DIY: Install Vinyl Plank Flooring

Before:  Nasty, 22-year old carpet that had been through about 7 owners.

vinyl plank flooring installation tips diy

After:  Brand new vinyl plank flooring, installed by us, with no classes or training.  Looks like hardwood, doesn’t it?

vinyl plank flooring installation tips diy

 

This product comes in planks 6″ x 48″, and has an adhesive already applied.  You just peel off the paper  backing, place it, and stick.  Well, there is a little more to it than that.

1st – After removing the carpet and padding, you have to remove all of the tacking nails and staples.  You have to be very sure to get them ALL out to prevent damage to the vinyl.  Also remove base shoe molding, also called quarter round molding, if it is present.

2nd – You’ll need to make sure your sub-floor is very flat and smooth.  Fill in all the joints and any knots or large nail holes with a floor leveling compound, which you can find at any home improvement store.  Follow the instructions on the label.  Use an electric vibratory sander to sand it smooth once dry.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, just fairly smooth.

In our case, we had two sheets of plywood that were offset about 1/8″, one higher than the other.  This could have caused a ridge to show through the vinyl.  Hubby used the leveling compound to build up a sort of ramp from the lower one to the higher one.  Once sanded, and the new flooring placed, you can’t even tell it was ever a problem.

This image shows the seams and other places where we used leveling compound to level and smooth out the sub-floor:

vinyl plank flooring installation tips diy(If you’re new here to WCIJ, and you’re wondering why there are crazy paint splatters on the wall, this is an art-themed room for our daughter.  You can get tips and techniques on creating this paint-splatter wall for your little artist here.)

3rd – I should say a word about selecting your vinyl plank flooring.  We had ordered a “special order” color / pattern from one of the big home improvement chains.  It was back ordered by the manufacturer once for a week, then again for five weeks!  We didn’t want to wait and asked the salesperson if they had another option.

He showed us some styles they keep in stock.  We hadn’t taken the time to look and realize they even kept some in stock.  We chose one almost identical to the special order style, bought it off the shelf, and saved about 30% in cost!

So the lesson is, if you decide to buy this type of flooring, give the “in stock” styles a good look – it may save you money.

Another word about saving money:  vinyl plank flooring turned out to be about 75% cheaper than the hardwood flooring we considered, and about 50% cheaper than laminate.  Now I realize prices can vary greatly in hardwood and laminate, but that’s what we found, at least.

4th – Vacuum thoroughly!  The planks won’t stick if there is any dust or dirt on the sub-floor.  In fact, vacuum again before laying each row, just where that row is going.  You can’t help but walk around on it, so keep it clean before putting down that next row!

5th – Measure your room carefully to see if it’s square.  If not, you may need to run your first row of planks slightly, er, “non-straight”.  Measure from the edge of the first row to the far wall and make sure you are now running square, so the rest of the rows will be square to the room.  Follow the installation instructions that come with the flooring.  They have tips on how to stagger the seams.

Basically, you start the first row with a full plank, full plank, etc. until you have to cut one to the length needed to finish that row.

You begin the next row with a 1/2 plank, then continue with full planks until you, again, have to trim one to finish.

6th Trimming around the a/c register doesn’t have to be tricky.  Hubby quickly figured out an easy way to do this.

  • He marked where he needed to notch out the plank with a Sharpie, marking the ends of the register.

vinyl plank flooring installation tips diy

 

  • Then, he laid the plank over the register, and used the Sharpie down in the opening to trace the register’s shape on the underside of the plank (actually, on the backing paper.)

vinyl plank flooring installation tips diy

 

Perfect fit!

vinyl plank flooring installation tips diy

 

 

As my algebra teacher used to say, now you’re cookin’ with gas.  Just keep laying those planks.

vinyl plank flooring installation tips diy

7th – A trimming tip – use a sharp utility knife, and a square for cutting the planks.  When you’re nearly done, you won’t want to cut on your gorgeous new floor, so use a piece of scrap 2 x 4 as a cutting surface.

vinyl plank flooring installation tips diy

 

8th – Use a 2 x 4 or long level to “jam” each plank tightly up against the previous row, making sure you don’t leave an open gap, but also making sure you don’t overlap the last row.  If you make a mistake, just pull it up and re-position it.  It’s pretty forgiving.

vinyl plank flooring installation tips diy

 

9th – You’ll do well to purchase one of these handy rollers to press the flooring down tightly.  The adhesive is pressure activated, we read somewhere.  This may not be absolutely necessary, but we sure found that the seams looked better and the few “ornery” planks we had laid nice and flat once rolled.  This cost about $40.  (We’re doing four rooms total so well worth the cost.)

