Install Plank Vinyl Flooring the Fast, Simple Way In 3 Hours

Wooden floor in empty bedroom
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  • 01 of 09

    Plank Vinyl Floor Is Easy. Why Make This More Difficult?

    Plank Vinyl Flooring 155786902
    Plank Vinyl Flooring. Getty / Westend61

    Listen, you bought the stuff because it was easy to install and maybe cheap, too.  It doesn't present the same daunting "installation learning curve" as does solid hardwood or engineered wood or even ceramic/porcelain tile.  It's something you could haul home from the home improvement store in your trunk (no truck delivery charges!).  And you count on being able to get it down in a few hours' time, not days.

    So let's not make your plank vinyl flooring installation any more...MORE difficult than it has to be, OK?

    In fact, if you're comfortable with some of the basics (listed below), jump ahead to the next step and get started!

    Installation and Purchasing Basics

    How Much To Buy

    Buy enough, plus one more carton.

    If your small bathroom floor coverage need is 115 square feet and there are 20 square feet of flooring in each carton, buy 6 cartons.  This totals 120 square feet.  Then add in one more carton so that you don't get caught short.  Keep this carton unopened during installation.  If you do not break into it, the store will take it back and give you a full refund.

    How Much Time It Will Take

    3 hours for a 120 square foot floor.

    For bathrooms, this does not include removal of toilet and re-installation.

    How To Lay It Out: Small Rooms

    Run the first row parallel to your most visible wall, then work outward.

    Every room has a wall that is more visible, more "on stage," than other walls.  In a small bathroom, it might be the row that runs alongside the bathtub.  The least visible wall would be the one where the vanity and counter are installed.

    Lay the first row of planks parallel to this wall or tub, then work your way across the room.  Your last row will be uneven because few rooms are truly square.  But this is fine.  Baseboards will obscure this unevenness.

    Stagger subsequent rows so that ends do not meet up with ends.  See my laminate flooring installation step-by-step for guidance.  It works the same way for plank vinyl; material type doesn't matter.

    How To Lay It Out: Large or Unsquare Rooms

    Lay the first row down the center of the room, then work outward on both sides to the walls.

    In large rooms or rooms that are grossly square, the unevenness will exponentially increase as you move across the room, resulting in an unsightly last row that looks something like a slice of pizza.

    In this case, lay down a row in the middle of the room.  This effectively splits the un-squareness in half, rather than burdening only one row with this visual impact.

    Do You Need To Remove All Baseboards?

    Yes.

    Do You Need To Remove All Door Casings?

    Maybe.

    For ease of installation, it's always best to remove every piece of trim or casing that makes contact with the floor.  But in some cases, it's possible to fudge a bit and create cut-outs, as shown later in this tutorial.

    Continue to 2 of 9 below.
  • 02 of 09

    Cut Vinyl Plank On Face With Utility Knife or Hand Saw

    Cut Vinyl Plank Floor With Utility Knife
    Cut Vinyl Plank Floor With Utility Knife. © Lee Wallender

    Run your first row of vinyl planks down the length of the first wall.

    Cut planks with a utility knife.  Run the knife lightly across the face of the plank several times, rather than trying to cut deep grooves into it.

    Continue to 3 of 9 below.
  • 03 of 09

    Finish Cut On Back of Plank

    Finish Cut On Back of Plank
    Finish Cut On Back of Plank. © Lee Wallender

    Much like cutting drywall, the next step is to flip the board over so that the finish surface is facing down.

    Fold the plank back.  It may snap off by itself.  If not, finish the cut by lightly running the utility knife through the fold.

    Continue to 4 of 9 below.
  • 04 of 09

    Connecting Planks End To End

    Connecting Planks End To End
    Connecting Planks End To End. © Lee Wallender

    Before you go onto the second row, connect all planks in that first row end-to-end.

    The brand demonstrated here (TrafficMaster Allure) is difficult to connect because of this need to connect the short (end) sides before the long (lengthwise) sides can be connected.  It requires some juggling of planks and it's helpful to have another set of hands to assist with the operation.

    Continue to 5 of 9 below.
  • 05 of 09

    Create Cut Outs For Protrusions

    Cut Outs For Protrusions
    Cut Outs For Protrusions. © Lee Wallender

    One great thing about vinyl plank is that you can easily make cut-outs for protrusions.  Use heavy-duty shop scissors or tin snips (as shown here).

    Note that this method doesn't work great when you need to use that tongue or groove to attach another row of planks.  That's because using scissors mangles the tongue/groove and makes for a less-than-perfect fit.

    The next step will clarify this.

    Continue to 6 of 9 below.
  • 06 of 09

    Fitting Plank Around Protrusions

    Fitting Plank Around Protrusions
    Fitting Plank Around Protrusions. © Lee Wallender

    As shown, the cut-out that I made with scissors fits against a wall, not into another row of planks.

    Another point is that wall-side cut-outs only work when the protrusion is on the long side of the plank, not the short side.  Here's why:

    In order to fit plank into plank, you need to angle the row of planks at about 10-15 degrees, then tilt it downward.  If you have a protrusion such as a door trim on the short side, it will impede the board's movement.  

    See the next step for the fix.

    Continue to 7 of 9 below.
  • 07 of 09

    Remove Trim Before Installing Vinyl Plank

    Remove Trim Before Installing Vinyl Plank
    Remove Trim Before Installing Vinyl Plank. © Lee Wallender

    Yes, for those side wall protrusions, the fix is to remove the trim.  There is no way around this.

    Trim (such as this door casing) typically is attached with thin brad-like nails.  Pull straight back with your pry bar.

    Continue to 8 of 9 below.
  • 08 of 09

    Backwards-Installing Vinyl Plank

    Backwards-Installing Vinyl Plank
    Backwards-Installing Vinyl Plank. © Lee Wallender

    One great thing about this type of snap-together vinyl plank is that you can also install the planks in a backward direction.

    Typically, flooring can only be installed in one direction.  For example, if grooves are the leading edge on each row, then you will only be able to connect subsequent planks into grooves.

    But this flooring lets you connect to either the tongue or the groove side.  

    Continue to 9 of 9 below.
  • 09 of 09

    Re-Install Baseboards and Trim

    Re-Install Baseboards and Trim
    Re-Install Baseboards and Trim. © Lee Wallender

    After the floor is laid, re-attach your baseboards and trim, preferably using an electric brad nailer.

    Manually nailing with a hammer creates stress on thin baseboards and trim, dislodging them before you can get them securely attached.  Worse, hammers can crack the trim.