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How to Prep a Subfloor for Luxury Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl has long been a go-to material for flooring in high-traffic spaces like residential entry areas, kitchens, hallways and living rooms. It’s also routinely used in commercial spaces where long-term durability is of the utmost importance.

subfloor for luxury vinyl

Luxury vinyl flooring ups the ante when it comes to both durability and style when compared to regular, more traditional vinyl formulations. Vinyl planks even come in a range of looks that mimic other materials like hardwood and stone. Luxury vinyl is also a relatively easy material to install, making it attractive to DIY-minded home and business owners.

Before you can begin your installation you’ll need to prepare the subfloor for luxury vinyl flooring. This process varies depending on whether you have a concrete or wood subfloor in place. You can also install luxury vinyl flooring over some existing floor materials.

Use this guide to learn more about how to prepare your subfloor for a luxury vinyl flooring installation in a commercial or residential space. We’ll also cover how you can get your existing flooring ready if you don’t plan to remove it.

Preparing a Concrete Subfloor for Luxury Vinyl Flooring

concrete subfloor for luxury vinyl

Concrete is a common subfloor material, and in general, it’s easy to prepare for a luxury vinyl flooring installation project. If your concrete subfloor was just poured, you’ll need to allow it to properly cure for a minimum of 60 days before your luxury vinyl flooring installation begins.

Here’s step-by-step guide to help you prep a concrete subfloor for luxury vinyl:

Step 1:

Test the moisture content of your concrete subfloor. You can do this with a moisture meter, ensuring that your reading is no more than three-pounds per 1,000 square feet per 24 hours. Another option is to tape a piece of your vinyl flooring to the concrete for 72 hours. If the flooring comes up easily, you’ll need to reduce the moisture content of the room via dehumidification and repeat the test.

Step 2:

Thoroughly clean your subfloor. Start by sweeping up any debris. You can also use a wet/dry vacuum for a deep cleaning. Just make sure your floor dries completely before moving to the next step.

Step 3:

Check your subfloor to make sure it is level. Test multiple areas using a large level. Note any low or high spots.

Step 4:

Level your floor by filling low spots with patching compound and a putty knife. Use medium-grit sandpaper to smooth the area, cleaning thoroughly when you’re done.

Step 5:

Use a belt sander to reduce high spots. Clean any debris to ensure a spotless subfloor.

Step 6:

Begin your luxury vinyl flooring installation once your subfloor is clean, dry and level.

Pro Tip

You’ll need to install a vapor barrier if you’re using floating vinyl flooring. Use this guide to learn more about the differences between glue down and floating vinyl plank flooring.

Preparing a Wood Subfloor for Luxury Vinyl Flooring

wood subfloor for luxury vinyl

Wood subfloors are durable and designed to last, but the process of installing luxury vinyl flooring over wood is slightly more complex than concrete. It’s still a manageable job if you have a little DIY skill.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you prepare a wood subfloor for luxury vinyl:

Step 1:

Cover your existing subfloor area where new vinyl flooring will be installed with 1/4-inch plywood. Measure carefully to ensure that the plywood is an appropriate fit. You can have these pieces cut by a lumber yard or use a circular saw on the job site.

Step 2:

Place your plywood pieces so their joints don’t go directly over the joints of your wood subfloor. Leave a 1/4-inch expansion gap around walls and joints.

Step 3:

Secure your plywood pieces in place using 1-inch decking screws. Hide screw heads below the surface of your plywood pieces to create an even work area.

Step 4:

Use appropriate floor patching compound to fill in the areas over screw heads. Smooth these areas using medium-grit sandpaper to create a perfectly level surface for your luxury vinyl material.

Step 5:

Clean your floors thoroughly to ensure no debris remains. You can use a wet/dry vacuum if you allow time for the wood to dry before you begin the installation process.

Step 6:

Begin your luxury vinyl flooring installation once the area is clean, dry and level.

Can I Install Luxury Vinyl Over an Existing Floor?

subfloor for luxury vinyl
Vesdura Vinyl Planks – 6.5mm SPC Click Lock – XL Jumbo Collection in Brown Sawn French Oak / SKU: 15270039

Some people choose to install luxury vinyl flooring over an existing floor to save both time and money. Vinyl material that’s in place, as well as tile flooring, are generally the easiest to work with.

In many cases, a new installation without removing your existing floor is possible, but the process is somewhat different. How to prepare your floor will also depend on the existing material you have.

Here are a few things to know about installing luxury vinyl flooring over an existing floor:

  • Your existing floor needs to be as clean as possible. Use an appropriate household cleaner. You may want to repeat the cleaning process more than once.
  • You’ll need to fill cracks between existing vinyl flooring materials with patching compound. Cement-based mixes work best for leveling grout lines when dealing with existing tile floors. Sand these areas to ensure a smooth, level surface all over.
  • Moisture content matters when installing luxury vinyl flooring over existing materials. While your set floor is likely to be dry, patching compound and cement-based mixes must also adhere to moisture requirements. Use a moisture meter or perform the 72-hour tape test with a piece of your new vinyl flooring.

Ready to Install?

Luxury vinyl flooring is strong, durable and designed to stand up to lots of foot traffic in entry areas, kitchens and commercial spaces. Available in a range of looks from classic laminate designs and textures to styles that look like natural hardwood and stone, luxury vinyl also allows you to tailor your new flooring to your décor needs.

Ready to learn more about installing luxury vinyl flooring in your home or commercial space? Reach out to our trained representatives today. We can help you locate the right materials and ensure that you’ve got everything you need to update your floors whether you’re doing it yourself or hiring top-notch pros. We’ll even ship your supplies right to your door.

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