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install laminate or vinyl flooring

Sometimes the way to modernize a room is right under your feet. Your floor is the basis of your room, and often is the canvas against which your furniture and even walls and décor will stand against, in addition to standing on. You don’t have to go all out on expensive hardwood or stone tiles to give a room the special texture you want – laminate and vinyl flooring come in a variety of printed textures. Get the look right while having an easier installation and easier maintenance in the long run. Though more expensive, laminate flooring often looks better and adds to a higher resale value than vinyl, but vinyl flooring’s water and moisture resistance make it a solid choice for bathrooms and kitchens. Both can be bought in planks that can be laid out and assembled easily.

SIMPLE AND COST EFFICIENT WAYS TO INSTALL FLOORING

  • Have nothing in the room
  • Have laminate planks with underlayment and vapor barrier attached
  • Have clean, even concrete subfloor
  • Have rectangular room floorplan with even parallel edges
  • No molding or thin moulding where floors meet walls

MEDIUM ROOM DIFFICULTY

  • Remove lightweight furniture from the room
  • Clean the concrete subfloor
  • Scrape old adhesive off of subfloor
  • Move heavy furniture out of the room

COMPLEX ROOM

  • Remove asbestos-containing Linoleum floor
  • Heavy furniture and fixtures to move
  • Break down and remove integrated furniture and appliances that covers some of the floor
  • Elaborate moulding and trim to remove first
  • Remove jutting nails and replace broken planks in wooden subfloor
  • Extensive cleaning and scrape old adhesives off of subfloor
  • Have non-rectangular floor plan

Step-by-step guide to install laminate or vinyl flooring

Recommended Preparation

  1. Remove Linoleum or Vinyl Flooring


    Depending on your existing floor, it can be quite a lot of effort to remove some of your existing flooring. If your flooring contains any asbestos as many linoleums made in the 70s and earlier do, it is not safe for DIY removal, and you should contact a contractor right away. If not, you can proceed.

If you have linoleum or vinyl flooring, cut it into parallel strips about 6 inches apart with a utility knife. Use a hammer to knock a brick chisel putty knife in-between the strips, and loosen them. You can begin removing them by force.
  2. Remove Hardwood Floors


    If you have old beat up hardwood floors, remove them by using a circular saw to cut them into smaller 1-foot wide pieces – make sure you use a small enough saw blade so that you don’t cut into the subfloor as well. After you have some space between boards, you can hammer in a crowbar or pry bar and start prying them up. Be sure to watch out for nails and staples! You can use vice grips and a nail claw to pull up any remaining ones, and the glide a bar magnet across the floor to gather them all up.
  3. Remove Carpeting


    If you have carpeting, pry up the edges of the carpet from any trim with a pry bar, starting with the corners. If you plan to keep the carpet in one piece for use or resale, slowly work from one corner. If you don’t plan to keep it, use a utility knife to slice it into manageable strips and pry up each one. Use a flat pry bar to remove carpet tacks.
  4. Remove Quarter Round Molding


    While you can leave baseboard in place, you should remove quarter round molding so the new laminate or vinyl can be easily placed underneath. You do not need worry about the trim around doorways, as that will be handled in a later step.
  5. Prepare and Clean the Subflooring

    Regardless of material, the subfloor needs to be clean, solid, and flat. If made of concrete, use a patching compound to level any unevenness, scrape up hardened glue and paint, and remove nails and staples. If you have a plywood subfloor, be sure to replace any damaged or uneven planks, and either hammer down or replace nails that are jutting out or rusty. This is a good opportunity to ensure the foundation of your room’s floor will last for a long time.
  6. Measure the Floor and Planks


    Measure the width of the room and divide it by the width of the planks you’ll be installing. Lay the planks parallel to the longest wall to make the most even and esthetically pleasing appearance. Be sure to account for 3/8-inch gap along both parallel walls, to allow for heat expansion of the flooring.
  7. Determine Width of the First and Last Planks


    It’s very likely that there won’t be a perfect number of plank widths by the time you reach the other wall. To create an even look, measure the remaining space between the last full plank you’ll be laying and the wall. Then add that to the width of one full plank, and divide the number by two. You should cut two rows of planks to be this wide – one for your first row, and one for the final row. For example, if each plank was 4 inches wide, and the space between the last full plank and the wall was 3 inches, you’d take the sum (7 inches) and divide it by two to get 3.5 inches, and then cut two rows of planks to be that wide. This creates the most even appearance.
  8. Acclimate the Laminate or Vinyl Planks to Room Temperature

    Once you have everything else prepared, you should place the boards into the room they will be installed in, within their packaging or not. Let them acclimate to the temperature of the room they’ll be in for at least 48 hours, to ensure they don’t change properties after they’re installed, like swelling for example.

Step-by-Step Guide to Installing Flooring

  1. Cut the Trim and Door Jamb


    Rather than trying to match the odd shape of the moulding around doorways, you can simply cut the trim and slip the new flooring underneath. First, take a section of the new planks and any additional underlayment you plan to use, and measure it against the door jamb for height. Make a pencil mark around this section, then use a jamb saw to make a horizontal cut along the door frame.
  2. Install the Underlayment


    If the laminate or vinyl planks you have purchased do not have an underlayment attached, use a separate roll of underlayment and roll it out evenly on top of the subfloor, being sure not to leave any air bubbles or gaps. Each rolled out strip should be placed directly next to one another, but not overlapping. Use duct tape along the seam to hold them in place.
  3. Install the First Row of Planks


    Place the planks on top of the underlayment along the longest wall (or the shortest wall if it has a door) with the "tongue side" facing the wall, and slide them under the baseboard and cut door trim. Snap each plank in this row into place. Remember to leave 3/8-inch of space along the wall – use 3/8-inch spacers to make sure the distance is consistent. This space is left to account for expanding and contracting laminate due to heat fluctuations throughout the year.
  4. Install the Remaining Rows of Planks


    Lay down the next row, staggering the perpendicular seams by 6 inches for a more natural look if the boards are made to imitate wood. Feed each new plank’s tongue side into the groove of the installed row before it, and press it to snap it into place.
  5. Apply the Finishing Touches


    Once you’ve reached the opposite wall and filled everything in, you can remove your 3/8-inch spacers and install a matching threshold and quarter-round moulding with finishing nails.

Estimated Time

2+ days

Required Tools

  • Tape measure
  • Level
  • Jamb saw
  • Circular saw
  • Hammer
  • Utility knife
  • Clamps
  • Nail punch
  • Foam underlayment
  • Laminate flooring and kit (spacers, tapping block)
  • Floor-leveling compound (if needed)
  • Duct tape
  • Concrete patch
  • Finishing nails
  • Moulding
  • Threshold

Common projects and their price

At Pro.com, we’ve helped thousands of people complete their flooring installation projects. We’ve got a pretty good idea of how much certain parts of the project should cost. Check out the most common projects we’ve seen people do, and the average cost to complete them nationwide.
Installing Sheet Vinyl Floors
$139 - $182
Installing Laminate Planks in Living Room
$195 - $221
Installing Vinyl Tiles in Kitchen
$176 - $204
Installing Vinyl Tiles in Bathroom
$271 - $293

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