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Get the help you need, want and deserve. Inside my members area – Laminate University, you will have access to everything you need to Start and Complete your Laminate or Vinyl Plank Project.
You came to the right place
For many of you this might be your first Laminate or Vinyl Plank Installation and you have probably ran into a few things that you are not sure what you should do.
For some of you this might be your 2nd or maybe 3rd time installing plank.
Either way, there is plenty of information on Plank Installation throughout this page and throughout my site.
Dig in and let me know if I can help!
If you are Ready to start your Plank Installation
If you are just starting your Laminate or Vinyl Plank Installation, I have several guides and tips that you may want to see. These will help you with some of the first steps of your installation and can save you a lot of time frustration.
Are you still not sure if you will be Installing your own Floor
If you are still researching what is invoved with Installing your own Laminate or Vinyl Plank, this is the right place for you. I will share with you what you need to think about and what is invloved with this .
Below you will find many of the common questions asked by other DIY’ers just like you. Go down the list and if you cannot find an answer, ask me below.
I do have a Private Group that you will have access to if you are a member of Laminate University. I will be able to answer your questions much faster inside the group and there are also many other DIY’ers and Installers inside the group that are always willing to help.
Am I really capable of taking on this Plank Installation.
Yes! I have helped thousands of DIY’ers just like you Complete their projects.
Whether it was their first time or they were a novice.
I have helped both men and women, young adults, middle aged adults and of course our wise elders! If you are willing and able, then you are capable.
Fear should not stop you. If you follow the steps that I teach, you will absolutely be able to take on your project.
I also want you to remember this, God is on your side! He will help you through this and give you the confidence that you need to do this. You just have to ask Him!
Look, I am a perfect example of this truth. I had no clue what I was doing when I first started doing this 20 years ago and now I am teaching others how to do it!
So, pray my friends, God loves you and He is waiting for you to just ask.
Remember this –
We can all be saved through Jesus Christ!
Do I need to use pad under my Plank?
It depends, if you have a plank with an attached pad, then you do not need to use anything else.
If your plank DOES NOT have an attached pad, then I would use a pad even if the manufacturer says it is not needed.
NEVER, double up pad. It will cause stress to the joints and cause problems in the future.
Here is the pad that I use and I highly recommend.
Can I double layer my pad to build up the floor?
Do not do this. It will cause stress on the joints and they will eventually come apart or worse the locking system will break.
It will also void your warranty.
If you need to build up a dip in a small area, that would be ok. But, It is better to use roofing felt(tar paper). I like to use 30 lb.
Is the refrigerator to heavy for the floor?
No! I always run the plank under the fridge and the stove. Do not worry about the weight, the floor will still be able to expand and contract.
Is the stove to heavy for the floor?
No, install the plank under the stove.
Do I need to install planks under the dishwasher?
No, but there will never be a better time then now to replace the dishwasher. If you decide to do that then I would install the plank under it.
If it is a laminate then I would use a clear silicone around the perimeter of the cubby hole it goes into. You can also do this with a vinyl plank.
If you are going to leave the dishwasher in place then you can adjust the legs up and slide the plank under the legs, then you would adjust the legs back down.
If you have no room for adjustment, then you can end the plank at the legs and the dishwasher cover plate should hide the edge of the plank.
Can the toilet be installed over the plank?
Yes, cut the plank around the toilet flange leaving an expansion gap. Then you can mount the toilet over the plank.
Does the floor in the bathroom need to be waterproofed.
No, you do not need to do anything special to the floor before installing the plank.
Just so you know, the pad that you are using has a vapor barrier on it and will protect the floor.
If you have a plank that has an attached pad you still don’t need to do anything, what I stated above is just a bonus feature.
You can run a bead of clear silicone around the edges if you are concerned about water.
How do I deal with multiple levels of flooring throughout the house?
You need to get the subfloor the same level throughout the areas that you will be installng your plank.
You can build up to other existing flooring, but be aware that it might affect your doors. Be sure that the doors will still open if you do this. If they can’t then you want to investigate if they can be cut.
Don’t be afraid of a little elbow grease. I do have videos inside Laminate University that show you how to tear out different existing floors and this is something you want to get right and not regret later on.
