DIY Network

How to Install Vinyl Flooring

Follow these step-by-step instructions for installing a vinyl floor.

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Step 1: Choose Vinyl Flooring

Choose the vinyl flooring to be installed.

Step 2: Make a Sketch of the Room

Make a sketch of the room where the vinyl will be installed and measure accurately the room's dimensions. Bring this drawing to the manufacturer's showroom or vinyl retail store. When figuring the amount of vinyl flooring needed, add a few inches to each of the room's dimensions to allow extra material for cutting, trimming and centering the pattern in the room.

Step 3: Make Subfloor Flat and Smooth

Check the subfloor to make sure it is in good condition. It needs to be flat and completely smooth. On concrete subfloors, fill in any holes or low-lying areas with a patching compound. Mix the compound with water to the consistency of mayonnaise and spread with a small trowel (Image 1). Let dry for about an hour. While patching compound is drying, remove shoe molding in the room and do a final clean up, making sure the floor surface is completely clean.

Tip: To trim a door frame so that the vinyl flooring will fit nicely, take a scrap piece of the flooring that is going to be installed and lay it down next to the door frame. Using a handsaw, turn it on its side and saw off the bottom of the door frame (Image 2). This will give the exact space needed for the flooring to fit underneath the door frame.

Step 4: Cut Vinyl Flooring

Lay out the vinyl flooring in the room and mark the area where the excess will be cut out. Cut with a utility knife or heavy-duty shears. Save any excess vinyl flooring for installing in a closet, laundry room, or small bathroom.

Tip: For any corners that are cut, reinforce with two pieces of masking tape. This will help protect the corner from tearing as the vinyl flooring is moved into position.

reinforce cut corners with masking tape

Step 5: Lay Vinyl Flooring

Lay the flooring in its final position with plenty of excess around each wall. Make relief cuts around obstructions. For an inside corner, cut small half circles until the vinyl lies flat to the floor. For an outside corner, make straight relief cuts.

make relief cuts around obstructions

Step 6: Roll Out Craft Paper

Roll back the vinyl flooring next to the wall to expose the subfloor. To create a partial template along the wall (in order to make an exact cut), roll out some of the roll of craft paper along the length of the wall.

Tip: Single sheets of 8-1/2"x11" paper can be taped together in place of a craft paper roll.

Step 7: Apply Double-Stick Tape

Line up the edge of the craft paper against the wall and lightly tape down the paper to the floor using very small pieces of masking tape approximately every 2 feet (this is only to keep the craft paper from moving on the floor). Apply a strip of double-stick tape every 2 feet or so to the craft paper and remove the backing from the top side of the tape.

create a partial template with craft paper

Step 8: Roll Back Vinyl

Roll the vinyl back into position over the template and press down firmly to adhere the vinyl to the template. Gently lift the vinyl back up to reveal the template stuck to the vinyl backing. The outer edge of the paper is where the vinyl should be cut.

adhere template to back of vinyl

Step 9: Cut Vinyl

Using a straightedge and a protective piece of scrap wood to lie underneath the vinyl, and carefully cut the vinyl along the template edge. Repeat steps 6 through 8 along each wall in the room. The vinyl should be in its final position and trimmed exactly to each wall.

Note: Perimeter adhesion allows the flooring in the unadhered areas to float over the top of any imperfections. If the floor had any roughness in it, it would mask it very nicely. It is best to talk to the retailer about the type of adhering because there are a lot of different floorings available. Some use perimeter adhesion, some full adhesion and some can be adhered either way. Purchase the right vinyl adhesive at the same time the flooring is purchased. Also, the directions on the adhesive container explain the right trowel, etc. to use.

carefully cut along template edge

Step 10: Spread Adhesive Material

For perimeter adhesion: Open the can of adhesive material and, using a fine-notched trowel, spread a band along the wall about 6 inches wide.

spread band of adhessive around perimeter

Step 11: Attach Flooring to the Adhesive

Lay the vinyl back down into position and use a hand roller or block of wood wrapped in a clean cloth to seat the flooring to the adhesive. Using the wood wrapped in a cloth would save money, so there's no need for a new tool.

Tip: For full adhesion, spread the adhesive material onto the entire floor surface and roll the vinyl flooring back down into place. Seat the flooring with a hand roller or block, applying firm pressure to ensure good adhesion. Allow to dry for two to four hours—until there's a solid bond. If you fully adhere the vinyl, keep heavy traffic and furniture off it for at least the first 24 hours.

seat flooring to adhesive with hand roller

Step 12: Replace Shoe Molding and Trim

Replace shoe molding and trim along the walls of the room.

Step 13: Move Furniture Back

After the adhesion has dried, move furniture back in using four sheets of thin 1/8" plywood or similar material to slide the furniture across the floor.

Step 14: Clean Vinyl Flooring

Cleaning and maintaining is simple: Keep it swept and use a damp mop with a no-rinse cleaner.

Special thanks to Congoleum Corporation and Mohawk Industries