How to Install Dry Back Vinyl Flooring

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Dryback vinyl flooring is more than just a floor. It’s a statement of style, durability, and versatility. But how do you install it and make it last? That’s what this guide is all about. From the tools and materials you need to the steps and tips you can follow, we’ll show you how to transform any space with dryback vinyl flooring. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast, a professional, or just curious, you’ll find everything you need to know in this guide. Ready to floor it? Read through and learn How to Install Dry Back Vinyl Flooring.

Let’s go!

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What is Dryback Installation for Vinyl Flooring?

Vinyl flooring is a versatile and durable option for many home improvement projects. It comes in different forms, such as sheets, tiles, planks, or click products. Depending on the type of vinyl flooring, the installation method may vary. One of the common installation methods for vinyl flooring is dryback installation.

Advantages of Dryback Vinyl Flooring

  1. Solid Grounding: Adhering directly to the subfloor ensures dryback vinyl remains stable and unmoving, eliminating shifts over time.
  2. Long-lasting Performance: With a seamless design, dryback vinyl is more resilient to daily wear and tear, preventing damages often seen at gaps or joints in other flooring types.
  3. Design Flexibility: Tailor-made to suit any space, dryback vinyl can be meticulously cut and styled to align with your aesthetic vision.
  4. Optimal Heat Transfer: Ideal for homes with radiant floor heating, dryback vinyl facilitates efficient heat conduction, ensuring a warm and cozy space.

How to Install Dry Back Vinyl Flooring

Tools and Materials

You will need the following tools and materials for dryback vinyl flooring installation:

  • Dryback vinyl planks or tiles
  • Vinyl adhesive
  • Trowel
  • Utility knife
  • Tape measure
  • Chalk line
  • Spacers
  • Roller
  • Level
  • Moisture meter

Step 1: Preparation

Dryback installation involves gluing the vinyl flooring to the subfloor using a specific adhesive. Before applying the adhesive, the subfloor must be prepared to ensure a smooth and strong bond. The preparation steps include:

  • Cleaning: The subfloor should be free of any debris, dust, or grease that could interfere with the adhesive. A broom, a vacuum, or a damp cloth can be used to clean the subfloor.
  • Inspecting: The subfloor should be checked for imperfections, such as holes, cracks, or unevenness. These could cause bumps or gaps in the vinyl flooring. Any imperfections should be patched or leveled with a suitable material.
  • Moisture Testing: The subfloor should be tested for moisture content, as excess moisture could damage the vinyl flooring or the adhesive. A moisture meter or a calcium chloride test kit can be used to measure the moisture level of the subfloor. The acceptable moisture level will depend on the subfloor type and adhesive type.

Step 2: Applying Adhesive

After preparing the subfloor, the adhesive can be applied using a notched trowel. The adhesive should be spread evenly and thinly over the subfloor, following the manufacturer’s instructions for coverage and drying time. You must pay attention to the time of adhesive application and time for laying the vinyl flooring. Ensure you do not apply the adhesive too far ahead of laying the vinyl flooring, as it could dry out or lose its tackiness.

Step 3: Laying the vinyl

  1. Apply the Adhesive: Dip your trowel into the adhesive bucket and spread it onto the subfloor, maintaining a consistent, even layer. Always refer to the manufacturer’s instructions for specific details.
  2. Lay the First Plank or Tile: Align your first vinyl piece along the chalk line at your designated starting point. Press down firmly, ensuring it sits snugly in the adhesive.
  3. Proceed with the Rest: Continue placing the tiles or planks next to one another along the wall. Remember to leave that essential 1/4-inch gap around the perimeter for expansion. Those spacers you have? They’re perfect for maintaining this gap.
  4. Trimming the End: When you reach the end of a row, you might need to trim the vinyl to fit. Place a piece of scrap vinyl over the last full piece, score it with a utility knife, and snap!
  5. Stagger and Start the Second Row: Begin the second row with a staggered joint to give a more natural look. When connecting, rather than sliding, use a piece of scrap vinyl to tap them together gently.
  6. Roll and Secure: After laying several rows of vinyl flooring, a floor roller should press the vinyl into the adhesive and eliminate any air bubbles. A floor roller is a heavy tool with a cylindrical roller attached to a handle. The roller should be rolled over the entire surface of the vinyl flooring, applying even pressure.

Step 4: Cutting Around Door Frames, Pipes, and Vents

We all know rooms aren’t just open squares. Here’s how to handle those pesky obstacles:

  1. Mark the Measurements: Place the vinyl plank or tile next to the obstacle (a door frame). With your tape measure and pencil, mark where you need to cut.
  2. Cutting Time: Using a utility knife or, for trickier cuts, a jigsaw, carefully cut along your marked line. If you’re using a utility knife, a metal ruler can guide you for a straight cut.
  3. Test and Adjust: Before adhering, test the cut plank or tile around the obstacle. Not a perfect fit? Trim any excess bits until they nestle in seamlessly.
  4. Adhere and Celebrate: Apply your adhesive, press the cut piece into place, and voilà! Your floor is starting to come together beautifully.

Step 5: Curing

The final step in dryback installation is to let the adhesive set or “cure.” During this period, the floor should not be disturbed or walked on, which could compromise the bond between the vinyl flooring and the subfloor. The curing time will depend on the type of adhesive and the environmental conditions. It could range from a few hours to a few days.


