Choice of vinyl
Vinyl flooring looks great and is one of the most hard-wearing coverings you can buy.
It is easy to wipe clean, warm underfoot and can reduce noise – especially useful in children’s rooms. There’s a huge range of patterns available on rolls and tiles. You can opt for an authentic wood block pattern, marble effect, bright colours or soft pastels. Vinyl sheet comes as 2, 3 or 4m widths, from 1.4 to 3mm thick.
Thinner sheet and tile flooring is harder on the feet but is long-lasting. Cushioned vinyl is thicker and more comfortable but can be damaged by heavy wear. Lino is a solid sheet flooring similar to vinyl but much more difficult to lay so call in a professional to lay this type of floor covering.
Preparing to lay the vinyl
Vinyl flooring is quite soft and any uneven areas underneath will soon show through and spoil the appearance.
Cover floorboards with hardboard. Bring the hardboard sheets into the room and brush a litre of water over the rough side of each. Leave for 24 hours, then lay the sheets across the floorboards, staggering the joints and fixing with panel pins every 100mm around the edge and at 150mm centres in the middle. Make sure the nail heads are flush with the hardboard surface. Check out the section on hardboarding floors for guidance with this.
For solid concrete floors, check there is a damp-proof membrane and spread self-levelling compound over the floor to fill any holes and provide a smooth surface for the vinyl.
Cover ceramic tiles with a 3mm layer of self-levelling compound to smooth over the joints between the tiles.
Estimating the size of the vinyl sheet required
Vinyl sheet comes in 2, 3 and 4m widths. Measure the room carefully, including any alcoves. Remember that you will need to allow for trimming.
Measuring and marking the vinyl floor
It is sometimes easier to lay the sheet out and draw the measurements onto the sheet, allowing at least 100mm overlap all around. However, if you do this, double check all your measurements and make sure you allow for any walls being out of square. Don’t be tempted to mark out the shape on the back as this will need to be a mirror image and often leads to costly errors.
Vinyl is relatively easy to cut with a sharp craft knife, but take care, as with all sharp tools.
Vinyl can be difficult to handle, so leave it in the room for at least a day to acclimatise, either opened flat or loosely rolled. It is easier to work if warm, so turning on the central heating for a few hours will help. Vacuum the floor thoroughly and take off your shoes to reduce the chances of grit being trapped under the vinyl and showing through later.
Laying out the vinyl
Unroll the sheet of vinyl and lay it against the longest straight wall in the room. There should be around 100mm of flooring overlapping this wall.
Adjust so that any pattern is parallel with the wall. In old properties where the walls are obviously out of square, you may need to adjust it until it looks best.
Using a soft broom, sweep the vinyl flat, working out any air bubbles. Make cuts in from the edge of the vinyl so that the sheet lies as flat as possible in the alcoves and around corners. At internal corners, press the vinyl firmly into the corners and cut vertically downwards. Trim the waste from each side of this line to form a V-shape until the flooring fits into the corner. At external corners, cut from the point of the corner out towards the edge at a 45 degree angle to give yourself enough to trim in both directions.
Cutting and fitting the vinyl
For the initial trimming, make regular pen marks on the vinyl that overlaps the wall, about 25mm up from the floor, and trim off the waste above this line with a craft knife.
Now, with the vinyl only a little oversized, work around the edge of the room, pressing a steel straight edge against the vinyl into joint between the wall and the skirting. Cut the remaining waste strip of vinyl to give an exact fit. Keep the knife upright and make regular checks that you are cutting to the right line.
Cutting vinyl around door frames
Work around door frames or other awkward shapes by pressing the vinyl flat with a paint scraper and cutting around the shape. It is easier if you make small cuts in from the edge at each change of angle. This will allow the vinyl to lay flat and make trimming more accurate. Use a soft broom to push out any air bubbles.
Fix the vinyl to the floor at doorways with double-sided tape. It is also worth fitting a threshold strip across the doorway to protect the edge of the sheet.
Wait for at least a week before washing tiles or sheet vinyl that’s been stuck down.
For a neat finish, take off kitchen unit plinths and slide the sheet underneath. You may need to plane a few millimetres from the underneath of the boards to re-fit.