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Vinyl Wood Plank Floor - Which kind and how to install it



"Vinyl Wood Plank Floor - Which kind and how to install it," in the Vinyl Flooring Q&A forum, begins: "I am in the process of getting divorced and recently bought a condo that needs to have about 400 square ..."

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Old April 19, 2013, 10:36 AM   #1
AMT2010
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Vinyl Wood Plank Floor - Which kind and how to install it


I am in the process of getting divorced and recently bought a condo that needs to have about 400 square feet of carpet replaced (which is essentially the whole condo except kitchen and bathroom). I may turn the place in to a rental in the future and currently have a 20 lb dog, so I want something durable. I have been considering vinyl wood floors and am unsure of what type to get. I have a concrete subfloor/slab that is over 50 years old. I am worried that the subfloor will not be even when I pull up the carpet, as I can currently feel bumps/uneven spaces through the carpet in places. I also have tile in the kitchen and bathroom that is about 1 cm thick that I would like to match the level of the vinyl plank to if possible. As such I have several questions:

1. What kind of vinyl wood plank should I use - adhesive or floating? The floating kind seem harder to install and more expensive and I'm not sure what is better for my situation

2. What brands of vinyl wood plank are the best and where can I buy them/look at them in person? I live in Iowa and we don't exactly have a ton of flooring stores. I have looked at products from Home Depot, Lowes, and Lumber Liquidators but am unsure of the quality of these products. Internet review of Home Depot's stuff doesn't look good and I can't find much on the other two aside from the review on their websites, which I don't necessarily trust. I am hoping to stay under $2.50/ sq foot for the material if possible, but I'm not sure if this is realistic or if I will just end up with a cheap looking/performing floor.

3. What do I need to do to the subfloor to prep it? I have been told everything from 'leave it as it is' to 'lay a new subfloor on top of it'. Could I use concrete leveler to even out the rough spots? Will the thickness of the vinyl affect the install/wear over an somewhat uneven floor? It seems that such things would be less noticable through a thicker vinyl, but I'm not sure if that is true in practice.

4. How do I get the vinyl plank even with the tile? I have been told that I can build up the subfloor near the tile to make everything even and then slop the vinyl plank away slowly, so it's not noticeable. Alternatively, people have tried to sell me underlays to build it up. Will underlays work with adhesive vinyl plank or only with the floating kind? Is this true? Any other suggestions for how to level out the transition from vinyl plank to tile?

5. Do I need to put something under the vinyl tiles like a pad or plastic vapor barrier? The current carpet sits on the bare slab with just a thin pad in between and has no signs of water damage. Can I stick tiles straight onto the concrete or will they pop up if moisture comes through? My condo is on the garden level/basement (about 6 feet into the ground) so I am worried about moisture from the soil seeping in.

I am ripping out the carpet this weekend and will hopefully be working on the subfloor as well. Please respond ASAP as my father is in town to help me install only for a little while and I'm hoping to make a decision soon. I appreciate your help in advance!

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Old April 19, 2013, 04:03 PM   #2
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I would advise using adhesive Psa (Pressure sensitive adhesive) for two reasons. One you need new underlayment (quality plywood) to go over your uneven surface and the other would be for repair factors later on down the road. Yes floating floors are great also but repairs are not so easy and well I just don't agree with the way the manufacture requires this to be done. I try to minimize the use of cement patch on wood. Sanding is always best prior to installing new underlay. Any vapor barrier is great! Roofing felt is cheap and works wonderful for under the plywood. Staples are best and more productive IMO. Make sure you do not exceed the bottom of existing underlay with staple when installing new. My Favorite is Karndean and also like what Mannington has provided lately. $2.50 don't even begin to cover the material (LVP) unless you go depot and well.......... Spend the extra and it will be worth the investment. Good luck with your project!

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Old April 19, 2013, 07:45 PM   #3
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Floored by Newman said View Post
I would advise using adhesive Psa (Pressure sensitive adhesive) for two reasons. One you need new underlayment (quality plywood) to go over your uneven surface and the other would be for repair factors later on down the road. Yes floating floors are great also but repairs are not so easy and well I just don't agree with the way the manufacture requires this to be done. I try to minimize the use of cement patch on wood. Sanding is always best prior to installing new underlay. Any vapor barrier is great! Roofing felt is cheap and works wonderful for under the plywood. Staples are best and more productive IMO. Make sure you do not exceed the bottom of existing underlay with staple when installing new. My Favorite is Karndean and also like what Mannington has provided lately. $2.50 don't even begin to cover the material (LVP) unless you go depot and well.......... Spend the extra and it will be worth the investment. Good luck with your project!
Please read the post you are referencing!! She has a CONCRETE substrate, so your suggestion of plywood is not useful.

