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Tips laying vinyl planking?

Tremonti

Fractal Fanatic
Installing vinyl planking in the upstairs kids rooms and loft, this weekend. Any tips? Subfloor is plywood and the planks have built in padding. Got thick and premium Shaw planks. Any tips would be appreciated. I am installing on a angle, not perpendicular. I will also be doing stairs and have custom bullnose that I will use.
 

TSJMajesty

Fractal Fanatic
Yeah.
First, make sure the subfloor is as flat as you can get it, and no nails are above the surface. If they are, if you can't smack them slightly below the surface with just a hammer, then also use a nail set. If the subfloor is raised anywhere (usually this can be an issue along the 4' edges, sometimes the 8'), get a belt sander with 40 grit, even if you have to rent one. Prepping that floor is key to having your new floor lay flat, and not flex when someone steps on it, should there be a slight void underneath, due to the subfloor not being flat. Make sure you only sand the high spots. Even if you can't get it perfect (use a 4' straightedge/piece of the flooring itself), just try not to sand into any areas that are already lower than the high spots. Even taking down the worst high areas will be an improvement, and make for a better job, so start with the worst areas, and stop when you think it's good enough. And think about where the traffic areas are. If you find a spot that will be under the bed, you decide if that area matters. But at the top of the stairs and in front of closet doors, yeah, pay particular attention to them.

If your baseboards have shoe mold, remove it and toss it. You'll need new shoe anyway, old shoe can be very difficult to remove without it breaking, plus it's cheap, and the finished job will look the best if you replace it with new, especially if they make a product that matches the flooring.

More to follow...
 

TSJMajesty

Fractal Fanatic
If you really want to do a "pro" job, you need to cut the bottoms of the vertical door casing trim where they meet the floor, just enough so the new flooring slides under them with a snug fit. (This is assuming they are already low enough that the flooring cannot slide under them. If they're already too high, don't worry about it now.)

You can do this 2 ways: Buy an undercut hand saw (sometimes referred to as a Japanese butterfly saw), or rent a jamb saw. The hand saw is tricky to use, so practice using a piece of wood that is thinner than your flooring, and make a couple trial cuts to your casings. The hardest part about using it is keeping it cutting straight, especially since you're down at floor level, on your knees. Oh, it's also called a "pull saw", in that you cut with it by only pulling it toward you. Be careful; it's very sharp, and can easily cut you just by brushing it carelessly against your hand. Tack a small piece of your flooring to the floor, then rest the saw onto the flooring, keeping it flat against that scrap piece, and take your time. Technically that scrap piece needs to be just slightly thinner than the actual flooring, to account for the thickness of the saw blade, which in my experience can sometimes be accomplished by removing the padding from the back of the floor (if it's that type.) Otherwise, getting that cut just right might be too much trouble, and having a small but of extra wiggle room will probably work in your favor anyway.

A jamb saw is a special type of circular saw that lays on its side, and can cut those casings quickly, accurately, and at the exact height you need so the flooring will slip under. Again, be careful. Watch some videos, and get the guy at the rental store to show you how to use it.
Either method, remember it's like cooking a steak for the first time. If you're not proficient, just remember you can always cook it a little more, but not less. Same with undercutting door casings. If you cut them too high, you'll have a gap. Too low, just adjust the saw to cut a bit higher.
With the jamb saw, once you have it adjusted so that it makes the correct height cut, you just leave it there, and cut the remaining casings. Just make sure it is sitting down on the subfloor, and not, for example, resting on a nail head that's sticking up, or the saw may cut too high. If you're not familiar with using electric circular saws, you may want to pass on this, or find a carpenter who can help. Actually that's not a bad idea anyway. Your call.

That's the prep. Lots of details huh? Oh, and if you have any squeaks in the subfloor when you walk around the room, now's your only chance to fix them. Get some 2-1/2" screws and add them wherever it squeaks. Make sure you hit the joists below, which are every 16" or 24" from the 4' edge, measured perpendicular to that edge. (You should see the existing nail locations to help you find the joists.) Sweep and vacuum the room. Well.
 

bulgmaf

Inspired
If you really want to do a "pro" job, you need to cut the bottoms of the vertical door casing trim where they meet the floor, just enough so the new flooring slides under them with a snug fit. (This is assuming they are already low enough that the flooring cannot slide under them. If they're already too high, don't worry about it now.)

You can do this 2 ways: Buy an undercut hand saw (sometimes referred to as a Japanese butterfly saw), or rent a jamb saw. The hand saw is tricky to use, so practice using a piece of wood that is thinner than your flooring, and make a couple trial cuts to your casings. The hardest part about using it is keeping it cutting straight, especially since you're down at floor level, on your knees. Oh, it's also called a "pull saw", in that you cut with it by only pulling it toward you. Be careful; it's very sharp, and can easily cut you just by brushing it carelessly against your hand. Tack a small piece of your flooring to the floor, then rest the saw onto the flooring, keeping it flat against that scrap piece, and take your time. Technically that scrap piece needs to be just slightly thinner than the actual flooring, to account for the thickness of the saw blade, which in my experience can sometimes be accomplished by removing the padding from the back of the floor (if it's that type.) Otherwise, getting that cut just right might be too much trouble, and having a small but of extra wiggle room will probably work in your favor anyway.

