felt tipped pen
  • Shears or snips
  • Utility knife

Felt–Backed Vinyl Installation

  • 100 lb roller and/or rolling pin
  • Floor pattern or craft paper
  • Full spread adhesive
  • Notched trowel
  • Scissors
  • Seam sealer kit
  • Staple gun

Vinyl Tile/Plank Installation

  • Chalk line
  • Full spread adhesive, adhesive tabs or spray adhesive
  • Notched trowel
  • Vinyl tile cutter

Fiberglass Sheet Vinyl Installation

  • Acrylic double–sided tape or pressure sensitive adhesive
  • Floor pattern or craft paper
  • Notched trowel or paint roller
  • Scissors

Prepare the Floor

  • Vinyl can be installed above wood (plywood, plyboard and OSB board) subfloors and concrete subfloors on any grade level.
  • If approved by the manufacturer, vinyl can be installed over radiant heating systems and existing vinyl or linoleum. Remove all other floor coverings. However, do not remove any existing flooring if you find asbestos. Follow all local, state and federal guidelines when handling and/or disposing of asbestos.
  • All subfloors and existing flooring must be structurally sound, level and dry.
  • Some floors require an underlayment for stability. Only use underlayment grade plywood, class 4, 0.215" service– grade hardboard or Type 1 lauan plywood.
  • Do not use other types of lauan plywood or lesser quality plywoods as they are not dimensionally stable enough to support the floor. These types of plywoods could have hollow spots (which will cause soft spots in the floor) or could delaminate (which will cause your vinyl to bubble).
  • For concrete slabs, perform all moisture tests as directed by the manufacturer. This may include a Polyethylene, Calcium Chloride, and pH Alkalinity test. Follow all your manufacturer's recommendations if your subfloor has excess moisture.
  • Ensure your subfloor is level and free from all dips, valleys or imperfections (such as drywall mud, paint overspray, etc.). Scrape your subfloor clean. Sand down any high areas. Use self–leveling compound to level all low areas.
  • Allow your vinyl to acclimatize to your installation area. Follow all the manufacturer's recommendations for room temperature (both before and during the installation) and acclimatization time.
  • If desired, undercut door casings in the installation area.
  • Remove all molding, if desired. In some cases, you can leave molding in place and either install the vinyl under the molding or install the vinyl almost flush with existing molding.
  • Remove and set all doors asides, especially if working with sheet vinyl.
  • Remove all toilets if working in a bathroom.
  • Sweep and/or vacuum your floor before installing your vinyl.
  • Always install safely using the proper safety equipment. Follow all manufacturer safety recommendations.

Tips and Tricks

  • When possible, use the same brand adhesive as the vinyl to ensure compatibility.
  • Some vinyl will expand slightly width–wise and shrink slightly length–wise. Always follow your manufacturer's recommendations for expansion spacing. Some manufacturers recommend leaving an expansion space while others do not.
  • If using a full spread adhesive, always wear gloves.
  • If using sheet vinyl, do not unroll the vinyl until you are ready to cut and install it.
  • Do not store your vinyl in direct sunlight.
  • "Hook blades" work well for trimming vinyl in place. These work with any standard utility knife and can be purchased at most home improvement stores.
  • When trimming vinyl along walls, use a scrap piece of wood to create a crease in the vinyl along the wall. Cut along the crease.
  • Cut vertically from top to bottom when trimming vinyl on outside corners.
  • Cut "V" shapes in the vinyl when trimming on inside corners until the vinyl lays flat along both walls.
  • Place heavy objects on the vinyl during trimming and gluing to ensure the material does not shift before it is secured to the subfloor.
  • If you install a peel–and–stick vinyl tile/plank incorrectly, heat it with a heat gun or hair dryer and quickly move it into the correct position.

Install the Underlayment

If installing a plywood underlayment, keep these things in mind:

  • Stagger sheets so seams are at least 12" from any seams in the subfloor.
  • Leave a 1/8" expansion perimeter around the whole room.
  • Leave between 1/16" and 1/32" expansion gap between underlayment sheets. Fill with leveling compound, then sand so the whole floor is level and flat.
  • Place factory edges to factory edges when possible.
  • Use 1/4" crown divergent, galvanized staples spaced 4" apart in the field and 2" apart at all seams. (Some manufacturer's recommend using 1 1/4" 3d ring shank nails.)
  • Let the underlayment acclimatize for 24 hours before beginning your vinyl installation.