How to Install Luxury Vinyl Flooring

kitchen with luxury vinyl plank flooring

How to Install Luxury Vinyl Flooring

Luxury vinyl plank flooring is quick and easy to install as long as you know how to go about it. This flooring is easier to install compared to solid hardwood and engineered wood flooring. Vinyl plank flooring is the ideal choice not just for the whole house but also for high-moisture areas, such as basements and bathrooms. This flooring is impervious to water.

While you can easily find a flooring contractor in Raleigh who can do the installation for you, it is advisable to educate yourself on how to install luxury vinyl plank flooring. That way, you can rest assured knowing that the contractor is doing it correctly.

General Information

Here are a few guidelines that you should be aware of before beginning the installation.

  • Depending on the brand of vinyl plank flooring you opt for, acclimatization could be necessary prior to installation. Hence, the planks should be placed in the room 48 to 72 hours before you begin installing them. That will allow the planks to get used to the room temperature and it will take care of contraction or expansion.
  • Do not expose the planks to direct sunlight for extended periods as it could lead to discoloration. Also, if the ambient temperature is too high and the planks are exposed to sunlight, it may result in UV fading and thermal expansion.
  • Always install the luxury vinyl flooring after you complete other works, like installing cabinets and islands.
  • Mix planks from different cartons to minimize the chances of shade variation.
  • Inspect the planks with care to ensure that they are not damaged. If they are, you should immediately get in touch with the manufacturer.
  • Ensure that you maintain a gap of 1/4″ for an area less than 2500 sq ft and a 1/2″ gap for an area larger than 2500 sq ft to allow for expansion.

Subfloor Information

The subfloor should be clean, dry, flat, and structurally sound. To ensure the successful installation of luxury vinyl plank flooring in Raleigh, Holly Springs, Knightdale, Wake Forest, Apex, and the surrounding areas, optimal preparation of the subfloor is a must.

Wood Subfloor:

You should not directly install vinyl plank flooring on a wood subfloor that lies on concrete, plywood over concrete, or dimensional lumber. This is something you should talk about with the flooring company in Raleigh.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Do not apply plastic sheets if you have a wood subfloor
  • The basement and crawl spaces should be dry. In case the crawl space has earth, look to use black polyethylene as cover. Remember to follow local regulations for crawl space clearance, cross ventilation, and vent spacing.
  • The subfloor should be structurally sound. It is prudent to remember that local building codes regulate just the minimum requirements and hence, the subfloor may not offer sufficient rigidity and support for the right installation. If there is a problem with support and rigidity, the flooring company may add an extra layer of APA-rated underlayment according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Your flooring contractor will be able to suggest the right method of flooring installation when you have wood subfloors.

Concrete Subfloor:

The concrete subfloor should meet the guidelines laid down by the American Society for Testing and Materials. Some of these guidelines include:

  • The concrete subfloor should be smooth, clean, and permanently dry. It also should not have any foreign material, like wax, grease, the residue of old adhesive, solvents, dust, or oils.
  • The subfloor should be dense and hard. There should be no flaking or powder.
  • The concrete should not have any visible moisture, and there is a history of moisture, the installation of vinyl flooring cannot take place. That is because moisture will lead to the proliferation of mold and mildew, and this, in turn, will lead to unhealthy living conditions.
  • The pH level of the concrete subfloor should range from 7 to 10.
  • The flooring company has the responsibility to ensure that the concrete is dry enough for flooring installation.

Lightweight Concrete Subfloor:

The lightweight concrete subfloor should be resilient and strong enough to provide support to vinyl plank flooring. Hence, if you are getting a lightweight concrete subfloor, make sure the contractor uses a slump test to ensure that the right ratios are used to mix the aggregate. Also, the pumping equipment should be optimally working.

Some of the things to note are as follows:

  • Ensure that the lightweight concrete subfloor is resilient
  • The surface of the subfloor should be smooth, uniform, dry, clean, and free from dust and other particulate matter.
  • The structure should be sound and be able to provide adequate support to luxury vinyl plank flooring.
  • It is advisable to bond test prior to flooring installation to ensure it is compatible with the subfloor.
  • For areas measuring up to 1000 sq ft, three internal relative humidity tests should be performed. For areas over 1000 sq ft, the flooring contractor should perform a total of four tests.

