Vinyl roll-goods flooring is ideal for many different living spaces, from your kitchen to your living room. Not only is the material easy to clean, but also it's economical. Before laying your vinyl flooring, you should gather the appropriate materials and read through these helpful steps to save time, money, and effort.
Disclaimer: Check your state and local codes before starting any project. Follow all safety precautions. Information in this document has been furnished by the National Retail Hardware Association (NRHA) and associated contributors. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and safety. Neither NRHA, any contributor nor the retailer can be held responsible for damages or injuries resulting from the use of the information in this document.
Preparing the Flooring Surface
Step 1 – Choose Your Installation Method
There are generally two ways to install sheet vinyl flooring. The first is to apply adhesive to the entire floor area, and the second is to use staples and adhesives around the outside edges and at seams. The first method is usually used for flooring with a lesser-quality material. It can also be used if you are sure you will not need to take the flooring material up in the future.
The edge, or perimeter, method is used with better-quality floor coverings. It is the recommended method if you want to change your flooring when you remodel in the future. This article will guide you in using this installation method.
Step 2 – Prepare the Base Floor
The first step in laying any type of roll-goods floor covering is preparing the base floor. It must be smooth and even before the roll covering is applied. All high or low spots must be removed.
Step 3 – Check for High and Low Points
You can check for high and low points in a floor by using a straightedge and a flashlight. Hold the straightedge flat against the floor, as illustrated in the second illustration. Play the beam of light along the straightedge from the rear. Light filtering under the straightedge indicates high or low points in the floor.
If you're installing the floor covering over a wood floor, plane down all high spots. On a masonry floor, you may need to patch or seal certain sections before laying the floor covering.
Step 4 – Clean the Floor Base
Regardless of the type, the floor base should be clean. Vacuuming and thoroughly scrubbing and then drying the floor will help the adhesive to hold. It will also reduce the chances of ruining your new floor.
Step 5 – Check and Trim the Moldings
Check all the moldings in the room where you will be putting down flooring. Wherever possible, your new flooring should slide under these moldings. If not, you can either trim them or remove and replace the moldings. If you cannot do either, you will need to trim your flooring to fit around them.
To trim the bottom of moldings, such as door trim, lay a piece of cardboard on the floor next to the trim. Place a fine-toothed saw on top of the cardboard. Carefully cut the bottom of the molding.
Step 6 – Remove Trim
To remove trim, such as quarter-round, use a small pry bar or screwdriver and a putty knife. Quarter-round is usually nailed to the baseboard and not to the floor. Carefully slide your putty knife between the trim and the baseboard. Next, place your pry bar or screwdriver between the trim and the putty knife blade and pry the trim loose. The putty knife blade protects the baseboard.
Step 7 – Remove Nails
Carefully remove any nails that were left in the baseboard or the trim with a pair of pliers or vice grips. Do not drive them back through the trim. Instead, pull the nail the rest of the way through the trim as to not damage your floor.
Step 8 – Install New Base if Necessary
You may need to install a new base as an overlay to provide a good base for the floor covering. Sheets of plywood or hardboard make good overlays. Always allow about 1/16 inch space between sheets used as an under-flooring to allow for expansion and contraction.
Secure this under-layer sheeting to the floor with cement or use nails spaced about 6-inches apart over the entire floor surface. Then, sand off all edges where the sheets join to eliminate any rough spots.
Making a Paper Pattern
Likely the easiest way to lay sheet vinyl is by using a paper pattern of the floor. Installation kits are available that contain paper, guides, and instructions. You can make a pattern with some brown craft paper, a pair of scissors, a straightedge, a utility knife, and some masking tape.
Step 1 – Lay Down the Paper
Begin by laying the paper down along the longest wall with the fewest obstructions. If you cut your flooring the exact size of the room, it is likely to roll up or buckle. Allow about 1/8 inch between the pattern and the wall.
Step 2 – Tape the Paper
Keep adding paper until you reach the opposite wall. Use masking tape to tape the paper together. Cut small diamond shapes about every 2-to-4 feet in all directions on your pattern. Place masking tape over these cutouts to hold the pattern in place.
Keep the paper as smooth as possible. Use plenty of tape along the edges of the paper to hold the pattern together. Use small sheets of paper to fit around pipes, toilets, cabinets, appliances, and heating vents. Cut and fold these smaller pieces to fit. Then, tape them to the pattern. If you make an opening too large, use tape and paper to correct the size.
Step 3 – Tape the Paper Mark and Roll the Pattern
After you have completed the pattern, use a felt marker to mark the side of the pattern.