How do I install 1/4 inch underlayment?
I have a video inside Laminate University that will guide you through this.
However, you want to be sure to undercut all of the doorjambs and any other items that you want to slide the underlayment under.
I would remove all of the base trim around the walls. You don’t need to remove door casings you can undercut them. I do have a video that will show you how to do this.
You will need to buy an underlayment stapler that shoots staples with a 1/4 inch crown. I use staples that are at least 7/8 inch long staples with a 1/4 inch crown.
You will need to staple the underlayment every 4 inches in the main field and every inch on the seams.
ABSOLUTELY DO NOT USE LUAN PLYWOOD. Always use Birch underlayment.
Here is what the stapler and staples look like.
Can I use an flush mount stairnose?
A flushmount stairnose is meant for the actual steps NOT for where the plank ends at a stairway. Do not try and use one at this location, it requires an overlapping stairnose to be used in that situation.
You have a floating floor and it will move. The overlap is there to cover the cut edge of the plank and it allows the floor to expand and contract.
When a flushmount stair nose is used on a step the planks are glued to the tread and does not allow the planks to move so the flushmount can be used there.
The flushmount stairnose also connects to the factory edge of the first plank installed on the stair tread. It is not meant to be attached to a plank that has the factory edge cut off.
I know, “But Joe, I hate the look of that and I feel like it is a trip hazard!”
No, it really is not and if you want to be able to use a flush mount stair nose, you can always change from a floating floor and install real wood! :)
All kidding aside, if don’t want issues later on, then just take my advice and go with it.
Do you have a video that shows how to install plank on stairs?
It is coming soon. It will only be available to members of Laminate University.
How do I finish the plank to carpet?
I have a video inside Laminate University that shows how to do this. There are different scenarios that come into play with this and I can’t go through them all here.
You can get away with just cutting the plank to the edge of the carpet if the yarns of the carpet are longer and can cover the edge easily. You do need to leave a gap between the two floors. I would leave at least a quarter inch from the backing of the carpet(not the yarn)when using laminate and an 1/8th inch when using vinyl plank.
The other option is an endcap, which is designed for this situation. They do cost a little money, but they look nice.
I have an uneven floor, should I use Self Leveler?
No! Most people do not realize that self leveler is not as easy to use as it seems.
If you use this over a wood subfloor it requires a mesh that has to be attached to the subfloor.
Then you should also have a special pair of shoes that have spikes on them, so you can walk on it to smoth it out and move it around.
You also should have a squeegee with feet on it to determine how thick of a layer you are leaving.
Also, you will need a smoothing tool to smooth it out for a final finish.
Over concrete you need to prime the floor before pouring any leveler over it.
I have seen too much failure from these products over the years so, I do not like to use it.
I have some other techniques that I like to use instead. You can find those videos inside Laminate University. I will guide you through the process.
What type of floor patch should I use to fix low spots in my floor?
I like to use Ardex feather finish. It is a high quality product that is flexible and will not crack. It also sticks to almost anything and it will not shear away from the floor over time causing a crunching sound under your plank.
This is a product that most of you will only be able to find online. You should be able to find it at a specialty store in any major town or city.
You can find Henry 549 Feather Finish at Home Depot.
This is a good product that is made by the same company and will do a good job for you.
Where do I find the tools that I need to install Laminate or Vinyl Plank?
I have a tools page that shares with you the tools that I use when installing plank.
I do want to tell you that you don’t need to buy a bunch of expensive tools. You can really get away with just a few tools. Many of the tools you will need, you probably already own.
For cutting plank you can just use a jigsaw. It will not always be a pretty cut and you will always have to go outside to cut it, but it will get the job done.
What kind of glue should I use for the joints that I plane?
If you are installing Laminate then just use any type of wood glue.
For Vinyl Plank I use clear Gorilla Glue. It is non foaming and works great!
Be sure to moisten the groove with a damp sponge or terry cloth before applying the Clear Gorilla Glue!
Which direction should I install my plank?
Here is the simple answer-
I always like the plank to run parallel to the wall of the longest hallway. It looks the best that way.
I go through this in great detail inside Laminate University. I will help you decide which is best in your situation.
