How to Prepare a Subfloor for Vinyl Flooring

Written by kevin mcdermott
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How to Prepare a Subfloor for Vinyl Flooring
(Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images)

Vinyl flooring doesn’t need to have an underlayment cement board, as is the standard for hard tiles, but it is a good idea to have a smooth, solid base under it. Plywood is an acceptable underlayment for vinyl, and can be installed directly over the subfloor, or over a regular wooden floor. If you’re installing over a subfloor, make sure that the direction of the plywood underlayment sheets is perpendicular to the direction of the plywood sheets that make up the subfloor.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • ½-inch plywood
  • Screw gun
  • Wood screws (1-1/2 inch, galvanised)
  • T-square
  • Circular saw

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  1. 1

    Let the plywood sit in the room where it’s going to be installed for a week before installation, to allow it to acclimate to the environment.

  2. 2

    Clean the subfloor and let it dry completely. Set the first sheet of plywood on the subfloor in one corner of the room. Leave about ¼ inch of space between the edges of the board and the two walls, to allow for the plywood to expand if necessary.

  3. 3

    Drive wood screws straight down into the surface of the plywood with your screwgun, putting them every 6 inches around the edges of the board (about an inch from the edge), and then every 10 or 12 inches across the middle.

  4. 4

    Set the second piece of plywood at the end of the first one, alongside the wall and sitting ¼ inch from it. Butt the edges of the plywood tightly to each other.

  5. 5

    Proceed to lay the rest of the course, end to end, to the far wall. Cut the last board with a circular saw to fit, using your t-square to mark a straight line across the width of it.

  6. 6

    Start the next course at the side of the floor where you ended the first course, so the ends of the boards are staggered and there are no four-way intersections between the boards. Repeat and cover the whole floor, pressing the edges of the boards tightly to each other while leaving ¼ inch all around the perimeter by the walls. The floor is now ready for vinyl.

Tips and warnings

  • Wear eye protection when using your circular saw.

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