Can Vinyl Flooring Be Used Outdoors?

Vinyl is one of the most waterproof flooring materials. Because the top layer is nonporous, it doesn’t absorb much water and stands up to the wettest environments. Therefore, you might wonder, “Can vinyl flooring be used outdoors?”

Why Install Flooring Outdoors?

When you think of outdoor flooring, you might picture pavers, flagstones, concrete or brick—some of the materials that typically make up a patio. But some people want to make their outdoor environment feel more like an extension of their home. In that case, you might want to consider some different flooring options to breach that transition.

You might consider vinyl flooring as an attractive and functional option for your outdoor spaces. It provides a comfortable surface underfoot, warms the space visually and protects the surfaces beneath it from rain and moisture. Vinyl stays cool in warm temperature and is softer to walk on than stone or ceramic tile. It also can’t give you splinters, like wood flooring can.

But you probably wouldn’t want to install vinyl flooring outdoors over an uncovered patio. If vinyl is exposed to direct sunlight, rain and all of the other factors that the weather brings, it may not last very long. Therefore, you might be able to install vinyl flooring outdoors if the area is protected from the elements. 

Some locations that might be perfect for outdoor vinyl flooring include:

  • Sunrooms
  • Screened-in porches
  • Covered porches, patios and decks
  • Sheds

Understanding Vinyl Flooring

There are several types of manmade flooring, including laminate, engineered hardwood and vinyl. Each of these is made with layers of different materials that are fused together to produce a plank, tile or sheet of flooring. Whereas laminate and engineered hardwood include wood products, which are porous and absorb moisture, vinyl is made almost entirely of water-resistant materials.

The rigid core of vinyl flooring is typically made of one of the following materials:

  • Wood plastic core or wood composite core – This is made of a combination of PVC, a type of vinyl, and wood dust. It provides strength and some water resistance.
  • Stone plastic composite – A blend of PVC, stone, limestone or cement particles and plasticizers, this type of core is strong, stable and water resistant.

The top layer of vinyl flooring is the wear layer. This is a clear coating that is applied to the surface of the material to protect it from spills, scratches and other types of wear. Read the manufacturer’s description to learn more about the layers on a vinyl floor that you intend to install outdoors. You’ll need a product that’s highly resistant to moisture as well as sunlight. Some types of vinyl have thicker, more protective wear layers than others.

Understanding Your Outdoor Area

There are three main challenges to installing vinyl flooring outdoors:

  • Sunlight
  • Heat
  • Water
  • Temperature changes

Before investing the time and money to lay vinyl outdoors, you should evaluate the condition of the space. Take some time to watch what happens in different weather conditions. Does water pour onto a certain spot? Are there puddles after a rainstorm? 

Vinyl flooring isn’t designed to withstand high levels of moisture. A plume of water coming from the gutter can quickly work its way into the seams of the material, affecting its bond with the subflooring and creating mold and mildew problems. Standing water can generate mold growth on the surface, which quickly becomes slippery and unattractive. Snow buildup also promotes moisture damage.

Sunlight can also destroy the vinyl. UV rays fade the finish and make the vinyl brittle over time. Therefore, unless your outdoor area is shaded, vinyl flooring may not be the best option. 

Heat from grills and outdoor fireplaces also affects vinyl flooring. It can scorch the finish, creating blisters and discoloration. You may not want to install vinyl flooring in areas where you’ll be burning wood or charcoal. 

Vinyl flooring is best used in temperature-controlled spaces. Therefore, you would have better results installing it in a sunroom that has heat and air conditioning than around your outdoor hot tub. Vinyl expands when it’s exposed to heat and contracts when it’s cold. 

Extreme, frequent shifts in temperature can make the vinyl crack and gap at the seams. Temperature changes can also reduce the adhesive bond that secures the vinyl to the substrate.

If you decide to use vinyl flooring outdoors, you can easily replace planks and tiles as they become damaged. But you may have trouble matching the finish. Outdoor vinyl is likely to change in color and texture as a result of its exposure to the elements. A new piece might stand out like a sore thumb. 

