People often wonder how to lay vinyl sheet flooring without calling for a professional. Although it might seem like a complicated project, you can still pull it off if you have the right tools and materials. The key is to prepare the floor in advance and get your measurement right the first time. As with everything that involves gluing, you need to make sure that the floor is moist-free before you start this project.
There are many ways you can lay vinyl sheet flooring, but we’ll focus here on using a template. It’s a convenient method especially if the flooring has an irregular shape or it’s not easy to measure the floor accurately. That way you can avoid making costly mistakes and having to start all over again.
How to Lay Vinyl Sheet Flooring
1. Prepare the Floor
A clean, level, and dry floor is the right way to lay vinyl sheet flooring. A concrete floor in particular is often saturated with moisture. To test the floor, cut a one-foot square of vinyl and glue it to the floor. Seal the edges of the vinyl with duct tape and leave it there for about 3 days.
Give the corner of the glued vinyl a tug. If it remains stuck to the floor or comes out with difficulty then the floor is dry enough for your vinyl sheet flooring.
Next, you need to remove anything that covers the floor. This includes mats, carpet strips, and baseboard moldings. Get all the furniture that stands on the floor out of the way. This includes the pedestal sink in the bathroom if you have one. If there’s a piece of furniture that’s too heavy to move, you can cut the vinyl around it and leave it in place.
Now turn your attention to door jambs and trim. Use a hacksaw to cut about a half-inch of the jamb and trim from the bottom to make room for the vinyl sheeting.
2. Make a Paper Template
The paper template will make it easier for you to cut the underlayment and vinyl sheets. You can use any pieces of heavy paper and tape them together to create a larger sheet. We recommend using red rosin paper, it’s readily available in all hardware stores and it’s inexpensive.
Start with the bathroom, and place the paper template on the floor then tape the edges. Mark holes for the pipes and toilet bowl. When you’re done, remove the paper sheet and set it aside after labeling it.
Do the same for the kitchen and all the rooms in the house. Label each paper template as you will use it later to cut the vinyl and underlayment. The template method is less error-prone and more convenient especially if this is the first time you lay vinyl sheet flooring.
3. Cut Underlayment
To ensure that the floor will be even under your feet and to hide any bumps or cracks in the floor, you’ll need to cover it with a thin layer of plywood. Make sure the sheet of plywood is no thicker than a quarter of an inch. There are many plywood types you can use. From Luan to plugged-and-sanded plywood. If you can afford it, then get birch plywood since it gives you a smooth and even flooring without the usual cracks and defects that show up later.
Place the sheets of plywood together on the floor and glue them at the edges. Then place the template on top of them and tape it to the plywood. You can start with any room you like, although experts recommend that you start with the bathroom first. It’s usually smaller but also requires more work to fit the underlayment around the toilet and pipes.
Adjust the underlayment to fit around the walls and any obstructions. When you’re satisfied, use the mallet and stapler to staple the underlayment in the flooring under it. Don’t use more than 12 staples per square foot. That’s usually enough to keep the plywood fixed to the floor. When you’re done, go around feeling for staples sticking out of the floor. Hammer them in with the mallet.
4. Cut Vinyl Sheet
With the underlayment in place and the template on top of it, you are ready to unroll the vinyl sheet. Before you cut the vinyl, test different placements to get the right design you like. When you’re happy with the positioning of the styling, spread the vinyl sheet across the template. Tape the vinyl sheets together at the seams then tape them to the template. When you’ve got the template transferred to the vinyl, you can start cutting. Pay attention to the patterns on the vinyl before you cut the sheets. It can be tricky to get the patterns to match as you place two sheets side by side.
5. Glue Vinyl Sheet Flooring
After cutting the vinyl sheet, lay it upside down on the floor and brush off any debris or dust on the back. Prepare your adhesive and notched trowel. Lay the vinyl sheet on the bathroom floor and double-check the measurements and that everything fits.
Stand in the bathroom facing the wall then pick up the side of the vinyl and pull it as you walk backward. Try not to shift the vinyl sheet as you unroll half of it. Use the trowel to coat the underside of the vinyl with the adhesive. When you’re done, roll it back in place.
Repeat the same process with the other half of the vinyl sheet. Avoid creating any wrinkles or air pockets in the vinyl sheet. They will be hard to get rid of once the vinyl is permanently glued to the flooring.
Repeat the same steps with the rest of the rooms in the house.
6. Finish Off
After you lay the vinyl sheet flooring, it’s time to reinstall the fittings you have removed earlier. Place the moldings back along with the carpet strips. Use caulk to fill up all the edges that are not covered with moldings. Adjust for the quarter-inch floor raise you’ve added when reinstalling the toilet and other fittings.
Take a closer look at your work and check for any flaws. When you’re satisfied with your handiwork, give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done.
Tips to Lay Vinyl Sheet Flooring
Gluing vinyl sheet flooring is probably the most critical step in this whole DIY project. So it’s important to read the instructions on the adhesive container carefully. The following tips will help you avoid unfixable mistakes.
- When applying the adhesive on the back of the vinyl sheet, hold the notched trowel at a 60-degree angle. This gives you better control over spreading the adhesive evenly without leaving small balls of the material that would create bubbles.
- Read the instructions carefully to get the open time for the adhesive right. If you wait for too long, the adhesive will dry out on the vinyl, applying it too soon, creates bumps in the vinyl flooring.
- Apply the adhesive in long strokes going in one direction. Don’t double coat the same spot. This would double the open time of the adhesive.
- Pay extra attention to the edges of the vinyl. They should get an even coating of adhesive.
- If you use too much adhesive by mistake, clean it off with a rag and warm water immediately. When the surface is dry, you can apply an even coating once again.
- Press the vinyl sheet to the flooring using a rolling pin. Go in straight lines and make sure you’ve covered the whole space. Use it along the edges and corners to seal the vinyl to the floor.
How to Fix Bubbles?
Bubbles are the bane of vinyl sheet flooring. After a couple of days, you might notice bubbles here and there in the flooring. Give them time, they might be the result of changes in the temperature of the floor and would go away eventually.
If the bubbles don’t go away, use the utility knife to make a cut in the middle of the bubble. Flatten the vinyl sheet to push out the air then use the adhesive to seal the cutting back.