Regularly clean your dryback vinyl flooring to remove dust, dirt, and spills. Here are some cleaning tips:

  • Sweep or vacuum the floor with a soft-bristled broom or a vacuum without a beater bar. This will prevent scratches and damage to the floor.
  • Mop the floor with a damp cloth or mop and a vinyl-safe cleaner. Do not use steam cleaners or wet mops, as they can cause warping or peeling of the floor.
  • Wipe up spills as soon as possible with a soft cloth and a mild detergent. Do not use harsh chemicals or solvents; they can discolor or stain the floor.


You must care for your dryback vinyl flooring to protect it from wear and tear and preserve its appearance. Here are some tips for caring:

  1. Use mats or rugs in areas where water is present, such as bathrooms or kitchens. Choose mats or rugs that are not rubber-backed, as they can trap moisture or leave marks on the floor.
  2. Use felt pads under furniture legs to prevent dents and scratches on the floor.
  3. Avoid direct sunlight or heat sources on the floor, as they can fade the color or cause expansion or contraction of the floor. Use curtains, blinds, or shades to block them.
  4. Avoid wearing shoes with synthetic soles or clothes with synthetic fabrics on the floor, as they can generate static electricity and attract dust.

The video below shows How to Install Glue Down Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring on OSB Sub Floor. Watch and apply on your floors while paying attention to the steps on this guide.

Common problems that affect the dry back vinyl floor.

These problems can be caused by various factors, such as moisture, heat, installation errors, or wear and tear. Fortunately, some ways exist to fix these issues and restore your floor’s appearance and performance. Here are some tips on how to fix each problem:

  • Buckling

This is when the floor warps or lifts due to moisture, heat, or installation errors. You must check and control the moisture levels in the subfloor and the air to fix it. You may need a moisture barrier or a dehumidifier to prevent water damage. Reinstall the floor with enough expansion gaps around the edges and under the doors. These gaps allow the floor to expand and contract without buckling. Additionally, you must avoid direct sunlight or heat sources on the floor, as they can cause the vinyl to shrink or warp. You can use curtains, blinds, or shades to block them.

  • Curling

This is when the edges of the planks curl up due to adhesive failure or high humidity. To fix it, clean the subfloor well before installation and use a good adhesive suitable for vinyl flooring. You must follow the manufacturer’s instructions for applying and drying the adhesive. You must also address the humidity issue in the room by fixing any leaks or using a dehumidifier. High humidity can cause the vinyl to swell or curl.

  • Gapping

This is when there are visible spaces between the planks due to contraction or acclimation. To fix it, you must use a humidifier to balance the room’s atmosphere during cold or dry seasons. Low humidity can cause the vinyl to shrink or gap. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for acclimating your floor before installation. Acclimation lets the vinyl adjust to the room’s temperature and humidity for a certain period.

  • Peaking

This is when the planks rise due to pressure or lack of space. To fix it, you must ensure adequate expansion gaps when installing the floor, especially at the walls. These gaps allow the floor to expand and contract without peaking. Ensure that heavy furniture or installations do not restrict the floor’s movement. You can use furniture pads or coasters under furniture legs to prevent them from pressing on the floor.

  • Scratching

This is when the floor gets marked by furniture, pets, or shoes. To fix it, you must use a repair kit or a heat gun to fill or remove the scratch. You can find repair kits that match your floor’s color and texture at your local hardware store. Use a heat gun to gently heat up and smooth out minor scratches on your vinyl floor. Protect your floor from scratches by using felt pads under furniture, trimming your pets’ nails, and keeping your shoes clean or off.

Click vs. Dryback Installation for Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring is a popular and versatile option for many home improvement projects. It comes in different forms and installation methods, such as click and dryback. Click vinyl flooring is a type of floating floor that does not require adhesive or nails to attach to the subfloor. It has interlocking edges that snap together easily. Dryback vinyl flooring is a glue-down floor requiring an adhesive to bond to the subfloor. It has smooth edges that need to be cut and positioned carefully.

Both click and dryback installation have pros and cons, depending on your needs and preferences. Here are some factors to consider when choosing between them:


Dryback vinyl flooring offers better stability and durability than click vinyl flooring, as it is more resistant to moisture, heat, and pressure. It can handle heavy traffic and large areas without shifting or buckling. However, click vinyl flooring offers better sound absorption and comfort than dryback, as it has a cushioned underlay that reduces noise and impact.


Click vinyl flooring is generally cheaper than dryback, as it does not require adhesive or professional installation. You can save time and money by installing it yourself. However, dryback vinyl flooring may have lower maintenance costs than click vinyl flooring, as it is less likely to need repairs or replacements due to damage or wear.


Click vinyl flooring is easier to remove and replace than dryback, as it does not involve glue. This makes it ideal for spaces prone to spills or stains, such as kitchens or bathrooms. You can lift and replace the affected planks without affecting the rest of the floor. However, dryback vinyl flooring is easier to clean than click vinyl flooring, as it has no seams or gaps that can trap dirt or dust. You can wipe or mop the surface without worrying about water seeping into the joints.


You’ve learned everything you need to know about dryback vinyl flooring. From installing it to caring for it, you’ve mastered the art and science of this flooring option. You’ve seen how the details make the difference and how you can make smart choices for your space. Flooring may be under your feet, but it can elevate your home to new heights. You’re ready to take on your next home project confidently and skillfully.

Happy flooring!

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