As a member you can share a drawing with me and I will give you my advice on which direction I would install the plank and where I would start.
Here is some more information on plank direction, check it out-
Where do I start my plank?
I have a step by step guide with videos that you can access inside Laminate University. These videos are not found on youtube and are by far the easiest to understand.
I will be in there and available to answer any questions and to help guide you in the right direction.
How do I install my Planks around a wall and Reconnect on the other side?
This is not as hard as it seems. There are a few easy steps to follow and then you will be able to do this without an issues.
I have a video inside Laminate University that will guide you through this very easily.
You need to have a reference line to guide you. Once you establish the reference line you will always measure to it while installing the next rows.
Angled walls and cabinets always seem to be the culperate to throw off a floor. Don’t worry, I have helped thousands of DIY’ers just like you and they were all able to get around that wall using my step by step guide and video.
You can get acces to it here-
What type of transitions do I need?
There are several different types of transitions that can be used. I go through all of these for you and you can find that information here-
If you can't find an answer, you can ask here.
Installing laminate or vinyl plank is a project that most can handle. With the right knowledge, a few tools and a little research, a determined DIY’er like yourself can definetely handle this.
Here a few things to think about while you are deciding :
- Luxury Vinyl Plank or Laminate
- do you need a pad under the plank
- what will you need for transitions
- what direction should the plank run
- what tools will you need
- what do you do with all the furniture
- where do I start
- are the existing floors hard to tear out
These are a few of the most frequent questions that I am asked by DIY’ers just like you. Here are some tips for each of these questions and if you have any other questions, be sure to ask them below.
Luxury Vinyl Plank or Laminate
This is actually a great debate and I will touch on this a little right here however, look for a future post that will cover this in a lot more detail.
LVP- Luxury Vinyl Plank
- it is 100% water proof
- can be installed in any room of your house
- it is more forgiving to floors that are not flat
- it does not expand and contact as much as laminate
- it can handle cold temperatures(such as the cabin that is not heated in the winter)
- does not need air conditioning or a dehumidifier in the summer
- it can be easier to install in tight areas such as door jambs, closets and ect.
- can be installed over a concrete slab without the need of a vapor barrier
- it can look very fake in certain lighting(be sure to look for textures)
- it can scratch and gouge easier
- direct sunlight on the floor in hot environments can cause swelling
- thinner LVP can show imperfections of the subfloor more than laminate would.
- It is more durable than most LVP
- it does not scratch or gouge easily
- you can buy water resistant laminate(not waterproof)
- it has a more solid feel to it
- it can have a more realistic wood look to it
- it expands and contracts more
- vunerable to moisture
- can swell and buckle from moisture
- needs a controlled enviroment such as air conditioning and a dehumidifier
- requires a vapor barrier over a concrete slab
- it is not waterproof and use caution if installed in wet areas such as bathrooms.
- a little more difficult to install in tight areas such as door jambs, closets and ect.
It might seem that LVP has a great edge over Laminate but, that is not true. When you look at what the actual pro’s for laminate are, durability and a more natural wood look are very important things to consider.
Not all plank is created equal either. There are some very high quality products on both sides of this AND there a some very low quality products on both sides of this.
What type of pad do I need
If you choose a plank that has an attatched pad, then you DO NOT need any additional pad under the plank. If you do not have an attached pad then I ALWAYS use pad under the plank reguardless if the manufacturer says it is needed or not.
It is always better to have a pad under the plank to have a more solid sounding floor.
Do I need trasitions and where do I need them?
You will need to use transitions wherever the plank ends at another room. This room could have some type of flooring in it such as:
- wood or another type of laminate/lvp
- just a bare floor
- top of the stairs
There are a few other places that a transition could be used such as along railings, patio doors and other exterior doors. Typically, I always try to use quarter round in those situations first and if that is not possible, then I would use a transition.
There a 3 common transitions used –
An end cap
This is usually used where plank meets carpet. But, it can also be used along exterior doors and along railings.
These can be expensive to buy and there are other alternatives such as using quarter round along exterior doors and just ending the plank at carpet without it. I do have a videos inside Laminate University that show how to use this.
These are used in areas where the plank would end to a bare floor(nothing) or a floor with a thin layer of another flooring like vinyl/linoleum.