DSCN5075

 

10th – Install your base shoe, or, quarter round  molding.  If you removed old carpet, you probably didn’t have any and will have to purchase this.  You can find it pre-primed, so you’ll only need to give it one coat of paint.  You can finish the corners with mitered corners or coped corners – we did the latter.  Nail it down with finishing nails, touch up the paint, and admire your lovely new floor that seriously looks like real hardwood.

vinyl plank flooring installation tips diy

 

This is a great alternative for us, as one of my children has allergies, and her doctor said the carpet needed to go.  At 75% savings of the cost of hardwood, we are getting ALL the old, yucky carpet outta here, and I am so glad!  So, what do you think?  Had you heard of this product before?  Have you used it?  If so, what have your results been?  Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions in the Comments section.

Several readers have asked me the brand and color we used. There are many on the market, but we used Style Selections from Lowes.  The name of the color isn’t on the 1 box we have left (sorry) but the stock number is #0356402.  

If you’d rather just order vinyl plank flooring from home, check out these options:

 

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~Dawn~

 

 

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33 comments

    • Dawn says:

      Thank you, Sheila…hey, that’s a great idea, I’d love to have that flooring in MY laundry room, too. Excuse me while I go drop that on my hubby 😉

  1. Debbie-Dabble says:

    Looks stunning!! At the end of Sept., we are having the Pergo Max Wood laminate installed in the LR, DR , Hallway and Kitchen and another brand of laminate that looks like a slate/tile installed in the Powder Room. Plus new countertops and a new sink in the kitchen too. I am not looking forward to all the work that will be involved in getting ready for this but I am looking forward to the finished result!!
    Hugs,
    Deb

    • Dawn says:

      Hi Debbie! Thanks so much, we are loving it so far and can’t wait to get the other two bedrooms done. Yes, I know living in a construction zone is no fun, you’re about to be in for it, but it’s worth it in the end. Hang in there gal!

  2. Holly says:

    The look is amazing….we have some gross carpet in our upstairs hallway. I didn’t want to do the floating laminate that I did down stairs – this might be the best and easiest way to get the wood look. Thank you!

    • Dawn says:

      Wow, you did it already! Good for you, and I’m so relieved you like it since I raved about it myself – whew! Going to your blog now to see. -Dawn @ WCIJ

  3. Pamela Allen says:

    Thank you so much for all of the info, I was concerned about trying this, but maybe I’ll try my craft room first, you know”the learning curve thingy”.haha

  4. Kelly @ the Moon and Me says:

    This is so awesome! I’ve been looking for a solution in our hallway that leads from the garage. Why someone would have thought carpet was a good idea there is beyond me. Thanks for sharing! 🙂
    Kelly

    • Dawn says:

      Great Kelly, I hope it works for you. We love it. I’m done with carpet. You don’t realize how gross it gets until you pull it up and see the pad underneath. Good luck and thanks!

    • Dawn says:

      Hi Linda, we just finished putting this flooring in our master bedroom this weekend, and we love it. It’s holding up great in the kids’ rooms so far. Good luck! Dawn @ We Call It Junkin.com

  5. Victoria Holland Fowler says:

    I am shopping for vinyl plank flooring and found your site. I love the shade and texture of the product you used. Could you tell me the name and color and where you ordered it? I would be ever so happy if you can! Your advice is very helpful and your results are awesome. I can not wait to get rid of the carpet out of our family room!

