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

Installing vinyl plank flooring is pretty straightforward. But, installing the planks on concrete is a different thing.

To install vinyl plank flooring on concrete, you need to clean and sand the concrete. Then you should remove all baseboards and trims on the floor to create acclimation gaps for the vinyl planks.

Cracks and dents in the concrete should be filled with concrete paste and allowed to dry. A waterproof underlayment is also needed on the concrete to prevent moisture damage.

With all of these in place, you can lock the vinyl planks on the underlayment using the vinyl plank’s tongue and groove locking system. You should know that vinyl planks can only be installed on concrete that is at least 2 months old.

Can You Put Vinyl Plank Flooring Directly On Concrete?

It’s not a good idea to put vinyl plank flooring directly on concrete because concrete subfloors are known to trap moisture due to the porosity of concrete.

You are required to install a waterproof underlayment or insulation on the concrete floor before installing the vinyl plank flooring. The waterproof underlayment is to protect the vinyl planks from moisture damage. The underlayment also makes the vinyl planks more comfortable.

Can You Put Vinyl Plank Flooring Directly On Concrete?

Before you can lay vinyl plank flooring over a concrete subfloor, a waterproof underlayment is needed on the concrete. The purpose of the underlayment is to provide a waterproof barrier between the concrete and the vinyl planks.

As you know, concrete is a very porous substance. In the case of a leak beneath your vinyl floor either from a broken pipe or a flood, the water will pass through the concrete floor.

You don’t want that water reaching your vinyl planks because it can cause swelling and even mold growth on the vinyl planks. The waterproof underlayment is required to serve as a waterproof barrier between the concrete and the vinyl planks in the event of a leak.

Asides from waterproofing, the underlayment also helps with soundproofing, insulation, and comfort. If you skip the underlayment and install the vinyl planks directly on the concrete floor, the planks will become prone to water damage.

Also, the vinyl floor will feel hard on the feet and knees due to a lack of cushioning or insulation beneath the vinyl plank floor.

What Type of Underlayment Do You Need For Concrete?

What Type of Underlayment Do You Need For Concrete?

You need a waterproof underlayment for your vinyl flooring that is at least 1mm thick on a concrete floor before installing vinyl planks. The right underlayment should also provide good soundproofing, comfort, and insulation beneath the vinyl planks.

You should know that you don’t need underlayment with luxury vinyl planks. This is because luxury vinyl planks are usually designed with pre-attached underlayment. If your vinyl planks have a pre-attached underlayment, you don’t need to use another 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 plank flooring. 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.

When shopping for a foam underlayment for concrete, ensure to go for the one that offers waterproofing. Foam being a porous material isn’t great at holding water and as such, you should look for foam underlayment that is coated and sealed with waterproof materials like Polypropylene.

Cork Underlayment

Cork underlayment is another great choice of underlayment to use on concrete. Cork underlayment is made from the barks of the Cork Oak tree.

The material is tough, comfortable, and waterproof. Cork will work great on concrete because it adds strength to the floor making your laminate floor able to support more weight. Asides from the strength, cork underlayment are also waterproof and will keep moisture away from the laminate planks.

Cork underlayment especially works well with luxury vinyl planks and you can get the underlayment in either the half-pound or 2-pound roll. Another great feature of cork underlayment is that it resists mold growth.

Felt Underlayment

Felt underlayment made from felt fabric material is good to use on concrete due to its moisture resistance and insulation.

This underlayment is especially helpful during the cold winter seasons as it keeps your vinyl floor warm and comfy. Felt underlayment is also very affordable but it doesn’t provide good cushioning.

Vinyl Back Underlayment

Vinyl back underlayment gets its name from the waterproof vinyl material that is attached to the bottom or back of the underlayment.

The vinyl-back underlayment prevents moisture from penetrating through and since that’s the part that will be on the concrete subfloor, you don’t need to worry about water damage. Vinyl back flooring is also comfortable and better at soundproofing.

You should stay away from plywood underlayment because it is not waterproof and will be prone to moisture damage itself.

How To Prepare A Concrete Floor For Vinyl Flooring?

To prepare a concrete floor for vinyl plank flooring, you need to first allow the concrete to cure for at least 6 – 8 weeks. Then you have to wipe and clean the concrete to remove dirt before sanding the concrete. The final preparatory step is to install a waterproof underlayment on the concrete.

Prepping a concrete floor for vinyl flooring involves cleaning, scrubbing, sanding, and installing underlayment. All of these steps should be done correctly to allow the vinyl plank flooring to sit well on the concrete subfloor.

The wiping and cleaning are done to remove dirt. If you don’t do that, the loose dirt on the concrete can affect the vinyl planks especially if you decide to use vinyl adhesive.

Sanding is done to smoothen the concrete so it can be flat. If the concrete isn’t flat, the vinyl planks will buckle. As long as the concrete is clean and smooth, you can install a vinyl plank floor on it but don’t forget to install an underlayment first.

What Type Of Vinyl Floor Is Best For Concrete?

The best type of vinyl floor to use on concrete is luxury vinyl plank flooring. The floor is water-resistant and can support heavy furniture and high foot traffic.

