You bought the new-to-you home for its quirkiness and charm. The flooring … that has to go. It’s a nightmare. But the thought of ripping it out leaves you shuddering almost as much as the thought of leaving it in place.
Can you lay vinyl over other flooring options? Or will it shorten its life and make you regret your decision?
Why vinyl flooring
If you’re looking at new flooring, it’s hard to ignore vinyl. Today’s vinyl isn’t what your mother or grandmother installed. Today’s vinyl is a whole lot more.
The global vinyl flooring market is expanding at a rate of 7 percent per year. A lot of that is thanks to the newest segment, luxury vinyl. Luxury vinyl planks and tiles currently make up more than half the total vinyl market share, and are ever-popular because of the looks they create inside a home. Want a waterproof version of your favorite hardwood? Want a softer version of concrete? You’ll find it with luxury vinyl planks and tiles.
Vinyl is the perfect choice for remodeling kitchens, bathrooms, or laundry rooms. Vinyl is both economical and durable. If you have a problem with moisture, vinyl is the go-to choice.
If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, vinyl is also a great choice because of how easy it is to install. Even if you’ve never done it before, you can generally have a small room completed in a day or two.
As with any remodeling project, preparation is everything. If you ensure the base or subfloor you’ll be laying vinyl over meets the criteria laid out by the manufacturer, your vinyl flooring will give you a long life. Checking with the manufacturer’s guidelines is your important first step to ensure a job well done.
If you’re installing vinyl over wood flooring, it’s essential to ensure you have a smooth surface area. If there are excessive gaps between the boards, these must first be filled. If the hardwood is cupped, bowed, or swollen, it may need to be pulled out or have another underlayment laid over the top to ensure your flooring remains stable over time. A professional can look at your floors to help you make the right choice before installation.
If you’re installing vinyl over laminate flooring, the same rules apply as with hardwood. If the laminate is cupped, bowed, or in any way damaged, you might need to fix the area before the vinyl is installed. If your laminate isn’t glued down, and was installed using a click and lock system, you will have better results if you pull it up first. Having a click and lock vinyl plank installed over other click and lock technology may cause trouble in how the product handles over time.
If you’re installing vinyl over tile, it can be installed directly over the ceramic or porcelain tile. If you have cracks, missing tiles, or large gaps or uneven spaces in the flooring, it’s better to fill those in to create a smooth surface. Starting with a smooth underlayment will ensure the quality of the vinyl flooring, and ensure that it continues to look good for the life of the floor.
The most important characteristics for a floor that lasts for years
What makes vinyl flooring a popular home improvement product, especially for do-it-yourselfers, is that you can lay it over existing flooring. Generally, as long as the flooring material underneath is in good shape to act as a subfloor, you won’t have any problems with your new vinyl floors.
Keep in mind that vinyl planks and tile may appear hard, but they are a thin, soft, flexible material. If you have major flaws underneath, they will eventually be reproduced in your vinyl floors. That means cracks, holes, bridge gaps, uneven seams, or other major structural issues in the floor you are laying on top of should be smoothed out before installing your new flooring.
When it comes to laying luxury vinyl over existing flooring, you should ensure the flooring underneath is:
Before you install vinyl flooring over the top of your existing flooring, be sure you won’t have height issues after installation. Measure out transitions between the room you’re installing vinyl in and other spaces around it. Will your new floors be too high for cabinets and vanities? If you have any questions, a professional can help you make the right choice about installations methods, to ensure you have a uniform flooring method throughout your home.
If you’re replacing your current flooring because of imperfections, they can easily show up in your new vinyl flooring if they aren’t dealt with first. They may start to appear over time as more pressure is placed on the vinyl flooring.
It’s important to have a dry surface area before you install your new floors. Depending on the vinyl you choose, it can offer you water-resistant or even waterproof features. By laying this new product over water-damaged subfloors, you will lock in the moisture problem underneath. This can allow mildew or mold to fester and grow, with no means of escape.
While uneven grout lines or seams between hardwood planks may seem minor to you, they can be exacerbated once your new vinyl flooring is installed. An easy way to solve this is by laying a substrate of large format boards over the top to give you a smooth surface. Installers often use MDF particleboard sheets or 4 by 8 foot plywood sheets to provide a smooth surface and reduce the problems associated with an uneven floor. Don’t lock in problems. If your flooring is suffering from water damage, for example, it’s best to clean the surface area and get rid of the problem before installing the new flooring.
This is your biggest indicator of success. If you are replacing your existing flooring because of unevenness, gaps in the boards, or cracks in the tiles, you’ll only replace one problem for another if you lay your luxury vinyl over the top. Consider removing the flooring if it’s in bad shape and is difficult to repair. Also consider what the subfloor is like underneath your existing flooring. If it isn’t in good condition, is rotted, or cracked, it too could become a problem in the future, reducing the lifespan of your vinyl flooring product.
As a do-it-yourselfer, vinyl can be one of the easiest flooring materials to install inside your home. Without the need to pull out an existing flooring product, you can have your new floors installed in a short period of time.
Is vinyl the right flooring choice for you? Stop by, and we’ll answer all the questions you have about this ever-growing, ever-popular flooring choice.