How to Install Vinyl Plank Flooring

We have been updating our basement over the last few weeks.

Our basement consists of two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, a long hallway, a half bath, and a living room area. The living room area and half bath are part of the original house (old concrete floor with many paint stains) and the two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and hallway are what we added on in 2013.

Because of the square footage and having to remove toilets and vanities, this was a lot of work for us middle-age folks, but it was so worth it! It took us 6 full days.

Below are some BEFORE and AFTER pictures:

Below is a BEFORE picture of one of the bedrooms.

Below is an AFTER picture.

Below is a BEFORE picture of one of the bedrooms.

Below is an AFTER picture.

Below is a BEFORE picture of one of the bathrooms.

Below is an AFTER picture.

Below is a BEFORE picture of the hallway.

Below is an AFTER picture.

Below is a BEFORE picture of the living room area.

Below is an AFTER picture.

Click HERE to see how I created the gallery wall.

Materials:

      • LifeProof Fresh Oak vinyl plank flooring  (calculate the square footage and add 10% waste)
      • Laminate and wood floor installation kit
      • knee pads or cushion- optional (we actually ordered some but did not use them. We used a foam stadium cushion)
      • putty knife to open boxes – optional
      • Miter saw
      • Jigsaw
      • table saw
      • NOTE: Some say you can cut this flooring with a utility knife. Because the version we purchased was so thick, I TOTALLY advise against this. It is too thick to cut with a utility knife unless you are Hercules.
      • Sawhorses
      • Oscillating multi-tool with an attachment for cutting door jams
      • tape measurer
      • pencil
      • square
      • Grinder – TBD depending on the condition of your concrete floor.
      • quarter round
      • paint and paintbrush for painting quarter round
      • finishing nail gun and nails
      • If removing toilets: wrenches, new wax or rubber rings, a bucket, and old towels.
      • If removing vanities: wrench and silicone to reinstall the backsplash.
      • Patience and perseverance!

Prepare the surface:

If a plywood floor, you might need to replace some of the wood. When installing vinyl plank flooring at my Mom’s house, we had to add a layer of plywood.

We installed the flooring over concrete this time and had to grind a rise in the floor where the old floor and the new floor came together.

Remove all furniture

Because we did this one room at a time. We moved the furniture to another room and in some cases left a few large items (desk, bed headboard, couches, etc.) on one side of the room and then moved to the other side of the room after the flooring was installed.  Click here to learn how we made this headboard from an old door.

Remove toilets and vanities

If you remove the toilets, you will need new wax or rubber rings to reinstall the toilets.

Cut Door Jams:

Insert a piece of scrap flooring under the oscillating multi-use tool (love this tool) to cut the bottom of each door jam.

Remove All Doors:

Remove pins in the hinges and carefully remove each door.

Cut Doors if needed:

Put a scrap piece of flooring under each door to determine if you need to cut the bottom of the door so as not to rub against the floor.

We used clamps to hold a level (the level is just to have a straight line) and then used our DeWalt circular saw to cut the bottom of the door.

Determine your starting and ending point:

We did not want any thresholds; instead, we wanted a continuous floor from room to room. Hence, we had to be very strategic as to where to start in the basement.

Because we had one continuous floor from room to room, this required us to “work backward” in a few areas. Working backward is more difficult so you want to do this a little as possible.

Determine your pattern:

You want the planks to be offset (not all the seams lined up). We started with a full plank on the first row. After finishing this row, we cut the first plank in the next row so that the seams would be offset.

Sort the vinyl planks as you unbox them:

I unboxed about 10 boxes of flooring at a time. I used a putty knife to open each box . . . so many boxes!

There are four different patterns, each printed the opposite direction for a total of 8 patterns. Sorting them helped me to be sure our pattern was varied in color.

Then the real fun starts!

Below are two videos that are very helpful.

Using tools to Cut the Planks:

Some experts indicate that you can cut these planks with a utility knife. THAT IS VERY CHALLENGING! We STRONGLY suggest using a miter saw and a jigsaw to cut the tiles, especially if they are thick.

We used a miter saw to cut the length of each plank. The saw did not cut the entire width of the plank so we had to flip over the plank and finish cutting the plank. 

Here we show the backside of the plank and finishing the cut.

We used our Dewalt table saw to “rip” the width of each plank as needed.

We used a jigsaw to cut around door jams, the drain for the toilet and sink, etc.

Using tools to install:

Notice that we also used spacers around the perimeter of the room. The flooring will expand and contract as the temperature changes; the spaces allow space so the floor does not buckle.

We also used a stadium cushion (War Eagle!) instead of knee pads as we worked on the floor. That worked better for us.

Each vinyl plank has a tongue and groove. This is how they connect side to side and end to end. The trick is getting them aligned and tight side to side and then tap the ends down.

This block has a recessed area so when you hit it, it does not damage the tongue (rubber edging).

You can also use a scrap piece of flooring that has the groove (opposite side of the plank you are tapping).

This tool helps you pull the plank away from the wall and fit snuggly with the adjoining piece.

Cutting Around Obstructions:

Below shows where we removed and cut around the hole for the toilet.

Below shows where we are cutting under the door jam. Neal was the mastermind on this part. Our goal was for it to look seamless (i.e. cuts not visible).

We used this square to ensure straight lines (i.e. straight cuts with the jigsaw).

Progress . . .

This is a picture of our progress in one of the bedrooms. We installed it in every closet.

We did not want any thresholds between rooms (i.e. one continuous floor) so we had to “stair-step” the pattern down the hallway as the same row extended from the bedroom into the hallway. (The difference in coloration in the concrete flooring is where Neal had to grind down the ridge where the new and old concrete joined.)

There were some areas we needed to “work backward”. This is a little harder than working the normal way which is why determining your starting point and plan is so important. We had to work “backward” in this small hallway and half bath.

We are sooooo close to the end in this picture!

Here is our Supervisor Daisy. She approved of our work!

We did a good job using scraps where we could. Here is what we had leftover. We thought that was pretty good considering you calculate 10% for waste. We had two boxes and 3 planks leftover.

Installing Quarter Round:

To learn how to install quarter round, click HERE.

Below are a few more final pictures . . .

Below is the hallway that leads to the bedrooms.

And one final AFTER picture of the Living Room.

It was a lot of work, but we are so pleased with the final result!

To see each phase of our basement renovation, click HERE.

Let us know what you think or if you have any questions by posting below.

 

 

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Author: Suzanne

Blogger and DIYer with my talented husband Neal. I share about our projects and life lessons following Christ.

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