How To Install Luxury Vinyl

Are you considering installing luxury vinyl in your home or business but not sure where to start? We used our 65+ years of flooring  installation experience to put together a guide that will show you how to install luxury vinyl flooring! 

Inside This Article:

- How to know if luxury vinyl is right for your home
- What makes luxury vinyl DIY friendly
- Tools needed and step by step instructions
- Our top 5 luxury vinyl installation tips.

Would you like a free PDF version of this guide? CLICK HERE to get your free copy!

COREtec luxury vinyl in a kitchen and dining room available at our flooring showrooms in Springboro, Ohio and Clayton, Ohio

Is Luxury Vinyl Right For My Home? 

The first step in the DIY process is to make sure that the floor you pick makes sense for your home, lifestyle, and budget. Some things to consider when choosing your floor:

- How well it will withstand traffic and wear in your home
- The length of time that you want the floor to last
- If the floor is suitable for the rooms you need new flooring in

Here are some of the best characteristics of luxury vinyl:


Spills and pet accidents are an unavoidable reality of life. Luxury vinyl is waterproof and will not be damaged by topical spills - giving you the peace of mind that your flooring investment won't be ruined by common spills.


Luxury vinyl is made with a rigid core and contains an extra-protective wear layer on top that makes it resistant to scratches and denting. Unlike other types of flooring, such as hardwood, you won't have to worry that normal, every day household traffic will damage your flooring.

Suitable For All Rooms

Luxury vinyl's waterproof makeup means that it is suitable for all rooms of your house, including bathrooms and basements. Do you want your kitchen, dining room, family room, and bath to all have the same flooring? Luxury vinyl allows for that.

Budget Friendly

Luxury vinyl, like other hard surface floors, is priced by the square foot. Prices can vary significantly by product but a quality luxury vinyl floor can be found for as low as $2.50 per square foot. Installation can cost you as much or even more than material per square foot so installing it yourself is a significant money saver!

What makes Luxury Vinyl DIY Friendly?

Advances in flooring technology have made some types of floors much easier to install than in years past, vinyl included. Read on to find out why luxury vinyl is the perfect floor for DIY installation.

Click Together Planks

Most luxury vinyl planks have a click together construction that makes installation easy, even for those with little to no flooring installation experience. You may have also heard this type of floor referred to as snap-together flooring, click-lock flooring, or interlocking flooring. During installation, all you need to do is slightly angle the plank that you are trying to attach to the plank on the floor. As you lower down, make sure that the tongue and groove are aligned. It's as simple as that!

Someone doing DIY luxury vinyl plank flooring installation. Johnson's Flooring is a flooring retail and installation company with locations near Miamisburg, Ohio, Centerville, Ohio, and Franklin, Ohio.

Minimal Tools Needed

Unlike carpet and hardwood, luxury vinyl doesn't take expensive, specialty tools to ensure installation is done right. Most of the tools needed can be found in the average homeowner's garage. A tape measure and pencil to mark cuts, a utility knife to score length cuts, and a table saw for width cuts are the most important tools. Tapping blocks and spacers are needed and are unique to luxury vinyl but can be purchased or rented at affordable prices.

Easy To Cut Planks

Luxury vinyl is extremely durable but is also easy to cut. We recommend a flooring "chopper" with a blade that makes clean cuts. Cuts can also be made by scoring the top of the floor with a utility knife and snapping the plank. Move across a room quickly with easy to cut planks.

Can Install Over Most Floors

Luxury vinyl for residential areas does not require any sort of glue and "floats" over the existing floor. Luxury vinyl is suitable for installation over many different types floors including wood subfloor, concrete, ceramic tile, resilient tile, and sheet vinyl. This versatility makes it a good option for most rooms in your home. No matter the type of floor, the most important thing is to ensure that the floor is flat prior to installation. Most manufacturers recommend that the floor be flat to within 3/16" within a 10 feet radius. Floors that luxury vinyl should not be installed over include floating floors, carpet, cushion-backed vinyl, and hardwood installed directly over concrete.