Then, carefully roll or fold the pattern. Take it to a large, clean floor area. A garage floor that has been thoroughly swept works well.
Most sheet flooring today is sold in 12-feet widths. If you have a room that is larger than 12-feet in length and width, you will need to make a seam. Plan for seams to be in low-traffic areas. If your floor has heavy lines, such as sides of boards or grout lines, make your seam along these lines.
If you would prefer a visual guide, Doityourself.com has created an animation for the following two steps to make things easier.
Step 1 – Tape the Seam
To make the seam, lay the larger piece of flooring down first, right side up. Then place the smaller piece, right side up also, so the two pieces overlap by at least 1 inch. Most importantly, lay them so the pattern on both pieces match and then tape the two pieces together.
Step 2 – Cut Through Flooring and Re-tape Seam
Next, use a straightedge and sharp utility knife to cut through both layers of flooring. Depending on where you are working, you may want to lay pieces of cardboard under the flooring so you don't damage the floor.
Remove the two trimmed edges, and then carefully put the seam together again and re-tape the seam.
Cutting the Flooring
After the seam is made, you are ready to cut the flooring.
Step 1 – Prep the Flooring
Place the pattern, right side up, on top of the flooring. If you haven't already done so, remove the tape covering the small diamonds and replace it with new tape. Be sure the pattern is lying flat and in the correct, planned place.
Step 2 – Cut the Flooring
Warning: Using a straightedge, heavy shears, or snips can be dangerous if you don’t take the correct safety precautions. Cut slowly and use steady pressure. You may want to use safety gloves depending on which tool you use.
To cut the flooring, you have two options. You can trace the pattern onto the flooring using a straightedge and a marker and then cut it with heavy shears or snips. Or, you can use a utility knife and straightedge to cut around the pattern.
Laying Vinyl Roll Goods
You may need a felt lining or base coat, however, you can lay most vinyl roll goods directly on any solid and even surface.
Step 1 – Unroll the Flooring
Begin laying the floor with the edge with the most obstructions. Position it carefully so you do not tear the floor covering and unroll it a little at a time. Keeping the roll higher at the opposite end sometimes makes installation easier.
Step 2 – Tape Back the Flooring
After the flooring is in place, you will want to glue any seams. First, pull one edge of the seam back and tape it with masking tape. Using the other edge as a straightedge, place a pencil mark on the floor. Then, pull back the second edge of the flooring and tape it back.
Step 3 – Spread Adhesive
Using the recommended adhesive for your vinyl roll-goods brand, spread it along the pencil line. The adhesive should extend no less than 2-inches on each side of the line. The full width of your notched trowel is probably the easiest measure. Do not spread the adhesive all the way to the wall. Leave about 12-inches between the end of the adhesive and the wall.
Step 4 – Remove Tape
Remove the tape from one edge of the flooring and press it down into the adhesive. Release the other edge and carefully align it with the edge that is already down. Next, press it down firmly into the adhesive. Remove any excess adhesive that might have come up through the seam and then seal the seam with the recommended sealer for your brand of roll goods. If you are unsure, contact the manufacturer.
Step 5 – Secure the Edges
If you are going to use molding, you can use a staple gun to secure the edges. Start at the seam and be sure the staples are close enough to the wall so the quarter round will cover them. For areas such as doors where the staple will show, use adhesive or metal molding strips. If you are not using quarter round, you will probably want to use adhesive around the edges.
Note: If you decide to use adhesive on the entire floor, follow the same directions for cutting the flooring and then follow the manufacturer's direction for applying the adhesive. You can still make the seams as described above.
Doing Trim and Finish Work
Step 1 – Check Over Work
Finish your flooring installation by checking it over carefully. Remove any excess adhesive from the flooring surface with the recommended cleaner.
Step 2 – Install Quarter Round
Next, install the quarter round. It should be nailed to the baseboard trim or wall, but not through the floor. Do not force the quarter round down tight against the flooring. Using colored finish nails will reduce the need for puttying nail holes and refinishing.
Step 3 – Reinstall Thresholds
Reinstall any thresholds that you may have removed. Any flooring edge that is in a doorway and is not covered by a threshold needs to be protected. Use a metal molding strip designed for this purpose. They are available for different areas where the vinyl flooring meets other materials, like carpet, so make sure you purchase the right ones.
You should not move any heavy furniture or appliances onto the new flooring for at least 24-48 hours. This will allow the adhesive used on seams to dry. It will also allow the new floor time to shape itself to the floor.