How to install vinyl plank flooring on concrete

Vinyl plank flooring floor

Whether you are building a new home or revamping your house, the choice of flooring is indeed a major concern. The practice may force you into a quandary trying to determine which flooring option is ideal for your home. The highly sought vinyl plank flooring style has been a go-to option for many because of its meritorious qualities. This style prides itself on impeccable aesthetics, resilience to moisture, durability, and pocket-friendliness.

Vinyl plank flooring also tends to be a popular preference for many DIY enthusiasts because of its ease of installation. That said, an insight on how to install vinyl plank flooring on concrete would be necessary, right? Without further ado, let’s get right into it.

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How do you prepare a concrete floor for vinyl planks?

You need to prepare the subfloor by ensuring that it is dry, clean, and leveled before proceeding with the actual installation of vinyl planks. To level the floor, you can employ a belt sander to sand down high spots of concrete or wood and a self-leveler on the low spots. You also ought to consider leveling within a 3/16” change per 10ft.

The self-leveler helps you fill in low spots in an effort to raise and make them in a consistent level as the rest of the floor. You should let the self-leveling compound sufficiently dry before you lay the vinyl planks. 

Here is a precaution tip, avoid sanding vinyl flooring since it may consist of implicated asbestos. In addition, you should moderately execute the sanding to avoid grinding down the floor excessively.

Repairing all the evident cracks is also another worthwhile step to prep a concrete floor for vinyl planks. This step is necessary for ensuring that the planks do not fall apart due to their flexibility. You can use concrete patching filler to fill in the present cracks.

Should You Use a Subfloor Beneath Vinyl Plank Flooring?

Yes. The foundation of the floor in both commercial and residential buildings is the subfloor. It is the bottom-most layer comprising a thick flat surface on which all the other aesthetic layers rest. The type of material used for subfloor ranges from plywood, concrete, wood, or even plastic.

That said, concrete by itself is considered a subfloor when planning to install vinyl plank flooring. A well-prepared concrete floor that is dry, even, and void of dust and cracks is considered an appropriate subfloor for installing vinyl planks.

You can spice things up by adding a thin layer between the vinyl planks and concrete as subflooring. This style is a favored preference by individuals that have ruined or old concrete floors. They do this to boost insulation and make the vinyl plank flooring less resounding and warmer. The addition of this thin layer is not mandatory, however.

With that out of the way, what are some of the equipment needed to make the preparation and installation process a success? Highlighted below is a list to help make the entire process a breeze. They include;

  • Straightedge
  • Utility and putty knife
  • Square and chalk line
  • Mallet, pencil, ¼“ spacers
  • Knee pads
  • Air compressor and hose
  • Sanding block
  • Tape measure
  • Hammer and cold chisel
  • Aviation chips
  • Dust mask, hearing protection, and safety glasses
  • Nail gun and belt sander

How to install vinyl plank flooring on concrete

Having already tackled how you can prep your concrete floor, how about we shift the discussion to how you can install vinyl plank flooring on concrete? Elaborated below in progressive steps is the process to follow for the successful installation of vinyl planks onto concrete. These steps are divisible into broad categories, which include;

Working on the baseboards

If your walls have baseboards, you will begin with removing them. Cut any adhering paint between the baseboard and the wall using a utility knife. Slip a putty knife behind the baseboards to pry them out. If nails are securing the boards to the wall, use a pry bar to loosen them up. It is best to carry out this step because vinyl planks expand and contract, and therefore it is essential to create room between the planks and the walls.

Working on the floor

Fix any cracks present in the floor – Cracks will affect the integrity and stability of your floor. To avoid this, you ought to correct such imperfections. Start by identifying all the cracks, use an angle grinder or a chisel to open up the cracks carefully. 

Next, clear up the debris by sweeping with a whisk broom and get rid of the remaining debris with a vacuum cleaner. Use soapy water to get rid of stains. For stubborn stains like oil stains, you can use a degreaser. Employ a brush to scrub the floor and clean out the floor using clean water. Leave the floor to dry.

Fill in all the evident cracks using a concrete filler or concrete patching compound. Either of these materials is suitable for use to help you repair the cracks. You can employ a trowel to smoothen the filler. 

Determine the levelness of the floor – it has earlier been indicated that a leveled floor is fundamental before laying vinyl planks on it. You can establish the floor’s levelness by identifying the high and low spots.

You can use a carpenter’s level to establish the uneven spots. 3/16 inches is the standard measurement whereby any spot higher or lower than the standard of the floor’s general uniformity over a length of 10 feet is considered uneven. Is the level giving you a hard time using it? You can employ a string by running it across the floor or a laser level.

Make even the high and low spots – now that you have already determined the uneven spots, proceed to make them at par with the floor’s general level. For the high spots, use a belt sander to grind them down till they are at par with the floor. Remember to use a level to check whether you have attained the desired level while grinding the high spots down.