Can You Install Vinyl Flooring Over a Deck?

If you want to make your deck look more formal, you may have considered alternatives to traditional decking material. Many people wonder if they can install luxury vinyl planks (LVP) or luxury vinyl tile (LVT) over a deck. 

This is not recommended unless the deck is protected by walls and a roof. In fact, many manufacturers indicate that you should not install LVP or LVT outdoors. Doing so may void the warranty. 

However, there is a wide variety of vinyl deck products that are intended for this type of use. These are designed to withstand exposure to sun, heat, rain and snow. Vinyl deck boards look like wood but are nonporous and won’t rot in wet climates. 

Vinyl decking membranes are waterproof sheets that cover existing decking materials. They provide a waterproof surface and are printed in a variety of colors and designs for an attractive look.

Downsides to Using Vinyl Flooring Outdoors

It’s tough to find a completely waterproof outdoor flooring solution that’s not too hard or slippery. Every type of flooring, including wood decking, has pros and cons for use outside. But vinyl may have more disadvantages than benefits. 

  • Moisture damage to your home – Vinyl collects water. If it’s not installed properly, it could direct rainflow to the foundation of your home, creating serious structural issues. If it’s installed over a deck with an exposed underside, it can trap moisture underneath and rot the joists.
  • Damage from high traffic – The surface of vinyl is much softer than stone, tile or even wood. It’s not compatible with patio furniture. Dragging heavy chairs with sharp metal feet across outdoor vinyl flooring will create scratches and dents. Lawn care equipment can create ruts and discoloration.
  • Adhesion problems – It’s difficult to securely bond an outdoor vinyl floor to the underlayment. The elements impair the action of the adhesive, and the vinyl can easily tear away. This creates falling hazards for anyone who wants to enjoy your outdoor space.
  • Trouble finding a contractor – You may not be able to find a professional to install indoor vinyl in an outdoor area. However, this is a relatively affordable and easy job to do yourself. If you’re willing to risk the drawbacks of using vinyl flooring outdoors, feel free to experiment. 

Alternatives to Outdoor Vinyl Flooring

There are better options than vinyl for outdoor spaces. Hardwood is a classic choice, but it’s not the most water-resistant material. If safety is important, you might want to install plastic pavers around hot tubs and pool areas. These control moisture and have a non-slip surface. Poured concrete can produce surprisingly attractive designs. Stone and tile are likely the most weather-proof outdoor flooring materials that will stand up to the weather as well as heavy use.

Bamboo Flooring vs Vinyl Flooring

Your first instinct might be to think that bamboo and vinyl flooring are nothing alike. But if you’re a consumer who is researching water-resistant, low-maintenance, easy-to-install flooring, you’ll probably come across both materials as valid options. Depending on your objectives, one type of flooring might stand out more than the other.

Is Natural Flooring Important to You?

How drawn are you to using natural materials in construction? One of the primary differences between bamboo vs vinyl flooring is their origin. Bamboo flooring is sourced from a natural material, whereas vinyl flooring is man-made.

Therefore, bamboo has a more natural look and feel than vinyl. No two bamboo planks are alike. Each reflects the individual stalks that make it up. There’s a great deal of variation in the design and marbling of bamboo flooring.

There are many styles of vinyl planks that mimic the look of bamboo. However, they don’t have the same inherent quirks as a material that grows in nature. High-definition printers that create the design layer for vinyl floors have come a long way. However, they can’t replicate the truly random patterns of natural bamboo.

Do You Want Eco-Friendly Flooring?

Bamboo is considered to be an eco-friendly, sustainable type of flooring. As a type of grass, it grows much more quickly than hardwood trees. Once the plant reaches maturity, parts can be harvested without killing the plant. This allows for more, faster growth. 