I do agree with the idea of Karndean!

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Old April 19, 2013, 09:26 PM   #4
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Your primary issue is below grade concrete.

I'd assume a moisture level too high for most ECONOMICAL (cheap) floor covering installations that involve adhesive.

Alkalinity is a slightly different but intricately related topic of intense concern for anything you want to GLUE down to concrete.

Some flooring systems can live in a basement. Some will not be feasible if you're on a tight budget.

Patching, smoothing out-----FLOOR PREP-----depends very specifically on your choice of flooring. We're not so concerned with leveling a slab but that's kind of generic term for laymen. You called it a "concrete leveler" and we all know what you mean. We use different lingo but yeah-----it's a cement based patch to correct the jacked up slab-------make it flat and smooth.

Floating floors WILL and are designed to tolerate/mitigate both poor substrate quality ( somewhat rough) and some degree of moisture. With a floater you can use various membranes to wick moisture away. So if you're inclined toward vinyl you're probably going to need to think in terms of the alternatives that involve floating--------no DIRECT adhesive to the slab and some sort of protective underlayment membrane. Each product will specify the acceptable membranes in their install specs.

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Old April 19, 2013, 09:33 PM   #5
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Incognito said View Post
Your primary issue is below grade concrete.

I'd assume a moisture level too high for most ECONOMICAL (cheap) floor covering installations that involve adhesive.

Alkalinity is a slightly different but intricately related topic of intense concern for anything you want to GLUE down to concrete.

Some flooring systems can live in a basement. Some will not be feasible if you're on a tight budget.

Patching, smoothing out-----FLOOR PREP-----depends very specifically on your choice of flooring. We're not so concerned with leveling a slab but that's kind of generic term for laymen. You called it a "concrete leveler" and we all know what you mean. We use different lingo but yeah-----it's a cement based patch to correct the jacked up slab-------make it flat and smooth.

Floating floors WILL and are designed to tolerate/mitigate both poor substrate quality ( somewhat rough) and some degree of moisture. With a floater you can use various membranes to wick moisture away. So if you're inclined toward vinyl you're probably going to need to think in terms of the alternatives that involve floating--------no DIRECT adhesive to the slab and some sort of protective underlayment membrane. Each product will specify the acceptable membranes in their install specs.
There are tons of below grade floors that are installed in our neck of the woods. It's more of a case by case.

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Old April 19, 2013, 10:05 PM   #6
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kylenelson said View Post
There are tons of below grade floors that are installed in our neck of the woods. It's more of a case by case.
Do they test, treat or otherwise address the moisture?

Are they regularly gluing down vinyl, rubber, cork, VCT, engineered wood with minimal long term concerns below grade? If the local builders AS A RULE address the moisture before the slab is poured there OUGHT to be little inherent problems with moisture.

I agree Kyle. It's case by case depending on the quality of local concrete construction. My experience is that AS A RULE we assume poorly protected slabs on or below grade.

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Old April 20, 2013, 08:40 AM   #7
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Leveling issues need to be addressed. Slc or plywood. Yes I have seen ply adhered to concrete.

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Old April 20, 2013, 09:06 AM   #8
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Incognito said View Post
Do they test, treat or otherwise address the moisture?

Are they regularly gluing down vinyl, rubber, cork, VCT, engineered wood with minimal long term concerns below grade? If the local builders AS A RULE address the moisture before the slab is poured there OUGHT to be little inherent problems with moisture.

I agree Kyle. It's case by case depending on the quality of local concrete construction. My experience is that AS A RULE we assume poorly protected slabs on or below grade.
To be honest, almost no one tests unless the contractor/homeowner is pushing to put the flooring in before the slab has cured. I've never heard of anyone having problems here with that particular issue either. BUT!!! Just because it is like that here doesn't mean that is the case everywhere.

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Old April 20, 2013, 09:49 AM   #9
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Floored by Newman said View Post
Leveling issues need to be addressed. Slc or plywood. Yes I have seen ply adhered to concrete.
I would say SLC with a water mitigation like Ardex MC etc....
Plywood is put over concrete all the time with adhesive and nailed above grade, but it is a terrible idea to attept it below grade in a basement. Just my experience.
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