Can you believe I am FINALLY done with my floors? Along the way I have picked up 10 tips for installing luxury vinyl plank (LVP) that I am going to share with you here to make your installation a success! Installing the flooring isn’t hard to do and these tips will help you install like a pro.
LVP has become a very popular choice when it comes to flooring for a variety of reasons and has come a long way. I never thought I would EVER put vinyl flooring in my home, but it has many qualities that make it a great choice. It is budget friendly, waterproof and can be installed over existing flooring, to name a few. Here are the 10 tips for installing your LVP floor:
1. Bring home as many samples as you need to to make the best decision for your home. You can check them out from a local flooring store or buy a box ( or two or three) of them at one of the big box stores. The light and paint in a room as well as reflections of the outdoors (yes, plants can change the way paint looks) will make the flooring look different than it did in the store. We brought home 12 different samples. The ones I loved in the store I actually hated with the light and the paint in my home. The sample that was a last minute grab that I wasn’t crazy about was the winner!
2. Calculate the flooring you need and then get 5% – 8% more than your calculations for defects, mistakes and waste and extra incase you need to replace boards. You need to add in a little for waste, mistakes and some left over for repairs if you ever need to do them.
There is nothing worse than being in the middle of a project and having to hit pause because you don’ have enough to finish. But be careful not to buy too much. Our store charges a 25% restocking fee for unopened boxes of planks so I don’t want to have to return if I can avoid it.
3. Get the nicest plank you can afford and compare several manufacturers. I have seen it as low as low as .79 cents/ sq.ft. in some stores and online. This is where “you get what you pay for” really applies. The lower end planks tend to not be very wide, shorter in length, flimsy and it either don’t have a foam backing or the foam is REALLY thin. We bought ours for $2.85/sq.ft.. 9” wide x 60” long, a really thick foam backing, great texture that makes it look realistic and beveled edges. A beveled edge, size of plank, density of plank and variance of color and texture are all things to look for and become more available as the cost goes up. These things add a more realistic feel to the flooring and achieve a wood floor look without the wood floor maintenance.
4. Buy an underlayment. Especially if you have a less expensive plank that doesn’t have a really thick foam backing. An underlayment will help absorb sound, add cushioning to the floor so it has just a little give and act as a moisture barrier. There are a lot of different underpayments out on the market. Be sure to buy one that will work with LVP. We bought one that wasn’t expensive but creates the proper barrier and adds extra cushion to the bottom of the planks. If you are going over existing flooring like tile, this will help to minimize the possibility of the flooring taking the shape of the grout lines over time.
5. Sort the planks from a few boxes (or all if it is a smaller project) into piles of matching patterns. Now that you have decided on the exact floor you want and you have all of the boxes in your home, the fun begins. Let the flooring sit and acclimate to the environment in your home for a day. A lot of people say it doesn’t matter, but this flooring material still expands and contracts a little so it is just a good idea. Note: Because the floor needs room to expand, don’t install heavy cabinets ON TOP of the flooring or they could end up buckling at the seams.
When you get ready to start installing your floors and you open a box or two, you will find that there are planks with repeating patterns. Sort the planks into different piles with matching patterns. Then you will want to alternate the piles you choose from when you lay the floors to avoid repeating patterns and keep it looking cohesive but not repetitive.
6. GET A GOOD SET OF KNEEPADS!!! You will be spending a lot of time on your knees and having a set of knee pads will make the project more enjoyable and allow you to spend more time on it without being in pain. I picked up some amazing kneepads that are gel filled. They are a great investment. I bought these and would suggest a GEL filled pad.
7. Get the right tools and have them ready to go when you start. This should probably be number one. The tools I would recommend are a tape measure, miter saw, jig saw, utility knife. You will also need a kit that includes a mallet, puller tool, tapper and spacers for the required 1/4” expansion gap away from the wall to allow for expansion/contraction.
If you are using a thinner LVP, you can score the plank using a box cutter and a straight edge and then snap the cut pretty easily so you won’t need a miter saw. Since mine were so thick, I used a miter saw to cut them. A table or track saw isn’t necessary but if you have one, they are nice to make the long cuts with. I did mine with a jigsaw and it worked just fine. Make sure you have the right blade in your jig saw and that it is not dull or it will shred the edge of the cut .
8. Start on your longest exterior wall of the room if you can. This will give you the most accurate and straight line as it is an exterior wall and those tend to be pretty straight. You don’t want to get your floor installed across the room and look across to see the lines are starting to angle and your floor looks crooked. YIKES!
9. Pay attention to the end you are cutting. I used a water soluble marker to write on my boards. I place an arrow on the side that I am cutting or write the word “cut”. *Remember* the saw blade is 1/8” so you want to cut on the side you are not intending to use at that time. All of this really helps if you are cutting a few at a time.
10. If you have to work backwards in a space it CAN be done. I had a living room that I needed to go the OPPOSITE way to meet the boards that were in the hallway so I dry fit my boards across to the end of the room and measured the distance between the last full board I laid down and the wall minus the 1/4” expansion gap. In this case I had 6 1/2″. I then cut my starting board to that measurement (in this case I had 6 1/2” and installed it against the wall and then worked my way from the back wall of the living room toward the hallway and it fit PERFECTLY!!
Take your time,have fun and take lots of pictures!!! If you rush or work while you are tired, you WILL make mistakes! Oh, heck. You might make mistakes anyway! And it’s OK!! Trust me, I know from experience! It is better to slow down and work diligently but not to the point where you are too tired and start making mistakes you would not have made if you were fresh. Every mistake costs money.
Have fun, enjoy the process and don’t forget to stand up and look around. You will be so proud of what you just accomplished! Stay tuned for my next post as I walk you through cutting your door frames and making a template to cut around rounded walls. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out at email@example.com.