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How To Cut Vinyl Plank Flooring Already Installed

Sometimes it is necessary to trim a vinyl-laid floor after installation, in which case, this article will explain how best to cut vinyl plank flooring once already installed. It is always better if cutting the floor after installation can be avoided, but if not, this article provides a workaround to get the job done leaving no evidence of a post-installation cut if carried out correctly.

What are the instances where cutting an installed vinyl floor would be necessary? One example would be where the transition between the vinyl flooring and a different flooring type is required and you need to ensure the cut line between the two looks perfect when completed. It is not a difficult workaround but does require some forethought, some preparation, and some basic tools. It is also important to ensure the work area is clean.

Vinyl plank under dining room table

There is an old saying in the construction and carpentry trades; “measure once, cut twice – measure twice, cut once”. There are variations on this saying, but you get the drift. Measuring correctly and having a pencil and a notepad or a piece of cardboard to write your measurements down is critical.

Keep in mind, the edges of a vinyl floor are usually hidden with a baseboard or molding, so your trimming does not have to be perfect if baseboard molding is going to be used.

However, always remember, you cannot uncut!

What Preparations Are Needed to Cut Vinyl Plank Flooring Already Installed?

Installing vinyl plank and tools

Modern-day vinyl floors are relatively simple to install. However, sometimes it is necessary to trim the flooring after installation to add a standalone wardrobe or there are new plans for a built-in window seat, for example, and you prefer not to build or install over the vinyl flooring, which is an option.

To cut vinyl planking flooring already installed and end up with a professional-looking finish will require the correct tools, accurate measuring, patience, and a certain amount of skill.

If you have made the decision to trim the vinyl floor rather than place the add-on over the top of it, this guide will help you end up with a professional-looking job.

What Preparations Are Required to Cut Vinyl Flooring That is Already Installed Without Damaging it?

Vinyal pank measurements

Vinyl flooring is made from a manufactured material and has a resilient surface that is soft underfoot and cushioned, making it quieter to walk on. It is actually made out of flexible plastic and that is where its main advantage lies, as it is resistant to water damage. It is relatively easy to work with and cut.

If the vinyl floor has just been laid and needs trimming for the installation of the standing wardrobe or window seat as already mentioned, make sure you do a thorough cleanup before beginning the trimming.  Sweep up all the scraps and bits and pieces and do a thorough vacuum.

Sawdust and scraps of wood lying around can partially obscure your lines and measurement markings. Also, a clean work area lends itself to end up with a better, cleaner job.

Tools Needed to Cut Vinyl Plank Flooring Already Installed

Vinyl plank cutting pieces

When carrying out a home-reno job where it is difficult to cover up mistakes, it is best to ensure you have the right equipment. Cutting vinyl plank flooring that is already installed, requires the following tools.

A Skil or rotary saw

A fine-toothed finishing blade, preferably new

A fine blade keyhole saw or oscillating saw

A 60-inch steel carpenters rule

A chalk marking line

An 8 foot 2×4

An 8 foot 2×2

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A tape measure

2 small G clamps

A carpenter’s pencil

Safety glasses

Knee pads

Dust mask

Make sure your rotary saw blade is sharp or new. Dulled blades can cause chipping on vinyl flooring and you want to ensure your cuts are clean.

Step By Step Guide On How To Cut Vinyl Plank Flooring Already Installed

Installing vinyl plank flooring

Now your flooring surface is clean, measure and mark your cut lines. If you are using a chalk marking line you will need someone to assist you.

If not using a chalk line, use your tape and pencil to mark from the edge to where you need to cut. Remember, measure twice.

Using the steel rule, draw a line between the marks.

When it comes down to actually cutting the flooring, adjust the circular saw blade so it is the thickness of the board. If you can raise the vinyl flooring slightly, this will make the cutting easier. If this is the case, you can slip the 2×2 under the floor and adjust the blade on the saw so it is a little more than the thickness of the floor. I set the saw to a cut depth around 1/32-inch deeper than the thickness of the vinyl flooring layer. This ensures that the saw blade does not cut into the subflooring or the concrete if you are working in a basement room.

I have used the 2×4 and 2 G-clamps as a cutting guide with success  If the size of your room and the work area permits, you can clamp the 2×4 to ensure you get a nice, straight-cut line.

To begin your cut, start the saw and lift up the saw blade guard, carefully lowering the spinning blade into the vinyl until the saw is sitting on the vinyl. Then release the blade guard and let it fall back into place.

If cutting along a chalk line without using the 2×4 as a guide, with the saw blade spinning, align it with the cut line, lower the saw so it begins to cut into the vinyl, and then lower it so the saw is resting on the vinyl.

Now cut along the pencil line or chalk line with the saw butted up against the 2×4 guide if using the guide.

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When you reach the end of the cut line, stop the saw and let the blade come to a complete stop before lifting it up from the cut line. If you lift the saw from the cut line while it is still rotating, it might cause the blade to jam in the laminate flooring and damage the cut line. However, again, if you plan on using molding to cover the cut line, this may not be an issue.

When cutting the “in-place” vinyl floor with a rotary saw, you may not be able to cut to the end if you come up against a wall. This is where a short-bladed keyhole saw comes into play. Using short strokes, you can saw along the cut line to finish off the cut.

You could also use the oscillating saw for this final cut, but, this could leave a ragged edge on the cut line. However, if you are going to be installing baseboards or molding, this might not be an issue.

Always wear safety glasses and unplug your saw before making any adjustments to the blade or replacing the blade.

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ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on November 7, 2022.

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