Proceed to correct the evident low spots. First, with the help of a push broom, you will apply a concrete leveling primer on the whole floor. Give it about 4-5 hours for the primer to dry out. Now, apply the self-leveling compound to raise the depressed spots on the concrete floor. Also, let the leveling compound dry for about 6 hours before installing vinyl planks.

The actual installation of the vinyl planks

Calculate the number of planks required

This step is essential to promote similarity in the first and last row of vinyl planks. Measure the width of the planks and then measure the width of the room. Calculate the number of planks needed to fill the room by dividing the room’s width with that of the planks.

Do keep in mind that the size of the first and last row of planks ought not to be less than a third the size of the preceding rows. The above calculations will give you an idea of what size the planks on either end of the room should be.

You may need to scale down the first row of planks if you realize that those on the last row will be smaller. Ensuring that the planks are even and equal in size is necessary before laying them on the concrete to avoid undoing the whole floor.

Ensure accuracy through marking

The laying down of vinyl planks ought to be in a straight line. To attain this, you will need to make markings on the floor using straight chalk lines. Start by splitting the room into four quadrants by determining the midpoint of each wall using a tape measure.

This will be followed by marking vertical lines from the midpoints and connecting this lines to the middle. Remember about the expansion and contraction attribute of vinyl planks? This attribute will require you to leave a ¼ “ gap has from the wall perimeter. Establish this gap using a tape measure and make it conspicuous by marking it with a chalk line.

Prepare and lay the first row of planks

Here is the principle of laying the first row of vinyl planks,  the last plank of the first row ought to be at least 6” long. You might need to trim down the first plank to create room for the 6” plank to be fitted at the end.

Now with the actual installation, clip the tongue of the planks of the first row. With the face oriented upwards, lay the plank down. Trim the tongue off with a utility knife and if it becomes stubborn, break off the tongue by bending it. 

Proceed to install the first planks while considering the ¼” gap that you had indicated from the wall. Position them in a way that the side with grooves faces the room while the edge with the clipped tongue faces the wall.

Let the tongue and groove of the second plank of the first-row interlock after you lay it at a small angle along the width of the preceding plank. A mallet will come in handy by helping you to securely lock the joint through hammering gently.

Install the second row of planks

Rather than laying planks uniformly, this step will require you to lay them in a staggered pattern. Due to the similarity in sizes of vinyl planks, it will be easy to position them so that all the joints get to be in a straight line. The essence of this is to avoid the H-joint issue.

Cut two-thirds of the planks after determining the accurate point using a tape measure. Break them at this point and use the two-thirds portion to install the entire room. This is what it means to lay them in a staggered pattern.

You will then reinstall the baseboards that you had earlier removed after the plank installation is complete. 

The video below shows how to install vinyl plank flooring over concrete

What are the disadvantages of vinyl plank flooring?

As discussed so far, the vinyl plank flooring option has numerous advantages that make it stand out as one of the most exceptional flooring styles. However, this does not rule out the possibilities of disadvantages that come along with vinyl plank flooring. Some of the demerits include:

Prone to damage by UV rays and fadingProlonged exposure to sunlight can make this style of flooring fade despite being fabricated with coatings that are UV resistant in the wear layer. Fading will make the floor less aesthetic.

Not an environmentally-friendly optionBeing a synthetically fabricated plastic material, it definitely cannot be reused or recycled after getting ruined by heavy equipment or after wearing out.

Faces risk of getting scuffed, dented, or torn – Even though vinyl planks boast remarkable durability, they can still get damaged. Movement of furniture around the home or placing heavy equipment on the planks can result in scratches, dents, or even scuffs.

Susceptible to wax build-up – vinyl plank flooring is inarguably one of the best floors to clean and maintain. However, using wax-based cleaners on your floor can result in fading and loss of that polished appeal due to wax build-up.

Not suitable for use with rubber or latex-backed rugs – such types of rugs can stain your floor. This is obviously an undesired occurrence.

Difficult to repair – as opposed to hardwood floors, it is almost impossible to repair vinyl plank flooring in the event that there is a scratch running too deep. Repairing damages to the design layer will be a futile endeavor.

Does not greatly increase your home resale value – When compared to hardwood floors, vinyl plank flooring adds the resale value of your home on the lower end.

How to install click-lock vinyl plank flooring

You probably have seen vinyl planks interlocking after fitting the grooves of each plank together, hence the name click-lock vinyl plank flooring or floating floors. This style of flooring has revolutionized installation by making it easier. Here is how you execute click-lock vinyl plank flooring;

  • In a manner that the tongue side overlaps the groove, place the longer side of the plank in the preceding row roughly 1/8”.
  • Angle (at a low of 20-300) the end joint into the preceding plank.
  • Lower the plank down and push (inward and downward) lightly until the plank locks into the preceding row.
  • Proceed with the installation of the remaining planks in the same manner while ensuring perfect alignment of the planks.

