As one of the easiest DIY’s you can do to your home, I was thrilled with the dramatic before an after in my laundry room makeover. Today I’m sharing a few tips I learned on the way.
This laundry room makeover is a multi-faceted project – we’re not talking just a can of paint here…
This plan involves:
- painting the unfinished ceiling
- hiding the electrical panel
- painting walls
- adding trim
- in-wall storage
- new laundry tub
- new flooring (you are here)
- new folding table over washer and dryer
- new accessories, like in-wall ironing board and drying rack
This is what I started with:
Today I’m sharing what I learned with my first-ever installation of vinyl flooring.
Ex-Hubby laid this linoleum (really a vinyl sheet flooring) years and years ago. It’s held up relatively well, but there were a few deeper scratches here and there that needed to be covered.
I think I made this giant gouge when I was moving cabinets into the laundry room for storage.
And Ex-Hubby did a work-around for the laundry tub, and the edges have all curled up.
I know, it’s a basement, and it’s a laundry room, and at the end of the day function is more important than form… but it’s been 18 years. Now that I am a more confident DIYer, this seemed like a project I could do on a relatively small budget. Trust me, you can too.
First off, what is vinyl flooring?
Vinyl flooring is 100% synthetic (usually plastic), which means it is ideal in areas with a lot of humidity and moisture because it won’t shrink or expand and is completely waterproof. Vinyl flooring, even luxury vinyl flooring is less expensive than laminate flooring, but will not add value to your home.
Then what is laminate flooring?
Laminate flooring has a wood substrate to it. It comes in a much broader selection of colours and styles, and can/will add more value to your home than vinyl flooring. The downside is that it is not suitable for damp areas because the wood byproducts can shrink and expand with moisture. Laminate flooring is usually water-resistant, but not waterproof.
For a basement laundry room, vinyl flooring was the proper way to go.
Fortunately for me, the day I went to look at flooring options, Lowe’s had an inventory blowout sale and I was able to pick up a wood-look plank flooring for about $1/sq ft. According to the box it’s called Mono Serra – Secco Style SPC Everest. I wasn’t able to find any online links at Lowe’s or Rona, so it may have been on sale to clear out the inventory.
What tools do you need for installing vinyl flooring?
- speed square
- utility knife
- tape measure
- tapping block – trust me, I ruined a few boards by not having this tool
- rubber mallet
- ¼” spacers – can be made from scrap wood
- for longer cuts, you may need a table saw to rip down the length of the board
- oscillating multi-tool or undercut door jam saw
Preparation before laying vinyl flooring
- Acclimate the flooring. Bring your boxes of vinyl flooring into the space that you are going to lay it so that it acclimates to the heat/cold/moisture of the room.
- Delineate your boards. Packages of flooring will come with 4, 6, 8, or maybe even 12 different board patterns. Separate out your pieces into separate piles so that you can choose one pattern from each pile and avoid getting too many repeats in one area.
- Read the box! Some vinyl flooring will require an underlayment before you put down your planks. Others will tell you not to put down an underlayment or you will nullify your warranty. This is probably something I should have read while I was at the home improvement store – but I didn’t. In fact, I didn’t read the box until I was about ¼ the way through the room. 🤦🏻♀️ This particular vinyl flooring did require an underlayment… so we’ll say that the old sheet flooring is that. It isn’t really, but I didn’t want to start over.
- Determine your spacing. Will your room require a narrow row of vinyl planks to finish it? Decide which side of the room that narrow row will be on, or whether you will rip boards down on both sides of the room for symmetry.
- Follow the sun. Next you want to lay your flooring so that the long seams flow with the light. I have a small window on the back wall by the washer and dryer, so I laid my vinyl flooring so that the seams followed the sunbeams. (hopefully that makes sense?) My vinyl flooring has almost invisible seams, but if you choose a floor with larger gaps, dirt and dust will collect and be more noticeable if the light staggers across it.
- Cut your spacers. You are going to want a ¼” space between the wall and the flooring. This space allows the floor to shift and move with the temperature and/or humidity of the room. I cut down some scrap wood to act as spacers before I laid my first row.
- DON’T DROP YOUR FLOORING! I (wrongly) assumed that the vinyl planks were fairly durable – and they are – but not on the ends if you drop the board or the box on an awkward angle. You can cut some boards down to be saveable, but I did lose a few pieces to chips in the ends.
Because my new laundry room had just been drywalled, I didn’t have to remove baseboards before starting work. If you do have baseboards, you’ll want to remove them before laying the planks.
Where do you start laying your vinyl flooring?
Tongue and groove flooring that snaps together, has an edge that tucks under the next plank, and an accepting edge that receives the previous plank. Because of this, you’ll want to start your flooring in the left corner of the room.
You’ll notice above that I didn’t patch or repair the old linoleum (sheet vinyl) before laying the vinyl flooring over top. The existing flooring is very soft so laying anything over top of the rips flattens it down completely. All that was necessary was to thoroughly sweep the space so that no rocks (or in my case, kitty litter) had gotten under the old flooring before covering it over with the new.
How do you cut vinyl plank flooring?
I was fully prepared to use my mitre saw with painter’s tape to stop the edges of the planks from fraying… but I was THRILLED to find out you don’t need to! All you need is a speed square and a sharp utility knife to score the boards. Something I learned (the hard way); hold your speed square in place and LIGHTLY score the line the first time, then go back over your score line 2-3 times once your blade has a groove to follow.
I attempted to score the board heavily and in one pass and that just made my speed square shift and my blade wiggle, ruining a board.
After scoring, turn the board over and it should snap easily on the seam line you just made.
Pattern for laying vinyl plank flooring
I’ll be honest, all of my planks looked REALLY similar, so I wasn’t able to separate out boards with different patterns. Now that the room is done, I don’t see any obvious repeats, so I think I dodged a bullet with that one.
BUT, if you do have obvious patterns in your flooring, and you’ve separated each pattern into a different pile, then choose a board from each pile so that no two are side by side. The next important thing when laying your flooring is to stagger your joints. Don’t cut any two boards that are within 3′ of each other to the same length. As an added wrench in the wheel, don’t cut any planks shorter than 8″. (This is a tip from Fix This, Build That – who has an awesome video tutorial you should watch)
Using a tapping block
I’ve read that you can use a scrap piece of 2×4 as a tapping block for clicking your vinyl flooring into place. Yeah, it didn’t work for me, and in hindsight I wish I had bought a proper tapping block to tap my boards into place. Even a soft rubber mallet can chip the edges of the receiving groove and make weak spots in the connection between planks.
If I were to do it again, I think this is the tapping block that would have worked best. The little notch would have sat above the receiving edge so that it wouldn’t get damaged.
Undercutting door frames
I was fortunate that my laundry room wasn’t trimmed out at this point, so I didn’t need to undercut any door frames. If you do have door trim in place, you’ll want to bring in an oscillating multi tool – or a much cheaper option – an undercut door jam saw. Either of these tools will allow you to cut a small section out from the bottom of your door frame to allow the new flooring to snuggle underneath.
Is it easy to install vinyl plank flooring?
YES! I had a few little glitches along the way, but you don’t learn anything in a perfect scenario. Have a few extra boards calculated into your purchase and you can whip this out in a matter of hours (not days). I’ve seen other DIYers comment that of any DIY project they’ve attempted in their homes, installing your own laminate flooring was hands-down the easiest. I might argue that painting is easier, but this is certainly a close second. 😂
I even had enough vinyl planks leftover to cover my folding counter – but I’ll show you that another day.
Pretty fantastic eh?
A few more projects to go to completion, but WOW is it looking fantastic!!
Have a great one!