Skip to Content

Can and Should You Install Vinyl Plank Over Hardwood?

Vinyl flooring is a great option for many situations; it is a durable material that stands up well to heavy foot traffic and dirt, making it great in rec rooms, hallways, and kitchens. Vinyl is also less expensive than many other flooring materials and is easy to install, making it great in DIY home renovations. But should you lay vinyl over existing hardwood floors?

You can install a vinyl plank over hardwood. Vinyl is a versatile material that only requires a smooth, even surface with sufficient structural integrity for a successful installation. Whether or not you should install vinyl plank over hardwood is another matter altogether.

In this article, we will take a look at some of the factors that can influence your decision to install vinyl plank over existing hardwood. We will also provide a basic step-by-step guide on how to install this durable flooring material if you decide it this the best option for you. If you’ve ever wondered about installing vinyl plank directly over hardwood floors, read on. 

Vinyl Plank Over Hardwood

If you are thinking of installing vinyl plank over existing hardwood, there are a few things to consider. The most important of these factors is what your space will be used for. 

Grey vinyl floor plank over hardwood

If it is a high traffic area that sees constant use, vinyl plank could be a perfect choice. Similarly, if the areas will come into contact with fluids, vinyl plank is the way to go. However, if you are thinking of installing vinyl in a garage that isn’t temperature controlled, or in a cabin that isn’t heated year-round, you may want to find another option.

It is also worth considering other options, like property values. Should you install vinyl plank over the mahogany floors in a turn of the century home? Maybe not. It might be a better option to refurbish these expensive and luxurious floors to their former glory; however, this is a matter of preference. 

The other most important factor is the condition of your hardwood. If it is structurally compromised, installing vinyl flooring over it isn’t a reasonable solution, and further action will likely need to be taken.

Vinyl vs. Hardwood

Layers of vinyl floor planks on top of each other

The type of flooring that you install is dependent on your needs and how it will be used, and hardwood and vinyl plank both have their pros and cons.

Vinyl Plank

Vinyl plank is a preferred flooring material for several different scenarios. It is popular in commercial settings for its resistance to grease, fluids, and dirt, as well as being comfortable when standing on for extended periods.

These same characteristics make vinyl plank flooring a great choice in homes, particularly in areas that are prone to spills like the kitchen. The affordability of vinyl is another reason many people and businesses find it so appealing.

There are a few situations, however, where vinyl plank flooring is not the most suitable option.

Vinyl plank flooring can be damaged by extreme temperatures, both hot and cold. In extreme cold, this material can shrink, and when temperatures rise, it often will not expand uniformly. This can lead to gaps between tiles that are unsightly and difficult to fix. Extreme heat can also damage these tiles, and direct sunlight will eventually lead to discoloration.

For these reasons, vinyl is not a good choice for outdoor or indoor/outdoor uses.

This material can also be torn by sharp objects and damaged by heavy loads, so it isn’t always appropriate in a shop setting. However, as long as you know the requirements and conditions your floor will be subject to, vinyl can be a great option.


Hardwood is a classic building material that provides a natural beauty that is hard to beat. If it is well maintained, hardwood floors can last for decades. Hardwood can also be refurbished by sanding and polishing, extending its life, and bringing the material back to its former glory. In a home, well-maintained hardwood floors can significantly increase the selling price as well. 

Hardwood is durable. However, it can be easily damaged by heavy and sharp objects; even dragging a chair across a hardwood floor can leave unsightly scratches. Unlike vinyl flooring, hardwood is not 100% water-resistant, so this material shouldn’t be used in kitchens or other areas that are prone to spills and prolonged exposure to fluids. 

Copyright protected content owner: and was initially posted on September 11, 2020.

It is also susceptible to pests, particularly termites, which can lead to catastrophic failure if left unchecked. 

While the aesthetic appeal of hardwood flooring is undeniable, it is not the best option for many situations, which is why the question of whether or not you should install vinyl plank over hardwood is dependent on a variety of factors.

How to Install Loose Lay Vinyl Plank

Luxury vinyl planks

So you have decided to go ahead and lay vinyl plank over your existing hardwood. As long as the wood is structurally sound, there shouldn’t be any problems. 

The first step is to choose a color and style of vinyl plank that fits with your motif and taste. Since hardwood is so beautiful and can potentially increase the price of a property, we will be taking a look at loose lay vinyl planks because these don’t need adhesive and can be removed down the road if you ever want to go back to the look and feel of hardwood. 


