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Vinyl Plank Flooring Installation Best Practices

Updated: Feb 23

Benefits of Vinyl Plank Flooring

Considering vinyl plank (LVP) flooring for your single- or multifamily rental property? If you aren’t, you should be. LVP has take then flooring industry by storm over the past 10 years due to its durability, ease of installation, and relative cost effectiveness. This blog underlines some things to look for when selecting an LVP product and a crew to handle the installation.

What to Look for in a Vinyl Plank Product

LVP comes in all shapes and sizes but is typically specified based on 3 major categories.

1 - Is it a floating floor or a glue-down product?

Floating plank usually consists of a hard composite stone core so the pieces are rigid. They’re installed with a click-lock system and are fastened to each other but are not technically fastened to the floor. A glue-down product is exactly that, glued down. Glue-down plank is the most commonly used hard-surface flooring material in the rental industry

2 - Wear Layer

The wear layer is the thickness of the hard plastic coating on the face of the plank and is measured in ‘mils’. The wear layer is directly associated with the durability and longevity of the plank. The thicker the wear layer, the more durable the plank. The most common wear layers in the rental industry are 6mil, 8mil, 12mil, and 20mil. Thicker wear layers are available but are overkill for a rental home. Most homes feature 6-12mil planks while 20mil is common in commercial buildings or common areas at multifamily communities

3 - Manufacturer

Most major flooring manufacturers in the US feature their own lines of vinyl plank. The majority of them offering the same technical specs but with their own variations on color and sales strategy. Using a reputable manufacturer is important. Large manufacturers have procedures around quality control, claims, and logistics that many small manufacturers or independent importers do not. You don’t want to be left paying for manufacturer defects or stranded without material.

Vinyl Plank Installation Floor Prep Best Practices

One of the most important factors in a successful LVP install is the prep. First, clean and level the subfloor to eliminate any imperfections that might affect the final result. You don’t want to see cracks in the subfloor or have ridges in your floors. Second, in some climates it is crucial to allow the vinyl planks to acclimate. Vinyl is a petroleum product that expands and contracts based on temperature and humidity. If the weather is extremely hot or cold prior to installation, make sure the planks are allowed to acclimate to the indoor temperature before installing. Improper acclimation will lead to expansion and buckling and contraction and gaps in your floors. Additionally, you flooring may require an underlayment. Most floating floors come with an attached pad or underlayment to help deaden sound, but glue-down plank may also require an underlayment that acts as a moisture barrier from the subfloor. CAUTION: Since prep is such an important part of an LVP installation but is very case-by-case, many contractors use the ‘Floor Prep’ item line on their invoices to hide some margin and run up your cost. Be very specific and thorough in the questions you ask your contractors about what kind of prep you need in your units.

Best Practices for Installing Vinyl Plank Flooring

With pre-installation preparation complete, the focus shifts to the installation itself. Glue-down plank is installed by putting down a couple rows of adhesive and then laying planks in on top of it. Floating plank pieces are clicked into one another with a tongue and groove system. Neither product should be installed in a unit that doesn’t have working AC/heat. If you don’t have power turned on in a unit, don’t put the LVP in. You’ll pay for the job twice when the glue fails or the plank buckles. Depending on the size of the area being installed, floating floors should have transitions in the doorways to keep large areas from binding and buckling as the floors shift over time. Baseboards should also be removed and replaced or shoemold should be installed after the flooring installation is complete to hide the gaps between the planks and the walls. Installing vinyl plank is pretty simple so a lot of contractors do it. Like with every trade, it’s good idea to make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for. Stop by a unit as its being installed to make sure your contractors are installing the right product with the correct wear layer and color.

RM Interiors Turnkey Flooring Partner
RM Interiors National Flooring Partner

If you aren’t familiar with LVP or you’re committed to sheet vinyl or tile, be open to doing some research. Have a sales rep stop by and explain the tech specs and

pros and cons to you. Vinyl plank is a great option for a durable floor at a low price. For installation, use RM Interiors. We’re a nationally vetted flooring installation company. We have warehouse locations in 16 markets across the US and are expanding. Working with the largest property management companies in the country, we install millions of feet of vinyl flooring per year and would be happy to share what we’ve learned. If you’re interested in getting more info or pricing, visit RM Interiors or call us at 833-641-4912 and one of our team members will be happy to assist.

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