Want a waterproof and economical flooring option that’s suitable for kitchens, bathrooms or just about any room. Vinyl plank flooring is the way to go, and it’s also very easy to install. Many types of vinyl plank flooring have a floating feature, so there is no need to glue or nail them to the subfloor as the floor’s own weight holds it in place. As long as there is a solid subfloor, you can install vinyl plank flooring in one or two rooms in about a day.

Working time: 1 to 2 days
Total time: 1 to 2 days
Skill level: Intermediate
Project cost: $300 to $600 for 100 square feet

When to Install Vinyl Plank Flooring


A vinyl plank flooring installation can happen successfully in any season and in most climatic conditions. Simply make sure that the room is greater than 50 degrees Fahrenheit and lower than 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Unlike other types of flooring, such as laminate or wood, vinyl plank flooring does not need to acclimate to the room before installation—though check your specific product’s instructions. Install the flooring after other tradework such as drywall, plumbing, painting and electrical have been completed.

Safety Considerations

If you plan to remove existing flooring, know that some flooring or adhesives may contain asbestos. Cutting, sanding, chipping or other tasks that break up materials containing asbestos may release asbestos into the air. It’s usually safest to leave asbestos in place and floor over it.


  • Vinyl plank flooring
  • Joint spacers (1/4-inch)
  • Painter’s tape


  • Utility knife
  • Tape measure
  • Straight edge
  • Rubber mallet
  • Floor tapping block
  • Pencil
  • Multi-tool or jamb saw
  • Circular saw or jigsaw


Assess Subfloor

The subfloor must be structurally sound. It should be level to within a 1/4-inch or less slope or rise per 10 feet (horizontal), with no bumps or dips. With the hammer, pound down protruding nails or remove and replace with screws. With a putty knife, scrape away dried drywall compound, paint or mud. Remove loose debris by sweeping or using a shop vacuum.

Plan Layout

Decide which direction you will install the planks. Generally, lay the planks in the direction of the room’s longest side. You may want to change the direction of the boards if there are extenuating circumstances, such as the need to parallel the direction of flooring in an adjacent room. If flooring an entire house, run the planks in the direction of the house’s longest sides.

Remove Baseboards

Baseboards, shoe molding and other types of molding on the room’s perimeter must be removed. Use a pry bar to gently pry back the top of the molding. Set aside the trim for reuse or purchase new baseboards.

Undercut Jambs

If the door casing is to remain in place, undercut the casing to allow the vinyl flooring to slide underneath. Lay a piece of vinyl flooring against the door casing. Mark with a pencil, then remove the plank. Cut with a multi-tool or door jamb saw and remove the waste.

Add Joint Spacers

To create an expansion gap, set joint spacers on the wall, around the perimeter of the room, approximately every 24 inches. Scrap 1/4-inch thick boards can be taped to the walls with painter’s tape. If using plastic manufactured joint spacers, these do not install on the walls but on top of the planks.

Plan First Plank of First Row

You will either lay a full- or partial-size first plank. The goal is for no plank to be less than 8 inches long. With the tape measure, measure the floor’s length. Divide that measurement by the length of each plank. If the resulting number is greater than 8 inches, install a full-size first plank. If the number is less than 8 inches, subtract enough inches from the first board so that the final board in the row will be longer than 8 inches.

Begin First Row

The first row will be against a wall. The planks’ grooves should face the room (tongues facing the wall). Begin by dry-fitting 6 to 12 inches away from the wall. Install the entire row of planks for that row. Attach the short sides of planks by pushing the top plank’s tongue straight down into the receiving groove of the adjacent plank. If the boards do not snap into place by hand, tap with a mallet.

Remove Tongues of First Row Planks

As you install the first row, use the utility knife to slice off the tongues from the planks. This helps the first row to fit tighter against the wall, with less chance of visible gaps.

Complete First Row

At the end, cut the last board to fit the remaining space. Cut the plank by scoring two or three times against the straight edge, then snapping the two pieces apart from the back. It’s often helpful to snap the board over your knee, but be cautious of flying fragments. When the row is finished, slide it into place against the wall’s spacers.

Plan First Plank of Second Row

Planks’ short joints should be staggered for better stability and for visual effect. Aim for joints to hit at about the 1/3rd or 2/3rd mark of the plank on the adjacent row. For example, if the first plank of the first row is a full-size 48 inches long, the first plank of the second row should be either 16 or 32 inches long.

Begin Second Row

Attach the vinyl flooring planks by locking them into place from the side. With most floors of this type, the installer holds the plank at about a 15 degree angle to the already installed plank. The tongue of the new plank fits into the groove of the second plank. Then, the new plank is folded down flat.

Tap Planks into Place

It may be necessary to tap the new board on the edge to snug it against the other board. Always use a floor tapping block between the mallet and the board to avoid damaging the board’s edge.

Finish Subsequent Rows

Continue laying rows of vinyl flooring planks. Keep staggering the joints as before.

Cut Last Row Planks

The final row of vinyl flooring planks usually must be cut lengthwise to fit. The score-and-snap method can be difficult, so cut with a circular saw, jigsaw or handsaw.

Install Last Row Planks

Fit the tongues of the last row of planks into the grooves of the already installed row of planks. Fold down the planks. Remember, the entire periphery must have a 1/4-inch expansion gap—even this last row. So, be sure to apply joint spacers to this row or use the spacers taped to the wall.

Install Floor Molding

After the flooring is completely installed, install the baseboards or other floor trim. The bottom edge of the floor trim should cover the expansion gap. Sometimes, the last row of planks has a tendency to slightly angle upward, and the floor molding will help to hold it down until it naturally flattens.

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