How To Install Luxury Vinyl - Step By Step Instructions

Recommended Tools     

1. Tape Measure
2. Pencil
3. Rubber Mallet
4. 1/4" Spacers
5. Tapping Block
6. Pull Bar
7. Chopper
8. Sliding Saw
9. Undercut Saw
10. Chalk Line

Graphic showing tools that should be used during luxury vinyl installation. Tools are available for rental at Johnson's Flooring Source in Springboro, Ohio and Johnson's Flooring Center in Clayton, Ohio.

***Please make sure to read and follow the product-specific instructions provided by the manufacturer. The below is a helpful summary but does not contain all instructions specific to each unique product.

Step 1: Subfloor Preparation

The single most important step to ensure a successful luxury vinyl installation is preparation of the floor that the planks will be installed over. An adequate subfloor meets the following requirements:

Variability in the floor should be no more than 3/16" every 10 feet. Pro Tip: place an eight feet long 2x4 board (make sure it's straight) on the floor and measure the dsitance between the flat edge and the floor to determine variability
- High spots will need to be ground down and low spots filled in with a self-leveling compound
- Dry: the floor should have no evidence of moisture and many manufacturers recommend a moisture test prior to installation
- Structurally sound: wood subfloors should be securely attached to joists
- Free of debris

Step 2: Underlayment

Depending on the floor you are installing over and the type of luxury vinyl you are installing, you may need to add an underlayment. 

Most luxury vinyl floors have a pad attached to the back of the planks. If no pad is attached, you will need to purchase pad and lay it prior to installing the floor. Padding helps soundproof the flooring and gives it a softer feel underfoot.

Luxury vinyl pad underlayment used during luxury vinyl installation, by DIY installers and professional installers. Johnson's Flooring sells luxury vinyl and luxury vinyl underlayment out of our showrooms, conveniently serving Montgomery County and Warren County.

Moisture Barrier: Some manufacturers suggest laying a plastic sheeting (e.g. Visqueen) prior to installing luxury vinyl over concrete. We recommend it to all of our customers when we are installing and would suggest you do the same. It is a relatively affordable way to guard against moisture coming through the concrete and potentially damaging the floors over time.

Step 3: Wall Check

Before starting, confirm that the wall you are starting on is straight and square. To do this, measure 1/4" + the width of a plank from each end of the wall that you will be starting on. Use a chalk line to mark a line the length of the wall between the two measurements.

To check if the wall is straight, pick a few spots in the middle of the chalked line and measure how far from the wall the chalked line is. The measurements should be within 1/4" of the initial measurement you used to chalk the line. 

If the wall is not straight, use the chalked line as where you want the planks to line up and rip down the planks to make it straight.

Step 4: Install The First Row

Grahpic showing the difference between the tongue and groove of a piece luxury vinyl flooring. Johnson's Flooring sells luxury vinyl out of their showrooms in Clayton, Ohio and Springboro, Ohio.

Use your 1/4" spacers to keep the planks off the wall. This will allow for adequate expansion. Spacers should be placed approximately every six feet. The tongue side of the plank goes against the wall. The tongue side is the top, shorter edge of the plank that will click into the groove. Once the first plank is against the all, fit the second plank into the end joint of first plank. To do this, insert the end tongue of the new plank into the end groove of the first plank at an approximately 20 degree angle. Lower the panel flat to the floor. Continue doing this until you reach the end of the row.

Use your tape measure to determine the length of the plank needed to finish the row and use the flooring cutter to chop a clean cut.

Pro Tip: Flip the plank around, make sure it is 1/4" from the wall, and mark where it should be cut.

Step 5: Install The Second Row and Beyond

Depending on the length of the remainder piece cut in Step 4, you may be able to use it as a "starter" piece for the next row. Ensure there is at least eight inches of spacing between end joints of each row. In the same manner as the end joints, insert the tongue of the new plank into the groove of the first row plank. 

