Installing Vinyl Flooring

Whether you are using vinyl tile or roll flooring, installing vinyl floors is a matter of patience and planning to execute a beautiful finish. Installing vinyl floors is more than just a weekend chore, it’s an investment in the protection of your home. A little time from you can result in a lot of long-term use from your new vinyl flooring.

The Advantages of installing vinyl floors include:
  • Quick! Installing vinyl floors doesn't take a lot of your time.
  • Cheap! Materials needed for the floors and the installation are inexpensive.
Deterrents to installing vinyl floors can be:
  • Tools: You will need to have basic tools on hand for cutting and measuring.
  • Pre-Installation Prep: There is some prep work that will need to be done prior to starting installation to get the floor ready.
  • Leveling: You may need to level the floor to make it conducive to laying the vinyl. This can be a fairly involved and tedious process.
  • Toxicity: Off- gassing from the vinyl and/or adhesive can be an issue if the area where you are laying the flooring is not well ventilated.

Why Choose Vinyl For Your Flooring

Vinyl is an incredibly durable form of floor covering. It comes in fantastic colors, designs and patterns, and can really add some wow-factor to what may otherwise be a boring utility space, like a mud room or a laundry room. Vinyl is also a wonderful option for rooms where water damage is a possibility, such as a bathroom, basement, or even a kitchen. Vinyl floors can stand up to harsh treatment and conditions without needing anything more than a wipe.

When determining if it is time to re-lay vinyl floors, what you have to take into consideration is the wear layer of the flooring, which is the surface that stands between someone’s sole and the actual vinyl surface. This protective layer can be worn down with time, especially in locations where dirt is most prone to being ground into the floor, like at the front or back door. If the flooring that is in place seems to be worn, this is a good indication that it is time to replace the vinyl flooring. The good news is, relaying vinyl flooring over existing vinyl is very simple! Even if the flooring that is currently in your home is not vinyl, this is a home renovation project that can be completed in the span of a weekend; you just may be required to do a little additional prep work.

Tile Vinyl or Roll Vinyl, Which is the Right Choice for Your Install

Installing vinyl flooring seems to be the way that most homeowners decorate and protect their bathrooms and basement floors. One big decision is, whether you will be laying tile or roll vinyl. Either one is quite simple to do. While laying tiles may be a bit easier than the roll vinyl, either one can be done with a little patience and preparation. The determining factor for you should really come down to the final look of the room, the room’s use, and your personal preference. Vinyl tile has almost limitless design possibilities, as the tiles can be laid in any configuration. But, if you are really looking for the best deal possible, sheet vinyl comes in a little bit under the price of the vinyl tiles per square footage. Of course, if this is going to be a room with a lot of traffic and you want to get long term mileage out of your vinyl flooring, you may want to pay the additional cost for the tiles, as it is much easier to replace a single tile if there is any damage to the flooring than it would be to replace an entire sheet.

Preparing the Room for Vinyl Flooring Installation

1. Test for Excessive Moisture and Good Ventilation

The preparations needed include selecting a room that isn’t too hot and is well-ventilated. Bathrooms are a good example because they have exhaust fans that vent moisture and will help keep the space well ventilated while you are working. You will need a clean and dry surface upon which to install the vinyl floor. If you’re installing vinyl on top of preexisting vinyl, then you just need to clean the area well and allow it to dry completely before installing the new flooring.

If you’re installing vinyl tiles on a concrete basement floor, or other concrete surface, you will want to do this simple test: take a small piece of vinyl tile and attach it to the floor. After seventy-two hours, try to pull the tile up. If the tile comes up without much trouble, the surface is not dry enough for installing vinyl floor tiles. You will need to find a way to remove the excess moisture; using a dehumidifier for a few days may do the trick. It could be that a high water table causing the moisture is the problem, and that can be more difficult and expensive to fix.

2. Measure Out the Space Carefully

Take careful measurements of the area to assure that you have enough vinyl floor tiles. You may want to purchase more than is necessary to adjust for any mistakes that you may make and to have extras on hand in the event of damage down the road. As any pro will tell you, always measure twice! If there are any discrepancies between your first and second measure, measure two more times until you get the same number both times. This may seem tedious now, but it’s certainly better than a repeat trip to the store for additional vinyl after you have already started the install, or ending up with more leftover than is necessary!

3. Prepare the Temperature of the Room and Floor

One trick to use before you start to lay your vinyl flooring is to turn the heat on to 75 degrees and leave the flooring product (and glue) in that room for 72 hours prior to installation and throughout the installation job. That lets both the product and the floor get warm enough that the vinyl is flexible and everything is the same temperature. By having the floor and product the same temperature, they adhere to each other better. After you have finished installation, when you return the hear to your regular setting, the floor and flooring cool together, and as the vinyl shrinks (that's what happens when things cool), it is pulled taught, making an even tighter contact.

4. Level the Floor

When you are installing vinyl floors on top of old vinyl floors, you may need a special leveling paste. This is especially true when you are installing vinyl floor tiles, fill these areas with the manufacturer's recommended dry floor filler, allow drying, and then proceed with the installation.

5. Remove Floor Molding and/or Baseboards

Another thing that you can do to ensure your vinyl floors look great is to carefully remove the floor molding, or baseboards. By removing the molding you make it possible to place the vinyl very close to the wall so that when the baseboards are replaced it looks professionally completed. Or, you can replace the baseboards with new material, completing the fresh, new look.

