The easiest flooring to install yourself is vinyl plank flooring, which is durable, waterproof, and easy to cut and snap together. Vinyl plank flooring is a popular choice for DIYers who want to update their floors without hiring a contractor or spending a lot of money. Vinyl plank flooring mimics the look of hardwood, tile, or stone, but with a lower cost and maintenance. In this article, we will explain why vinyl plank flooring is the easiest flooring to install yourself, how to do it, and what are the benefits and drawbacks of this type of flooring.
Why vinyl plank flooring is easy to install
Vinyl plank flooring is easy to install because it comes in pre-cut planks that have a tongue-and-groove system that allows them to lock together without glue, nails, or staples. You can install vinyl plank flooring over most existing subfloors, such as concrete, plywood, or tile, as long as they are level, clean, and dry. You only need a few basic tools, such as a utility knife, a tape measure, a rubber mallet, and a carpenter’s square, to cut and fit the planks to your room’s dimensions. You can also use spacers to create a small gap between the planks and the walls to allow for expansion and contraction. The installation process is simple and fast, and you can walk on your new floor immediately after laying it down.
How to install vinyl plank flooring
To install vinyl plank flooring, you need to follow these steps:
- Prepare the subfloor. Make sure it is level, clean, and dry. Remove any baseboards, moldings, or transitions. If you are installing over concrete, you may need to use a moisture barrier or underlayment to prevent moisture damage. If you are installing over tile, you may need to fill in the grout lines with a leveling compound to create a smooth surface.
- Plan the layout. Measure the length and width of your room and divide them by the length and width of your planks to determine how many planks you will need and how to arrange them. You may need to cut some planks to fit the edges or around obstacles, such as door frames, vents, or pipes. You can use a chalk line or a laser level to mark the center of your room and align the planks accordingly. You should also stagger the joints of the planks to create a more natural and appealing look.
- Install the planks. Start from one corner of your room and work your way across. Place the first plank with the tongue side facing the wall and use spacers to create a 1/4 inch gap. Align the next plank with the end of the first one and press it down firmly until it clicks into place. You can use a rubber mallet to tap the planks gently if needed. Continue laying the planks in rows, making sure the joints are tight and the planks are flat. To cut the planks, you can use a utility knife to score the surface and then snap the plank along the score line. You can also use a circular saw or a jigsaw for more complex cuts. To fit the planks around obstacles, you can use a template or a compass to trace the shape and then cut it out with a utility knife or a jigsaw.
- Finish the installation. Once you have installed all the planks, you can remove the spacers and reinstall the baseboards, moldings, or transitions. You can also use a silicone caulk to seal the gap between the planks and the walls or any other gaps that may occur. You can then clean the floor with a damp cloth or a vinyl cleaner and enjoy your new floor.
The benefits and drawbacks of vinyl plank flooring
Vinyl plank flooring has many benefits, such as:
- It is affordable and cost-effective. Vinyl plank flooring is cheaper than hardwood, tile, or stone, and it can last for up to 20 years with proper care and maintenance.
- It is durable and resilient. Vinyl plank flooring is resistant to scratches, stains, dents, and water damage. It can withstand high traffic, pets, and kids, and it does not fade or warp due to sunlight or temperature changes.
- It is easy to clean and maintain. Vinyl plank flooring does not require waxing, polishing, or refinishing. You can simply sweep, vacuum, or mop it regularly to keep it looking fresh and new.
- It is comfortable and quiet. Vinyl plank flooring is softer and warmer than hardwood, tile, or stone, and it does not make noise when you walk on it. It also has a cushioned feel that reduces foot fatigue and joint pain.
- It is stylish and versatile. Vinyl plank flooring comes in a variety of colors, patterns, and textures that can suit any decor and style. You can choose from realistic wood, stone, or tile designs, or opt for more creative and unique options.
However, vinyl plank flooring also has some drawbacks, such as:
- It is not eco-friendly. Vinyl plank flooring is made from synthetic materials that are not biodegradable or recyclable. It also emits volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can affect the indoor air quality and cause health issues, such as headaches, nausea, or respiratory problems.
- It is not repairable. Vinyl plank flooring cannot be sanded, refinished, or restored. If it gets damaged, you will have to replace the whole plank or the whole floor, depending on the extent of the damage.
- It is not compatible with radiant heating. Vinyl plank flooring can expand and contract due to temperature changes, which can cause it to buckle, crack, or peel. Therefore, it is not recommended to install it over radiant heating systems.
Vinyl plank flooring is the easiest flooring to install yourself because it is simple, fast, and requires minimal tools and skills. It is also a great option for DIYers who want to update their floors with a durable, waterproof, and attractive material that is cheaper and easier to maintain than hardwood, tile, or stone. However, vinyl plank flooring also has some disadvantages, such as being not eco-friendly, not repairable, and not compatible with radiant heating. Therefore, you should weigh the pros and cons of vinyl plank flooring before deciding if it is the right choice for your home.