Guide for Vinyl and Linoleum Flooring Installation & Removal

These flooring types can be installed properly by a homeowner with the right techniques and tools. Simply keep in mind that any money you might save can be quickly lost if you damage the flooring and have to replace it.

The installation costs for vinyl and linoleum sheet flooring are 15% to 20% of the total job. The majority of the cost is in the material. See the Vinyl and Linoleum Flooring Price Guide for all the details on cost.

Removing old flooring prior to installation is an even easier task.

installing flooring

Removing Old Flooring

Here’s a list of what you’ll need to remove old flooring and prepare the subfloor.

  • Pry bar
  • Utility knife
  • Belt sander
  • Flexible floor leveler
  • Putty knife (4” to 6”)
  • Gloves, dust mask and safety goggles

Now, here are the simple techniques for DIY flooring removal.

Step 1: Use the pry bar to remove trim from the perimeter of the room. If you plan to re-use the trim, be very careful to pull it away from the wall at the nails. If the nails pull through the trim and remain in the wall, pull them out or drive them all the way in with a hammer. Also, pry the trim away from behind the trim, not from above. Applying leverage against the wall above the trim will leave dents that won’t be covered by trim of the same height.

Step 2: The existing flooring is likely glued only at the perimeter. Use the utility knife to cut down the length of the room about 6 feet from a wall. Pull that section of vinyl off the underlayment. Repeat this procedure until all the vinyl is pulled up. Some glue and flooring material will be left behind.

Step 3: Use the belt sander to remove any remaining glue and vinyl stuck to it. Raised edges of the subfloor should be smoothed too. Run the sander parallel to walls in order to reduce the chance of wall damage. You should wear your protective goggles, gloves and mask when running the sander.

Step 4: Use the putty knife to fill noticeable gaps between sheets of underlayment with the leveling material. This will prevent gaps from showing through the new flooring.

Installing Vinyl and Linoleum Sheet Flooring

Here is a list of the tools and materials needed for the job.

  • Putty knife
  • Fine-notched trowel
  • Utility knife
  • Tape measure
  • Straight edge
  • Steel hand roller
  • Masking tape
  • Double-sided tape
  • Roll of craft paper
  • Adhesive
  • The flooring

Now, here’s an overview of how the pros install vinyl and linoleum.

Tip: Bring the flooring into the house 24 hours before installation to give it time to expand or contract with any changes in the temperature. In very cold weather, it should be brought in 48 hours ahead of installation if it has been stored in unheated space.

Step 1: Sand and fill imperfections in the subfloor as indicated in the steps to flooring removal. The importance of this step cannot be overstated. Any imperfection in the subfloor will transfer through the flooring and be visible. In some cases, the entire subfloor will need to be sanded and have leveler applied, or the subfloor might need to be replaced.

Step 2: Roll out the flooring in the room so that the straight edge rests against the longest run of wall. If the roll is wider than the room, mark where the vinyl needs to be trimmed along the other three walls.

Step 3: Do a preliminary cut of the material several inches wider and longer than the room. Where interior corners are created during cutting, place a couple pieces of tape over the corner to support and prevent the material from tearing.

Step 4: Roll the flooring back a couple of feet to expose the subfloor. Run the craft paper along the wall and cut it to fit. Use small pieces of masking tape to hold the craft paper down. Place strips of double-sided tape on the top side about 3 inches from the wall in order to stick the craft paper to the back of the flooring.

Step 5: Roll the flooring back and press it down to adhere it to the double-sided tape. Once it is stuck, roll it back, gently pulling the paper away from the subfloor. It should be firmly stuck to the back of the flooring.

Step 6: The craft paper serves as a guide to trim the vinyl. Use the utility knife and a straight edge to carefully trim the flooring. A gap of 1/4″ or less is permissible, though not preferred, since it will be covered by the shoe molding. Repeat these steps along each of the room’s walls.

Step 7: Using the notched trowel, apply adhesive to the floor from the wall outward about six inches. The perimeter is all that will be glued. Do steps 7 and 8 together along each wall.

Step 8: Push the flooring down into the adhesive. Use the roller to ensure good contact between the flooring and the glue. Use a rag to wipe away any excess glue.

Step 9: If there are seams in the flooring, apply adhesive along the edges of both pieces that will join. Push them down, and use the roller to maximize the contact with the glue.

Step 10: Install the floor trim, and the job is finished.

Notes on luxury vinyl tile (LVT) installation: There are several types of LVT, and each requires a slightly different installation technique. Floor prep is the same as with sheet flooring. Dry fit the vinyl tiles to arrange them as you like them. Once you’ve got the look you want, begin installing them along the longest wall or at the most visible point. Save the trimming for under the cabinets or other less-noticeable location.

For planks, stagger installation rows, so that all the ends are not lined up. For example, if you’re using 36” planks, start with a full plank and complete the row down the length of the room. Start the second row 18” out from the wall, and install a full piece. Then, cut a plank to fill the 18” gap. The remaining piece will be about 18” too, and it will come in handy to fill the next gap.

Some LVT flooring is peel and stick. Others requires adhesive. Carefully trim where needed using the craft paper technique above or precise measuring and careful cutting.

Vinyl Flooring and Linoleum Flooring Installation FAQ

This Q&A covers additional important information.

Can you give an estimate of how much can be saved with DIY flooring installation?

Vinyl flooring installation cost is approximately $0.30 to $0.50 per square foot. In other words, if you install 1,000 square feet of flooring and do the job properly, you’ll save $300 to $500. For exact prices, we suggest getting estimates from 3 or more flooring contractors in your area. The service we offer is quick and convenient. The installers are prescreened, and there is no cost or obligation.

I’ve heard LVT can be installed over existing flooring.

It can be installed over sheet vinyl flooring, but only if the flooring is completely glued to the subfloor rather than just glued at the perimeter. In addition, any wax, polish or similar material on the existing flooring must be thoroughly cleaned off to ensure that the LVT adhesive sticks properly.

If the LVT you choose can be installed over tile, remove any loose tile, and fill in the gap with self-leveling cement or product recommended by the flooring contractor. Tile surface should be roughed up to ensure the LVT adhesive bonds well.

I cut the vinyl too short, and there’s a gap by the wall that is wider than the trim. What should I do?

You’re going to need to patch the area, and it can be done so that the patch barely shows. See the Vinyl and Linoleum Repair Guide for details.

I’m concerned about VOCs with vinyl installation.

Well, that’s one good reason to at least consider linoleum, since volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are not an issue with that type of flooring. What you can do is to make sure your home is well ventilated during vinyl flooring installation and in the several weeks following it, the time when VOC emissions are highest. Also, look for vinyl flooring that is certified low-VOC.

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