How to install a Bamboo Floating Floor

Other than opting for vinyl plank flooring, a floating bamboo floor is also an incredibly reliable option. A floating bamboo floor is an intriguing style since it can even be installed over the existing floor and is also easy to install on your own.

There are technically two formats for installing a floating bamboo floor: A click-lock format and a glue-together tongue-and-groove plank format. Both formats do not involve attaching the bamboo floor to the subfloor, hence the name floating floor. Do note that engineered planks are the best bet for a floating bamboo floor.

How to install a Click-Lock Bamboo Floor

Preparation of the subfloor is a very critical step also in bamboo floating floor installation. The prepping is not so much different from that carried out before vinyl plank installation, which this article has gladly covered. Ensuring that the subfloor is totally dry and has dependable structural integrity is necessary. 

Installing over a compressible foam or carpet is strongly advised against. Acclimatization of the bamboo planks for about 72 hours before installation is highly recommendable. The type of locking system accompanying the just purchased engineered planks determines the installation method. The two methods include;

Method 1: Insert the groove into the tongue or the tongue into the groove by placing the plank at an angle of 20-300 to the previously installed plank. Then, manipulate the plank to fold into place by gently moving it up and down while applying pressure forward.

Method 2: This method uses tapping to fit the planks in place rather than lifting and lowering. A unique tapping block customized for ½” flooring and a hammer are the tools you will use to fit the planks together. Slowly tap the planks together instead of using a single tap.

How to Install Glue-Together Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo flooring installation is achievable through any of the several formats. Installation pertaining to glue-together style is executable through two formats; the glue-together format of floating bamboo floor and glue-down flooring format. Let’s have a look at each of the formats. 

A .Glue-together format of floating floors

This format quite resembles the click-like format, only that you utilize glue to adhere the seams together. Installation with this format involves applying polyvinyl acetate wood glue along the tongue of each edge that inserts into the groove of the neighboring boards.

B. Glue-down flooring format

This format differs from the former in that installation involves gluing the boards down rather than gluing the seams. The subfloor plays a role in this installation format. With the help of a trowel, you will need to apply a urethane adhesive to the concrete subfloor. On the downside, this adhesive can take several days to cure.

There is a similarity between this format and the former, whereby you follow a similar manner for the alignment of the bamboo planks and trimming of the boards. It is essential to remember not to install using the glue-down flooring format on floating, vinyl, or laminate floors.

Do you need underlay for vinyl plank flooring on concrete?

Yes. Underlayment is an essential requirement if you are installing vinyl planks on concrete. The underlayment will come in handy by playing advantageous roles like acting as a vapor barrier, whereby it will help it keep moisture out of the planks and serve as an extra cushion. 

It will also additionally play the role of insulation by keeping your floor warm when winter kicks in. Some indications like a ruined or bumpy concrete subfloor that seems effortful to repair will require you to use an underlayment. However, a concrete subfloor that meets all the requirements will not necessarily require an underlayment.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you prep a concrete floor for vinyl planks?

If you plan to lay vinyl planks on a concrete floor, the floor should be in certain conditions. These conditions include cleanliness, uniformity, smoothness, and moisture-free. The only way to meet these conditions is by prepping your concrete floor by sanding high spots and using a self-leveler on depressed spots to attain levelness.

Repairing imperfections like cracks and cleaning are some other steps of prepping your concrete floor.

What happens if you don’t put underlayment beneath vinyl plank flooring?

Poor performance or reduced durability of the newly installed vinyl plank flooring are some of the issues encountered with vinyl planks indicated that the use of an underlayment is necessary. Ignoring this indication might leave you feeling contrite, especially after the vinyl plank flooring develops a ‘clapping’ sound.

What flooring can you put over concrete?

There are many flooring options suitable for installing over a concrete substrate. Here is a list of these options that include;

  • Wood flooring
  • Ceramic tile
  • Carpet
  • Laminate flooring
  • Vinyl tile
  • Rubber tile

Can water seep through vinyl planks?

Yes, it can. If the perimeter and the seams were not properly sealed, especially for glue-down vinyl, water may seep through the joints and end up settling beneath the floorboards. Occurrences of floods can also favor seepage of water through the vinyl planks. Implications like mold growth can occur as a result.

What if water gets under vinyl plank flooring?

If water is not immediately gotten rid of in the event of floods, it can manage to seep around or through the vinyl planks. When this happens, mold is likely to grow underneath.

Conclusion 

The flooring choice in your home is as important as the rest of the house structure. This is because the floor supports the inhabitants and items in your house and even provides a barrier to sound, moisture and heat. For this reason, determining the ideal flooring option from the many available flooring styles is of utmost concern.

Vinyl plank flooring is one of the many excellent flooring options that has incredibly gained popularity. This option satisfies critical factors like durability, pocket-friendliness, and aesthetics. 

The ease of installation of vinyl plank flooring makes it suitable even for neophyte DIYers. This article thoroughly breaks down the installation process and tackles all aspects pertaining to vinyl plank flooring installation to help make the entire endeavor a breeze and successful for you.  

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