Radiant-Heated Subfloor:

The radiant-heated subfloor can be made from wood, concrete, or a combination of the two. The heating system should be working for at least two weeks before flooring installation as it will minimize the presence of residual moisture.

Here are a few things that you should be aware of when you want to install luxury vinyl plank flooring over radiant-heated subfloor.

  • There should be at least 1/2″ space separating the components of the heating system from the vinyl plank flooring.
  • Three days before the installation, the temperature should be lowered to 65 deg.
  • After installation, the temperature should be gradually increased in increments of 5 deg. This will prevent overheating.
  • Maximum temperature should never increase to more than 85 deg. To prevent this, it is advisable to install an in-floor sensor to gauge the temperature at all times.
  • In the case of electric radiant subfloors, it is advisable to use cementitious patching and leveling compounds when you intend to embed the heating system components.
  • If the heating is hydronic, with channels under a wooden or embedded concrete subfloor, the flooring company in Raleigh should have a blueprint of the channels. They would have to follow a precise nailing pattern to ensure they do not penetrate or pierce the components.

Existing Flooring

The best part about vinyl plank flooring is that it can be installed over existing flooring as long as it is completely flat, clean, dry, adhered to, and structurally sound. Also, the existing flooring should not have deflection.

Here are a few things to take note of:

  • Existing vinyl sheets shouldn’t be overly cushioned. The layer should not be more than a single layer thickness. That is because too much cushioning can result in the softness of the underlayment and this could adversely affect the locking ability of the new vinyl planks. Also, it could reduce the indentation resistance of the new planks.
  • Never opt for vinyl flooring installation over a carpet.
  • Luxury vinyl planks should not be installed on existing wood floors that are glued to concrete.
  • It is advisable not to use solvents to remove residues of old adhesive. The residue of the solvent will have a negative effect on the new flooring.
  • You can choose vinyl flooring installation over porcelain or ceramic tiles as long as the grout joint is about 1/4 inches in width. In case the width is more, the flooring contractor in Fuquay Varina, Wendell, Garner, Durham, and surrounding areas would have to use cementitious patching to fill the gap and make it smooth.

Raised Access Panel Subfloor

A flooring company in Fuquay Varina should be able to tell you the following before you begin installing luxury vinyl plank flooring.

  • The raised access panels should not only be level and free of dirt and existing adhesive but should also be flat and stable.
  • The gaps between the panel should not be more than 1mm.
  • The individual panel should not have any deflection.
  • Lippage between the raised access panels should not be more than 0.75mm.
  • Telegraphing of the seams could be visible and this should be considered a defect after installation.
  • It is best to stagger the floor planks so that they overlap the access panels.

It is prudent to note that sometimes it could be necessary to overlay the raised access panels with plywood. If this is the case, use 6mm plywood. Make sure it is firmly fastened to the access panels and it is only after that the flooring contractor in Wake Forest should install the planks. This is also the best time to repair and fix loose panels.

Installation of Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring

Before you begin installing vinyl plank flooring, you need to determine how to install it and the kind of expertise you require to do so. It enables you to choose the correct type of installation method that fits your needs.

If you are opting to glue down the vinyl planks, you will require few special materials. If that is the case, you should do an online search for flooring companies near me or vinyl flooring near me. That will give you a list of top flooring contractors. You can choose the best to handle the installation.

While many homeowners feel that they can manage a DIY project where luxury vinyl plank flooring is concerned, that is not necessarily true. That is because some types of vinyl flooring are harder to install than they look.

