We live in a 1905 house and when we moved in three years ago, I painted my son’s floors white. It is a pain to clean and looks pretty rough, so I thought I’d update the floors with vinyl plank flooring? Why- it’ll look beautiful, it’s easy to install, it cleans well, and is durable. While we redid the floors, I also updated the room too! Here’s the tutorial for the LVT flooring installation.
LVT FLOORING INSTALLATION
- NovaFloor LVT flooring– make sure to order 10-15% extra for cuts. The color I selected is English Walnut Oxford
- Multi Tool
- Shop Vac
- Laminate floor spacers
- Knee Pads
- Tape Measurer
- Utility Knife
- Speed Square
- Dead Blow Hammer
I wanted to show some before pictures of the room to illustrate how much upgrading the floors will elevate the whole room.
The wood floors I had painted white had gotten so dingy. You can tell when I rolled up the rug how dirty they’d gotten over the past few years.
step 1- sample selection
Start by choosing the flooring from a variety of samples. I suggest putting them in the room where they’ll be laid and looking at them at different times of the day.
Next, I also checked out the samples in the main bedroom. I love the flooring in that room, but it’s discontinued. Since the color is what I wanted, this was another way to make sure I was happy with my decision.
Next, empty out the furniture from the room so there are no obstacles when laying the new flooring.
For this project, I’ll be installing NovaFloor LVT flooring in the color English Walnut Oxford. Besides loving the color and the look, I thought I’d share why I choose these floors.
- Sustainability– if you’ve been around here long, you know that I love the environment and take that into account when selecting items for my home. These floors are made in a factory designed to reduce its environmental impact. The products’ ingredients are listed and aren’t made of the toxic ingredients formaldehyde and ortho-phthalates. Also, the floors have low VOC’s so installation doesn’t affect indoor air quality. Because of this NovaFloor has earned FloorScore, Indoor Advantage Gold, and GREENGUARD Gold certifications.
- Durability– NovaFloor has a proprietary coating called NovaShield which makes the product waterproof, scratchproof, and dent proof. I love that I don’t have to worry about these holding up!
- Ease of Installation– These floors are super easy to quickly install. You can be a beginner to put these in and have them look professional. I’ll show how in this post.
- Large Selection– NovaFloor has a huge assortment of different LVT flooring options. I easily found 4 different color ways that I love. It’s nice to have lots of beautiful choices. There are floating vinyl plank and tile options as well as glue down construction finishes.
- Design– like I mentioned above, the product is beautiful! It’s also realistic looking and right on-trend. Because the selection is so big, it’s easy to find the right style for you and your house.
- Attached Underlayment– Another great benefit of these exact floors is the attached foam underlayment. Why? It adds more comfort when walking on the floors and it provides a sound-barrier protection. Plus, it skips a step by not having to worry about laying an underlayment.
All of these added up to these being the perfect floors for this project. I’m so pleased with them! They’d also work really well in wet rooms like a kitchen, bathroom or laundry room since they’re waterproof.
I’m now dreaming about adding these to our house in Florida! Wood is a terrible option in Florida because of the humidity and bugs and I know these would look amazing through the house.
does LVT flooring need to acclimate?
It depends on the exact flooring. My floors from NovaFloor didn’t need to acclimate.
Some luxury vinyl floors need to acclimate for at least 48 hours before they are laid so make sure to check the instructions. Note, acclimate means they become accustomed to the climate and environment in your house. So, if needed, make sure that delivery is scheduled a few days before installation is planned.
If some LVT floors don’t acclimate, there’s the chance that the floor might expand and deform. On the other hand, the floors can shrink or get gaps between the pieces. Either way, it’s not worth the risk so just plan to let the floors sit in the space.
can a beginner lay vinyl plank flooring?
Yes! Definitely! Of all the possible floor coverings, vinyl plank flooring is the most simple to install. They are beginner friendly since they are easy to cut, are installed by snapping together, and they don’t need a vapor barrier or underlayment. If you’re at all handy, you can install LVT floors.
step 2- prep
Next, prep the empty room for the laying of the LVT floors.
