Common Mistakes When Installing Vinyl Plank Flooring

Common Mistakes When Installing Vinyl Plank Flooring

Vinyl plank flooring has become a popular choice for homeowners due to its durability, easy maintenance, and stylish appearance. However, the installation can be a daunting task for DIY enthusiasts, and you can make many mistakes. So, what are the common mistakes when installing vinyl plank flooring?

We will highlight the pitfalls that can lead to unsatisfactory results and emphasize the importance of proper preparation, including leveling the subfloor and addressing moisture issues. We will also walk you through the potential consequences of improper installation techniques.

By understanding the common mistakes when laying vinyl flooring, you’ll be better equipped to navigate the installation process confidently, ensuring a flawless and long-lasting flooring experience. Let’s get started!

Common Mistakes When Installing Vinyl Plank Flooring

Source: / Photo Contributor: VanoVasaio

The Most Common Mistakes When Installing Vinyl Plank Flooring

When installing vinyl plank flooring, common mistakes often occur due to improper subfloor preparation, inadequate acclimation of planks, neglect of expansion gaps, and misalignment or improper staggering of the planks.

An uneven or moisture-prone subfloor can lead to gaps, buckling, and premature wear. And skipping the acclimation process can cause problems with expansion or contraction after installation.

Furthermore, not leaving sufficient expansion gaps around perimeters and fixed objects can result in buckling or separation over time. Additionally, misaligned or poorly staggered planks can create an unappealing appearance.

Moreover, disregarding manufacturer guidelines can lead to issues with locking mechanisms, underlayment compatibility, and more. Avoiding these common pitfalls is crucial to achieving a flawless, long-lasting vinyl plank flooring installation. Now, we will address them in detail below.

Not acclimating the flooring

Improperly acclimating vinyl plank flooring can lead to problems post-installation. The process is essential because it allows the planks to adjust gradually to the room’s temperature and humidity. This adjustment prevents issues like gaps, peaking, or buckling.

To acclimate correctly, unpack the planks and spread them out in the installation area for 24-48 hours, following the manufacturer’s guidelines. You may even acclimate them in their sealed packaging or for a different timeframe.

During acclimation, the planks need exposure to the room’s conditions. Skipping this step can result in costly repairs or replacements later. So, proper acclimation ensures a smooth and durable installation, maintaining the flooring’s beauty over time.

Inadequate subfloor preparation

Proper subfloor preparation is essential for vinyl plank flooring to look good and last long. You should start by thoroughly cleaning and drying the subfloor to remove dirt, debris, and adhesive residue. Ensure it is completely dry to prevent any future issues.

Next, leveling the subfloor is critical. Use a floor leveling compound to fill low spots and sand down high areas for a smooth, even surface. This step ensures that the vinyl planks will lay flat and securely.

If your subfloor tends to be moist, we advise you to install a moisture barrier or a moisture-resistant underlayment. This additional layer helps protect the vinyl planks from any moisture that could seep through over time.

You can create a strong foundation by taking these steps – cleaning, leveling, and addressing moisture concerns. This prevents problems like uneven flooring, plank gaps, or premature wear and tear.

Ignoring the manufacturer’s instructions

Ignoring the manufacturer’s instructions during vinyl plank flooring installation can cause problems and might even cancel product warranties. These instructions are crucial, covering things like acclimation, subfloor prep, and specific installation techniques designed for the product.

Manufacturers often recommend the type and thickness of underlayment. Using the wrong underlayment can lead to issues such as cushioning problems, difficulty locking planks, or moisture-related concerns. They might also specify adhesives and their correct application to guarantee a strong bond.

Thus, we suggest you follow instructions regarding underlayment, adhesives, and other materials. Doing so ensures a successful installation that works as intended. Plus, it meets warranty requirements, saving you from potentially expensive repairs or replacements later.

Improper layout planning

Proper layout planning is essential for achieving an attractive vinyl plank flooring installation. Begin by carefully measuring the room’s dimensions and considering factors like shape, lighting, and plank orientation.

Next, start your installation strategically, using full planks in visible areas and staggering end joints by at least 6 inches for a natural appearance. Consider how different patterns affect visual impact, such as diagonal or herringbone for dynamic movement or straight for elongated spaces.

To ensure a seamless flow between rooms, you need to align the direction of the planks. Thoughtful planning helps minimize waste, avoids awkward small cuts near walls, and results in a well-balanced design. By dedicating time to layout planning, you can achieve a professional look while optimizing material usage efficiently.

Incorrect use of tools

Installing vinyl plank flooring requires specific tools designed for the job. These include a utility knife, pull bar, tapping block, and spacers. However, using improper household tools can lead to issues and potentially damage the flooring.

For instance, using a hammer instead of a tapping block can crack plank edges. Dull blades or scissors can also create jagged cuts, affecting the flooring’s appearance.

Even choosing the wrong spacers can result in incorrect expansion gaps. Because of that, it’s crucial to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure a smooth installation and preserve the flooring’s integrity.

Incorrect use of tools

Source: / Photo Contributor: Sharomka

Failing to leave an expansion gap

You must leave an expansion gap around the room’s perimeter when installing vinyl planks. This gap, a small space between the planks and the walls or fixed objects, is essential for allowing the flooring to expand and contract naturally. 

If you skip this step, serious problems might arise. Without enough space to move, the planks may buckle, peak, or even separate, affecting the floor’s appearance and shortening its lifespan.

Guidelines for determining the expansion gap size

Most manufacturers advise leaving an expansion gap of 1/4 to 1/2 inch around the entire perimeter of the room, even around fixed objects such as pipes or cabinets. This gap size is crucial to accommodate the flooring’s expansion and contraction needs.

The specific size of the gap may differ depending on the manufacturer’s guidelines and the size of the room or installation area. Larger rooms might necessitate a slightly wider expansion gap. It’s always wise to adhere closely to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

If unsure, you can check the installation instructions or contact customer support for clarification. Ensuring the appropriate expansion gap provides ample space for your vinyl plank flooring to adjust without causing harm is a simple precaution that can help you avoid expensive repairs or replacements.

Overlooking underlayment requirements

Overlooking underlayment can result in expensive errors. Whether skipping it entirely or using the wrong type, these mistakes can lead to structural damage and shorten flooring lifespan. Furthermore, they can cause performance issues like moisture seepage, uneven surfaces, and inadequate insulation.

To avoid such problems, it’s essential to choose the right underlayment. A proper underlayment serves as a moisture barrier, provides insulation, and creates a smooth base, boosting durability and acoustic performance.

So, investing in high-quality underlayment is wise. Doing so prevents problems such as warping, echoes, and premature aging. Ultimately, it saves money and ensures a long-lasting, high-performing floor.

Overlooking underlayment requirements

Source: / Photo Contributor: ronstik


We highlighted the importance of proper preparation, technique, and adherence to manufacturer guidelines. Avoiding pitfalls such as improper subfloor preparation, inadequate plank acclimation, neglecting expansion gaps, and disregarding installation instructions is crucial for a successful project.

With this in-depth knowledge of the common mistakes when installing vinyl plank flooring, you can achieve a beautiful, even flooring surface. This approach safeguards the durability and longevity of your investment.

Now, you can confidently undertake your vinyl plank flooring project, transforming your living space with a stunning, low-maintenance, and resilient flooring solution. Remember, meticulous attention to detail and following best practices are the keys to achieving a professional-grade finish that will stand the test of time.

Mark is a seasoned home services contractor and now serves as the Director of Market Research for Services Curated.