Some other reasons that bamboo flooring can be an eco-friendly product include the following:

  • Bamboo absorbs carbon quickly
  • Bamboo produces 35% more oxygen than the same volume of trees
  • Growing the plant is not especially resource-dependent

How Eco-Friendly is Bamboo Flooring Actually?

But all bamboo farms don’t operate the same. Those that are truly eco-friendly rely on sustainable farming practices. There are plenty of bamboo farms that wipe out the land for planting and use harmful chemicals to maintain their crops. 

Moreover, by the time the bamboo flooring gets to you, it has been highly processed. The bamboo stalks must be cut and pressed together to form solid planks. They’re secured by adhesives, many of which contain formaldehyde or other volatile organic compounds.

How Eco-Friendly is Vinyl Flooring?

Vinyl flooring is not one of the most eco-friendly options. It’s made from polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. This is a petroleum-based product, and petroleum is a nonrenewable resource. Moreover, vinyl doesn’t decompose, and most PVC products aren’t recyclable.  

Damaging toxins are created during the manufacturing process, emitting hazardous gases into the atmosphere. The final product may also leach VOCs into the air that you breathe.

How to Choose the Most Eco-Friendly Flooring

For the most eco-friendly flooring, opt for bamboo that’s made using sustainable manufacturing practices. Some manufacturers are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). This confirms that they product comes from a well-managed forest. Ask about the type of adhesive that bonds the bamboo together, choosing formaldehyde-free, water-based formulas. 

If you must go with vinyl over bamboo flooring, follow these guidelines to get the most environmentally friendly option:

  • Look for FloorScore-certified flooring, which complies with criteria for acceptable indoor air quality 
  • Choose a high-quality brand that will last for years; you’ll produce less waste than with lower quality products, which need to be replaced more often
  • Look for recycled or recyclable vinyl planks
  • Select products with a GreenGuard or GreenGuard Gold certification

How Durable Do Your Floors Need to Be?

When it comes to durability, two primary factors usually come into play. You want your floors to be hard enough to withstand scratches and scuffs. But you also need them to resist moisture. 

You might be willing to get away with a certain level of distressing on your floors. For example, if you want a floor with lots of distressed, rustic character, you might want to choose a hardwood like oak, pine or maple. But if you want to keep your floors smooth and blemish-free for as long as possible, bamboo or vinyl flooring is probably on the list.

Consumers who have children and pets often research bamboo vs vinyl flooring because both of these materials are exceptionally durable. They’re also some of the most water-resistant flooring options available.

Is Comfort Your Aim?

Do you have toddlers that crawl across the floor on their hands and knees? Are you often barefoot? If you hate the feeling of a cold floor on bare toes in the morning, you might enjoy a bamboo floor. This material is an excellent insulator, and it usually feels warm on bare skin. Therefore, although bamboo doesn’t look as cozy as pine cabin flooring at first glance, it might feel cozier as you walk on it.

Luxury vinyl planks are warmer underfoot than standard vinyl flooring. However, neither of these materials match the temperature-balancing qualities of bamboo. Still, vinyl flooring is softer underfoot. It has an elastic quality, which offers some give. It might be more comfortable for pets, children and anyone else who spends a great deal of time on the floor.

How Waterproof is Bamboo vs Vinyl Flooring?

Bamboo and vinyl flooring are both more waterproof than hardwood. Therefore, they’re practical choices for laundry rooms, mud rooms, kitchens, bathrooms and basements. 

One of the reasons that bamboo has such a high tolerance to moisture is its density. The fibers are packed tightly together, and porous spaces are filled with adhesive. Some brands are treated for extra spill protection.

But bamboo flooring is not completely waterproof. It’s made up of organic material, which will soak up excess moisture if it’s exposed to it for prolonged periods. Therefore, don’t allow water to pool on the floor. Avoid leaving damp clothing or towels on the surface, because the moisture can damage the finish. 

