How to Install Sheet Vinyl Flooring

Materials Needed

  • Sheet Vinyl
  • Utility Knife
  • Pry Bar
  • 100 pound floor roller
  • Straightedge
  • Tape Measure
  • Washable Marker
  • Tape
  • Pencil
  • Trowel
  • Adhesive
  • Carpenter’s Square

Prepare the Area

Step 1: Allow your vinyl flooring to acclimate in the room it will be installed for at least one full day (24 hours). Some recommend 2-3 days to be safe.

Step 2: Remove all the obstructions you can such as appliances, furniture or toilets. Also remove the shoe molding with a pry bar.

Step 3: Depending on the type of floor (fiberglass backed, felt backed or rock backed), sheet vinyl can be installed over a wide variety of surfaces. In all cases, the subfloor must be clean, level and well bonded.  Suitable substraits include concrete, approved grades of plywood or luan and existing vinyl flooring. Make sure the floor is level any imperfections below the surface of your new sheet vinyl may show through. To determine if your surface is good to install a new floor over or if you’ll need to install a new subfloor first, talk to your flooring retailer.

Step 4: If a new subfloor is needed, install your underlayment with 1 ¼ inch ring-shank underlayment nails or rent an underlayment stapler. Your underlayment should be ¼ inch, exterior grade plywood. Several companies make high-quality plywood specifically for use as flooring underlayment. These usually come in smaller sheets (easier to handle) with a nailing pattern printed on them.

Step 5: Patch seams in the underlayment with an approved flooring patch. Portland cement based patches are preferred as they will not grow mold or mildew if they get wet. Let the patch dry and then sand it down with 100-grit sandpaper until the compound is level with the underlayment.

Step 6: If needed trim the door frames to allow the floor to fit underneath. The best trick to accomplishing this is to take a piece of the vinyl you are installing and set it right next to the doorframe. Place an undercut saw on the vinyl and carefully trim the doorframe.

Cutting the Sheet Vinyl to fit the Floor

Step 1: If you have an uncomplicated room, meaning very few angles and obstructions, all you have to do is measure the room and use those measurements to cut your sheet vinyl. Be sure to cut your sheet vinyl at least 3 inches wider than all 4 sides of the room.

Step 2: If your room is bit more complicated you need to get a template, which comes with some sheet vinyl flooring kits.

Step 3: Place the template paper on the floor leaving a 1/8th inch of space between the edge of the paper and the wall to allow for expansion.

Step 4: Allow for a little overlap as you lay the papers down and tape them together to create one big sheet. Don’t forget that the paper needs to go under everything the vinyl will be under like doorways (doorjambs and casings) and appliances. A good trick for holding the paper in place is to cut a triangle into it and place some tape over it.

Step 5: Unroll the vinyl you are going to install on a clean surface face up. A clean garage floor is a great place for this. Place the template you created on top of the vinyl and use a washable marker to trace around the template.

Step 6: Cut your floor’s outline into the vinyl using a utility knife and a straightedge.

Step 7: Roll up your newly cut vinyl and gently place it in the room you wish to install it. Unroll it with care and slide it under any doorjambs, casings or appliances. Do your best not to put any creases in the vinyl.

Step 8: If you are installing over an existing floor, offset any seems by 6 or more inches to one side.

Gluing Down the Vinyl

The type of vinyl floor you select will determine the type of adhesive needed. Talk to your flooring retailer about the best options for your installation. Felt-backed sheet vinyl floors install using a multi-purpose latex adhesive. Fiberglass-backed and rock-backed floors go down with a releasable pressure sensitive adhesive or no adhesive at all.

Step 1: Once your floor is in the correct position, carefully fold half of the vinyl back. Be careful not to move the position of the floor.

Step 2: Follow all manufacturer guidelines for preparing and applying the adhesive. Apply the recommended amount of adhesive to the subfloor with a notched trowel. Notch size is important, so make sure you check the label to see what the correct notching is. Allow the glue to sit for the recommended amount of time before replacing the vinyl.

Step 3: Fold the vinyl back over and firmly press it to the subfloor.

Step 4: Do the same thing (steps 1-3) for the other half of your vinyl floor.

Step 5: If any of the adhesive got on the top of your floor, remove it by wiping it off with a cleaner according to the manufacturer instructions you have.

Step 6: Use a floor roller across the entire surface to remove any air bubble and complete the bonding process.

Step 7: Use the manufacturer’s seam sealer on any seams. Again, be sure to follow manufacturer instructions.

Step 8: Replace all essential room items such as shoe molding, doors, toilets or any other essential items. No furniture or appliances at this time.  

Step 9: Wait 3 days before cleaning and 24 hours before replacing heavy furniture. Foot traffic should be kept to a minimum for 24 hours as well.