  • Loose Vinyl Planks: These are perhaps the easiest to install. You would require a pair of gloves, ruler, knife, or scissors to cut the planks to the right size and install them. Installation requires you to lay the loose planks so that they lock into each other. This is quick and easy to do.
  • Self-adhesive Vinyl Planks: These are also easy to install but time-consuming. You would have to peel the covering of the self-adhesive side of the planks to securely fix them. Here too you would need a pair of gloves, ruler, and scissors or knife.
  • Interlocking Vinyl Planks: Interlocking vinyl planks come with a tongue and groove system. You would have to fit the two to securely interlock the planks. Of course, while cutting the planks, you would have to be careful to note the edges. If you are uncomfortable or unsure about doing it on your own, it is best to collaborate with a flooring contractor in Durham.
  • Glue Down Luxury Vinyl Planks: Since this requires special technique and care, it is best not to do it yourself. Installing these planks requires expertise and an experienced flooring contractor is a perfect choice for it.

Materials Required for Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring Installation

Make sure that the flooring company in Holly Springs has the right tools for installing luxury vinyl plank flooring. The most common items required to carry out a seamless installation are as follows:

  • Safety glasses
  • Knee pads for comfort
  • Flush cut saw
  • Circular saw
  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • Spacers
  • Rubber mallet
  • Jig saw
  • Tapping block
  • Transition rim
  • Tin snips
  • Metal putty knife
  • Pry bar
  • Carpenter’s square

The Installation Process

The installation process is divided into 6 steps for your convenience. This is a general installation process that you can use for just about any variation of luxury vinyl plank flooring.

Step 1: Decide the Layout

The first step that is a must before beginning the installation process is deciding which way the luxury vinyl planks will run. Based on that and the type of planks you are using, you can get the additional materials that would help you finish the installation with minimal waste.

For a straight lay of the planks, you will require about 10% more flooring. On the other hand, you would have around 15% extra flooring for herringbone or any different patterns.

Remember to account for electrical outlets and light sources, the room’s shape, your personal preference, and any special features the room may have.

Look to run the planks along the longest and most prominent wall. Or, you can think of running it in the same direction as the main source of light in the room. This could be a window or artificial lighting. In case the room is just off a hallway, you should endeavor to run the planks in the same direction as the hallway to ensure continuity and uniformity. If you are doing the whole house, the plank should be positioned along the length of the house. They should run from the front to the back.

Once you decide the direction of the layout, square the room. Then measure the planks and the room. Finally, ensure that the first and the last planks are the right sizes for the space. The planks should not be too short or narrow. If you like, you can sketch the layout to give a roadmap to follow. It will save you hassle and time later on.

Step 2: Preparation

In this step, you will have a lot of prep work. The first is acclimatizing the planks to the inside temperature of your home. So, make sure, when you keep the planks in the room that you want to work in. That way, you will not have to contend with the planks’ natural contraction and expansion which occur based on your home’s temperature and humidity level.

While the planks are getting acclimatized, you can do the other prep work. If it is a single room, install transitions at the doorway. This will give a clean appearance where two types of flooring meet. To decide the best transition piece, consider the two types of flooring. If they are the same height, you can opt for a T-mold. On the other hand, if one type of flooring is lower than the other, you can use a threshold or reducer.

You can find transition strips to match the flooring and they come in a range of colors and styles. Usually, these strips come with a U-shaped metal that you can cut to the length you desire and fix it to the subfloor. The transition piece is then snapped into place.

The doorway should be clear and shouldn’t have any debris or any other material. If the subfloor is made from concrete, you would require a hammer drill as well as a masonry bit for installation. For wood subfloors, you will have to screw or nail the transition piece and then use silicone adhesive to firmly fix it.

After that, focus your attention on the door jambs. It is necessary to be able to slide the luxury vinyl planks under the jambs to ensure a seamless installation. If you have trim work, work to gently remove the baseboards. You can use a putty knife for this purpose and get behind the trim to pry it off from the baseboards.

Once you remove the trim, scrape a little bit of the flooring on the subfloor and carefully mark the jams that you need to cut. This will give you a line to follow and you will not overcut the door jambs. It is best to cut one and check for the fit before you do all the door jambs. This minimizes wastage and allows you to get it right. Remember to leave a breathing space of about 1/16” to 1/8” where you will be putting the caulk.

Now focus on the subfloor after you remove the trim work. You can install the luxury vinyl planks directly on the subfloor but remember that will cause the resultant floor to increase. Ensure that the subfloor is smooth and even. If there are high spots, you will need to sand them down. In case of gaps or irregularities, use a leveling compound.

