How To Install Vinyl Plank Flooring
The third addition to our ‘How to’ series of guides, will detail and demonstrate how to install vinyl plank flooring. We have multiple How-To Guides to our YouTube channel so be sure to subscribe as there are more videos coming soon.
Planning the Installation
Vinyl planks can be installed over most hard subfloor, provided they are prepared in accordance with local standards. Subfloors must be:
- Free from contamination
Solid subfloors must be tested in accordance with local standards, to ensure they are not damp.
Before starting the installation, always check with the customer what direction they would like the floor planks to be installed. This is particularly relevant when installing wood plank designs. The direction of lay normally follows the longest side of the room, unless the planks are being installed in a room directly adjacent to bi-fold patio doors, or large floor-to-ceiling windows. In which case the longest side of the plank, should always run perpendicular angle to the light.
When installing vinyl planks, always use vinyl lock underlay underneath, as this provides an anti-slip surface, optimized for the installation of the planks. No specialist tools are needed to install vinyl planks, just standard tools that any professional flooring installer will already have. These include a utility knife and a tri-square. Unlike click type systems a hammer, tapping block or a pull bar are not required.
When installing the vinyl planks it’s important to remember that it’s a floating floor and is not fixed to the subfloor underneath. Therefore, you must ensure an expansion gap of at least 4mm is left around the entire perimeter of the floor, and anything that protrudes up through the floor such as heating pipes and columns, also need the same size expansion gap. This is the same with door frames and fireplace hearts too.
Calculating the size of the expansion gap required is simple. You must allow 1mm for every metre the floor will cover. So a room 8m by 7m with tiles fitted along the longest wall will require an 8mm expansion gap around the room, plus any door casings, columns, fireplace hearts, radiator pipes and anything else that protrudes through the floor.
This gap must be left clear with no mastic, silicone or any other type of filler, to allow for expansion. A larger expansion gap should be left around door thresholds which can be covered afterwards by fixing a threshold strip or door bar, to bridge the two sections of flooring. If you’re in any doubts, then please consult the technical department of the flooring manufacturer or a flooring professional for further advice.
Installing Vinyl Floor Planks
Start to lay the floor in a corner of the room. Many vinyl flooring planks now have an angled locking system, where each plank is joined together by angling in and pressing down into the profile of the previous plank. Press the male end profile down into the female profile at an angle of approximately 45 degrees, and gently lower down until it locks into place.
Complete subsequent rows using the same method. When you come to the end of a row, turn the last plank around, so that the male profile faces the male profile of the previous plank, and push the end of the last plank tight to the wall. Mark where to cut the last plank with a pencil, remembering to leave room for the expansion gap. The last plank should be no less than 350mm in length.
Start the next row using the leftover of the plank cut from the first row and place against the wall. Insert the next plank at an angle, against the previous row. Press forward to adjoin the two profiles together and gently lower the plank down at the same time. Always ensure that you stagger the header joints, at a minimum of 150mm from the adjacent header joint of the previous row.
If the walls are uneven the plank should be marked or scribed to its contours, not forgetting to include the required expansion gap and cut to shape. To cut the planks to fir the last row in the room, position then one at a time directly over the previous row, in the direction you will be laying them. Hold them down firmly in place and then line up a third plank on top. Use the edge of this top plank to mark the cutting line with a pencil, and cut the plank beneath remembering to add on the required expansion gap.
When fitting vinyl planks around pipes, mark the centre of the holes on both the long and short edge of the plank using a tri-square and a pencil. Where the marks cross, drill a hole using a spade bit wide enough to accommodate both the pope and the required extension gap. Cut around the hole using a utility knife and install the plank. If necessary, you can place a bead of contact adhesive on the cut piece to fix it to the main plank. To fill the blank area created, make sure you insert a spacer directly behind the inserted piece along the wall and leave it in place until the adhesive has hardened.
Door frames can also be undercut to accommodate vinyl planks. Cut the doorframe with the saw sitting flat on top of an off cut of vinyl plank, then slide the plank under the doorframe. Make sure that the vinyl plank slides smoothly underneath and doesn’t snag. Because this a floating floor it can be walked on straight away.
Our floor has been installed. Remember to take out any offcuts or spaces you’ve used to gauge the expansion gap around the perimeter of the room. Skirting Boards, baseboards, quadrants or scotia can be used to conceal the expansion gap. However, they should not be fitted directly onto the surface of the vinyl planks, leave a small gap between the two, allowing for the natural movement of the plank.
Your new vinyl plank floor is now complete. These instructions have been designed to make installing vinyl planks quick and simple, whilst providing a professional looking floor finish. Don’t forget to give the relevant people a copy of the cleaning and maintenance instructions for the vinyl planks, so they can ensure that it looks as good as new for years to come.
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