How To Install Vinyl Tile (LVT) Flooring On Plywood?

LVT flooring is one of the easiest types of vinyl flooring to install and maintain. It’s great looking, affordable, and easy to take care of. Let’s look at the finer points of how to install vinyl tile flooring on top of a plywood subfloor.

What You Need To Know About Installing Vinyl Tile Flooring On Plywood ?

Before diving into actually laying your brand-new vinyl tile flooring, it’s important to consider each step of the process so that your finished product comes out as perfectly as possible. The condition of your subfloor and preparation process will determine how smoothly the process goes. 

  • Preparation – Don’t skimp on the prep! Your plywood subfloor needs to be smooth and free of any bumps or dips. The better the condition of your subfloor, the better the vinyl tile flooring will look.
  • Subfloor thickness – Your subfloor should consist of ¼” plywood at the very minimum. Anything thinner than this can result in the floor flexing when you walk on it. Ensure that your plywood subfloor has enough backbone before laying your flooring.
  • Vinyl Sheet Vs. Vinyl Tile – Both are popular options, but they will have a different installation process. Vinyl tile flooring is easier to work with because vinyl sheets are larger and less forgiving as they are laid. This article pertains to vinyl tile flooring, so make sure you have the correct materials.
  • UnderlaymentUnderlayments can help compensate for inconsistencies in the subfloor, and we recommend that you use one. Some vinyl tile flooring has a built-in underlayment in each tile, but not all. If your subfloor is brand new, you can get away without an underlayment, but we always recommend that you use one because a subfloor that is in perfect condition is hard to come by.
  • Gluing Down Vs. Floating – Some products are meant to be glued to the subfloor, and some are meant to sit on top of the subfloor without any fasteners (floating). Both are easy to install, but you want to take note of which type of product you will be using so that it is installed properly.

Supplies You’ll Need For Installing Vinyl Tile Flooring On Plywood

  • Level
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Tile cutter or utility knife
  • Trowel
  • Adhesive
  • Floor roller
  • Underlayment
  • Chalk line
  • Spacers
  • Sealant
  • Orbital sander
  • Gloves
  • Eye protection
  • Knee pads

How To Install Vinyl Tile Flooring On Plywood ? (7 Steps)

Step 1: Inspect And Prep The Subfloor

Before anything, make sure your plywood subfloor is free from any fasteners, adhesives, or anything else that could get in the way of your new LVT flooring. Even the smallest imperfections can impact the final product of your vinyl tile flooring, so don’t ignore any flaws.

An orbital palm sander or sanding block is your best friend here. Sanding will make sure the subfloor is nice and flat, and it will also help the adhesion of the new vinyl tile flooring. Sanding the plywood helps raise the grain of the subfloor so that the vinyl has something to grip. Just make sure to sweep and vacuum the remaining sawdust when you are done sanding.

Step 2: Measure And Mark The Room

This part is very important and will dictate the look of your room when you finish, so make sure you get it right the first time. You need to mark the center of the room because this is where you will start laying your tile. Measure the length of the room and divide by 2, then do the same for the width. Mark the center of the room with your pencil. You can use a level or chalk line to extend these lines to give you a better idea of where you will be headed.

At this point, your room will be divided up into four even sections. You will lay your first tiles in the middle of the room and work outward towards the walls.

Step 3: Dry Run The Tiles

Some flooring options will be floating, some will be stick-on, and some will require adhesive to be secured to the subfloor. Regardless of the product you choose, it is always wise to lay your first few pieces in before securing them. This way you can ensure that everything is running straight before anything becomes permanent. Visualizing your finished floor will help you avoid any unnecessary mistakes.

Step 4: Begin Laying The Vinyl Tile Flooring

Now, you can begin to lay your vinyl tile flooring. Floating tiles will snap together, stick-on tiles will need to be peeled and stuck to the subfloor, and for products that require an adhesive, you will have to apply it to the bottom of the tile. 

Make sure the adhesive is evenly spread using a floor roller to avoid bumps in the floor. Regardless of the type of tiles you are using, they shouldn’t have any gaps in between pieces. This will keep moisture off of the subfloor and ensure the finished product looks perfect. Repeat this process until you get closer to the walls.

Step 5: Cut And Adjust Flooring

Now, you will need to cut a row of pieces to fit between your last row and the walls. Vinyl flooring cutters or utility knives will be the best tools for achieving a clean cut. The cut edges should face outwards toward the wall so that the factory edge faces inward toward the previous row.

Step 6: Roll The Flooring

After your entire subfloor is covered, it’s time to roll the entire floor. This will make sure that the vinyl is fully secured to the subfloor and free of any bubbles.

Step 7: Set And Forget

Resist the urge to break in your new beautiful vinyl tile floor and give it time to set. If you used adhesive, it will need time to dry. Give it at least 24 hours before moving any furniture into the room or allowing any heavy foot traffic. You’ve made it this far, so just be patient. After this drying process, you are officially done!

Final Thoughts On Vinyl Flooring Installation Over Plywood

Vinyl tile flooring installation is a little different than installing vinyl plank flooring, but it is just as easy so long as you take your time and make a plan of attack before diving in. Follow this guide step by step, and you will end up with a finished product that you can be proud of.

Meet your Flooring Expert

Travis McCullough

Travis McCullough

Travis is a lifelong jack-of-all-trades in the construction industry with 20 years of experience in a variety of fields. He’s tackled flooring, carpentry, and everything in between on residential and commercial projects of all shapes and sizes.
Working independently and as part of a crew has equipped him with the know-how to not only complete a project but also teach others the finer points within most building professions. When he isn’t out hanging off of a ladder or crawling around on a roof, Travis spends his time educating people about the construction industry.

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