How to Install Vinyl Flooring on Concrete? (4 Steps)

Concrete is a hard and durable material but has a boring look. To improve its appearance, you can install vinyl planks over it. So, how to do it?

To install vinyl plank flooring on concrete, clean and sand the surface. Then, install a waterproof underlayment and lay the vinyl planks. If the concrete is cracked or dented, repair it with a concrete paste.

The concrete must be at least 2 months old before you install flooring over it. Fresh newly concrete (less than 2 months) isn’t durable or strong enough to withstand foot traffic.

Don’t Install Vinyl Planks Directly

Can You Put Vinyl Plank Flooring Directly On Concrete?

You shouldn’t lay vinyl planks directly over a concrete subfloor. That’s because they are porous and trap moisture inside. So, if you lay them directly, the trapped moisture can affect and damage the planks.

You must lay a waterproof underlayment (or insulation) before laying the planks. The waterproof underlayment will protect the vinyl from moisture or water damage and make them more comfortable.

The waterproof underlayment will act as a barrier between the concrete and the floor. In case of a water leak, the waterproof underlayment will prevent water from reaching the planks. This allows the planks to last longer.

Concrete is a porous surface; if exposed to water, it will allow the water to pass through it and reach the planks. So, installing an underlayment before vinyl planks is necessary.

Type of Underlayments To Use on Concrete:

What Type of Underlayment Do You Need For Concrete?

You must use a waterproof underlayment that is at least 1mm thick under vinyl flooring. The underlayment must provide good soundproofing, comfort, and insulation.

However, you don’t need underlayment for luxury vinyl planks (LVP). These planks are designed with a pre-attached underlayment, so you don’t need to add an extra one.

Here are the types of underlayment that you can use on concrete:

Foam or Standard Underlayment

Foam underlayment is the most common type of underlayment for vinyl planks. The underlayment is made from 100% commercial foam padding.

Several layers of foam padding are engineered and pressed together to form the foam underlayment. Foam underlayment is usually between 1mm and 3mm thick.

For concrete surfaces, use waterproof foam underlayment sealed with a waterproof topcoat (such as Polypropylene). That’s because a regular foam underlayment is water soluble and can’t protect floors from water.

Cork Underlayment

Cork underlayment is made from the bark of the Cork oak tree. This underlayment is durable, comfortable, and waterproof. It’s a great choice for a concrete subfloor as it adds strength to your floor, making it support more weight.

Since cork underlayment is waterproof, it also protects the floor from moisture or water.

Felt Underlayment

Felt underlayment is a water-resistant underlay made from felt fabric material. This underlayment keeps the floors warm and comfy during the cold winter. It’s affordable, but it doesn’t provide good cushioning.

Vinyl Back Underlayment

Vinyl back underlayment has a waterproof vinyl material attached to the underlayment’s bottom (or back). This underlayment prevents moisture (or water) from penetrating the planks. Also, it’s comfortable and soundproof.

You must avoid plywood underlayment because it’s not waterproof and won’t protect the planks from moisture.

Types of Vinyl Floors To Use:

Use luxury vinyl planks (LVP) for concrete subfloors. The LVP are water-resistant and can support heavy furniture and high foot traffic.

Also, they are designed with pre-attached waterproof underlayment, so you don’t need to add an extra one. They are engineered to be strong and more durable than other types of vinyl. You can also use luxury vinyl tiles if you want a tile design.

You can use also composite vinyl (WPC or SPC), but you must install a waterproof underlayment. However, some composite vinyl floors come with pre-attached waterproof underlayment, so you don’t have to add an extra one.

You shouldn’t use sheet vinyl on a concrete subfloor. That’s because they are thin, not durable enough, and don’t have a pre-attached underlayment.

How To Install Vinyl Plank Flooring On Concrete?

Installing vinyl plank flooring on concrete isn’t hard, but you must prep the surface properly and use the right underlayment.

Here are the tools you need:

  • A rubber mallet
  • A pair of gloves
  • Waterproof underlayment
  • A pair of scissors
  • A scrubbing brush
  • A clean bucket
  • Detergent
  • Tape measure
  • Clean rags
  • Pry bar
  • Concrete filler

1. Prep The Concrete

Prep The Concrete

First, prep the concrete floor. The concrete subfloor must cure for 6-8 weeks if it’s newly installed.

For old concrete surfaces, remove all the items and furniture. Also, remove the baseboard and base wall trims (if you have them installed).

Next, clean it:

  1. Mix detergent with water.
  2. Apply the mixture over the subfloor.
  3. Use a scrubbing brush to wash off the surface and remove the filth.
  4. After removing the filth, rinse it with clean water and leave it to dry.

If the concrete has cracks or dents, repair them with a concrete paste (or filler). Apply the paste over the cracks, remove the excess paste, allow it to dry, and then sand the surface. If you don’t repair the cracks (or holes), the flooring will be uneven and won’t stick.

2. Take Your Measurement

Take Your Measurement

Measure the width and length of the floor using a measurement. Then, using the measurements, calculate how many planks you need. This way, you know exactly how many planks you will use and how large the underlayment should be.

3. Install The Underlayment

Install The Underlayment

After getting the measurements, lay the underlayment.

To lay an underlayment:

  1. Unwrap and lay the underlayment on the subfloor.
  2. Trim the underlayment to fit the size of the floor.
  3. Ensure the underlayment layers are perfectly on the subfloor without wrapping or folding.

If you use vinyl planks with pre-attached underlayment, you don’t need to add an extra one.

5. Install The Vinyl Plank Flooring

Install The Vinyl Plank Flooring

After laying the underlayment, lay the vinyl planks. Start by laying planks from the base of the wall, so you have enough room to work with.

While laying them, focus on the tongue and groove locking mechanism. The locks between planks must slide into each other for the planks to lock (stick in place). You can use a rubber mallet to tap them together.

The vinyl planks must acclimate, so wait 1-2 days before walking over them.

Gluing Vinyl Planks

You can glue vinyl planks to concrete, but you must use strong vinyl glue that dries fast to prevent the planks from turning sticky. You shouldn’t use regular floor glue as it’s not strong enough to keep planks in one place.

However, gluing is optional because the planks will stay in place regardless. This is because they are designed with a tongue and groove interlocking mechanism that keeps them together (in place) without glue.

Also, glued-down planks are difficult to remove or replace without causing damage to the subfloor. So, it’s better to use the locking mechanism they have and avoid gluing them.

How Long Do Vinyl Planks Last On Concrete?

Concrete vinyl planks last between 10-20 years. On average, properly-installed and maintained vinyl planks will last at least 15 years on concrete.

The room where they are installed will determine how long they will last. For instance, if you use them in a concrete bedroom, they will last longer than if you use them outdoors. That’s because outdoor flooring is exposed to weather elements and more traffic.

The type of vinyl planks and underlayment and the installation method also determines long the planks will last. For instance, vinyl planks with a waterproof underlayment will last longer than those without one.

Final Words

You can install vinyl planks on a concrete subfloor, but the subfloor must be prepped, and you must install a waterproof underlayment. To prep it, clean, sand, and repair it (if necessary).

Since concrete surfaces are porous, you must add a waterproof underlayment to protect the vinyl planks (underneath) from water. If you don’t, the planks will get damaged if there’s any water leak under the subfloor.

Tony Adams

Tony Adams

Woodworker, Interior and Exterior Painter, Flooring Specialist

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about.

Eral Kadrija

Eral Kadrija

Lead Editor, Home Renovator

Eral has a passion for home renovation and repair. Over the years, he has bought, renovated, and sold 7 old homes. Using his experience from different DIY projects he created DIY Geeks.

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