It can also be used to reduce height fron tile to plank. In this situation the lip of the reducer would cover the edge of the tile and the actul reducer would rest on top of the plank.
A T-Molding is used where plank would meet another hard surace that was close to the same height as the plank. This could be tile, wood, anothe laminate or lvp and ect..
NEVER use a t-molding where the plank meets the carpet. The carpet is too soft to support the T-molding and I guarantee it will break.
Then there is a Stair Nosing
This is used on steps or at the very top of the stairs.
There are 2 types of these nosings-
- flush mount
You use a flushmount nosing on steps only. The overlapping stair nose is used at the top step and it overlaps the plank. This is used so the floor can expand and contract.
I have videos for transitions
to better explain about how transitions are used and how they are installed you can watch my videos for these in my members area. You can also access many other videos that will guide you through your entire installation. Just click on the button below to get started.
What direction should your plank run?
I almost always base my layout off of the hallway. The reason I do this is because most of the time the hallway is a focal point of most homes. It is a place I like to have the length of the plank run parallel with the walls of the hall. This of course is not an exact science and is why I said almost always.
When you have a long hallway and the plank run the short way down the hall, it can really be a terrible look. I also know that sometimes there are multiple hallways in an installation and they can run opposite directions. This would be a situation where you would need to choose which hall would you like to look best.
Since we are installing a floating floor, the plank can run any direction you prefer. It does not follow the same rules as a nail down wood floor. JOIST DIRECTION DOES NOT MATTER
So preference is really the answer and it’s totally up to you. It is your house, you decide what looks best.
However, if you are installing plank into multiple rooms and you want to avoid using transitions, then that can be the biggest factor in deciding plank direction.
The locking system of your plank has a tongue and a groove. The plank is meant for the tongue to be installed into the groove and that is the easiest way to install the plank. But, it can be installed the other way(inserting the groove over the tongue), but this can be a little more difficult and take a little more time.
DON’T LET THIS SCARE YOU!!
I have several different tips to help with this situation, so don’t get worried or nervous about this now, I got you covered.
Here are a couple of examples of what it looks like when the plank is running the short way and the long way in a hallway.
I can help with you with your Plank Direction
If you need help with deciding plank direction, the layout of your project, tips on working backwards or even how you can avoid using transitions, Laminate University will provide all of these needs and more. To find out more about this, click on the Get Started button.
What tools will you need?
There really is not too many tools that you will need to complete a plank installation. Many of these tools you probably already have.
I do this for a living so, I have a lot of the bells and whistles to make the job go faster and more efficient. The average DIY’er does not need all the tools that I use. But don’t let me stop you from buying what you want to buy, have at it!
Here is a list of the tools you will need. I am going to leave out some basics like a hammer and tape measure, those types of things are obvious, right?
- jigsaw and some wood cutting jigsaw blades
- a good pair of knee pads
- utility knife
- chalk line
- speed square
- tapping block
- pull bar
- small planer or sharp wood chisel
I have a list of all the tools I use and how much they cost. You can click on the button below to see that list.
What do you do with all the furniture
What do you do with all the furniture
Moving furniture is never fun. Well, let me restate that because I know some of you like to change things up and you might move furniture around every month or two.
Finding a place to put furniture can be a hassel while working on a project like this. The goal would be not to move it more than you need to. Right?!
I will share with you how you can deal with furniture in this video, so check it out.
Where do I start
This is something that you will want to think about a little before you just jump into your installation. Let me ask a few questions-
- Do you want this to look like it was installed by a Pro?
- Do you want this to be as easy and as painless as possible?
- Would you prefer to learn from a Pro instead of learning solely through trial and error
Ok, if you answered yes to these questions, then I can help.
Where you start will determine how big your end pieces on every wall will be. This will let you decide where you want the plank to look best, such as the hall.
It also will help so you don’t have a piece that is too small to even cut, resulting in trying to cover up a huge gap with some sort of trim
It also will help you continue the plank into other rooms flawlessly without using big bulky transitions.
It will help you avoid working backwards into multiple areas. Working backwards is a term used when you have to install the plank in a manner that it is not meant to be installed. It can be done and on many ocassions it has to be done. You just want to keep it to a minimum.
