Vinyl & Linoleum Flooring Installation Guide

installationIf you have some experience with laying laminate or carpeting, then installing your own vinyl or linoleum flooring is something you may want to consider. The toughest part of installing vinyl flooring is making the necessary cuts around corners and other obstacles and you’ll need a steady hand and very accurate measurements. In the end, spend some extra time planning and you won’t go wrong. Measure twice, cut once… a tried and true motto. On a scale of 1-10, we rate linoleum floor installation at a 7-8, since one wrong cut can ruin the entire installation!

This guide to linoleum and vinyl flooring covers installation of this very popular home flooring. We’ll provide an overview of the tools and techniques involved with laying vinyl flooring, as well as discuss a few popular installation techniques and best practices. You may also want  to browse additional vinyl flooring guides in this site including the Vinyl & Linoleum Floor Buyers Guide, and others about prices, and maintenance and care of your floors.

Tools and Supplies

Here’s a checklist of the tools required for linoleum and vinyl flooring installation.

Adhesive and notched trowel for applying adhesive, tape measure, straight edge/square, pry bar for removing baseboard molding, utility knife or vinyl flooring knife and a roller for pressing down the installed flooring. A piece of 2×4 that is 3-4 feet in length will also be handy.

Ask whether you have a full-bond floor or a perimeter bond floor. Get the right type of adhesive for the floor.

Prepping the Floor 

Start by determining the number of square feet of material needed. Break rooms into rectangles and multiply the length in feet by the width in feet. For example, a room 20’x15’ requires 300 square feet of material. If the material is sold by the yard, then divide your square feet by 9. So, 300 square feet is 33.3 yards. Add 5% to your total in order to accommodate trimming and waste. If the baseboard is still on when you measure, add 1” to each measurement.

Start by removing the baseboard molding and toe kicks. Take doors off their hinges. In the bathroom, remove the toilet. If you are remodeling a bathroom, install the flooring before you install the vanity.

Vinyl is quite thin, so the floor beneath it must be smooth and free of debris. If carpet has been removed, then all staples must be pulled out and the carpet tack removed. If you’ve been hanging drywall, remove all drywall mud from the ground.

Sand down raised edges of subflooring such as plywood or OSB. Use skim coat to fill in crevices. If the underlayment is in poor condition, consider replacing it for best results. If installing over concrete, fill in cracks and remove raised imperfections with a chisel and hammer. Wear eye protection when doing so.

If the vinyl flooring installation can be done over old vinyl or linoleum as long as it is in good condition. If it is rough, spread on a coat of liquid leveler first, and let it completely set before starting installation.

Installation Techniques

Bring the vinyl flooring into your home 24-48 hours before installation if possible, especially in cold weather. This will allow it to acclimate to the temperature and humidity of the room, reducing the possibility of shrinkage or expansion that can cause problems.

Once the floor is prepared, you’re ready to starting laying the linoleum or vinyl flooring.

Step 1: Cutting the vinyl correctly is the key to a good fit and finish. In large, open rooms, add 3 inches to each direction for trimming. So, if the room is 20’ long, cut off a piece at 20’ 6”. If the room is 15’ wide and your roll is 9’ wide, that means your next piece will need to be 6’ wide to fit exactly. Cut the second piece 20’ 3” long and 6’ 3” wide.

For bathrooms and small rooms with less open space, you may want to use a template to pre-cut the piece. Template kits with paper, marking pen and directions are available wherever you buy your linoleum or vinyl flooring.

TIP: When cutting the vinyl, consider placing a scrap piece of plywood beneath it so that your utility knife doesn’t damage the underlayment. Or if you have a vinyl flooring knife, raise the vinyl slightly off the floor as you are cutting.

Step 2: Most home flooring pros suggest you lay the first piece of flooring along the longest exterior wall. Position your cut piece of vinyl in the room so that the edges overlap the wall by 3” for trimming.

Step 3: Start by trimming in the corners. Cut from the top of the vinyl down, pushing it against the wall the entire time. Go slowly and carefully.

Step 4: Use the 2×4 to push the vinyl against the wall, creating a crease in the corner. Then use a straight edge to cut the vinyl along the wall. Allow 1/8” gap for possible expansion of the vinyl in warm weather. The gap will be covered by the trim.

TIP: When you reinstall the shoe molding and baseboard trim, keep them very slightly above the surface of the vinyl to allow for floor expansion.

Step 5: Trim around door jambs and other protrusions extending out from the wall. Trim out floor vents by cutting through the vinyl first, down into the duct. Cut from the corners of the hole to the center and then cut off the scraps.

Step 6: Now you’re ready to apply the adhesive. If you have a full-bond floor, then you’ll need to apply glue to the entire floor surface. For a perimeter bond floor, you’ll apply it only to the edges.

For full-bond floors, pull back several feet of the floor and apply adhesive onto the subfloor. Don’t overdo it. Give the glue the proper time to set up.  Then, lay the flooring back down and press it into place. Next, go the outer edge and lift it up, applying adhesive beneath it, wait for it to set, and lay down the linoleum or vinyl flooring.

For perimeter-bond floors, lift up the edge and apply glue to the floor with a notched glue trowel. Only extend out from the wall as far as the manufacturer’s directions indicate.

Step 7: If you get any glue on the top of the vinyl, use the recommended solvent for removing it.

Step 8: Roll the surface of the entire floor to ensure good adhesion.

Step 9: Use seam sealer on any seams and let it set up for the required time before pressing the floor back down.

Step 10: Wait 24 hours for the glue to fully dry before washing the floor, returning furniture or subjecting it to heavy foot traffic.

Finishing the Job

The final step is to replace molding and trim. Remember to elevate it slightly. Nail it to the wall, not the floor, so you won’t pinch the vinyl and hinder if from expanding when necessary. It may buckle if you don’t.

Vinyl and Linoleum Floor Installation FAQs

Q: How hard is vinyl flooring installation compared with other types?
A: Vinyl and linoleum floor installation is about as difficult as installing carpeting. It is harder to install than solid wood flooring or engineered wood flooring. It is easier to install than natural stone flooring or ceramic tile flooring.

Q: What are typical installation costs?
A: Most home flooring pros charge $1.50-$3 per square foot to lay vinyl flooring. The more complex the job, or if stairs are involved, the more it will cost per square foot.

Q: Can mistakes in the middle of the vinyl floor be fixed?
A: Yes, but it’s hard to make them look perfect. That’s one of the reasons that there is more risk with DIY vinyl flooring installation. If you damage a ceramic tile or solid wood plank, just that piece is affected.

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