How to Install Vinyl Flooring Tiles

If you're not sure how to install luxury vinyl tiles our guide will talk you through the general process of laying LVT and explain the best installation method for your floor.

The technical details may change based on the room or the specific floor used so it is essential that you also refer to the manufacturer's guidelines before you go ahead. (Remember, vinyl tiles are laid in a completely different way to sheet vinyl, so make sure you don't get the two confused!)

The Different Types of Vinyl Installation

Our LVTs have 3 different installation methods: locking system, glue down (otherwise known as stick down) or looselay. It's important to check which installation method your vinyl flooring is before starting.

Luxury vinyl tiles are a recent adaptation of the well-known vinyl floor. Traditional vinyl floors (often called roll vinyl or sheet vinyl) are installed by sticking the sheet of vinyl directly to the subfloor. LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tiles) were invented to give more freedom over design and for a more manageable installation.

How to Install LVT

Next, we'll talk you through every step of the fitting process if you have decided to DIY install vinyl.

1. Vinyl Preparation

Before you lay your vinyl tiles they will need to acclimatise. This is as simple as leaving them in their box in the middle of the room for 48 hours. The room should be kept at a steady, normal temperature.

Make sure the subfloor is as clean as can be. Sweep, hoover and wash the floor before leaving it to dry. It must also be perfectly flat and level for a seamless installation. Polyflor have got a great in-depth guide to preparing your subfloor which applies to all LVT flooring.

2. Vinyl Installation Safety

Remember, installing a vinyl floor will involve a lot of kneeling, so we strongly recommend using padded knee pads.

3. Positioning

To get a great-looking, symmetrical floor, it's recommended that you start laying your flooring in the centre. To find the centre, measure the width and length of the area and strike a chalk line halfway across both - where the lines meet is the centre of the room.

Start by laying two lines of tiles from the centre of the room at right angles to each other to make an L shape. Don't stick these down yet just lay them on the floor without adhesive (or without peeling the back layer). This is used to make sure you're laying your floor at the correct angle - check that the edges line up with the wall and, if they don't, wiggle the tiles around until they do.

4. Vinyl Fitting

If installing a glue down vinyl, once your tiles are in position you can start to stick them down. This will either involve peeling off the non-stick backing or applying a thinly spread layer of adhesive to the floor under the tiles. The adhesive should be applied with an A2 spreader. If adhesive oozes up between the tiles, it's likely you're applying too much adhesive. Please read the manufacturer's instructions for adhesives as different products may have different requirements.

After you have installed a section of tiles (working from the centre of the room) bond them firmly to the floor by applying pressure and rolling over them with a floor roller or rolling pin.

Hint: If you need to kneel on freshly laid tiles to continue with the installation, put a piece of plywood or a knee pad between yourself and the tile. It will distribute your weight and reduce the possibility of individual tiles slipping.

Once you've laid most of the tiles, you will see that you need to start cutting the remaining tiles to fit the gaps against the wall. The most accurate way to do this is to lay the tile directly on top of a laid tile. Then, take the third tile and lay this on top and against the wall. Use the edge of this third tile to draw a line across the tile you want to fit. This will be your cutting guide.

Tip: To cut a vinyl tile, use a knife to slice through the surface layer. Then, simply bend the tile until it snaps apart.

Is Vinyl Compatible With Underfloor Heating?

Each style of LVT is suitable for use with underfloor heating (providing the correct adhesive/underlay is used), completely waterproof, and hard-wearing.

Our Vinyl Floor Fitting Service

Flooring Supplies has joined forces with a network of floor fitters across the country to bring you the best floor fitting service available. We supply our fitting service for all our vinyl, laminate, engineered and solid wood floors. To get a free, no-obligation vinyl flooring installation quote call 01603 385267.

What Installation Type of LVT is the best?

The 3 types of LVT that we sell (glue down, locking system and looselay) are made from PVC, making them incredibly durable. They have tough surfaces and are 100% waterproof, making them perfect for any room in the house! However, there are some differences between the 3 types that may draw you more towards one than another. Let's explore the differences to help you choose the best type of LVT and learn how to lay it...

Locking System Vinyl

Locking system vinyl floors are designed to imitate real wood and tiles, but with a straightforward locking mechanism to make installation super easy, cost-effective, and DIY-friendly.

The boards are designed to lock into each other on top of an underlay - something known as a floating floor. Locking system vinyl requires an underlay in between the subfloor and the floor itself to support the locking joints, so it's important to make sure you buy the right underlay. This means the subfloor doesn't have to be completely perfect. It still needs to be flat, dry, and even, but because of the underlay between the vinyl and the subfloor, it's more forgiving to small discrepancies than stick-down vinyl. Another benefit of locking vinyl is you can unlock them in the future, so they're less of a permanent commitment compared to glue-down vinyl.

However, if you're design-driven, these may not be for you, as you're limited on the customisation of these floors. There currently aren't any design strips that we sell that are compatible with locking system floors, which for some people is a reason not to go for a locking system vinyl. The last notable point about locking system LVTs is that if you're planning to install in a conservatory, you should check beforehand if the floor is suitable. We would advise to leave a 10mm expansion gap as opposed to 5mm in these spaces, to allow for movement and expansion.

Glue Down Vinyl

Glue down vinyl follows the traditional glue-down method that you see with roll vinyl. This can be a bit more difficult than a locking system, as the job is more intricate, so we'd recommend leaving it to the professionals. Glue-down LVT floors are one of the most complex floors to lay. They are stuck directly down to the subfloor. This does mean that the subfloor needs to be completely flat, dry, and even with no exceptions. If there are any discrepancies, these may be visible once the floor is installed, which is not a good look.

The good thing about stick-down vinyl is that you can really customise it to your personal preference using design and feature strips. We can provide an array of borders, design strips and feature strips that can be used to personalise your floor and make every installation completely unique. The design strips are particularly effective for tile effect LVT, as it mimics grouting, and makes the tiles look more realistic. Some also say glue-down vinyl feels firmer underfoot, but we'll leave that for you to decide.

Looselay Vinyl

Looselay vinyl is quick and easy to install due to the special grip backing on the underside of the boards. This grips to most subfloors (if they are flat, dry, and even) with no added assistance and doesn't require an underlay. This is the easiest of the 3 types to install, and although you don't need to coat each tile with adhesive, we do advise using a tackifier around the perimeter and every 3 metres in a grid format to keep the floor in place. It's also easy to maintain, and repair, and is incredibly durable. Like locking system vinyl, these can be lifted in the future if required.

Similarly, to locking system vinyl, it can be difficult to incorporate the design elements into these floors. Stick down LVT offers parquet options, whereas this isn't something you can currently purchase in a locking system or looselay form. The main selling point for looselay LVT is the quick and easy installation, and the built-in acoustic backing, designed to reduce sound without an extra underlay. These boards are also 100% recyclable, which is a great advantage.

The main factor in your decision should be your personal preference. Most of the design-driven among us will sway towards the stick down, as having the perfect design is important to them. Someone who wants to minimise costs may opt for the locking system option, as they can fit in themselves and won't need to excessively prepare the subfloor, which is a popular reason for choosing the looselay LVT too.