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How to Install Vinyl Plank Flooring on Concrete

Beautiful, resilient, and practical, vinyl plank flooring is a modern alternative to traditional wood, laminate, or tile floors. Installing vinyl plank flooring on concrete surfaces is often preferred by DIY enthusiasts and professionals alike because of the numerous benefits it provides. By following the correct steps and using the right tools, one can easily obtain the result of beautiful, long-lasting floors. In this guide, readers will learn how to prepare a concrete subfloor efficiently, gather the necessary tools, and install a new, durable, stunning layer of vinyl plank flooring.

Preparation and Tools

Before diving into the installation process, gathering the proper tools and materials is paramount for success. Having the correct tools on hand saves valuable time and frustration, ensuring a smoother and more efficient process. The following sections outline these essential tools and supplies and discuss how to properly prepare the concrete subfloor for installation.

Gather Your Supplies

For a successful vinyl plank flooring installation on a concrete surface, the following tools and materials will be required:

  • Vinyl plank flooring
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil or marker
  • Utility knife
  • Level
  • Rubber mallet
  • Tile spacers
  • Flooring pull bar
  • Hairdryer (optional)
  • Concrete patching compound (if necessary)
  • Ammonia or concrete cleaner
  • Flat mop or sponge
  • Self-leveling underlayment (if necessary)

Installing Vinyl Plank Flooring on Concrete

With a properly prepared concrete subfloor, it is time to start installing the vinyl plank flooring. Follow these steps to achieve a stunning and durable new floor:

  • Plan the layout — Determine the direction in which the vinyl planks will be laid and how many rows will be necessary, using a measuring tape for accounting for expansion gaps. Begin the first row against the longest wall, placing the tongue side facing towards the wall.
  • Cut the planks — Score and snap the planks to the desired length using a utility knife. A straight edge can be helpful to ensure straight cuts. Any stubborn cuts can be completed with the assistance of a hairdryer to warm and

Repair Cracks

Before installing new flooring, one should take the time to inspect and repair any existing surface. Cracks in the subfloor or concrete slabs could potentially damage new flooring and even compromise its structural integrity. Homeowners can utilize different methods of crack repairs depending on the size and severity of the issue. Minor cracks can be filled with an appropriate leveling compound or a patching mix specifically designed for concrete repair. For larger and deeper cracks, it may be necessary first to clean out the damaged area and then use a specialized repair system such as injecting epoxy or using hydraulic cement.

By thoroughly repairing and addressing existing surface issues, individuals can ensure a solid foundation for their new flooring project. Doing so will ultimately save time and money by preventing future issues and maintaining the quality and longevity of the new flooring material.

Clear Dust and Dirt

Maintaining a clean working environment is essential for a successful flooring installation. Dust and dirt can interfere with the adhesion of flooring materials and may cause problems over time. To avoid these complications, thoroughly clean the entire space before beginning installation. Start by sweeping and vacuuming the floor to remove loose debris. If the subfloor is concrete, a damp mop can be used to eliminate any remaining dust particles. For wood subfloors, it is important not to use excessive water as this may cause the wood to warp or swell.

Measure and Level

If you want level floors, you need to take the time during the installation process to create them. Begin by taking accurate measurements of the space, accounting for any unique features such as doorways, vents, or corners. This information will be invaluable when determining the materials needed and can help avoid issues like cutting or placing planks incorrectly. To ensure the subfloor is even and flat, utilize a long level, measuring along both diagonals. If any inconsistencies are discovered, they can be corrected using a leveling compound, sanding, or shimming methods.

Undertaking this preparatory work helps to set the groundwork for a smooth installation process. Taking the time to measure and level before starting can help minimize the likelihood of mistakes and unexpected challenges arising during the installation phase.

Begin Installing Your Flooring

Once the proper groundwork has been laid by repairing cracks, clearing dust and dirt, and measuring and leveling, the actual installation can begin. There are numerous methods and techniques for installing different flooring material, so it is essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific material chosen. The process generally involves laying down an underlayment or vapor barrier, as necessary, and then laying the actual flooring material on top. Familiarize yourself with the recommended guidelines to ensure the best possible outcome.

Laying the First Row

The initial row of planks or tiles is crucial to the overall success of the flooring installation. Carefully align this first row along the longest, most visible wall in the space. This helps create a straight and visually appealing starting point. Remember to account for expansion gaps at the room’s edges by using spacers or following the manufacturer’s recommendations for the specific flooring material. Ensuring this first row is level, properly spaced, and secure will set the stage for a successful installation throughout the rest of the space.

Stagger the Planks – Create a Visually Pleasing Floor

One of the essential aspects of installing a floor is staggering the planks. Staggering creates a beautiful visual appeal by enhancing the room’s appearance and ensuring the floor’s stability by distributing the seams. A well-staggered floor prevents the formation of continuous lines in the flooring pattern, which can disrupt the aesthetic flow of the room.

When staggering the planks, the general rule of thumb is to maintain a distance of at least 6 inches between end joints on adjacent rows. This technique helps to create a random pattern, just like on a natural wood floor. To achieve this, start the first row using a full-length plank, the second row with a 2/3-length plank, and the third row with a 1/3-length plank. This staggering method will prevent unintentional patterns from forming and ensure a visually pleasing floor.

Remember always to mix planks from different packages during the installation process. This practice will give your flooring a more natural look, as colors and shades can vary slightly between packages.

Don’t Make Your Last Row of Flooring too Narrow

A common mistake that installers often commit is making the last row of the flooring too narrow. A narrow last row can cause problems as it becomes susceptible to buckling and doesn’t hold up well to foot traffic. A wide last row provides a stable foundation and maintains the room’s visual appeal.