If the vinyl planks are thick, they do a good job of hiding the subfloor’s imperfections. However, if you are using thin vinyl planks, the imperfections will be more visible after the vinyl planks adjust to the height variations of the subfloor.

Once you have prepared the subfloor, check again. Make sure that it is completely dry and free from dust, foreign material, and debris. After that, you will be ready to begin laying the flooring.

Step 3: Installing the Underlayment

Unroll the underlayment along the longest wall in the room. After that, cut it so that it fits. After that, position the next sheet of the underlayment. It should overlap with the previous sheet. It is prudent to remember that underlayments can come with a self-adhesive to prevent moisture. In case, your underlayment does not have a self-adhesive, don’t worry. You can use underlayment tape and that will seal the seams.

Continue installing the underlayment until you have covered the entire room. Get rid of excess underlayment from the edges, corners, and vents. You can use a razor knife for this purpose.

Step 4: Begin the Installation Process

As stated earlier, you need to decide how to begin the installation so that the last plank is not narrower compared to the other planks. So, think again from which side of the room you will begin the installation and re-check your calculations and measurements before commencing. Remember, a wider last plank will be more secure compared to a narrower plank.

While installing the luxury vinyl planks, you will find out that walls are seldom straight! Do not let that deter you or lead to crooked flooring. Square the flooring with the wall to figure out if you will require an angle cut on the first row of the plank so that it stays straight. Squaring can be done the same way you would square the room before you install tiles. For this, measure the distance between the walls that are parallel to the planks. Make sure you measure both ends.

In case measurements are different, deduct the large number from the smaller one and then divide both. Using the length of the first row and this figure, you can easily calculate the angle that you would need to cut the first row with. After that, you can make the cut. Remember, if the cut has to be angled, you can do so now. Use a circular saw for this purpose.

Begin laying the first row planks.

Step 5: Laying the Luxury Vinyl Planks

Now that you have installed the first row, you are ready to complete the rest of the installation.

In case you are using the tongue and groove variation, make you connect the next plank to the first row. You will need a rubber mallet as well as a tapping block to ensure that the planks are securely connected and flush. Remember to place the tapping block on the cut side of the plank to prevent damaging the interlocking system. After a tap or two, inspect the planks to ensure that there is no gap. There shouldn’t be a hairline gap as you will face a problem fitting the next row.

After you finish installing the second row, you would need to measure the length of the last piece. Use a carpenter’s square to carefully mark the length on the vinyl plank. Score it on the finished side and then flip it over. Use one hand to pull the plank and with the other hand, hold the plank a little after the scored line. This will exert the right amount of force to snap the plank. If the snapping is not clean, use a flush saw to trim and smooth the cut edges. On the other hand, if the plank is smoothly snapped, you can install it.

For luxury vinyl planks that are thick, you will need a circular saw to cut the last piece as it will not be possible to score and snap the plank.

Once you finish installing the last plank in the row, you will end up with a tight fit. Use the rubber mallet and tapping block to ensure that the fit is secure. Remember, doing this can cause the board to shift and it will impact the entire row as a result. So, make sure you keep an eye for it otherwise the planks will not line up properly. If you like, you place a heavy weight, such as dumbbells on the row to prevent it from shifting and moving around.

While installing your luxury vinyl plank flooring, you must not place too many similar pieces in a continuous series. Try to create a flooring pattern that does not have a manufactured look and feel to it. It is best to stagger the seams of the planks since you will be using offcuts now and then. The seams, according to most manufacturers, should be around six inches apart. Your aim should be to create a pattern that appears random. If you try to follow a precise brickwork-like pattern, it will look unnatural and not have the appeal you desire. So, that is something that you should pay attention to and keep in mind when installing vinyl flooring.

Lay one row at a time but once you reach door jambs and other protrusions and features in the room, you should mark and cut the planks for optimal fit. When you are cutting the planks, use a slow cutting motion and cut a little bit at a time. While you will have to cut several times, this minimizes the risk of cutting off too much. Once you cut off a piece, there is no way of putting it back.