You will need some tools and materials to properly install your vinyl plank flooring:

Copyright article owner is for this article. This post was first published on September 11, 2020.


Before you begin, you should bring the flooring material into the space and let it acclimate to the temperature for 24 hours to reduce the risk of shrinking or expanding after installation.

Step 1: The first step is to prep the room where you will be installing the vinyl plank flooring by removing all furniture and sweeping any debris or dirt.

Step 2: Use your level to check the surface of the floor. If the floor is level, carry on.

Step 3: Next, you will need to measure the space and determine how many planks you will need. You will most likely end up needing to trim down some planks to fit the dimensions of your space.

Step 4: Use your carpenter’s square to mark a straight line and a circular saw to cut the planks to the necessary lengths to fit the floor. 

Step 5: Once you have your planks trimmed down the correct sizes, carefully remove any molding directly above the floor so your planks will lay close enough to the wall.

Step 6: Due to the orientation of the tongue and groove on these planks, it is best to start on the left side of the room, in a corner. 

Step 7: This is a floating floor system that needs to be held ½ inch away from the wall. Use wedge spacers from the flooring install kit to keep this spacing and begin laying your vinyl plank flooring.

Step 8: Once your first row is in place, lay the second row. The tongue and groove will hold them together and use the tapping block and rubber mallet to lock each section into place. 

Step 9: Continue this process for the entire floor space, taking your time to make sure that the planks are properly locking together. If they are not, take a look in the groove as debris may be preventing a clean connection.

Step 10: Once the installation is complete, reinstall the molding to the baseboard with your rubber mallet, and you’re finished.

This is a brief guide to give you a general idea of the process; however, there are several videos like this one that provide a far more in-depth tutorial on installing vinyl plank flooring:

Common Mistakes Made When Installing Vinyl Planks Over Hardwood Floors

Installing vinyl planks over hardwood is a popular option for homeowners who want to update their flooring without having to remove the existing hardwood. However, there are several common mistakes that can occur during the installation process, and here are some steps to fix them:

  1. Failure to properly prepare the hardwood: If the hardwood was not properly prepared before installing the vinyl planks, it may be necessary to remove the planks and clean, level, and smooth the hardwood. A professional installer can help with this process to ensure that the hardwood is properly prepared for the vinyl planks.
  2. Not using the appropriate underlayment: If the wrong underlayment was used during installation, it may be necessary to remove the vinyl planks and replace the underlayment with the appropriate type. A professional installer can help with this process to ensure that the underlayment is properly installed.
  3. Not acclimating the vinyl planks: If the vinyl planks were not acclimated before installation and have expanded or contracted, it may be necessary to remove the planks and re-install them after allowing them to acclimate properly. A professional installer can help with this process to ensure that the planks are properly acclimated and installed.
  4. Not leaving enough space for expansion: If the vinyl planks were not installed with enough space for expansion, it may be necessary to remove the planks and reinstall them with the appropriate spacing. A professional installer can help with this process to ensure that the planks are properly spaced and installed.
  5. Using the wrong adhesive: If the wrong adhesive was used during installation, it may be necessary to remove the vinyl planks and replace them using the appropriate adhesive. A professional installer can help with this process to ensure that the planks are properly adhered to the hardwood.

To avoid these common mistakes, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for installation and to seek professional assistance if needed. By properly preparing the hardwood, using the appropriate underlayment and adhesive, and leaving enough space for expansion, a person can ensure that their vinyl planks are installed properly and will last for years to come.

Final Thoughts 

Vinyl plank flooring is an excellent choice for a variety of situations, and installing it over hardwood is a simple process that may perfectly suit your needs and preferences. However, given the cost of some hardwoods, using an adhesive-free vinyl flooring is a good way to gain the benefits of this material without permanently sacrificing your hardwood. 

Check out our Vinyl Plank Flooring Installation Cost Calculator to estimate your project.

Related Articles

Can You Put Vinyl Planks Outside?

Installing Vinyl Plank Flooring Over Linoleum

Can You Lay Wood Floor Over Existing Hardwood Floors?

Can You/Should You Lay Floating Floor Over Hardwood?

ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on September 11, 2020.

Can You/Should You Lay Linoleum Over Hardwood?