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Can You Lay Vinyl Flooring Over Plywood

Vinyl flooring comes in a range of styles, and can look virtually identical to real wood, stone, or tile. But, I was interested in whether you can lay it over plywood. I learned what experts have to say about the matter and here’s what I found.

Yes, you can install vinyl flooring on plywood, provided the plywood is in good condition and properly prepared. The plywood should be smooth, flat, and free of any moisture damage or warping. Before laying the vinyl, fill any gaps or seams in the plywood with a suitable floor filler, sand down any rough areas, and ensure the surface is clean and dry for optimal adhesion of the vinyl flooring.

Plywood that is not level or has uneven surfaces can cause issues with vinyl flooring installation. If the plywood subfloor has bumps or depressions, they can telegraph through the vinyl, leading to an uneven surface. To address this, use a leveling compound to create a smooth, level surface before installing the vinyl.

Gloved hand laying down vinyl flooring

In this article I will cover whether it’s a good idea to lay vinyl flooring over plywood, as well as, exactly how to install vinyl over plywood.

Should You Lay Vinyl Flooring Over Plywood?

Although it’s possible to lay vinyl flooring over plywood, is it really the best flooring to use on plywood, or should I consider using a different kind of flooring altogether? Here’s what I found…

On the whole, you should lay vinyl flooring over plywood. The main consideration is that the plywood floor is strong enough. This is achieved by using a plywood subfloor that is at least ¾ inch (1.9 cm) thick. One other caveat is you should not use vinyl flooring in a room that gets a lot of sun such as a sunroom.

The reason is that the color of the vinyl can fade when exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time. Other than that though, surprisingly it’s actually recommended to use plywood below vinyl to smooth out any imperfections and it gives a longer lasting finish.

How To Install Vinyl Flooring Over Plywood

Plywood board texture

So then how do you go about installing vinyl flooring over plywood? I’ll give a broad overview below, and then follow it up with detailed instructions about exactly how to do it.

There are 3 broad steps to laying vinyl flooring over plywood: preparing the plywood surface, laying the vinyl flooring down, and finishing the vinyl – if required. Vinyl flooring can either be purchased as tiles which are laid individually, or as one big sheet.

It’s recommended that the surface is as flat and level as possible prior to laying the vinyl flooring, and you may not need skirting depending on whether the room has an existing finish along the base of the walls.

Here’s the tools you’ll need:

Tools and Materials You’ll Need

  • Notched trowel
  • Scribing tool
  • Straight edge
  • Rubber mallet
  • Self levelling compound – if needed
  • Utility knife
  • Vinyl cutter
  • Caulk gun
  • Paint scraper
  • Filler
  • Vinyl adhesive or double sided tape – depends on the type of vinyl (explained below)
  • Vinyl flooring

Preparing the plywood

Common wisdom in the flooring industry is that the more work you put into preparing the surface you’re installing the vinyl on to, the better the end result will be.

Certain types of vinyl flooring can have felt on the underside which smoothes out some imperfections. However, you want to do a few preparatory steps to make sure your plywood is smooth enough so that you create the best possible vinyl floor.

Start by clearing away any rubbish, and give the floor a good vacuum. You want to remove any dust there is, as it will be trapped on the surface of the plywood.

Copyright article owner is for this article. This post was first published on May 5, 2021.

Fix any nails or screws that are sticking out of the plywood. You can either hammer or screw them in or remove them completely, and then fill the hole in with some filler. If the nails or screws are holding the plywood in place then you should screw them back in so they are flush.

In some cases, it may be easier to install another nail or screw and remove the existing one. There can also be tape or plaster stuck to the surface of the plywood. You can remove it by using a designated scraper, or something similar to a scraper works well.

After you’re all done with that, you may need to give the plywood another vacuum. Now, you’re ready to lay the vinyl.

Laying the vinyl

There are broad types of ways that vinyl can be attached to the plywood such as using tape, or glue. However, each type of vinyl is attached to the plywood subfloor in a different way. And it’s always best to follow your manufacturer’s instructions.

For example, some brands of vinyl flooring do NOT recommend using double sided tape to stick the vinyl to plywood. So, it’s best to look at the instructions for the specific vinyl you’re working with.

There are two broad types of vinyl flooring: vinyl tiles, and sheets of vinyl flooring. With vinyl tiles you need to place each tile individually. Some require you to glue them down one by one, whereas others fit into each other and don’t require any glue or tape to stick them to the plywood.

In either case, the manufacturer will provide detailed instructions about the steps involved in installing it.

If you’re using a sheet of vinyl then you need to make a sketch of the floor plan of the room with the length of each wall, and the dimensions of cupboards, and parts of the room that aren’t an exact square or rectangle. Such as, where the door is.

Once you have a floor plan, simply cut the vinyl sheet to fit but leave 3 inches (7.5 cm) extra on each of the edges. That will leave enough room to trim the edge. Then lay it out roughly in the room.

Next you need to trim the edge of the vinyl around the furnishings like the base of a toilet. The technique to do that is a bit tricky.

After that you should trim the edges of the vinyl where it meets the wall. For the corners you can use a technique like that shown in the video above. But, for the long straight edges of the walls use a vinyl cutter. It will ensure the edge is nice and straight.

Now, you’re ready to adhere the vinyl to the plywood underneath. Follow the instructions from the vinyl manufacturer about how to adhere the vinyl to the plywood.

Finishing the vinyl

If you’re installing your vinyl flooring in a room that typically gets wet alot such as a bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room then it’s a good idea to apply caulk around the perimeter of your vinyl floor. It will stop water from getting down the sides and soaking into the plywood beneath. However, in a bedroom, or lounge, it isn’t required.

To do that apply one strip of caulk around the entire perimeter of the room where the vinyl meets the wall. You can smooth out the caulk using a wet finger or a sealant finishing tool.

You may also decide to install skirting around the perimeter of your room where the vinyl meets the wall. However, it’s up to you whether you want to do that as an additional touch and isn’t required.

Well, that about sums up everything there is to know about laying vinyl flooring over plywood. As a quick side note, if you find the job is a bit too difficult or you’d rather have a professional do it, then it’s best to get a flooring contractor in to install it for you.

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ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on May 5, 2021.

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