To avoid this mistake, measure the room’s width and divide it by the plank width. If the remainder is less than half the width of a plank, it’s advisable to trim the first row so that both the first and last rows have a similar width. This method creates a symmetrical and visually appealing layout, ensuring a sturdy installation that withstands daily wear and tear.

Finishing the Room – Giving Your Floor a Polished Look

After installing your floor, it’s time to add the finishing touches to give the room a polished and complete appearance. Properly finishing a room involves adding trim, quarter round, and other details covering gaps and hiding imperfections, ensuring a seamless look. Below are some essential steps to consider when finishing your room.

Add Your Trim – Finish Your Floor with Style

Trim is a vital element when it comes to completing your floor installation. It adds a clean and professional touch by concealing any gaps between the walls and the floor. The most common types of trim used for flooring projects are baseboards, shoe molding, and door casings.

Replace or reinstall baseboards along the walls to hide gaps between the floor and the wall. When doing so, ensure the baseboards are level and flush against the wall, with no gaps or bulges. Door casings should also be cut to accommodate the new flooring, ensuring a snug and seamless fit. Shoe molding can be added to the base of the baseboards to cover any remaining gaps or uneven floor edges, giving your room a polished finish.

When selecting trim materials, choose pieces that match or complement the style and color of your flooring. This cohesive design will provide a streamlined and visually cohesive look, enhancing your room’s overall appearance.

Add Quarter Round to Hide Edges – Achieve a Seamless Finish

Adding quarter-round molding is another essential step to achieve a polished and finished look for your floor. Quarter-round molding is a versatile trim piece with a rounded outer edge, designed to fit snugly into corners and along the baseboards.

Installing quarter-round helps to conceal gaps between the flooring and baseboards, which can occur due to improper cuts or uneven floor edges. In addition to its practical purpose, quarter-round molding also adds a decorative touch, providing a seamless transition between the floor and the wall.

Once installed, your quarter-round will contribute to your room’s polished and professional look, demonstrating that attention to detail was taken throughout the installation process.

After Installation: Enjoy Your New Floors

Congratulations on your new floors! Installing new flooring can transform the look and feel of your home, and it’s natural to feel excited about your fresh and stylish upgrade. Here are some tips on how to enjoy your new floors and make the most out of your investment:1. Take time to appreciate your new floors: After completing the installation process, it’s important to take the time to stand back and admire your new floors. Look at how they complement your home’s design and how they make the space feel. Take pictures and share them with friends and family, as well as social media, if you’d like.

  • Keep your floors clean: Keeping your new floors clean is essential to maintaining their appearance for a long time. It’s best to clean them regularly with the appropriate cleaning products recommended by the manufacturer. Make sure to also sweep or vacuum regularly to avoid dirt buildup.
  • Protect your floors: Even the toughest floors need protection from spills, scratches, and furniture. Use furniture pads to prevent the legs of your furniture from scratching your floors, and avoid dragging heavy objects across them. Area rugs can also add extra protection to high-traffic areas.
  • Decorate to complement your floors: Your new floors are the foundation of your home’s design, and it’s important to decorate in a way that complements them. Consider matching the color scheme of your décor to your flooring, or choosing a contrasting color to make your floors stand out. You could also choose wall décor, furniture, and accents that complement the style of your flooring.
  • Enjoy your floors with family and friends: Your new floors can be the perfect backdrop for gatherings with family and friends. Plan a housewarming party, game night, or movie night with loved ones and show off your new floors. Get creative with fun activities and utilize the extra space created by your new flooring.

In conclusion, with a little bit of care, your new floors can bring joy and beauty to your home for years to come. Take pride in the way your home looks and feels, and enjoy the benefits of your investment. You deserve to love every part of your home, including your new floors!


Can vinyl plank flooring be installed directly on concrete?

Yes, vinyl plank flooring can be installed directly on concrete as long as the surface is clean and level. It is important to note that some manufacturers may require the use of a moisture barrier or adhesive during installation on concrete. It is best to check the manufacturer’s installation guidelines before beginning the installation process.

Do I need underlayment for vinyl plank flooring on concrete?

Yes, it is recommended to use underlayment for vinyl plank flooring on concrete. Underlayment helps to create a smoother surface and adds a layer of insulation and soundproofing. It also helps protect the vinyl plank flooring from moisture and reduces the risk of mold and mildew growth. Make sure to choose an underlayment specifically designed for use with vinyl plank flooring and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for installation.

How do you prepare a concrete floor for vinyl planks?

To prepare a concrete floor for vinyl planks, follow these steps:

  1. Clean the floor thoroughly to remove all dirt, dust, and debris. Use a broom, vacuum, or mop as needed.
  2. Check the levelness of the floor. If the floor is not level, you may need to use a self-leveling compound to even it out.
  3. If there are any cracks or holes in the floor, fill them with a concrete patching compound and allow it to dry completely.
  4. Sand down any high spots on the floor and fill in any low spots with the concrete patching compound.
  5. Once the floor is smooth and level, apply a concrete primer to the entire surface. This will help the vinyl planks adhere to the concrete.
  6. Allow the primer to dry completely before installing the vinyl planks.

Note: Always check with the manufacturer’s installation instructions for any specific requirements or recommendations before installing the vinyl planks.

About The Author

Courtney Daily

Courtney is a freelance writer who wears many other hats: kindergarten teacher by day, Broadway diva in the shower. She is a transplant Hoosier who originated in New England. When she isn't writing in her spare time, you will find her reading history books, arguing with her latest knitting project, or being beaten by her kids at most games.

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