A Guide to Fitting Vinyl
You’re happy with your new purchase of vinyl flooring and can’t wait to get it fitted. At Carpetright we always advise that to get the best finish possible for your vinyl it’s best to use a professional flooring fitter. But, if you would like to fit it yourself, we’re here to help. We want to make things easier for our customers at every step, so we’ve asked our experts for hints and advice to put together this fitting guide.
We’ll cover each stage of the installation process, including:
- How to measure a room for vinyl flooring
- Tools you’ll need when fitting vinyl
- Preparing a sub floor for vinyl flooring
- Laying vinyl underlay
- How to fit sheet vinyl flooring
- Fitting two sheets of vinyl together
- Fitting vinyl in difficult areas
- Fitting a door bar
1. How to measure a room for vinyl flooring
As with all DIY jobs, preparation is everything when it comes to flooring and it’s of the utmost importance that you get the room measurements correct. When fitting sheet vinyl it’s best to use a single sheet where possible as it looks better and reduces any peeling or wear on the edges.
- Draw a simple diagram of the rooms that you wish to fit vinyl in - these drawings don’t need to be perfect as long as the measurements are accurate.
- For square or rectangular rooms, simply multiply the width by the height. For example, a room that is 5m x 2m will need 10m² of vinyl.
- Ensure you add an extra 50-100mm to each edge.
- If your room includes recesses or chimney breasts, you still need to measure the complete surface area without these as the vinyl will be cut around them. If this is not easy to work out, measure each individual area and write the measurement in the relevant space on the diagram. Then these areas can be added together to get the total area of the room.
- Always measure twice to make doubly sure your measurements are correct.
- Remember to measure to the back of any door frames or room trims.
- To work out the coverage for steps, measure the height and depth of each step which will give you the length before multiplying by the width. This will give you the area of each step.
2. Vinyl fitting tools
It’s also important to make sure you have the right floor installation tools for the job. Tools for laying vinyl include:
- Knee pads
- Bolster chisel
- Good pair of scissors or Stanley knife
- Measuring tape
- A straight edge
- Vinyl adhesive
- Lining paper
- Home-made scribing gauge (see below for instructions)
3. Preparing your sub-floor for vinyl
One of the great things about vinyl is that it can be laid on to a variety of different surfaces, as long it is flat and clean.
- Remove all furniture and any fixtures or fittings that might get in your way.
- Do not lay over recently treated wood or concrete that is too moist – make sure both are fully dried out.
- It's important to leave your new vinyl flooring in the room that you plan to lay it for at least 24 hours before starting. This allows the vinyl to adapt to the climate of the room before it is cut or secured in place.
- It is recommended that any existing floor tiles or coverings are removed but, if this is not practical, it is possible to lay vinyl on top, so long as the existing covering is secure and in good condition. Make sure it’s clean and fill any dents or gaps with a compound.
- Many vinyl types are suitable to cover underfloor heating but check with the manufacturer if this is what you want to do.
- To protect your knees and for your comfort always wear knee pads when working on flooring.
- You’ll find it cheaper and easier to pull up floorboards, if a lot of them are damaged, and to start again. Tongue-and-groove chipboard flooring boards are great to use as base, as are hardboard sheets.
- Prepare existing floorboards by ensuring no nails are sticking out above the surface and nailing down any boards that are loose. You can sand down any boards that are at a higher level than the rest.
- Make sure you use nails that are not too long as there is a risk of piercing through the floorboard into pipes or cables. 19mm nails should be about right.
- If you are using hardboard sheets as your base, lay them texture-side up as you’ll need something for any adhesive to stick to. Start in a corner of the room and set the nails about 13mm in from the edges of the sheet in a pyramid pattern. It’s a good idea to use something as a spacer like a piece of wood.
- Space the nails about 150mm apart around the edges but in the centre 225mm apart. It’s a good idea to start in the centre of one edge and work across the board to the other side.
- Push the sheets together and nail the edges where the sheets meet first. When you finish the first row of boards the last one will need to be cut to size.
