Before: Nasty, 22-year old carpet that had been through about 7 owners.
After: Brand new vinyl plank flooring, installed by us, with no classes or training. Looks like hardwood, doesn’t it?
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:
(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.
- 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.)
As my algebra teacher used to say, now you’re cookin’ with gas. Just keep laying those planks.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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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