Vinyl flooring is more water resistant than bamboo. Some brands even claim that they’re waterproof. If you leave a puddle of water on vinyl floors, it will disappear without marring the surface or the structure of the material. Therefore, vinyl might be preferable to bamboo in areas that are prone to flooding. 

Still, you need to make sure that moisture can’t seep between the seams of vinyl tiles or planks. If it does, it can soak into the underlayment, creating hidden moisture problems. Vinyl floors that don’t have an adequate moisture barrier beneath them are prone to warping, bubbling or buckling.

How Much Maintenance Do You Want to Put In?

Bamboo and vinyl flooring are both easy to maintain. Bamboo usually has an exceptionally smooth surface. You can easily use a broom or dry mop to eliminate dust particles. A flooring style with plenty of variation will hide dirt, scratches and scuffs. Therefore, bamboo is one of the most maintenance-free materials for flooring.

Vinyl is equally as easy to take care of. You might have to do more deep cleaning on vinyl, but you can use a steam cleaner or wet mop. 

One of the biggest differences when it comes to maintaining bamboo vs vinyl flooring is the materials’ resilience to damage. Vinyl is forgiving up to a point. Small dents may work themselves out over time. But deep punctures will need to be repaired. Whereas you can sand and refinish bamboo floors, you can’t do much to repair vinyl flooring other than replacing the entire plank.

No matter which type of flooring you choose, you’ll get the most longevity from a high-quality brand. Have a professional install the flooring to maximize its water resistance and durability. With the right installation and care, your bamboo or vinyl flooring should last for years.

Can I Use Pine Sol on Vinyl Floors?

Pine-Sol has been making multi-surface, budget-friendly cleaning solution since 1929. You might have this disinfectant and deodorizer under your sink. Because Pine-Sol kills 99.9% of germs, it seems like the perfect cleanser for the kitchen and bathroom. But if you have vinyl floors, you might wonder if you can use Pine-Sol.

Yes, You Can Use Pine-Sol on Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring is distinguished by its toughness and convenience. Since it’s non-porous, it doesn’t soak up moisture or spills. This makes it perfectly fine to use Pine-Sol on. These properties make vinyl floors ideal for high-traffic and messy areas. But your floor likely needs a regular deep cleaning.

If you love the smell and effectiveness of Pine-Sol, you’re in luck. According to the manufacturer’s website, Pine-Sol is safe to use on vinyl. You can also use it on other vinyl surfaces in your home, such as PVC shower liners.

The product is safe to use on the same floors that your babies and pets hang out on. However, you should keep it and all cleaning supplies away from curious hands and mouths.

Additionally, there are many other types of floor cleaners available, not just Pine-Sol. The cleaner below is a great example of this:

What Chemicals Should You Avoid Using on Vinyl Floors?

Because vinyl is so resistant to water and stains, you might figure that you can use just about any cleaning solution on it. Using Pine-Sol is a fine idea.

But you should never use the following chemicals on vinyl floors:

  • Ammonia – While this chemical cuts through grease, it can degrade vinyl flooring and cause it to crack.
  • Abrasives – Using abrasive cleaners or scouring pads will remove some of the shine from the vinyl’s finish. Over time, you can wear down the material, limiting its lifespan.
  • Wax – Floor wax is not just a natural substance that you apply to protect your floors. It contains synthetic chemicals that ruin vinyl.
  • Rubber pads – If you’re thinking about using mats with rubber backings to keep your vinyl floors clean, consider another option. Rubber reacts with vinyl, causing permanent yellow stains. Keep this mind when placing pads underneath chairs or using carts with rubber wheels on the surface.
  • Detergents – Don’t use detergents to clean vinyl floors. They can create a cloudy buildup.

What If I’m Not Sure if My Floor is Vinyl?

It’s easy to confuse vinyl, linoleum and laminate. These materials are often used in kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and foyers.

But linoleum is a rare material these days. It’s being replaced with vinyl, which often mimics the look of vintage linoleum. That can make it difficult to identify the type of flooring that you have. However, you can use Pine-Sol on vinyl or linoleum.