Once the baseboard is removed and the floor prepped, snap a chalk line so you have a straight line to work from, ensuring your vinyl is laid straight. That gives your finished floor a professional look.​

Installing the Vinyl Floor

You are now ready to begin the install! If you are using roll vinyl, roll your vinyl across the room. Mark where you will cut off excess material or cut around intrusions such as toilets, built-in bookcases, or walls. Using a solid backing board, cut out the pieces you just marked, carefully rolling the vinyl so you can access those spots. You can use either a perimeter or full adhesion technique. For the full adhesion technique, roll the vinyl up with the decorative side facing inwards. Spread the “glue” across the entire floor, unroll the vinyl onto the floor, and use a roller to ensure all of the vinyl is pressed to the glue. It takes a bit of effort, but if you work slowly, carefully and methodically, this is a very efficient way to achieve a fantastic, even look for the flooring.

To lay vinyl flooring tiles, place your tiles down in the immediate area you are working. Depending on the type of adhesion method you are using, either put adhesive on the floor where the tile will go or peel off the glue-down backing, and put the tile in place. Push firmly. Proceed to the next tile. Laying vinyl flooring tiles is a cinch, but you will still want to work cautiously and take your time. Once the floor is in place and has had time to cure, put baseboards in place. The project is done!

For more detailed installation directions, rely on your flooring manufacturer’s directions, or find a do-it-yourself website that gives you step by step directions with pictures or follow a video like this one:

Installing vinyl flooring doesn’t need to be a chore. It’s a great way to create a beautiful room that really pops! And with all of the advantages of vinyl flooring, who wouldn’t be willing to commit a weekend to this simple project that can really protect your home’s value and usability!

53 thoughts on “Installing Vinyl Flooring”

  1. It might be possible to get them too tight. It sounds more like you either have pockets of air or specks of dirt, or raised areas in the concrete itself. Apart from peeling those tiles back up and putting down new ones (and hopefully discovering what caused the bubbles) I really wouldn’t know of any other fix.

  2. Hello. My husband and I have started our very first do-it-yourself project and want to tile our basement floor. We have torn up the old tile and have noticed small divits in the cement underneath. Will it be necessary to fill those in and, also, do we need to sand the floor to remove the glue remenents(our surface is pretty smooth for the most part)? Thank you!

  3. Hi Deana,
    Yes, you’ll need to fill in the low spots and remove the glue remnants to avoid having your tile look like it has air bubbles underneath. The worst part of your job is getting your basement floor ready for the tile. Good luck!

  4. I am the same person with the door in the middle of her bathroom. Can I lay the vinyl on the floor without any adhesive then roll back half of the floor, put the glue down then roll the vinyl back? I am worried that if I cover the entire floor with adhesive first I might not be able to situate the vinyl properly because of the darned door.
    Also, any tips on floor preparation? I removed the old tiles becasue some were cracked and missing but now there is this sticky black stuff showing.

  5. You can, but make sure that you don’t trap any air bubbles. It really is much easier to start from one end. The glue has to cure, so you’re going to have time to mess with the floor.
    As far as the old black adhesive, heat and water does miracles to loosen it to where you can just scrape it off. Use a steamer or a damp rag and run an iron over it, sometimes just hot water does the trick. There are also adhesive removers that can be purchased, but most of the time you don’t need to.
    Even though it’s a small area, you should rent a floor roller – it doesn’t cost much and going to help enormously with the end result.
    Good luck!

  6. We opened the vinyll last night and the instructions that came with it did not mention any adhesive! It said to lay the vinyll and then attach the baseboards. The baseboards would keep the vinyll in place. What do you think?

  7. Hi Darragh,
    Sorry so long to reply, my computer was down. I’m guessing that “lay” means to use adhesive unless there’s something new that I’m not aware of. What’s the name of the product and who makes it?

  8. Hi, This weekend I layed new vynil on my old vynil in my kitchen and laundry. It’s been 48 hours and the adhesive has not cured yet. When you press into the floor it can still make a small indention. Is there anything that can be done? Or do I just need to keep waiting and hope it dries eventually?

  9. Yes I did. I was wondering if you should actually use less when applying over the old vynil instead of a more porous surface like wood or concrete.
    Is there a maximum time for waiting, or should I just wait as long as it takes? Thanks for your help. – Jason

  10. hello! i want to ask if i need a smooth concrete surface before i put vinyl tiles. I am planning to put vinly tiles on our concrete wall but the wall is rough

  11. Hi Ana,
    This is a flooring site, but I’ll give you my best guess pertaining to walls. Keep in mind I don’t know what you consider ‘rough’ to be. Chances are though, that the adhesive you use for the tile will do well despite the roughness of your concrete wall. You really should confirm this with somebody who has experience with setting tile on concrete walls though. ;~)

  12. Im about to lay adhesive vinyl tiles and was wondering was there any clear sealer or anything to put on top of the tiles to make sure they last longer and keep from peeling back or popping up?

  13. To keep them from peeling or popping up, you need to make sure that you use good adhesive, apply it properly and have your subfloor as even as possible. You can always seal your new floor with a water-based polyurethane.

  14. Hello Flooring Lady:
    I want to apply peel and stick vinyl tiles on top of vinyl tiles that have been in my kitchen for more than 25 years. In your comment to Jason B in 1/09 it appears you were saying it is OK to use a good adhesive in addition to the peel and stick. Is this correct? Thank you

  15. A Lady that I am working for purchased Armstrong Commercial tile to be put down in bathroom. No directions on box. What adhesive should be used to fasten it down?

  16. Hello, I wanted to install vinyl sheet flooring on top of textured tile. Is it nessisary to smooth out the tile first?


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