Luxury vinyl flooring installation tips from National Floors Direct

Luxury Vinyl Flooring: 6 Tips for a Smoother Installation Process


Have you been searching for wood flooring and hitting roadblocks?

You may have considered laminate flooring or hardwoods for your bathroom, but are concerned about the effects of moisture. Maybe you'd love an oak floor for your entryway but can't stand the thought of refinishing it in the future.

If you've been going back and forth and getting nowhere, luxury vinyl flooring is the right choice for you. It's super durable, comes in a wide range of finishes, and water just wipes off without doing any damage! Because you can choose realistic wood effects and tile finishes, it's on-trend in 2022

The best part? It's easy to lay as well. Let's look at 6 tips that make installing luxury vinyl flooring as easy as pie.

1. Get the Subfloor Level

The best luxury vinyl plank flooring gives a realistic wood or tile effect finish. But what it can't do is even out uneven subfloors. To avoid bouncy floors that are susceptible to cracking, invest a little time and attention to evening out the subfloor.

Also, allow your planks a couple of days in your house to get acclimated. This will make it easier to work with them and result in a more even floor.

Concrete Floors

You would expect concrete subfloors to be even, but that's not always the case. Test them by taking your straightedge and running it over the floor. Anything more than a 1/8-inch difference over a span of 4 feet is concerning.

You can level out these patches using a sander or some patching compound. But if the whole floor is out of whack, consider using a self-leveling compound to put it right.

Wood Subfloors

Whether they're old planks or ply, wood subfloors are often responsible for bouncy floors. But there are two things you can do to avoid this happening.

First, check the entire floor for squeaks and creaks. If you notice any, screw the floor down tightly until it stops moving and making noise.

Next, using a straight edge, check the level of the floor. Mark any high spots or low spots.

Correct the high spots using a belt sander. A coarse belt works well - you're not trying to achieve a finish you could walk on. The key is just to bring it back to the same level as the rest of the floor.

For the low spots, all you need is a trowel and some floor patch. Some varieties are quick-drying, allowing you to get on with laying the floor the same day.

2. Plan Your Floor First

Your goal is to end up with a floor that looks fairly symmetrical. If you don't take a few minutes to plan, you could end up with a skinny, trimmed plank at one side. This isn't a great look and it's better to even this out if possible.

One solution is to trim the row of planks and the final row. That will give the floor an even appearance. The cut ends will be hidden beneath the bridge molding.

To calculate this, measure the width of your room and the width of the plank. Divide the width of the room by the planks and that'll tell you how many full planks you can fit in. Split the difference and you've got the measurement for your first and last planks.

Next, think about staggering seams. Seams should be at least 6 inches apart, usually more. Open several packs so that you've got enough boards on hand to create this look.

Remember, measure twice, cut once! Some people find it helpful to sketch out or even lay out the floor first. If you do the latter, take photos of the dry run so that you can remember what you decided on.


3. Leave Room for Expansion

Most luxury vinyl plank flooring is installed as a floating floor. It is not glued or nailed to the subfloor at all. 

As the weather changes throughout the year, it can expand and contract. To allow this to happen without damaging your floor, you need to leave an expansion gap around the entire perimeter of the floor. Follow the manufacturer's instructions about how big a gap you need to leave. 

Also, think about transitions. This is where the luxury vinyl flooring meets another floor surface, typically in a doorway. A t-molding strip and molding track are typically supplied to allow you to transition to another floor surface on the same level.

If there's a small dip, then you may need to use a baby threshold or a multi-purpose reducer.

4. Close Those Seams

Under normal circumstances, luxury vinyl tile flooring simply clicks together. The seams are virtually invisible. But sometimes, they need a little extra encouragement to fit together snugly.

For the long edge, grab a scrap of flooring and a tapping block. Use the scrap as a sacrificial piece, as the tapping block might damage the edge. Gently tap it into place until they line up tight.

For the butt ends, you'll need a pull bar. Place it at the end of the plank and gently tap it into place. 

5. How to Handle Door Jambs

When planning, try to work away from door openings. It will be easier to start with the intricate cuts than finish with them. You may also need to trim the door jamb slightly to allow room for the floor.

Measure and cut your first plank and then position this in place under the door jamb. You'll have to bend the next plank to allow it to fix to the end piece and click into place. Gently tap the planks into position.

6. Finish with Bridge Molding

You've just laid the best luxury vinyl plank flooring you could find. Don't leave its ragged edges exposed.

To cover the gap between your baseboards and the edge of the flooring, install some bridge molding. Always nail the molding directly into the baseboards, rather than into the flooring. 

The Secret to Smooth Luxury Vinyl Flooring Installation

The secret to smooth luxury vinyl flooring is good preparation.

Get the subfloor smooth and level. Plan your installation, taking into account the size of your room and any doorways leading into it. Make sure your seams are staggered and there's room for it to expand.

Sound like a lot to remember? There is an easier way. At National Floors Direct, we don't just supply some of the best luxury vinyl plank flooring available, we install it for free as well.

Call us at 888-400-FLOOR or book a free in-home estimate online today!