The planks may click into place by hand. If not, use the tapping block and flooring mallet to ensure the joints completely click together. Be careful to not damage the planks when using the tapping block.

Graphic showing the staggering of luxury vinyl planks when installing luxury vinyl flooring purchased from Johnson's Flooring Source and Johnson's Flooring Center.

Repeat this process until you get to your last row.

Step 6: Install The Last Row
***Remember to leave 1/4" between the planks and wall for expansion, the same as you did on the first row in Step 4 above.

Lay a plank on top of the previous row with the tongue side facing the wall. Use another full plank as a ruler to trace the cut that is needed on the first plank. 

Make the marked cut to rip the plank down to the correct width. A table saw is the best tool to use in this situation. Tap the pull bar with a hammer to assist in fitting the last row in.

Step 7: Install Transition Trims

You may need to install trims if the luxury vinyl flooring is transitioning to a different surface such as existing flooring, doorways, fireplace hearths.

Transition Trim Types

- End Cap (Baby Threshold): used between the luxury vinyl and carpet
- T-Mold: used between floors of equal heights
- Reducer: used between floors of different heights
- Quarter Round: creates clean finish between your baseboard and new floor
- Flush Stairnose: used on the edge of staircase stairs
- Overlap Stairnose: used on stairs that are on the same level as the rest of the floating floor

Step 8: Enjoy Your New Floors!

Top 5 Luxury Vinyl Installation Tips

Dog running down stairs to a COREtec luxury vinyl floor that is petproof and waterproof. This flooring is available at Johnson's Flooring Source in Springboro, Ohio and Johnson's Floor Center in Clayton, Ohio.

Tip #1: Make Sure Your Floor Is Flat

We know, this isn't the first time we have mentioned this in the article. It is that important! The manufacturer's instructions will include the flatness threshold (commonly 3/16"). Lay an eight feet long 2x4 board on your floor to determine if it is within the flatness threshold. If it isn't, floor preparation should be done to ensure that the floor performs as intended.

Tip #2: Have The Correct Tools

Make sure you have all of the tools mentioned in the Installation Steps section above. A flooring chopper will make cutting the length of the planks much easier. A table saw will make clean width cuts. A pull bar allows you to fit planks in hard to reach places without damaging surrounding baseboards.

Tip #3: Stagger End Joints
As you start each row, ensure that the first end joint in the new row is at least eight inches away from the end joint of the row you just installed. This will give your floor a more appealing and natural look.

Tip #4: Use Spacers

Luxury vinyl floors require a 1/4" gap between the wall or other surface that the floor is being finished up to. This is a pivotal part of the installation process and if it is not completed, could cause issues with the quality of your floor. Use spacers to keep the planks off of the wall as you install the floors.

Tip #5: Start on a Straight Wall

Starting on a straight wall is important to make sure the entire layout of the floor is done correctly. Reference Step 3 in the previous section for all the details.

Johnson's Flooring

It would be our pleasure to help you find the luxury vinyl that is right for your home. We have thousands of square feet of luxury vinyl in-stock and much more available for special order. We carry luxury vinyl plank and luxury vinyl tile flooring from today's top manufacturers such as COREtec, Shaw, Casabella, AquaLok, Mohawk, Southland, and more. Luxury vinyl is on display at our conveniently located flooring showrooms in Clayton, Ohio and Springboro, Ohio. 

Picture of Johnson's Flooring's two showrooms servicing Clayton, OH; Springboro, OH; Brookville, OH; Lebanon, OH; Miamisburg, OH; Germantown, OH; Franklin, OH; Waynesville, OH; Vandalia, OH; Englewood, OH; Troy, OH; Tipp City, OH; Franklin, OH; Carlisle, OH

Reach out to us
today - we are here to help!

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