  6. Peggy says:

    We just purchased this planking today from Lowes in Cherry under the same brand name. We first saw this vinyl in the hospital where my husband was recouping from bi-lateral knee replacement. To keep it looking brand new, they clean it using only environmentally friendly cleaners and once a month give each floor 6 layers of an equally green sealer/polisher. I’m thinking I’ll use Bona for Stone, Tile and Laminate. The floors at the hospital are several years old as I understand it and even with all the foot traffic and beds rolling around on them, they look like they were put in last week.
    I had forgotten about having to roll the product, so before I install it, I’m going to go back to Lowes and get the J-Roller.
    Your finished project looks amazing! Thanks for the tips and tricks!

  7. Jovonda Howard says:

    Hi I am going to be installing the same type of flooring in my master bedroom .

    I have been reading reviews about the adhesive glue on the back of the planks being really hard to remove from skin and very very frustrating. Did you have this issue?

    • Dawn says:

      Hi Jovonda, It’s been a year since we installed our plank flooring but I don’t recall any problems with the adhesive. It’s held up great and looks as good as it did when we installed it. Good luck with yours 🙂 -Dawn @ We Call It Junkin

  8. Stephanie says:

    HI Dawn,
    I am thinking of putting this type of flooring in our cabin kitchen, bedrooms and living area. What do you think of it a year later? We have lots of kids, pets, wet towels and swimsuits on the floor at all times. I would love to hear back with your thoughts!
    Thanks,
    Stephanie

    • Dawn says:

      Hi Stephanie, we still are completely happy with the vinyl plank flooring we put in our bedrooms last year. It looks like it did the day we installed it. In fact, we recently had to pull the vinyl (sheet) flooring in our camper due to a leak, and will probably replace it with this same plank flooring. Good luck with your cabin 🙂 -Dawn @ We Call It Junkin.com

  9. Bob says:

    Hi Dawn great idea with the floor we are just trying to deceide what kind of floor to put in our bed room and we both agree this looks great I guess we will go look at plank flooring Thanks again and tell hubby great job

  10. Denise says:

    Hi Dawn, We used this flooring about 5 years ago. Love the look but have noticed it burnishes badly. (When you drag furniture over it, it dents. ) Have you had this problem and if so do you know of any way to fix or disguise it. Thank you!!

    • Dawn says:

      Hi there, Denise. No we haven’t had that problem, thankfully. Maybe you could contact the manufacturer of yours and see if they have a fix? Good luck with it and Happy New Year! -Dawn @ We Call It Junkin

  11. Kelly says:

    Hi there! We are installing this same type of flooring throughout our new (to us) house this weekend. About 1400 sq feet worth. I’m curious what the size of your room is and how long it took you to install? For the pressure activated adhesive we’re planning on renting a 100 lb roller from an equipment store, since we have so much ‘ground to cover’.

    Thanks!

    • Dawn says:

      Kelly, I’m late in getting to your comment and your big project is no doubt already done. We took about a day for each bedroom, doing the largest one last but having practice and a good routine going by then. That 100 lb roller sounds very smart!
      Take care,
      Dawn @ We Call It Junkin

  12. Sharon says:

    Love the look! Have been thinking about doing this for a while now and so glad I found your site. I looked online and this is what I found on Lowe’s site:
    Style Selections 6-in x 48-in Cherry Peel-and-Stick Cherry Residential Vinyl Plank
    Item #: 356402 | Model #: WD8071
    4.6 / 5

    $1.18 / Sq. Ft.
    Purchase Price: $2.36 (Covers 2.00 Sq. Ft.)

  13. Carlor Beard says:

    This is the best explanation of what to do after removing the carpet to install a peel and stick floor. I can do it! I can do it! I was stuck for so long on what to do if I removed the carpet. People said oh it’s easy. But I was afraid to take up the floor because I was terrified of the next step. You took care of that for me. Thank you so much for explaining each step for those who don’t know exactly how to do this. I love you for making it easy to understand. I will begin very soon like this week.

  14. Pam Swendig says:

    I’m so ready to rip up the carpet and install laminate like this! How do you decide which direction the planks go when doing the whole house and so many rooms connect? Our entry, living room, kitchen, dining room and den all connect and are ‘open’. And, 3 bedrooms connect off of a hallway. Thank you!

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