A jamb saw is a special type of circular saw that lays on its side, and can cut those casings quickly, accurately, and at the exact height you need so the flooring will slip under. Again, be careful. Watch some videos, and get the guy at the rental store to show you how to use it.
Either method, remember it's like cooking a steak for the first time. If you're not proficient, just remember you can always cook it a little more, but not less. Same with undercutting door casings. If you cut them too high, you'll have a gap. Too low, just adjust the saw to cut a bit higher.
With the jamb saw, once you have it adjusted so that it makes the correct height cut, you just leave it there, and cut the remaining casings. Just make sure it is sitting down on the subfloor, and not, for example, resting on a nail head that's sticking up, or the saw may cut too high. If you're not familiar with using electric circular saws, you may want to pass on this, or find a carpenter who can help. Actually that's not a bad idea anyway. Your call.

That's the prep. Lots of details huh? Oh, and if you have any squeaks in the subfloor when you walk around the room, now's your only chance to fix them. Get some 2-1/2" screws and add them wherever it squeaks. Make sure you hit the joists below, which are every 16" or 24" from the 4' edge, measured perpendicular to that edge. (You should see the existing nail locations to help you find the joists.) Sweep and vacuum the room. Well.
Oscillating multi tool works great for undercutting jambs too. I would also add that you want to make sure your planks are acclimated to room temp before installing, and if this will be a floating floor (I.e. - not adhered to the sub-floor), make sure to follow the instructions for edge-gapping.
 

TSJMajesty

Fractal Fanatic
Read whatever instructions come with the flooring. You said it's vinyl. I've never heard of that being used as a flooring product, but know that vinyl expands and contracts along its length with temperature changes, so make sure it's brought to the same indoor temperature as the room it will be installed in. If it's in boxes, this could take days. Follow the spacing instructions for around the perimeter of the room.

If you don't want to remove & replace your baseboard, you have 2 options. If the flooring will slide under the baseboard, then I'd recommend cutting a bunch of 2'-3' 1/4"-thick spacers, about 2" wide and lay them between the ends of your flooring and the baseboards to maintain a 1/4" gap that will later be covered by the new show molding. Since the flooring can fit under the baseboard, then this actually gives you about a 1-1/4" gap between the end of your flooring and the actual bottom plate of the wall, which is plenty.

If the flooring won't slip under the base, you'll need to cut spacer strips the same thickness as whatever the recommended gap is, in the instructions.

Either way, as you lay the flooring, it can move and change your gap. So leave the spacers in place until you're done, and use them at all perimeters. I made this mistake once, not realizing that each piece I clipped in place actually rotated the entire flooring I had installed, just slightly enough that I had gaps starting along one wall that were too big for the shoe to cover. Not easy to correct, but I did. So pay attention to how the work is progressing.

Sorry if this is more than you were looking for. I'm just not good at giving tips without mentioning any/all details I can think of that can potentially help. So, what else? Wear knee pads, and definitely watch some videos. I've never used this type of product on stairs, so I don't have any comments for that part of the job. Going around your doorways can be tricky, so think about choosing the right length pieces in these areas.

Hope that helps, and feel free to ask me any other questions if needed. Most of these geeks around here know about computer-related shit, which I don't (not like them anyway), so I'm glad to be able to offer my experience to help out a fellow Fractal guy!
 

TSJMajesty

Fractal Fanatic
Oscillating multi tool works great for undercutting jambs too. I would also add that you want to make sure your planks are acclimated to room temp before installing, and if this will be a floating floor (I.e. - not adhered to the sub-floor), make sure to follow the instructions for edge-gapping.
Yep! Actually it's a great choice, and one of my most-used tools, so not sure why I didn't mention it as well. And I only said "casings", but as mentioned, undercutting also applies to the jambs as well.
 

TSJMajesty

Fractal Fanatic
One more thing I thought of, (that subs generally don't give a shit about): You can virtually eliminate your waste if you start each new row with the offcut of the last piece from your previous row. Pros generally don't do it that way because it's a little slower (at least with hardwood strip flooring), but if I were doing it, I would because it saves on materials. Doing it this way also means you don't really need to worry about how long of a piece to use for the last piece of any row. (I.e., some people try to pick out each final piece that's just a bit longer than what they need. But in doing so, they throw away a small part of that piece on each row, and then, in your case, since you're running it on a diagonal, you'd have to make an additional cut when starting the next row.)
 

sprint

Fractal Fanatic
Have done laminate in 2 rooms here, looking at doing a 3rd. Lots of great tips above - couple more applicable to laminate but probably the same for vinyl:
  • make the seams random with minimum distance from one to the other of 1.5-2'
  • measure room width in advance so that the cut width of the first row yeilds a last row on the other side which is not too narrow.
  • put chaulk line marks on sub floor and keep an eye on the new floor edge alignment to those marks as the floor progresses.
  • Put the remaining boxes of new flooring on top of the completed flooring behind you to weight it down and prevent any movement as u work.
  • Transition from higher to lower floor: For level differences of an inch or two there are "reducer" transition pieces available. The issue I ran into on the last room I did was that amount of reduction on the reducer transition piece was about 1/4" too much and I did not have a table saw to trim the lip of the reducer (too long for mitre saw) - rigged up a megshift table saw using an old drawer and circular saw which did the trick but a small table saw is now on my birthday list.
  • measure twice / cut once lol!
 