First, I sanded any uneven spots on the original hardwood floors. Next to one wall, there used to be a chimney so new flooring was feathered in and that transition needed to be evened out. By making sure the floors are flat, means the new floors will wear better. A difference in the flooring levels means the LVT floors could crack when walked on in the future.
I figure, if I’m going to do all the work of laying new floors, I might as well make sure to do it right. Here’s how to prep other uneven subfloors-
- If laying vinyl flooring over a concrete subfloor, fill any cracks, uneven spots, or divots with a concrete patching compound.
- If laying the flooring over a plywood subfloor, fill any uneven areas with a self-leveling smoothing compound.
Next we trimmed all the door jambs. For this we used a pencil and the new flooring to mark how high to trim. Then we used a multi-tool to cut out the section marked. This way, the new LVT floors will slide right under the door jambs for a clean installation.
After that, all baseboards were removed. These were attached to the wall with nails. To remove, first we scored the edges with a utility knife where caulk was used. Then we carefully used a pry bar and pulled straight from the wall to remove the baseboards without breaking them.
Should I remove baseboards before install vinyl plank flooring?
There are two options when installing new floors-
- Remove the baseboards. This provides for the most professional look, but takes more time. We made sure to be extra careful when removing the baseboards because they’re original to the house. Once they were removed, we filled the nail holes with wood filler, sanded, and then painted them so they were ready to re-install once the floors were down.
- Leave the baseboards. To save time, baseboards can be left in place. But quarter molding will need to be added once installation is complete to cover the gap that’s between the baseboards and floors.
For the last step of prep, all the floors were carefully vacuumed with a shop vac. We wanted the floors clean for installation since it’s our preferred working environment, but also can prevent any future damage to the LVT floors.
what is LVT flooring?
LVT flooring is luxury vinyl tile. It gives the look of natural materials- in this case, wood floors while also being designed to be durable, beautiful, and easy to maintain. LVT floors can also be made to look like stone. I love that they can stand up to commercial environments. So these in a home setting will stay looking amazing for many years.
step 3- test fit the planks
And now, time to test fit the planks.
To do this, we laid out the planks from one wall of the room to the other. We did this so we could see if we’d end up with a tiny sliver of vinyl planks at the end. The goal is to not have any cuts smaller than 6″. We saw we would need to do a tiny cut, so by doing this test, we knew it’d be best to cut the planks in half before installing the first row.
Next, we test fit the first row of vinyl planks on the first row down the length of the wall. We saw that by cutting varied sizes of starting pieces on one end, we’d get a nice random pattern.
getting a straight row
Since we’re working on an old home with uneven walls, we pushed the first row of floors against the wall to see how straight the walls are. We could easily see where the walls waved in and out.
To remedy this, we used painters tape to attach laminate floor spacers to the wall until the first row hit flat against the wall.
This makes it so the floors can be pushed tight into the wall while still staying straight. Making sure the flooring will stay straight is key in a seamless installation.
Note, when all floors are laid, the spacers can be removed and the baseboards will cover up the 1/4″ gap they created.
For our floors, the ambient temperature in the room needed to be between 60°F and 80°F. We made sure to check and were right in that range at 72°F.
what are the disadvantages of LVT flooring?
I could only think of two minor disadvantages of LVT floors-
- The feel- vinyl doesn’t feel the same as wood. It’s not a big deal, but vinyl obviously has a different hand (the feeling when touching it) than wood. The visual and texture is very realistic and comparable to wood though.
While wood floors can be refinished a few times, LVT floors cannot be refinished. So if you want to change the look, they’d need to be replaced.
what are lvt floors made of?
LVT floors are made primarily of PVC (a synthetic plastic polymer). The great thing is that they are totally waterproof. Laminate flooring, on the other hand, is mostly made of wood products and is not waterproof. Because it is moisture resistant, it means it’s great around pets, in wet rooms like a bathroom, laundry room, or kitchen.
step 4- cut
Now it’s time to start laying the floors! To do that, the vinyl planks need to be cut. Since our first row of flooring needed to be cut in half lengthwise, we found it easiest to cut that with a table saw.
To cut the ends, we put the board backwards in the open spot and marked the length (this makes it so you cut the correct side with the groove).