- Use this off-cut from the last sheet in the first row to start the second row and carry on in the same way. This reduces waste and also helps by ensuring the joints are staggered.
4. Laying vinyl underlay
Because vinyl flooring is already cushioned, you do not require underlay.
5. How to fit sheet vinyl flooring
- Storing your roll of vinyl in the relevant room for 48 hours prior to fitting is really important as it will bring it to the temperature of the room. Temperature is very important when it comes to vinyl flooring as cold weather can make it brittle. If the room is particularly cold it can be worth putting the heating on to bring the temperature up.
- Unroll your vinyl and place the longer side of the sheet parallel to the longest wall, about 25mm away from the skirting.
- Trace the skirting profile onto your vinyl before you cut it as skirting is very often not completely straight. You can use a scribing gauge, which can easily be made, to do this. Simply take a small piece of wood and hammer a nail in around 30mm from one end so it is just sticking through the other side. Put the gauge against the skirting and move it along to let the nail trace the length of the skirting onto the vinyl. You can use this line as your guide to cut along the vinyl, ensuring it is perfectly lined up with the skirting.
- Cut a small triangular section at each corner out of the excess allowance from your measurements. This will enable the vinyl to lie flat.
- Using a bolster chisel, press the vinyl between the floor and skirting board enough to make a sharp crease.
- Now you need to cut along this crease, holding a straight edge along it, and preferably using a knife at an angle.
- If you have any external corners, cut straight down from the vinyl edge to the floor and cut away the excess leaving 50-100mm turned up at the skirting boards.
- When the whole vinyl sheet is down and the above is complete, lift the edges and stick down to your sub floor with a vinyl adhesive. NOTE: heavier duty vinyl flooring does not need to be stuck down and light, non-cushioned varieties need adhesive all over, not just the edges.
6. Fitting two vinyl sheets together
There may be occasions when it’s necessary to use two sheets of vinyl, for example when you’re working in a large room. When this occurs it’s best to use two sheets from the same roll as there can be colour variations between rolls.
- Slide the second sheet along until any patterns match with the original one.
- Fold the edges over whilst keeping the sheets in exactly the same position.
- Use double-sided tape or adhesive to stick the edge and press down hard to secure to the floor.
Top tip – Vinyl adhesive
Some heavy duty vinyl flooring doesn’t need an adhesive as it won’t lift or shrink and its own weight keeps it down. The lighter cushioned flooring needs glue around the edges and at any joins. Lighter and thinner vinyl needs to be stuck down all over and the best way to do this is to put the vinyl in place, roll it back halfway and apply the glue to the floor. Reposition and repeat for the other half of the floor.
7. Fitting vinyl in difficult areas
Some areas of the home are trickier than others to fit flooring. For instance, a bathroom with its fittings can be particularly difficult.
- Lay the vinyl out in your bathroom as far as the front of the toilet, wash basin etc then fold it back on itself.
- Then cut a straight line from the edge of the vinyl to the centre of the toilet or pedestal using scissors.
- Again with scissors snip a series of cuts all the way round the base of the pedestal being careful to not go too far in.
- Make a sharp crease around the base and cut around it trimming off each flap until it fits perfectly then roll it back.
- Put adhesive on the floor around the fitting and press the vinyl hard into place.
- For a door frame make a series a cuts in the same way but when trimming the excess leave 50 - 100mm sticking up for accurate trimming.
- Make a crease in the vinyl by pressing it into the angle between the door frame and the floor and cut along the crease. Make a straight cut across the line of the door with it ending under it, about halfway.
- Fit a door bar to hold it down into place and finish it professionally.
8. Fitting a door bar
Door bars serve to join different flooring types across door thresholds neatly. Firstly make sure you have the right door bar as there are various choices, depending on your flooring types and heights.
- The correct position for a door bar is centrally across the threshold so it cannot be seen on either side when the door is closed. Once you have positioned your door bar centrally like this, cut the bar to the right length with a hack saw.
- Ensure there any no pipes or cables under the floor.
- For a concrete floor drill the holes with a power drill using a masonry bit and insert wall plugs. You can then fit your door bar.