Is Vinyl Sheet Flooring Easy to Install?
Installing vinyl sheet flooring is a 7 step process that any competent DIYer can achieve. Step 1: Prep the room Step 2: Create a Paper Template Step 3: Install a Base Layer (Optional) Step 4: Apply the Template Step 5: Cut the Sheet Vinyl to Match the Template Step 6: Glue Down the Sheet Vinyl Step 7: Finish the Installation
January 24, 2023, by: Rob Parsell
Welcome back to another Home Flooring Pros do it yourself “How-To” where we offer you tips and tricks to complete various flooring projects from installation to removal. This week…how to install vinyl sheet flooring. This DIY guide provides professional guidance for the installation of all sheet vinyl flooring types including full glue, perimeter glue and loose lay vinyl flooring.
Today’s vinyl sheet flooring gives you the look of any type of floor you prefer from wood to tile to stone. It is affordable and reasonably durable.
Yet the search goes on for the answer to the age-old question: What is the easiest Do It Yourself vinyl flooring installation? If it were easy to Do It Yourself, everyone would Do It Themselves!
Fortunately, due to its one-piece construction, vinyl sheet flooring offers fairly an easy installation method for the handy homeowner. In all but very large rooms, you’ll be able to avoid having a seam to deal with. The job isn’t quite as easy as unrolling the vinyl and gluing it down properly, but that’s not far off.
In order to install vinyl sheet flooring the easiest way you’ll need the following supplies:
TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT NEEDED
- Hand saw
- Circular saw
- Caulk gun
- Notched Trowel of the size specified by the flooring manufacturer
- Pry bar
- Rolling pin or floor roller
- Heavy paper/marker
- Floor filler
- ¼” underlayment
- 7/8” staples
- Power sander (Optional for
- Utility or flooring knife
- Vinyl adhesive
- Vinyl sheet flooring
- Wood putty
- Paint (interior, wall)
STEP 1: PREP THE ROOM
The better the room and subfloor are prepped, the easier vinyl flooring installation will be, and the more likely you are to get the professional results you want.
Remove all furniture, rugs, and décor from the room. Remove baseboards or moldings with a pry bar (click here for baseboard removal). Remove all fixtures, like toilets and pedestal sink bases. In short, empty rooms are far easier to work in then ones with obstacles to work around.
Time-saving Tip: Use the marker to number baseboards for easy replacement in the same location.
Vinyl sheet flooring can be installed over almost any clean, dry surface, including concrete and existing flooring.
Tips on laying vinyl sheet flooring over existing flooring: If the flooring has gouges, fill them with floor filler and give the filler at least 30 minutes to harden. Any loose flooring should be secured tightly to the subfloor before installing your new floor over it.
The same tips apply to concrete. It should be in good condition or repaired to provide a smooth surface for your sheet vinyl. Imperfections in the subfloor will show through for sure.
If you have questions about the current subfloor, check with the sheet vinyl flooring manufacturer or retailer for specific installation instructions.
Sweep the floor clean, mop if necessary. Let the floor dry completely. Check the level of the floor; fill any low spots with self-leveling concrete filler.
STEP 2: CREATE A PAPER TEMPLATE
Tape heavy paper onto the floor of the room. Something like brown builders paper works well.
Leave about an inch of the old floor showing along all the edges. Cut out holes for the fixtures. Hold the straightedge along the sides of the room and trace the room edges onto the paper. Remove the paper. It can be used both for cutting the underlayment and, of course, for cutting you vinyl sheet.
STEP 3: INSTALL A BASE LAYER (OPTIONAL)
If the underlying floor has imperfections, they disappear with this step.
Install a layer of ¼” plywood underlayment over the existing floor. Tape the paper template to the plywood underlayment. Rough cut the plywood with a hand saw; finish with a circular saw. Staple or glue the plywood in place. Pull and replace staples (preferred) or gently pound them down (easier but might potentially show). They must be flat to the plywood or very slightly below the surface.
2 Tips on seams: Lay the base layer of plywood over the underlying subfloor, such as plywood or OSB, so that the seams are staggered or offset. Secondly, match uncut factory edges to one another to form the tightest bond. Hide the edges you cut beneath moldings. Following these tips is the best installation method for eliminating gaps that will show.
Smooth the surface with troweled floor filler, and let it cure. Power sand as necessary. Occasionally this type of plywood comes with wood burrs or rough tops that need TLC. Keep in mind that vinyl flooring “telegraphs” imperfections through to the surface, so the smoother the base, the better.