The plank is designed to have the tongue inserted into the groove(this is the easiest way and would be considered working forward) when you need to install the groove into the tongue(working backwards) it is more difficult to get the plank locked together.
I have a video on youtube that has over a million views. I am not bringing this up to boast, I am telling you this to show you credibility. It is really a great video to get the basics of Where to start.
Not everyone understands it fully the first time they watch it. But, after going through it a couple times most get it.
I do have a step by step guide that is very easy to follow along with a few shorter videos that break down this step and they are found inside Laminate University. There are links to it throughout this page.
The layout(where to start) is the key to a successful installation and if you get this right, in return you will get a Professional looking result.
Are existing floors hard to tear out
The answer to this question can be yes or no, it depends on what type of flooring are you tearing out.
An existing floor can have many different variables to how it was installed. Because of this I am going to cover the basics but, I will give you an example to what I am refering to.
A kitchen floor could have sheet vinyl installed over it but under that sheet vinyl could be 3 other layers of sheet vinyl and a couple of layers of quarter inch underlayment. This would be a little more work than just tearing out one layer of sheet vinyl.
Carpet – easy
This is usually the easiest flooring to tear out. If it is glued to the floor then it will be more work. Most of the time it is what we call a stretch in installation. This means it would be attached to tackstrip along the edges and under the carpet is a pad that has been stapled down along its edges. If it is over a concrete slab then the pad is glued along the edges.
Laminate – very easy
This is very easy to tear out. You just need to find a place to get one plank out and the rest comes right out like taking apart a puzzle.
Tile – difficult
I really don’t want to make this out as being too difficult, because it is really just more time consuming then anything. Yes, there will be elbow grease needed and THE DUST IS GOING TO BE BAD!
If the tile is installed over a concrete slab then you should not have too much trouble at all. If it is installed over a wood subfloor and there was a cement board installed, then you will have a lot of work to do.
Vinyl/Linoleum – somewhat difficult
This can be a little work too. It also depends if it is glued directly to concrete or the main subfloor. A lot of times in this case it can be left down because it would only be about 1/16 of an inch above the main subfloor and that is easy to feather out with some good floor patch. You can use Henry 549 feather finish, but I like to use Ardex Feather Finish.
If it has a wood underlayment under it, that will be a little more work, but not too bad. The most time consuming part would be getting rid of all the staples and cutting around the cabinets with am oscilating saw(if the flooring was installed under the cabinets).
Is there anything else I can do instead of tearing out an existing floor?
Sometimes it can just be easier to add to the subloor. So you would build up any of the floors to the level of the floor you do not want to tear out.
This is not always going to be an option. There are several things to consider before you go this route.
- Will building the floor up result in doors not clearing the new floor
- Can the doors be cut if they do not clear
- if you build up to an existing floor in one area will the new height be higher than an existing floor in another area
- Is the cost of the additional subfloor far greater then the elbow grease used to tear the floor out
- Will the added height affect stairs and railings
Like always, the solution that could be easiest does not always work.
I have videos that are filled with tips to help you with tearing out any of these floors. You can find them inside Laminate University. Just click on the button below to get started.
What are some things you need to know or do?
Below, I will walk you through the same steps that I use when I am ready to start a Plank Installation. Just go down the list and check them out. If you see something you want to check into more, then just click on it.
Determine the Plank direction
This can be a place where you can get hung pretty easily. Don’t worry though, you are not alone, I get asked this question all the time by other DIY’ers just like you! The answer to this question is actually pretty easy to decide.
Are you installing into multiple rooms
Do you have any long hallways
Does the direction of the joists matter
Do you know what needs to be undercut to have a clean professional looking finish
I am sure that you probably already know that something needs to be done around the doorjambs and casings. You definitely don’t want to leave a gap around these or have to install some sort of trim to cover that gap. There are also other areas that undercutting can be used to achieve a nice finished look.
door jambs and casings
cabinets and partition walls
around stair openings
Checklist of things to do before starting
Below are a the things that should be done before you start installing any plank. Go through this checklist and see if you have done all of these.
