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Can You/Should You Install Vinyl Plank Backwards?

The process of installing vinyl plank flooring is fairly straightforward. After you establish your first row, you continue to move across the room, pushing the tongue into the groove and flattening each plank so that it snaps in place. Unfortunately, things don’t always work perfectly in the real world.

Installing vinyl floor planks

There may be a variety of reasons why it is necessary to install vinyl plank backward. It can occur as a result of a transition or perhaps just out of convenience, depending upon the shape of the rooms that are being worked. This leads us to an important question, is it possible to install vinyl plank backward?

Can You/Should You Install Vinyl Plank Backwards?

Vinyl plank flooring was designed to install in one direction but it is still possible to install it backward. When doing so, you either have to modify the tongue and groove or be prepared to work slowly and perhaps have some waste.

Aside from the options that may be available to installing vinyl plank flooring backward that we will discuss below, there are some options that can allow you to do so. In fact, some people say that it is just as easy to install it backward, provided you know how to do so properly.

Vinyl plank flooring was designed to be easy to install. Most homeowners who have at least a little DYI experience can put down the vinyl floor and be proud of the job. Perhaps the most important part of the process, however, is preparing for the work to be done.

If you are only working in a single room that is rectangular, it is unlikely that you are going to have to install any vinyl plank backward. If you’re working from one room into another or if the room is odd-shaped, you need to plan so that you are doing as little backward as possible.

This would require measuring and perhaps starting the first row to eliminate the majority of the reverse work. It may be a little inconvenient in some cases, but it will help to speed up the job and will likely make for a better, longer-lasting install

There are two definite questions that involve installing vinyl plank in reverse. The first of these is if you can install it backward and the second is if you should install it backward. The answer to these questions may be different, but it really boils down to your comfort level and how much time and effort you are willing to put forth to install the floor properly.

Can You Install Vinyl Plank Backwards?

Vinyl floor plank installation

Generally speaking, you can install any type of vinyl plank flooring backward. Some manufacturers are going to be easier to install than others, but all of them can be installed in reverse. The real key is to work slowly and avoid as much waste as possible.

Some manufacturers of laminate flooring make it possible to install in reverse using basically the same technique. This includes Pergo, Mohawk, and Quickstep. It may still be possible to install laminate flooring from other manufacturers in reverse, but you need to be cautious that you don’t damage the tongue and groove while doing so.

The reason why damage is possible to the tongue and groove is that you are forcing it together, rather than working the process in the way that it is designed. Since you are forcing the tongue under an existing groove, rather than snapping it into the groove, it is possible to damage it in the process.

Those who install laminate flooring professionally have no problem installing it in reverse. There are some who even prefer to install it in reverse rather than taking a long time to work out the install to limit how much is installed in reverse.

Most homeowners can also install vinyl planks in reverse but will lose a few planks in the process. Just try to limit how much you are installing in reverse and the typical 10% overage that was recommended to purchase by most manufacturers will suffice.

Should You Install Vinyl Plank In Backwards

Handyman with tools in the background wall

All vinyl plank flooring is manufactured to be installed in one particular direction. You should work in that direction as much as possible, but you may have planks that need to be installed in reverse. It is a lot easier and cost-effective to install vinyl plank backward rather than looking for an alternate option, which tends to be difficult, time-consuming, and costly.

When discussing this with industry professionals, you will find that most of them install vinyl plank backward on almost every job. They try to limit how much is installed backward, however, to reduce waste and to speed up the process.

Since they regularly install vinyl plank backward on most jobs, they have become proficient at doing so. They also are likely familiar with the different types of flooring that are used, and how each of them reacts to being installed in reverse.

Most homeowners are not going to have the experience to install vinyl plank backward without making at least a few mistakes. If you have already done most of the install then you probably have gotten quite quick at doing it. As soon as you begin to install in reverse, it’s time to slow down the process.

If you are working with a contractor and they tell you that it is impossible to install vinyl flooring backward, you may need to talk to another contractor. Some will avoid it because of the potential for waste or they may just want you to go with a transition strip at every doorway. There are others, however, who will make it work for you so you have a seamless job that is beautiful throughout the home.

How To Install Vinyl Plank Flooring In Reverse

Home improvement construction tools

The process of installing vinyl plank flooring in reverse is not all that difficult from installing it in the proper direction. The real difference is that you will be forcing the tongue into the groove from underneath, so you may need to lift the floor at the leading edge. There are also tools that make it easier to install vinyl plank flooring in reverse.

If you are installing the flooring according to the manufacturer’s direction, you are going to be slipping the tongue into the groove and snapping the floor together. The included instructions with the floor can be followed precisely. It is quite different if you are installing plank flooring in reverse.

Rather than slipping the tongue into the groove, you will be slipping the groove under the tongue, so there is a possibility of causing damage to the lip on the leading edge. This can be a real problem because these floors are manufactured in a precise way, so there is not a lot of material that is used to hold the floor together. Damage could easily happen, so you need to work carefully and think about what you are doing with every move.

Another very important thing to consider is the tools that you will be using for the flooring. Most people are only going to use a rubber mallet, which is invaluable, but you should also have a sliding tapping block that you will use throughout the process.

Copyright protected content owner: and was initially posted on April 24, 2021.

A sliding tapping block works by sliding on the existing floor and tapping the pieces together from the leading edge. Since it is sliding on the existing floor, you aren’t hitting the leading edge at an awkward angle and causing damage. It can help to get a tight and clean install, whether you are installing it forwards or in reverse.

One other thing to consider is the preparation. Rather than starting in the middle of the hallway and working both directions into the room, you can measure carefully and start on one side of the home to work your way across to the other side of the home. This can be difficult, but with some advance planning and careful measurement, you can reduce or perhaps even eliminate the need to work in reverse.

Options to Installing Vinyl Plank Flooring in Reverse

Vinyl floor planks

In most cases, some vinyl plank flooring will need to be put down in reverse. There may be some options that are available, although you are going to need to compromise in some way or another during the installation process.

One option is to use transition strips in the doorways. For example, if you are starting in the hallway and working on rooms to either side of the hallway, you can use a transition strip in the doorways and work them as if they were their own individual space. It works, but you will end up with a transition strip at every doorway and that is visually unappealing.

One other option is to choose a type of vinyl plank flooring that is designed to be laid in both directions. Some options that can be easily laid in reverse include those by Pergo Mohawk and Quickstep. Check with the manufacturer in advance to see how easy it is to install in reverse. Choosing one of these floors can go a long way in helping you to install the floor easily in either direction.

Copyright article owner is for this article. This post was first published on April 24, 2021.

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ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on April 24, 2021.

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