How to Install Vinyl Sheet Flooring
Learn how to install vinyl sheet flooring in a bathroom with this easy and quick method!
Guess what, everyone? I'm moving! And that means selling my house. Now, I've done a lot of work on this house in the past few years, but there's one place I've been avoiding.
For whatever reason, I've always hated this bathroom. But bathrooms are expensive, so I kept putting off a renovation. But it's now or never, and I need this house to sell, so...
Today I'm working on the bathroom floor. I grabbed some budget-friendly (aka, super cheap) sheet vinyl floor from Menards, and was ready to go!
Before I even bought the flooring, there were a number of things I thought about to ensure this project went smoothly.
Vinyl Sheet Flooring vs. Vinyl Plank Flooring
I actually started this search by browsing the flooring section at Floor and Decor. To my surprise, they didn't have a single sheet vinyl product. According to the employee, that's just not something they sell.
So I looked at the vinyl plank options instead. The price per square foot is roughly comparable to vinyl sheet flooring. However, my bathroom required 24 square feet of flooring.
It was my bad luck that vinyl plank flooring comes in boxes of roughly 23 square feet; I would need to purchase almost double the amount of flooring I needed in order to have enough to cover my floor.
So that made vinyl sheet flooring the easy answer for me. I also think doing a loose lay/glueless vinyl sheet install is easier than the vinyl plank process, but I've never actually done the vinyl plank process, so maybe I'm biased.
(Note: I have done a plywood plank project. I don't necessarily recommend it, especially in a bathroom.)
Loose Lay vs. Glue Down Installation
This should be an easy decision. Glue down installation looks like an awful process, and something that should be hired out to a pro. If you're DIY-ing a sheet vinyl floor installation, you want to do a loose lay (also called glueless) install.
But, I mention it here because not all vinyl sheet flooring can be done with a loose lay installation!
Check the installation instructions on the manufacturer's website before you buy to make sure you're purchasing something that can be installed that way.
Measuring the Floor
It goes without saying that you need to measure your floor before you buy. But you should do a bit more than just determine the square footage of the room.
Map out how you'll lay the vinyl on your floor based on the size of the roll of the vinyl (you can find this information online.)
Then, once you know how you'll lay out the vinyl, calculate how much you need to purchase. Be sure to get a little extra on every side so that you have plenty of vinyl to work with!
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- Vinyl Sheet Flooring - I used this vinyl sheet flooring. As mentioned above, make sure whatever vinyl sheet flooring you've purchased can be installed with a "glueless" or "loose lay" installation.
- Double Sided Floor Tape - For securing doorways and other places without molding.
- Utility Knife
- Transition Strip
- (Optional) Brad Nail Gun - For reinstalling shoe molding.
How to Lay Vinyl Sheet Flooring
Special Note: As I've mentioned a couple times, I did this project right before selling my house. I made many "cheater" decisions, like installing on top of existing tile and not removing the toilet.
While I'm pretty pleased with how this project turned out, I may have made different decisions if this was going to be my home long-term.
Step 1: Prep Original Floor
Vinyl sheet flooring can be installed on top of many different floor types (check your installation instructions for specifics,) so I opted to install it right on top of my tile.
I started by removing all of the 1/4" shoe molding around the perimeter of my bathroom, as well as the cover of the air vent.
Then I thoroughly cleaned the floor.
Step 2: Lay Tape
Full Disclosure: I actually laid the tape after I dry fit the floor, because I bought the wrong tape the first time around. But, I think you should lay it first, so I'm listing it first.
The installation instructions on my floor were very clear that the double sided tape should not be laid around the perimeter of the flooring. Instead, it should only be placed in select places where there is no shoe molding.
For me, this meant at the doorway, in front of the bathtub, and around the toilet.
The tape is easy to use. Unroll and cut the correct amount. Stick in place. There's a backing that remains on top of the tape, which we'll remove after the floors are in place.
Step 3: Lay Flooring
I opted to lay the flooring around my toilet, so before I dragged the flooring into the bathroom, I cut a slit in the vinyl where I measured the toilet to be.
Then I unrolled the floor in the bathroom, and arranged it as best I could around the toilet.
Once I was pretty sure the floor was generally in the right spot, I start making slits with the utility knife around the toilet to better lay it out.
