How to Install Luxury Vinyl Faux-Wood Planks

Luxury vinyl faux-wood planks are a DIYer’s best friend. Vinyl planks looks great, are long lasting, and are easy to install compared to natural stone or hardwood. Though easy to install, planks do require diligence from start to finish. Follow this basic guide to learn how to install luxury vinyl faux-wood planks:

What you’ll need:

  • Vinyl wood planks
  • Scrapers
  • Power or hand saw
  • Sanders
  • Pry Bar
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Optional (Vapor barrier) or foam underlayment
  • Roller

1) To begin installation make sure the floor is clean, dry, flat, and structurally sound. Remove all foreign matter as well as varnishes, waxes, and oils from the substrate. Level the floor where it is uneven and remove all adhesive residue. If installing over a ceramic or other tiled floor, fill in any holes in the grout. Finally, remove the baseboard or molding around the floor before you begin installing your luxury vinyl faux-wood planks.

NEVER install luxury vinyl over the following materials:

  • Carpet
  • Particleboard
  • Stairs
  • Floor drains
  • Hardwood flooring
  • Existing cushion-backed vinyl flooring

* If these materials exist, you can either remove them with a prybar and brute force or place a barrier (vapor barrier or foam underlayment) over the area.

The following are appropriate substrates, or types of material your vinyl flooring can be installed on:

  • Dry and smooth concrete
  • Suspended wood subfloors
  • Single-layer fully adhered flooring
  • Ceramic, terrazzo, or marble tile
  • Polymeric floors (seamless) floors

2) Next, you must ensure your vinyl flooring is acclimated and ready to go. Acclimate the flooring for at least 24 hours.

  • Make sure your flooring has not been exposed to extreme cold or heat.
  • Your flooring should not be over-exposed to sunlight.
  • Keep away from excessive humidity and moisture.

3) Using a pry bar and hammer, remove all base molding and set out of the way.

4) Lay out planks. Start at the longest, straightest wall in the room and work your way inward. Place 1/2" or 1/4 “ spacers against the wall and push the first plank down. These spacers create an expansion gap so that the floor can expand and contract. 

  • For planks with adhesive: Remove the paper release and expose the bottom adhesive, being careful not to get dirt or debris stuck to the adhesive.
  • For tongue and groove planks: Connect planks together, tongue to groove. Tap joints together to make sure they are secure.

5) The last plank may need to be trimmed lengthwise to fit the space. Draw a line along the plank below the top plank. Cut the plank using a rip saw, power saw, or handsaw. Better Homes and Gardens suggests, “If using a power saw, cut with the finished side down; if using a handsaw, cut with the finished side up. Use clamps to steady the planks as you cut them.”

6) Use a hand roller to apply moderate pressure to each plank. Continue installing planks left to right.

7) Once you have installed the last plank, roll the entire floor with a 100-pound roller. Replace molding or baseboards.

8) Using the hammer and finishing nails reinstall trim.

For detailed instructions on how to install the specific type of vinyl faux-wood planks you have purchased check with the manufacturer.

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