Materials Tip: Be sure the plywood is underlayment grade, manufactured specifically for use with vinyl floors. It might cost up to $5.00 more per sheet, but the good looks of the finished floor will prove the wisdom of the choice. Good choices include birch and plugged & touch sanded plywood (PTS). Lauan, once the pro’s choice, is now deemed unreliable from batch to batch by some installers.
STEP 4: APPLY THE TEMPLATE
Roll out your vinyl on a clean, dry, hard and smooth surface like the garage floor or driveway. Grass isn’t a good option.
Lay the paper template on top of the vinyl and tape the edge – that extra inch or so you left outside your wall line – to the vinyl.
STEP 5: CUT THE SHEET VINYL FLOORING TO MATCH THE PAPER TEMPLATE
At this point, the hardest work has been done!
Trace the template onto the sheet vinyl flooring. Carefully position the flooring pattern or image for the best installed appearance. In other words, if your vinyl sheet is simulated tile, place the template so that the tile look is balanced side to side rather than having a full line of tile on one edge and a “grout” seam on the other. This is especially important in small rooms.
Cut the vinyl according to the template using a very sharp utility knife or flooring knife.
STEP 6: GLUE DOWN THE SHEET VINYL FLOOR
Unless you are using loose lay sheet vinyl, it will need gluing. If you’re not familiar with loose lay vinyl, it is a bit heavier and treated on the underside to grip the underlayment without glue! It’s a newer product and not available in as many design options are glue-down vinyl.
Clean off any debris on the underside of the freshly cut vinyl it might have picked up in your garage or from the driveway.
Roll up the sheet vinyl floor loosely, so that it can flatten easily when unrolled. Place it in the new room, unroll it, and check the fit.
Trim the sheet vinyl flooring where necessary using the knife.
Fold the vinyl in half – in on itself, print layer to print layer. Do this gently to avoid creasing the vinyl.
Use the trowel to spread the adhesive on half of the bottom side of the sheet vinyl flooring according to manufacturer instructions – either fully glued or perimeter glued. Holding the notched trowel at about 60 degrees lays down the right amount of glue.
Be sure to get glue all the way into corners and hard-to-reach spots.
Position the glued half properly in place. Repeat the gluing process on the other half of the sheet vinyl flooring, and position it properly in place. Be sure not to pull up too much of the already-laid flooring. This avoids double gluing that area. If you do overlap the gluing, use the trowel to remove the excess before laying the second half of the flooring.
Gluing and Installation Tips: Use the correct amount of adhesive, like Goldilocks would. Not too much – it will leave bumps in the floor; Not too little, or the flooring might come up. Apply the adhesive completely to corners and crannies.
Next, check the label on the adhesive to see how much time you should wait after spreading the glue and laying the vinyl floor. Why? The glue has solvents that need a few minutes to evaporate out of the glue. If you lay the flooring too quickly, those evaporating gases will cause bubbles.
Use the rolling pin or floor roller to smooth out the floor as soon as possible after the sheet vinyl floor is glued into place. Start in the middle and work to the outside, applying steady pressure so the adhesive underneath distributes evenly.
Got bubbles? Work them out, if possible. Small ones will likely disappear as the glue is absorbed into the underlayment. If they remain after a few days, slit them with the utility knife, squeeze a small amount of seam sealer into the slit, and use the roller to push out the air and flatten the bubble.
STEP 7: FINISH THE SHEET VINYL FLOORING INSTALLATION
Replace fixtures and baseboards. Sweep the room clean. Fill baseboard nail holes with wood putty. Touch up the baseboard appearance with matching interior paint.
Caulk fixtures as necessary. Commonly, latex tub/tile or silicone caulk is used around bathtubs, showers, sink and cupboard bases, and toilets – anywhere water could potentially infiltrate. Replace furniture.
KEEP IT LOOKING GOOD
For a great looking sheet vinyl floor that will last for years, use protective pads under chair and table legs, and don’t wear high heels when walking in the room. Cover the sheet vinyl flooring with planking or plywood when moving heavy furniture or appliances. Keep it free of abrasive grit. Maintain the sheet vinyl flooring with cleaners according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
About the Author:
Rob joined the Home Flooring Pros team in 2014 and is a freelance writer, specializing in flooring, remodeling and HVAC systems (read more).
“I’m the son of an interior designer and picked up an eye for design as a result. I started hanging wallpaper and painting at 14 and learned enough on the job to be the general contractor on two homes we built for our family and did much of the finish plumbing, electrical, painting, and trim work myself.”