How to lay vinyl plank over existing flooring

Updated February 21, 2017

Vinyl plank is a thicker, cushioned alternative to traditional vinyl tile or sheet flooring. Because of its thicker construction, this product can be installed over many types of existing flooring. Like other resilient flooring products, vinyl offers a high level of water resistance and an easy-to-clean surface, making it the perfect finish for kitchens, bathrooms and hallways. Before installing your vinyl plank, take the time to prepare the existing floor surface carefully to maximise your chances for a successful installation.

Prepare the existing floor

Examine your existing floor surface. If it is firmly adhered to the subfloor and in good condition, you can safely install vinyl plank over top. This generally includes most glued vinyl or linoleum products, nailed or stapled wood or laminate, concrete or ceramic tile.

Remove any loose or broken pieces of flooring by hand. This may include cracked pieces of ceramic tile or broken corners of vinyl/linoleum tiles. Vacuum the entire floor to remove any remaining dust or debris.

Apply an embossing compound over any existing floor that has a raised texture. This includes textured linoleum and vinyl, or ceramic tile. Smooth on the embossing compound with a trowel until all grout lines or textured areas are concealed. Allow this compound to dry overnight before proceeding.

Install vinyl planks

Lay your first row of vinyl plank along the most visible wall in the room. Leave a 6 mm (1/4 inch) gap at the base of the wall for expansion. Use plastic spacers to help maintain this gap as needed. Connect the ends of each plank by removing the protective paper from the adhesive strip and pressing the two planks firmly together.

Connect the second row of flooring by lining up the glue strips along each edge and pressing them together. If you make a mistake, pull the planks apart quickly and refasten them. You usually have a limited window of time for repairs once the glue has been activated.

Cut the planks, using a score-and-snap technique. Hold the planks face up and score them with a utility knife two to three times. Use a straight edge to help guide your knife. Turn the planks over and snap them in two along the score line. Discard sections shorter than 20 cm (8 inches).

Stagger the joints along each row as you work. Try to avoid allowing the edges of a plank to line up with joints in the existing flooring below.

Install the last row of flooring, maintaining a 6 mm (1/4 inch) expansion gap at the base of the wall. Score and snap the last row of planks along their length if they are too wide to fit the available space.

Roll the entire floor surface, using a 45.4 kg (100 lb) floor roller. Work from the centre of the floor out toward the walls. Pay careful attention to any air bubbles and take the time to work them out toward the edges of the floor.


Most vinyl plank products feature integral glue strips or Velcro/glue connectors along the edges, but some versions may require a separate adhesive. Choose products with built-in glue strips for easier installation and cleanup.


Avoid using vinyl plank over carpet, floating floors or heavily padded flooring materials.

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum
  • Embossing compound
  • Trowel
  • Plastic spacers
  • Utility knife
  • Straight edge
  • 45.4 kg (100 lb) floor roller
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About the Author

Emily Beach works in the commercial construction industry in Maryland. She received her LEED accreditation from the U.S. Green Building Council in 2008 and is in the process of working towards an Architectural Hardware Consultant certification from the Door and Hardware Institute. She received a bachelor's degree in economics and management from Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.