Laminate is a different animal. It is made of wood byproducts that are covered in a protective plastic or resin layer. While laminate often looks like hardwood, it comes in other styles too. You can use Pine-Sol on laminate, but you may want to use a slightly different technique than you would on vinyl.

Still, if you can’t identify your flooring material, you don’t have to worry about ruining it with Pine-Sol. The manufacturer does recommend testing the product in an inconspicuous area before using it on the entire surface, though.

How to Clean Vinyl Floors With Pine-Sol

Depending on the location of your vinyl floors, they might be exposed to spills multiple times a day. You can spot clean food, dirt and grime using water and a paper towel or washcloth. Once every week or two, break out the Pine-Sol to clean the floor more thoroughly.

Follow the steps below to clean your vinyl floors with Pine-Sol:

1. Get rid of surface dirt.
Mopping the floor without removing dry dirt and dust can lead to damage. The abrasive grime can scratch the surface as you clean. Therefore, remove debris with a vacuum or dry mop first.

2. Mix the solution.
Put one gallon of water and one-quarter capful of Pine-Sol in a large bucket. Agitate it a bit to combine it. Don’t be tempted to overdo the cleaning product. If you use too much, your floors could end up sticky.

3. Get to mopping.
Dip the mop into the bucket of water and Pine-Sol. It’s essential that you wring it out as much as possible before applying it to the floor, though. If you use too much water, it can seep between the cracks of vinyl planks and damage the underlayment.

4. Rinse with clean water.
To prevent buildup, follow the cleansing with a clean wash. Rinse the mop and bucket with fresh water. Then, go over the floor using only water. Make sure that you don’t leave any puddles or water. Drying the floor with a soft towel will prevent moisture from seeping into cracks and reduce the risk of falls.

How to Disinfect Vinyl Floors With Pine-Sol

Pine-Sol kills or deactivates a broad range of germs. You can use it to disinfect the floor after a child gets sick or a pet makes a mess.

Begin by cleaning up the mess. Remove any solid matter, and clean up liquids. Apply undiluted Pine-Sol to a damp sponge or towel. Wipe the floor with it, leaving the solution on the surface for 10 minutes. Rinse it off with a clean mop or towel and fresh water.

Removing Scuffs and Stains from Vinyl

Scuffs and stains can instantly spoil your pristine floors. You can apply small amounts of Pine-Sol directly from the container to targeted areas. Use a toothbrush or washcloth to rub the stain until it goes away.

If that doesn’t work, mix baking soda with a small amount of water to create a paste. Gently rub the mixture onto the scuff or stain. Once the stain disappears, wash off the baking soda paste with diluted Pine-Sol.

Coconut oil can effectively get rid of scuffs and stains that aren’t resolved with the baking soda paste method. Simply rub it onto the stain with a cloth until the spot disappears. This will make your floor especially slippery, though. Using Pine-Sol will cut through the oil and restore your vinyl floor’s appearance.

You can use rubbing alcohol on vinyl flooring to remove ink, dye and makeup stains. Mineral spirits work well for crayon marks and paint spills.

Vinyl Floor Maintenance

Vinyl floors are easy to maintain. You don’t need to do much to keep them looking great.

Keep in mind that vinyl floors can become dented and scratched. To prevent this from happening, cover the feet of your furniture with vinyl pads. Place cardboard or plywood over the floor when you’re moving heavy items or furniture.

Divots in the vinyl are not only unsightly but also dirt collectors. Your floor will retain its original splendor for longer if you safeguard the surface.

Also, taking care of messes right away prevents stubborn stains from developing. Keeping a spray bottle of Pine-Sol handy can help you manage sticky or greasy messes. Wiping stains immediately helps to prevent them from becoming permanent.

Maintain the sparkle from your routine cleaning by preventing debris from accumulating on the surface. Sweeping daily and placing floor mats with vinyl-safe backings go a long way toward protecting your floors.