Finally, I cut off the slits and trimmed the floor around the toilet.
Now, I made this sound easy, but cutting the floor around the toilet is, by far, the hardest part of the process. I did a lot of standing around second guessing myself and worrying that I'd cut too far and ruin everything.
It turned out fine, but honestly, I could have easily cut too much. Be careful here. And if it's easy for you to remove the toilet, remove the toilet and floor under it.
As a one-girl-show with totally rusted toilet bolts (you see those in the picture? it's a mess...) I had no desire to remove the toilet. Flooring around it was the easier option for me. But it might not be for you, so think about it.
Once the toilet was done, I moved onto trimming the perimeter of the room. This was easier, but still a little tricky. There were places where I cut too much - luckily, caulk is wonderful invention.
The instructions for my floor indicated I should leave a 1/4" gap between the floor and the wall. I did this anywhere the shoe molding would be attached.
In places without shoe molding, like in front of the bathtub, I cut a little closer. 1/4" is a lot to cover with caulk.
Once the floors were laid out, I let them sit for a couple days before adding the molding and activating the tape.
This was mostly because I didn't have the tape yet (and needed to refinish the vanity,) but it made me confident the floors were well-placed.
Step 4: Secure With Tape
Pull the backing off the double sided tape, and press the flooring into place.
The floor looks exactly the same, except now it's actually stuck down.
Step 5: Reinstall Shoe Molding
Nail the shoe molding back into place. I have an absolutely awesome electric brad nailer that makes this super easy, but a hammer and nails works too.
This is also probably a good time to reinstall the air vent cover. Honestly, I forgot about it until a few days later.
Step 6: Install Transition Strip
Since I installed my sheet vinyl floors on top of tile, I needed a pretty tall transition strip. The transition strip you buy will depend on how much height difference exists between the new floor and the floor outside the room.
Regardless, I loved my transition strip. It was unfinished oak, so after I covered it in polyurethane, it matched my wood floors (which I refinished myself. I don't recommend doing that.)
It also had a track that attached to the floor. The wood portion snapped into the track, so no nails or screws were visible.
Step 7: Caulk Gaps
I caulked any and all gaps I saw - between the shoe molding and the wall, between the floor and the wall, between the bathtub and the floor... you get the idea.
I've found that some water, paper towels, and patience is all I need to get a decent caulk job. I dip my finger in the water, smooth out the caulk, then fix any smudges with the paper towel.
I was less than great at cutting the floor in some places, but once the caulk was in place, I thought it looked fine.
Once my caulk was dry, the floors were done!
How do I deal with seams?
So, my bathroom floor doesn't require any seams, and as an ethical DIY blogger, I only tell you about things I've personally done.
That said, my floor manufacturer created some specific "seam tape" to deal with that issue - that was the tape I accidentally purchased instead of the double sided tape. I'm not sure if it's compatible with all vinyl floors, but it's how my floor manufacturer suggested dealing with seams.
I've heard things about "rolling" the floor. Do I have to do that?
No. That process is only required if you're doing a glue/adhesive install.
Is the shoe molding really enough to hold the floors in place?
Yes. I mentioned that I left the floors laid out for a couple days before removing the backing from the tape and installing the shoe molding. They didn't budge.
Given you purchased the correct type of sheet vinyl, this stuff is specifically designed to be heavy enough to stay in place.
I'm installing the same floors as you! Where can I find the installation manuals?
Here's how this project approximately broke down for me:
Double Sided Floor Tape
I simultaneously replaced my vanity during this project, and the old shoe molding wouldn't work with the new vanity, so I had to purchase new shoe molding.
Given you're careful removing the molding at the beginning of the project, you can probably reuse your shoe molding, and won't need to purchase it new.
The cost for new vinyl sheet flooring for my bathroom came to around $94. I thought this was a bargain!
I'm not done with the bathroom yet, but I already think it looks so much better!
Also, clean. Despite my best efforts, I always felt this room was filthy. The new floor and refinished bathtub go a long way to making this room feel new.
I'm not done yet, so you if want to see the final product, be sure to subscribe to my newsletter so you don't miss it!
I absolutely love how this turned out - if you like it too, or think you might install your own DIY sheet vinyl floors, be sure to save this post to Pinterest so you can find it again later!