Install New Vinyl Flooring in 4 Easy Steps

AAA Print

Vinyl flooring is the perfect choice for a lower-cost floor covering. Today's vinyl is available in a wide range of colors and patterns that offer a variety of decorating themes, and it's easy to keep clean. There are a considerable number of designs, from solid colors to textures and patterns that mimic everything from wood to stone.

Modern vinyl is a sheet product, so there are no lengthy installations, mortar joints to fill like stone or tiles to work loose over time. And it's a great choice for high-traffic areas, providing a better waterproof floor covering than stone or tile.

Step 1: Subfloor

Wood subfloors for vinyl must be dry and perfectly flat. In situations where a wood floor is directly attached to a concrete slab, a sheet of 1/2-inch plywood should be installed first. Whenever possible, install a new underlayment over the existing floor, rather than trying to patch up a severely damaged floor. Do not install vinyl flooring on top of particleboard, chipboard, tempered hardboard, preservative-treated plywood or asphalt tile.

Step 2: Measuring, Fitting and Cutting Vinyl

The vinyl flooring and adhesive should remain in the installation area where the temperature is at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit and remain there for 48 hours before installation.

Carefully measure your room and make a simple drawing with the dimensions for any cutouts needed. If the room is less than 12 feet on one dimension, then it can be done with one 12-foot-wide sheet of vinyl. Unroll the vinyl in a large area, such as a garage or patio. Carefully measure and mark the room outline on the back of the sheet and add 3 inches on each side. This provides enough extra material to lap up on the wall and allow the sheet to adjust to get the best pattern location.

Next, cut away the excess material. Roll the sheet up with the face on the outside and place it in the room. A handy tip to remember is to use the rigid tube that came with the flooring to prevent the vinyl from being kinked or bent as it is moved into the room.

Start the installation along the long wall without any projections. Lay the roll across the room on a diagonal and begin to unroll the vinyl. As it is unrolled, move the long edge toward the starting wall. Pull the vinyl to the end of the wall and lay the sheet as flat as possible. It will lap up on all sides of the room. Adjust the pattern until it is parallel with the wall and across any door openings. Avoid creasing or buckling the sheet, which could damage the face.

Make a diagonal cut at each corner and trim along each wall to make a proper fit. Use a metal straightedge for more accurate trimming. Leave 1/4-inch space along each wall for expansion with temperature change. This gap will be covered by baseboard and shoe molding at the end of the installation.

If the room is irregular and requires complicated projections or will not have a base or shoe molding, then start by making a paper pattern out of red rosin construction paper or any other heavy rolled paper. Tape and overlap each sheet at least 2 inches and tape to the subfloor as needed to prevent the pattern from slipping. Once the pattern is complete, transfer the pattern to the vinyl and cut as described previously.

Step 3: Applying Adhesive

After the vinyl sheet has been cut to size, begin by rolling back the vinyl and exposing half the subfloor. Using a tube makes this a lot easier. Place weights on the the half of the vinyl sheet that will remain flat and make certain that the flooring does not shift as it is rolled back by. Apply the adhesive to one half of the subfloor at a time. Draw a line on the subfloor locating the center of the room, which is exposed when the sheet is laid back. Apply the adhesive to the subfloor using the adhesive and trowel specified by the manufacturer. Spread the adhesive in a uniform thickness until the entire area is covered without voids, thin spots or areas of excessive thickness.

Allow the adhesive to set, as recommended by the manufacturer, and carefully unroll the flooring over the wet adhesive. Use care to get it back into the original position to fit the room. Avoid pockets of trapped air by starting at the center of the room and working toward the edges. Immediately roll the vinyl down with a 100-pound floor covering roller. Again, begin at the center and roll toward the edges. Repeat this procedure for the second half of the room. Reinstall the baseboards and apply 1/4-inch-round base shoe molding.

If the room is too large to be covered with a single 12-foot-wide vinyl sheet, then you'll need a seam. For some products, this requires that the pattern be matched after the sheets are cut forming the seams. Pattern matching is not required for non-symmetrical patterns. Flooring manufacturers have excellent installation guides for pattern matching and seam-cutting their vinyl products. It's a good idea to read and understand these guides completely before beginning any installation.

Step 4: Moving In

Wait 48 hours after installation before moving in. This gives the adhesive time to completely dry and cure. When moving heavy furniture and appliances back into the room, move it over 1/4-inch plywood or hardboard to avoid damaging the new flooring. If furniture needs to be moved in before the 48-hour drying period, then place large furniture rests below the legs and rollers. These can be left on permanently to protect the flooring.

Last Updated: July 22, 2011
AAA Print

About Bill Washburn William "Bill" Washburn has a BA in advertising from the Art Center College of Design and has taught at the University of Southern California and Northrup University. Writing from a well-connected studio in the rural foothills of the west coast, he is a frequent speaker at local art associations and has published numerous articles discussing periods of art history and the fundamentals of drawing and painting. William is a master gardener who grows his own culinary herbs, organic heirloom vegetables and a variety of fruits. He writes frequently about his gardening experiences on his website Pioneer Dad. He is an accomplished advertising writer, fine art painter, and art director with more than 20 years' experience. 

Note: The information provided on this site may be provided by third parties. The owners and operators of this site do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, and compliance of the content on this site. Such content is not and shall not be deemed tax, legal, financial, or other advice, and we encourage you to confirm the accuracy of the content. Use is at your own risk, and use of this site shall be deemed acceptance of the above.