How to Install a Vinyl-Plank Floor

Anchor a room in style with snap-together, vinyl-plank flooring with our step-by-step installation guide and tips on choosing your wood species and finish.

craft room with vinyl flooring
Photo: Marty Baldwin

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.

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

vinyl planks in boxes
Marty Baldwin

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.

Step 4: Install Doorway Transition Strip

drill holes for transition strip
Marty Baldwin

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.

toothpicks holding anchors in concrete
Marty Baldwin

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.

drill holes for transition strip
Marty Baldwin

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

Step 5: Cut a Notch for Doorjamb

measure and cut notch with oscillating saw
Marty Baldwin

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 plank under doorjamb
Marty Baldwin

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

place spacers against wall
Marty Baldwin

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

insert plank tongue into groove
Marty Baldwin

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.

pull bar and tapping block
Marty Baldwin

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

cut planks and fit around elements
Marty Baldwin

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

install trim and add transition
Marty Baldwin

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

Updated by
Leslie Poyzer

Leslie Poyzer is an interior designer based in Des Moines, Iowa, with more than15 years of experience. She is a story producer and photo stylist for Better Homes & Gardens and its special interest publications, including Do It Yourself, Holiday Crafts, and Christmas Ideas. Alongside her career in content production and design, Leslie has also been the talent in Better Homes & Gardens tutorials and videos, as well as for brands such as Panera, Nestle, and Kraft.

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