Vinyl Plank Flooring Update


We are in the process of updating our 20 year old home to get it ready to go on the market.  The effect of four dogs at various times and many kids traipsing in and out in earlier years hit our happy home full force.  Flooring was the hardest hit.  When we bought our house in 1996, pickled oak was a leading trend.  We paired the oak flooring with a green/aqua carpet that I thought made it look a little Scandinavian.  I grew to hate the carpet – but not enough to replace it until now.  The cost to refinish the 1000 square feet of wood flooring on the main floor was as much as to cover it with a more current look (a deep maple) in engineered click and lock floor.  That led us to much forethought and planning. The kitchen has wood floors and since the appliances need to be replaced in the kitchen, we will need a shorter dishwasher to be able to be installed over the extra 3/8 ” thick engineered wood.  The living, dining, guest bath, laundry and office will need underlayment wood sheets to be placed on the existing underlayment where either carpet or linoleum formerly was installed in order to achieve even heights with the new wood being placed on top of the adjacent wood floors.

For our first room to upgrade – the laundry – one fabulous discovery were vinyl “planks” that were 4 feet  long by 7 1/2″  inches wide. You have to look carefully at the floor to see the floor is not wood. They were priced at just under $2.50 a square foot.  Just shy of 20 square feet per box for $49.00, It took 4 boxes to give our old “potting shed” themed laundry a fresh new appearance with their clear cherry wood grain.

Before –  while demolishing…

After  – before finish moldings

 Because I got crafty many years ago and used joint compound to create a rough looking plaster wall in shades of mossy green along three of the walls (the other wall was flower pot terra cotta…), we opted to cover all the walls with light bright bead board.  A 4 x 8 foot sheet was attractively priced at 19.47 a sheet of which we used 9.

Lessons learned on this project:  1) We had to put  new underlayment sheets on the floor first to bring up the level to match the engineered wood being put over the existing oak at the doorway to the hall.  2) Remove base and any crown molding you may have first – after clearing the room completely.  3) Paint door moldings and ceiling before you go any further.  4) A circular saw at the very least is required to cut the wall and floor elements to size.  The vinyl planks instructions (a video) say you can score and break the pieces, but a mitre saw makes a cleaner quicker cut. Prepare a place with enough room to saw large pieces of wood and paint long lengths of molding.  Organize all your tools for easy access.  It’s so easy to lose one and have to hunt for it at a critical point.  A nail gun with a small air compressor is the only way to go nailing the walls and moldings in place.    5) Put walls in place before flooring. Measure the floor to ceiling height to check consistency.  Subtract from the 8 foot sheets any allowance for new underlayment or a height under 8 feet and 3/8″ for a slight margin. 6) At the ceiling line, lightly pencil mark where the wood studs are using a stud finder.  Apply wood glue  to the wall along where the wall studs are behind the drywall, then nail the bead board in place with a nail gun. This creates nail divots that have to be filled in with paintable acrylic caulk and wiped smooth.  If the boards don’t abut perfectly, the same caulk can be used to fill in the seams too.  7)  In order to not have a patched appearance and to cut the white brightness down a bit, we painted over the bead board with a slightly creamier white, giving it a richer luster.

8) The vinyl planks require no plastic underneath or adhesives.  They simply click together.  (We were told by a flooring installer the vinyl planks that overlap each other and attach to each other with adhesive flanges were not as good a choice as the click and lock which are not prone to moisture and dirt infiltrating later).  9) You should snap chalk lines at the long wall lines and across the center to measure and insure squared walls and even proportions. Extra lines to insure you stay in line along the way can help too.  10) There should be an alternating pattern of long and short planks both lengthwise and widthwise to look “natural”. Depending on your room’s dimensions, you may need to cut a board that would be placed at the beginning or end of the room to get the pattern right (cut edge against the wall).  Take time to plan out the placement.  The boards themselves have a “faux” wood join. You don’t want to butt two together.11) The trick to installing the planks we used was to fit the ends of the planks together like a long train and then coming in at a slight angle to click into the groove of the last row of planks.  After attaching, use a small straight board and rubber mallet to gently hammer against the edge you just laid.  Do this to both the short and long joins to insure a good lock.

 12) You may have to cut a long vertical piece on the last row to not have too much of a gap before the wall.  If the gap is awkwardly large,you could adjust the first row and cut a piece there to start.  Instructions say to allow 5/16ths of an inch for expansion along the walls is where to snap your chalk line.  The vinyl is not going to expand even 1/4″.  This is more to insure straight walls and allow for any corrections before you get there.  Make sure there is no more of a gap between the planks and the wall than what the floor molding will cover. 13) Finish the room off with ceiling and base moldings.  This will cover any gaps and especially make the flooring look high quality.  We used vinyl ceiling molding as opposed to wood.  It was light and easy to install with the nail gun.  It is white and smooth but we preferred to paint it first.  After patching the nail divots and smoothing out, just a touch up of paint is all that is needed.  The base molding was 5″ fluted, primed, and painted before installing with the nail gun.

Updating a room such as this is not difficult, it just requires a few good tools and careful thinking/ planning ahead before doing.  We prefer to let the next owners put in cabinetry etc.  A new laundry sink with its own cabinet is on its way and a rolling shelf that fits between the washer and dryer will finish the project for us.  It also makes me think:  Why did we wait so long to update???



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