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Can You/Should You Put Vinyl Plank Over Laminate Flooring?

When remodeling, there are many choices for hard floors, and one of the most popular is vinyl plank flooring. If you choose to use vinyl plank flooring in your home, it may be tempting to take a shortcut and install it directly over the laminate flooring you already have. But is this a smart idea?

You can technically install vinyl plank over laminate flooring, but it’s not advised due to the physical properties of the vinyl plank and laminate and the methods with which both are installed. If you install it on top of laminate, the vinyl plank flooring will end up uneven and look unprofessional.

The rest of this article will discuss vinyl plank flooring in more detail, including what vinyl plank flooring is, why it shouldn’t be installed on top of pre-existing laminate flooring, and some basics on how it should be installed instead.

What Is Vinyl Plank Flooring?

What Is Vinyl Plank Flooring?

Vinyl plank flooring is made of vinyl, which means it’s a combination of polyvinyl chloride resins (PVC) and various other stabilizers that make the final product extra durable and able to withstand lots of pressure. 

The material is pressed together into solid planks, which are made up of several layers. At the very bottom is a waterproof backing, which ultimately protects against the growth of mold or mildew. Next comes the core, which is strong but still flexible. A digital image is overlaid on the core, which makes the plank look like wood, stone, or another type of flooring. 

A clear wear layer is at the very top, which protects the plank and makes it last longer. The wear layer is resistant to scratches and stains, and easier to keep clean. It also has a non-slip finish.

Vinyl plank flooring is designed to be easy to install; the individual planks lock together and do not require the use of adhesives or other chemicals.

Why You Shouldn’t Install Vinyl Plank Over Laminate

Why You Shouldn’t Install Vinyl Plank Over Laminate

Laminate flooring in your home wears and changes over time. In high-traffic areas, it might physically wear down in some places, creating a surface that is just uneven enough that any new flooring installed on top of it won’t be able to lie completely flat. Alternatively, really old laminate flooring might have shifted enough for there to be gaps between individual tiles, or there could be peaking at the seams.

In addition, while most laminate floors are at least water-resistant, they generally are not waterproof. Depending on where in the house the laminate floor is, especially in a kitchen or bathroom, it may have soaked up excess moisture in the past and become swollen and uneven as a result.

Installing vinyl plank over a surface that isn’t level will result in a floor that is uneven in places. The vinyl planks might not lock together properly. They might not meet the walls evenly. There might be unsightly gaps. The overall look will be unprofessional.

It’s important to think about the way these two types of floorings are made and how they might interact with each other. Vinyl planking has a waterproof layer at the bottom. If there is any residual moisture soaked into the pre-existing laminate floor or if gaps in the vinyl (as a result of being placed over an uneven surface) might allow water to get between the two types of floors, there’s a risk of mold or mildew.

One last consideration is that many laminate floors are “floating,” meaning they’re not directly attached to the subfloor below. It is recommended that vinyl plank flooring be installed only over a solid, stable floor. Placing it on top of floating laminate will result in the vinyl plank flooring being able to move slightly. This means unnecessary extra wear on your vinyl planking, which reduces its overall lifespan.

How to Remove Laminate

How to Remove Laminate

If you plan to install vinyl plank flooring in your home, the smartest thing to do is to take the time necessary to remove any laminate floors that are already there. Fortunately, most laminate floors are easy to remove, and you’ll likely find this to be a simple DIY project.

  1. Gather your tools: gloves, eye protection, utility and drywall knives, flat pry bar, hammer, etc.
  2. Remove the baseboards currently covering the edges of the flooring around the edges of the room. 
  3. If there are any transition strips (sometimes called thresholds) between the room you’re working in and a neighboring room, remove those as well.
  4. Remove the actual laminate planks themselves. Most laminate is floating, so it’s not attached to the subfloor beneath; instead, the laminate sits on top of a layer of foam padding. To remove this type of laminate, start at one wall and begin prying one plank up.
    • If the laminate planks are simply snapped into place, bending it up will cause them to snap back apart.
    • If the planks are glued together, bending one plank up should break the seal. Remove all the boards in the row, then move on to the next row.
  5. Once all the planks have been removed, you can remove the foam padding beneath.
  6. If your laminate is glued to the floor, the process is a little different. It’s easiest to soften the glue somewhat before you can break the laminate tiles or planks free; this can be done with a warm water solution or a heat gun, and then the tiles can be pulled free. Alternatively, you can use a scraper tool to simply pry the laminate away from the floor. 
  7. If any adhesive was used, either between planks or to attach directly to the subfloor, be sure to scrape away any excess glue residue.

Now you’re ready to install new flooring.

Installing Vinyl Plank Flooring

Installing Vinyl Plank Flooring

Follow these steps when installing your vinyl plank flooring:

  1. Take measurements. Your vinyl planks, when laid out, probably won’t perfectly match the dimensions of the room. Trim some pieces as needed in order to have the final row be the correct width.
  2. Begin laying the first row. You’ll need to remove the part of these planks that would otherwise lock into a previous row by cutting with a utility knife. Place the first plank, then click the next into place, and so on. Cut the final piece of the row to the proper length to fit the room. Avoid having any single plank be shorter than 6 inches long.
  3. The joints between the planks in each row should not line up with each other. Measure and cut the first plank in each row as needed to make sure the joints are staggered at least six inches apart.
  4. Insert the tongue of the first plank of the next row into the groove of the previous row’s first plank and snap them together. For the next plank, connect the short ends together, then snap into the previous row. 
  5. Continue this process to finish the second row, then all remaining rows.
  6. After you’re finished, replace baseboards and transition strips.

You can also watch this video if you need further assistance:

Final Thoughts

Installing vinyl plank flooring is a simple home DIY project that almost anybody can do, but in order to get good results, you have to do the job correctly. If the room currently has laminate flooring, it is strongly advised that you remove that before installing vinyl plank.

Fortunately, removing laminate flooring is also usually simple enough with the right tools, and after you’ve removed the old floor, putting in the new should be a snap.

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

Related Articles

Can You/Should You Put Laminate Over Old Laminate Floors?

Lay Vinyl on Laminate? Can You/Should You/How To

Will Vinyl Plank Flooring Settle?

Laminate Floor Is Moving and Shifting: How to Fix It?

ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on September 3, 2020.

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