Are the existing floors removed and the same level
It is very important to have all the floors the same level, if you are looking for a seamless looking floor. If you happen to have a situation where the existing floor cannot be torn out, then another option is to build up the other areas to the level of that floor.
I would avoid trying to feather out an area that is higher, unless it is a 1/16th of an inch or less. It is only going to cause problems if you do, so I would not do that.
I have several videos that will show you how to remove existing floors like-
- vinyl/linoleum and underlayment
- laminate and vinyl plank
These videos can be found inside my members only area – Laminate University
Be sure to check this out
Have you checked the floor for humps and dips?
How perfect does the floor need to be? My answer to this question is based on what I would do.
I would not get to worked up by what the manufacturer states in their warranty. There is not a floor that I have ever installed plank over, that would meet the specs of most manufactures. With that being said, I still want the floor to have a good foundation under it and I am going to try and get the floor as flat as it needs to be. But, it will not be perfect…..
What you are looking for are the problem areas and they are usually easy to find.
Wood subfloor –
- more often then not, high and low joists can be a problem
It really depends on what direction you install your plank, if you run the plank parallel to the joists then the plank will flow right over these problem areas. If you install the plank perpendicular to the joists then this will affect the plank and can cause the plank to straddle the joist like a teeter totter and there will be hollow spots on both sides of the joist.
Vinyl plank will eventually form to the floor so it’s not as critical to spend a lot of time and effort to fix this area. It will be more of a visual thing, meaning you will probably see the hump in the floor.
Laminate absolutely hates high joists. It will always have a sponge feel to it on both sides of the high joist and it will strain the joints causing problems in the future.
This is always a toss up, the problem areas can be anywhere. The good news is that with some floor patch and/or a grinder, most of these problem areas can be fixed pretty easily. So do not get discouraged by the floor prep.
I have more information on how to deal with these areas and a few videos that show how to fix them. They are located only inside Laminate University, feel free to check it out.
Cut the doorjambs, partitions and wherever trim will not be installed
Like I talked about in the video above, you will need to undercut some areas before you start installing the plank.
Once you are done cutting, be sure that the plank can slide under these areas freely.
If the plank does not move easily, then it is too tight and this can cause the plank to buckle in that area. Just take your time and double check everything.
Where do you need transitions?
I only use transitions in areas that the plank will be ending. I do not use transitions to break up the plank at doorways.
I know ALL manufacturers state in their warranties that transitions must be used in doorways and after a certain length of a run. You can follow this if you are worried about a problem.
Here is what I do-
I never use transitions to break up the plank. I flow the plank seamlessly throughout the entire area. If in the future there was a problem with buckling, I would then cut the floor at the door and add a transition at that time.
Now you can decide what you would do!
Inside my members area you will have access to step by step instructions on how to install Laminate or Vinyl Plank. You will find videos, guides, a members only group for questions and discussion and plenty more. Join 100’s of other DIY’ers just like you and you too can install your own floor with a Professional looking result.
Where should you Start?
Figuring out where to start is probably the most important part of your plank installation. It is actually a very simple process and I will show you exactly how you need to do this.
Securing the floor is very important
There is a list of things that can really make installing a plank floor very difficult and this is at the top of the list. You want to have a solid foundation to build from and I have developed an easy method that gives you the solid foundation you need. I share this inside Laminate University.
How the Locking System Works
There is a tongue and groove locking system that comes on your Laminate or Vinyl Planks. This system is designed to be installed a certain way.
Tongue and Groove Locking System
Some brands of plank are easier to work with than other brands. Some have designed their locking systems to be a lot simpler for the installer or DIY’er. They still all have one thing in common though, they all have a tongue and a groove. What makes some easier then others is….
Why you should AVOID working backwards
The locking system can be installed a couple different ways, but there is a certain direction that it is meant to be installed. It is easiest to install the tongue into the groove, however it can be installed the other way with the groove side installed into the tongue side. Why would this matter?
Join 100’s of DIY’ers Just like you
Inside Laminate University you will get access to the tools you need to get your project done. Using the steps I provide, you will Complete Your Plank Installation with Professional Results.
Thank you for visiting my website
I know there is a lot of information out there and I am honored to be able to help you!
I want you to know that none of this was possible without the help of our Lord and
We can all be saved through Jesus Christ!