Then we used a speed square and utility knife to score through the top of the LVT plank. Next we folded the plank back on the scored edge.
This showed on the back fold where we needed to cut the backing to fully cut the plank.
This method is great because it doesn’t require any special tools!
The other place we ended up cutting the planks was around the closet. We had one tricky cut to go around the wall between the room and the closet. For that, we used a jigsaw to cut out the small rectangular piece. A jigsaw is great for U or L shaped cuts.
step 5- install
The way these floors (and most LVT floors) attach are edge to edge and then end to end. So to install, you fold the pieces into each other and then lock them into place. You do this by laying the first plank flat on the subfloor while holding the second plank at an angle and placing it into the first board’s groove. Make sure the second board is flat and parallel to the first board.
When laying the floors, make sure to add a spacer on the end pieces for the expansion gap. All vinyl flooring will contract in colder temperatures and expand in warmer temperatures or direct sunlight. Leaving this expansion gap around the perimeter of the installation will allow the flooring to naturally expand and contract as conditions change.
dead blow hammer
In my experience, with LVT floors, the short end joints are a little more tricky to fit. We found success by putting the piece in place and then using a dead blow hammer along the seam. We tapped the hammer hard onto the joint starting at the top (where the pieces make a T) and working our way down.
As we got closer to the bottom, we didn’t hit the hammer as hard to prevent breaking the groove in the bottom of the plank. We could easily see the seam disappear and the floors looked great as we got those end pieces in place!
Note, a dead blow hammer is better to use for LVT floors than a rubber mallet. We had to buy one just for this project and it was totally worth it. For one, a rubber mallet leaves black marks on the floor. Two, the dead blow hammer controls the striking force with minimal rebound- so where you hit, it puts all the pressure.
Once the first few rows are laid and you get into a rhythm, it’s quick and easy to continue across the floor with the rest of the rows. As we got to the end of a row and trimmed a piece, we used the rest of that piece for the beginning of the next row. We made sure that the end joints are staggered to make for a random pattern.
We also made sure the end pieces were at least 6 inches long.
do you need underlayment for vinyl plank flooring?
It depends. For NovaFloor’s collection Serenbe, the pad is attached so no additional underlayment is required! This is a great benefit of these LVT floors- the underlayment is built into the bottom of the planks so they can go down without any underlayment. Also, since quality vinyl tiles can be fully waterproof, a vapor barrier or damp screen is not needed (unless installation is over a concrete subfloor, like in a basement).
This makes the floors easier to install and saves on costs too!
how long does it take to lay LVT floors?
Once the prep was done, it took 4 hours to lay the floors in my son’s 250 square foot room. It went so fast! I was amazed. In half a day, the whole room was transformed with new floors.
how long do LVT floors last?
Vinyl floors can last up to 5 years for lower quality floors and up to 25 years for higher quality LVT floors. It also depends on how they were installed and then maintained over time.
These floors come with a 10 year commercial and a lifetime residential warranty! Anything that can be laid in a commercial setting means it is extremely durable. I felt so good laying these floors- I know they’ll look good for a very long time!
I am so excited to show off the new NovaFloor!!! Aren’t they absolutely gorgeous?! I love how the color just warmed up the space and made it feel more refined.
Remember how I mentioned that NovaFloor has low VOC? I definitely noticed the lack of smell when installing the floors. And once the room was done, it was so nice to move my son in and not worry about toxic fumes.
I was inspired by the floors to paint the trim green (this is Frosted Sage by Behr). It’s my son’s favorite color so that was a fun way to choose. I think the warm wood tones and the cool green trim work together really beautifully.
I also updated some of the art in the room. The art situation in here had bugged me, so it felt good to fill the walls a little. I choose pieces that would work with my son’s love of dinosaurs and paleontology.
These closet doors were also added while the room was torn apart- can you tell I tried to leverage this as much as possible?! If you remember the before image with the curtain that we used to hide the contents of the closet, this is a huge upgrade!
Didn’t the floors just really make the room feel fresh and cleaner?! I adore the warm color. It’s dark enough to hide dirt and will be so durable for many many years. I love that!
Now that I showed you how easy LVT flooring installation is, is this a project you’d try in your house?
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