How to Install a Vinyl-Plank Floor

Anchoring a room in style is quick and easy with snap-together, vinyl-plank flooring. Choose your wood species and finish, then check out our step-by-step installation guide below.

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Vinyl plank flooring is made to look like real wood but skips the large price tag. The foam backing on the planks also makes this flooring softer underfoot. With an installation process easy enough for a DIYer, this flooring option will give any space a polished look that will last for years.

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What You Need

  • Broom or vacuum
  • Level
  • Leveling compound
  • Vinyl planks
  • Transition strips, if necessary
  • Safety glasses
  • Drill
  • Measuring tape
  • Oscillating saw
  • Table saw, shear cutter, or chop saw
  • 1/4-inch spacers
  • Square
  • Circular saw
  • Utility knife
  • Rubber mallet
  • Pull bar
  • Tapping block
  • Jigsaw

Step 1: Prep the Floor

Gather materials. The materials should be available at any hardware store. Prep the floor by thoroughly sweeping or vacuuming up all dust and particles.

Step 2: Level Floor

Using a level, determine if the floor is mostly even. If not, apply leveling compound to uneven spots, following the manufacturer's directions.

Step 3: Choose Planks

Determine the layout of the flooring and pick the start point, which should be along the longest exterior wall. As you work, pull vinyl planks from different cartons—one plank from one, the next from another—to ensure a mix of plank patterns and colors.

Shopping for Wood Floor

Step 4: Install Doorway Transition Strip

If the longest wall includes a doorway, install the metal part of a doorway transition strip. (If not, delay this step until needed). Use a pencil to mark the location of the screws. Drill the holes for the transition strip.

Tip for concrete subfloor: To better hold your screws, insert wood toothpicks in the drill holes as you insert the screw and anchor into the concrete.

Install the transition strip, making sure the screws line up with existing holes in the concrete subfloor.

Step 5: Cut a Notch for Doorjamb

When the wall includes a doorjamb, prep this area. Mark the door trim with the height of a plank and cut out the notch with an oscillating saw.

Slide the plank under the doorjamb. If the first notch cut wasn't perfect, repeat the previous step until the notch fits.

Step 6: Place First Row

On the first row of planks, remove the tongue from the planks using a table saw. This enables the first row of planks to butt up against the wall. Arrange planks so no one plank is shorter than 6 inches. Place 1/4-inch spacers against the wall to provide the floor floating space to expand and contract.

To shorten planks, use a square and circular saw. Note: Cutting the planks will dull saw blades quickly. Have extra blades on hand.

How to Use a Circular Saw

Step 7: Join Planks in First Row

As you install the first row of planks, click the locking mechanism together. Apply light pressure to join two planks, using a rubber mallet to fully lock the planks if necessary.

Step 8: Start Second Row

To start the second row, begin by cutting the planks to the desired length. Insert the long side of the tongue into the groove of the plank in the first row. Use a rubber mallet to tap down on the seam to click it into place with each end of the plank.

Use the pull bar and tapping block to make sure the rows fully lock into each other to create straight rows. Place planks so that end-of-plank seams do not align.

Step 9: Continue Laying Rows

Continue laying planks one row at a time. As needed, use a jigsaw to cut planks (A) to fit around elements in the room (B). With each row, continue using the pull bar and mallet to lock planks together. 

Step 10: Install Trim and Transition Strip

When finished laying planks, install trim around the perimeter of the room against the baseboard (A), and add final plank transition strips at any doorways (B).

Trimwork and Molding Guide

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