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BBN

Fractal Fanatic
I did my office recently.
Watch a couple of youtube vids, and it's not all that hard.

My tips would be:
  • Buy the right tools. They sell a kit for installing - it's worth it. Being able to 'hammer' them into place properly, with the brace they sell, is VERY important.
  • Also a mitre saw (chop saw) for cutting - makes life easy
  • Take all the molding off your walls. I thought I'd be slick and only do once side...and try to slide the planks under it....doesn't work, for many reasons.
  • But an extra box of planks..or two. Return if you don't end up using them. I broke some, damaged some, cut some wrong.
  • Wear knee pads.
  • I put the thin foam sheet underneath....seems to keep 'creaking' of the subfloor to a minimum.

Take your time, it's not an awful task but can be time consuming.
 

mr_fender

Axe-Master
How do the vinyl plank floors sound to walk on? Are they loud with dog claws on them? We have engineered hardwood in most of the house that's glued down and it's nice and quiet to walk on. No hollow clonk clonk like on some floating floors.
 

GlennO

Fractal Fanatic
How do the vinyl plank floors sound to walk on? Are they loud with dog claws on them? We have engineered hardwood in most of the house that's glued down and it's nice and quiet to walk on. No hollow clonk clonk like on some floating floors.
I put down LVP throughout the house, including the studio. It has IXPE sound absorbing cushioning underneath, which helps with the "clacking" problem and I don't have any complaints about the sound. In the past couple of years, they've made amazing progress with LVP, and it's exploded in popularity. It's tough and looks great. I've posted this photo before, but here it is again to give an idea what it looks like.

IMG_7812.jpg
 
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sprint

Fractal Fanatic
I put down LVP throughout the house, including the studio. It has IXPE sound absorbing cushioning underneath, which helps with the "clacking" problem and I don't have any complaints about the sound. In the past couple of years, they've made amazing progress with LVP, and it's exploded in popularity. It's tough and looks great. I've posted this photo before, but here it is again to give an idea what it looks like.

View attachment 92670
nice room! - I don't see 4 cables to/from the Soldano! (must be routed behind baseboard for nice clean look 👍)
 

Joe Bfstplk

Axe-Master
Yeah.
First, make sure the subfloor is as flat as you can get it, and no nails are above the surface. If they are, if you can't smack them slightly below the surface with just a hammer, then also use a nail set. If the subfloor is raised anywhere (usually this can be an issue along the 4' edges, sometimes the 8'), get a belt sander with 40 grit, even if you have to rent one. Prepping that floor is key to having your new floor lay flat, and not flex when someone steps on it, should there be a slight void underneath, due to the subfloor not being flat. Make sure you only sand the high spots. Even if you can't get it perfect (use a 4' straightedge/piece of the flooring itself), just try not to sand into any areas that are already lower than the high spots. Even taking down the worst high areas will be an improvement, and make for a better job, so start with the worst areas, and stop when you think it's good enough. And think about where the traffic areas are. If you find a spot that will be under the bed, you decide if that area matters. But at the top of the stairs and in front of closet doors, yeah, pay particular attention to them.

If your baseboards have shoe mold, remove it and toss it. You'll need new shoe anyway, old shoe can be very difficult to remove without it breaking, plus it's cheap, and the finished job will look the best if you replace it with new, especially if they make a product that matches the flooring.

More to follow...
I wish someone had told the guy who re-floored the place we bought back in February all of this, and enforced it. Whoever the previous owner got to do the flooring was a complete hack....
 

TSJMajesty

Fractal Fanatic
I wish someone had told the guy who re-floored the place we bought back in February all of this, and enforced it. Whoever the previous owner got to do the flooring was a complete hack....
Most jobs are really about either the prep, or what came before them.
Take painting for example, even painting a guitar, to bring the analogy even closer to home: The paint job will show flaws in the wood if it wasn't sanded, or "prepped" well.
I love building a house on a foundation that is true, flat, square, etc. And doing things like drywall and installing trim & cabinets is much easier, and the final result is better, when the framing is done right.
 

la szum

Fractal Fanatic
Most jobs are really about either the prep, or what came before them.
Take painting for example, even painting a guitar, to bring the analogy even closer to home: The paint job will show flaws in the wood if it wasn't sanded, or "prepped" well.
I love building a house on a foundation that is true, flat, square, etc. And doing things like drywall and installing trim & cabinets is much easier, and the final result is better, when the framing is done right.

Spoken by more than one framer who had no clue what they were creating down the line:

"It's only a quarter of an inch."
 
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