Vinyl sheet flooring is one of the most durable and water-resistant flooring materials you can install in your home. An ideal floor covering for kitchens and bathrooms, vinyl sheet flooring is nearly 100-percent waterproof—a claim that few other floorings can make.
Some do-it-yourselfers may steer away from vinyl sheet flooring under the impression that it is too difficult to install. Sheet vinyl installation has a few tricky aspects, but none are insurmountable once you know the workarounds.
Loose-Lay Vinyl Sheet Floor Installation
Loose-lay is a sheet vinyl flooring installation method that mostly avoids using adhesives to stick the floor to the subfloor.
Yet the flooring is not free to shift around. Sheet vinyl's weight and the friction against the subfloor help to hold it down. Perimeter baseboards and quarter-round secure the edges. In bathrooms, the toilet is installed on top of the flooring—another secure point. Finally, double-sided adhesive tape is added to key traffic areas to prevent movement.
Because seams are potential separation points, use only a maximum of one seam with the loose-lay method.
Loose-lay installation works best in areas that are 100 square feet or smaller. Bathrooms and small kitchens are good rooms to install loose-lay vinyl sheet flooring.
Before You Begin
Place the vinyl flooring in or near the job site area for 24 hours before starting installation. Maintain a temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit and 85 degrees Fahrenheit so that the flooring will be easier to unroll and flatten.
Equipment / Tools
- Putty knife
- Oscillating multi-tool
- Manual screwdriver
- Cordless drill and driver bits
- Utility knife
- Tape measure
- Vinyl sheet flooring
- Pre-mixed floor patch and level compound
- Double-sided flooring tape
Remove all baseboards and quarter-round moldings. If any floor transition strips are in place, remove them with a manual screwdriver or cordless drill. Remove the bathroom cabinet.
Remove the toilet. Stop up the toilet closet flange with a cloth rag to prevent tools from getting lost down the sewer pipe. Methane gas can come out of the toilet flange, which is another reason for the rag plug.
For a bathroom remodel, it is not necessary to remove the bathtub or shower if they are already in place.
Prepare the Subfloor
The subfloor must be perfectly level and free of gaps, seams, or gouges that could transfer to the surface of the soft vinyl. Use the combination pre-mixed floor patch and level compound to fill low spots up to a maximum thickness of 1-inch. For deeper dips, repair the subfloor. With the trowel, spread the compound over gaps and seams until the floor is flat and level.
Cut Under the Door Trim
Use the multi-tool fitted with a wood blade to cut under door trim by 1/8-inch. Alternatively, you can remove the door trim and re-install it after the floor has been laid.
Cut the Sheet Flooring
Turn off any floor radiant heating. Cut the sheet vinyl flooring so that it is the size of the room, plus about 4 inches on all sides. Lay the vinyl flooring in the room, with the excess running up the walls. Let the flooring rest in the room for about 2 hours so it can conform to the room's size.
Keeping the room warm will help make the flooring more pliable.
Make Relief Cuts
The flooring will bunch up in the corners, making it difficult for you to cut down the sides. To relieve this tension, make stress or relief cuts in the corners. Start the utility knife in the corner, at the lowest part, then make a single cut upward until the flooring falls into place.
Cut Around the Sides
Cut the flooring where the wall and subfloor meet. Cut as close to that corner as possible so that all of the flooring will be hidden by the baseboards or quarter-round. Feel for the toilet closet flange and cut around it.
Add Adhesive Tape
Remove the vinyl sheet flooring and set it aside. Make sure that it stays flat. Add strips of the double-sided adhesive tape in a few key areas of traffic: by the door, in front of the bathtub or shower, and in front of the cabinet.
Another option is to leave the sized flooring in place and gently pull one side toward the center. Place the tape or adhesive along the edge and roll the flooring back in place. Repeat the procedure for the other side. Vinyl can sometimes tear easily, especially in inside corner cuts, so be careful when moving it.
Lay the Vinyl Flooring
Lay the flooring sheet back in the installation space. Make sure that the flooring does not fold or bunch up between the adhesive strips.
Replace the Baseboards and Other Items
Tips for Installing Vinyl Sheet Flooring
- Buy 5- to 10-percent extra of the sheet flooring to account for expected waste.
- Remove as many obstructions as possible: heating vents, portable shelves, and even the toilet and cabinet. Removing these items is extra work but it makes the installation go easier and helps to hold down the flooring when reinstalled.
- For bathrooms and other small spaces less than 12 feet wide, seaming is not required since sheet vinyl rolls are usually 12 feet wide or more.