Luxury vinyl plank flooring is commonly designed with pre-attached waterproof underlayment so you don’t need extra underlayment on the concrete. You can also use luxury vinyl tiles on concrete if you fancy a tile-like vinyl floor finish.

Luxury vinyl plank flooring is the best type of vinyl to use on concrete. Luxury vinyl tiles also work on concrete because both types of vinyl floors have been engineered to be stronger and more durable than other types of vinyl flooring. Composite vinyl (WPC and SPC) can also be used on concrete.

You shouldn’t use sheet vinyl on concrete because the sheet flooring is too thin to be used on concrete. Sheet vinyl also doesn’t come with pre-attached underlayment so there is no cushioning or soundproofing with this vinyl flooring.

How To Install Vinyl Plank Flooring On Concrete?

To install a vinyl plank flooring on concrete, you’ll need the following tools and supplies:

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

Here is a 4-step guide to installing vinyl plank flooring on concrete:

1. Prep The Concrete

Prep The Concrete

The first step is to prep the concrete floor. To do this, you need to first take out all items on the concrete floor.

Furniture, electronics, and the like should be removed from the concrete floor. The next thing to do is to remove all baseboards and base wall trims. Then you can sweep or vacuum the concrete floor to remove loose dirt.

You should also wipe and clean the concrete. If the concrete is filthy, you need to wash it using a scrubbing brush and soap mixture – you can mix some detergent with water for this. After cleaning and washing the concrete, leave it to dry.

The next step is to repair cracks and dents on the concrete floor with concrete paste or concrete filer. Ensure to allow the concrete paste to dry fully and then sand the spot lightly before moving on with the task.

2. Take Your Measurement

Take Your Measurement

You need to measure and calculate the laminate planks that you’ll need to fit on the floor. To do this, use a tape measure and get a measurement of the width and length of the floor.

You can take the measurements to a pro to tell you the type and size of vinyl planks that you’ll need. After getting the measurement, you can use a power saw to trim the edges of the vinyl planks to the needed sizes.

3. Install The Underlayment

Install The Underlayment

The next step is to install the underlayment. This is easy as you just need to unwrap and lay the underlayment on the concrete. You might need a pair of scissors to trim the underlayment to size. Ensure the underlay lays perfectly on the concrete without wrapping or folding.

5. Install The Vinyl Plank Flooring

Install The Vinyl Plank Flooring

The final step is to install the vinyl plank flooring. You are to start laying the vinyl planks from the base of the wall so you have enough room to work with. You should take note of the acclimation gaps while installing the vinyl planks to prevent the floor from buckling or coming loose later.

To install the vinyl planks, you need to pay attention to the tongue and groove locking mechanism. The locks between the planks need to slide into each other for the vinyl plank flooring to lock in place. You can use a rubber mallet to tap the vinyl planks tightly together. After installing the planks, you should leave the floor for at least a day before walking over it.

Can You Glue Vinyl Plank Flooring To Concrete?

You can glue vinyl plank flooring to concrete. But, you’ll need to use a strong vinyl floor adhesive to achieve this feat because regular floor adhesives will not stick well to concrete.

You should also use a vinyl adhesive that dries fast to prevent the vinyl planks from turning sticky. However, you should know that you don’t need to glue vinyl plank flooring to concrete because the planks will stay in place without glue.

It’s very common to glue vinyl planks to floors to keep the planks in place but you don’t need to do this with vinyl plank flooring. This is because vinyl planks are designed with a tongue and groove interlocking mechanism that keeps the planks together without using glue.

You should know that using glue on the vinyl planks even puts you at a disadvantage whenever you want to remove or replace the vinyl flooring. Glued-down planks are very difficult to remove or replace without causing damage to the vinyl planks. So it’s better not to glue the vinyl planks to the concrete floor.

How Long Do Vinyl Planks Last On Concrete?

Vinyl Planks last between 10 and 20 years on concrete. As long as the vinyl planks are installed correctly and properly maintained, the floor will last at least 15 years on concrete. You should remember that the use of a waterproof underlayment on the concrete makes the vinyl planks last longer.

You should also know that the room where the vinyl floor was installed determines how long it will last. For instance, a vinyl plank flooring installed on the concrete bedroom floor will last longer than the vinyl plank flooring installed on an outdoor concrete floor. This is because the vinyl plank flooring outside will experience more traffic and harsher conditions than the vinyl plank floor in your bedroom.

So even if you installed the same type of vinyl planks using the same type of underlayment for both vinyl plank floors, the bedroom floor will still last longer.

The quality of the vinyl planks, the type of underlayment, the thickness of the wear layer, and the installation method also determine how long the planks will last on concrete.

Final Words

In summary, you can install a vinyl floor on concrete by following the steps above. You’ll need to wipe and clean the concrete surface to remove dirt and then sand down the concrete to make it smooth.

Don’t forget that waterproof underlayment is needed to protect your vinyl floor from water damage. You don’t need to glue the vinyl planks to the floor unless stated by the manufacturer or brand. As long as you install the vinyl planks properly, they will last several years on the concrete.

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