Sometimes, you may find that the plank is not clicking into place. If that is the case, check the already installed plank. This problem can arise due to debris or little bits of the flooring that prevent the new plank from fitting in. You can use a razor knife to get rid of the obstruction and ensure that the plank seamlessly fits in.

Step 6: The Finishing Touches

Once you finish installing the last row of your luxury vinyl plank flooring, you will be relieved. However, the work is still not done. Use the rubber mallet and tapping block to ensure that every plank is securely in place. This last bit will ensure that the planks are properly aligned.

Remove the spacers that you had taped earlier. After that, you want to put back the trim work. Measure and cut the trim so that it fits properly. You can use a brad nailer to fit the trims back. In case you intend to use a nail gun, ensure that you fit the brad nails with care. They should go into the baseboards and not into the just-installed flooring. The planks should be able to move slightly. If you nail the trims to the flooring, it will prevent this movement and result in the planks getting warped later on.

The bit of finishing touch is installing the transition. Fit it into the metal channel. You can use a jig saw to cut the transition so that it fits perfectly in the doorway. Place the transition piece onto the metal channel and firmly press it. It will click into place. After that, tap it gently with the rubber mallet to ensure it is secure.

Now, you have successfully installed your luxury vinyl plank flooring.

Points to Consider While Installing Vinyl Flooring

  • Remember to install the first row along the longest wall and then align the second row to the first row. These two rows should be straight and create the foundation for the entire luxury vinyl plank flooring. So, make sure that while you install the first two rows, you carefully check the straightness and the squareness. Do this often during the installation process.
  • Once you cut the last plank in the first row, make sure you leave a gap of about 6.35mm so that there is space for expansion. You can use scoring and snapping to cut the plank. If the leftover plank is 6 inches or more, do not discard it. Instead, use it to begin the third row.
  • While installing the planks, go for a random appearance. It will be visually more appealing than a stark pattern.
  • The end joint should be about 6 inches. In case the planks are wider and longer, the spacing of the end joint should be increased to around 8 to 10 inches.
  • Ensure there are no gaps between the planks. Even if there is a hairline gap, use the rubber mallet to tap the plank so that it fits snugly with the previous row. Make sure you use a tapping block covered with a flooring scrap to prevent damaging the planks while hammering.
  • To fit planks under door casings, you may need a flat pull bar to install the planks. This could prove to be a huge help.
  • You will find obstacles and irregular spaces while installing vinyl plank flooring. Do not let that deter you. Instead, cut the planks using a utility knife that has a sharp blade to fit around the obstacles and irregular spaces. Some people like to make a template using cardboard and then transfer that pattern to the vinyl plank. You can cut the pattern for a precise shape and cut.
  • Protect the exposed edges of the vinyl planks by using wall molding or transition strips.
  • If you intend to install luxury vinyl plank flooring in your bathroom, it is necessary to caulk the edges using silicone caulk. This will prevent moisture and water from entering under the planks.
  • Do not expose your flooring to direct sunlight. That way, you reduce the chances of thermal expansion and fading.
  • When you are cutting the planks, it could result in delamination. To prevent this from happening, use glue that has ethyl cyanoacrylate to join the edges. Remember to clean the glue from the upper surface right away. Since you will be using alcohol-based glue, remember that it could cause the planks to swell.
  • Never use adhering tape on the surface of the vinyl flooring. It could damage the surface of the planks. Instead, if you have to use an adhering tape, ensure it is secured to the floor protection and the base molding of the wall. You can use a ram board as a way to protect the flooring.

The Final Word

Now you know how to install luxury vinyl plank flooring. If you find the entire process too cumbersome and tedious, do not worry. You can find a professional flooring company to do it for you. You can easily do an online search for vinyl flooring near me and it will give you a list of flooring companies.

Do your research and due diligence while shortlisting a flooring company in Raleigh, Durham, Wake Forest, Knightdale, Wendell, or Fuquay Varina. That will ensure you choose the right flooring contractor to install your vinyl flooring. The contractor should have experience and knowledge of installing different variations of vinyl plank flooring. It is only then that you will be able to get flooring that you like.

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