How to Get Waves Out of Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring started to show up in the mid-1900s as a convenient, low-maintenance substitute for linoleum and cork. Today, vinyl flooring is the most popular option for people who want to combine affordability, style, durability and ease of use.

As a type of resilient flooring, vinyl is flexible and comfortable. Even when it’s installed over a concrete slab, the surface doesn’t shock your bare feet in the winter. It also provides some cushion underfoot.

But vinyl’s flexibility is its downfall as well as its benefit. Vinyl can crease, ripple and wrinkle, making it difficult to install and unsightly on your floors. Learn how to get waves out of vinyl flooring before and after installation so that you can take advantage of the material’s benefits.

Do the Waves and Bumps Appear Over Time?

Sometimes, a vinyl floor that has been in place for a while begins to develop bumps, waves and creases. Small bumps and uneven areas could be caused by an uneven subfloor.

Vinyl tends to molds itself to the surrounding surface. Therefore, the vinyl can only lie as flat as the surface below it. When you initially install the flooring, it may appear to have a smooth surface. But as it settles, imperfections in the subfloor will make themselves known.

Do the Ripples Have Air Beneath Them?

Do the ripples in your vinyl floor have some give when you press on them? Bubbles may show up immediately, or they may take years to become apparent. Once they appear, they don’t go away on their own.

Air bubbles can develop for a number of reasons, including the following:

Moisture – If your subfloor is not prepared and sealed properly, it could become a magnet for moisture. Wetness weakens the adhesive that holds vinyl to the subfloor. As that happens, it releases the bond in some areas, causing bubbles beneath the surface.
Excessive Heat – Does sunlight stream in through your window onto the vinyl floor every day? Does heat from the vents in your home continually aim at a particular area? Those spots may expand more than the rest of the vinyl. If you don’t account for this issue during installation, you might end up with bubbles in the hot spots.
Lack of expansion gap – An expansion gap is a small space around the perimeter of the flooring that allows for movement. It gives the vinyl room to expand without getting crowded. If you don’t include an expansion gap in a floor that requires one, the vinyl won’t have anywhere to move but up as it expands.

How to Prevent Waves in Vinyl Flooring

Waves in vinyl flooring can be difficult to repair. The best way to keep waves out of your vinyl flooring is to prevent them from forming in the first place. Being meticulous during the installation process will save you headaches down the road.

1. Prepare the Subfloor

Prevent imperfections in the subfloor from showing up by preparing the surface correctly before installing your vinyl. A well-prepared subfloor will give you a smooth surface to start with and improve adhesion if you plan to use glue or double-sided tape.

Some of the steps that you should take include:

  • Conducting a moisture test
  • Repairing cracks, holes and grooves
  • Making sure that the subfloor is level
  • Sanding down lumps and bumps
  • Cleaning the subfloor to remove grease, dust, dirt and debris

2. Choose the Right Material for the Space

If you’re installing a vinyl floor in a high-moisture area, such as a bathroom, kitchen or basement, look for a waterproof product. You should also consult with a professional to ensure that the subfloor is prepared adequately.

Some vinyl flooring is designed to go directly over your existing floor. Floating floors are made with thicker vinyl, which is less likely to warp or settle into dips in the subfloor. They’re the best option for installing over tiles or textured surfaces.

3. Opt for High-Quality Vinyl

Today’s vinyl is different than your grandmother’s flooring. Vinyl flooring ranges from 2 to 8 millimeters in thickness. Luxury vinyl tile, or LVT, is generally thicker and sturdier than vinyl sheeting.

4. Use the Right Installation Method for Your Flooring Type

We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to install the flooring correctly. If you’re using adhesive, go over it with a weighted roller. This will ensure that the material sticks to the substrate without creating air bubbles and will prevent waves in the future.

5. Don’t Drag Heavy Furniture Across the Floor

Because vinyl is subject to subtle movements, it can wrinkle if you drag heavy objects across it. Loose lay and floating vinyl floors are especially susceptible to this type of damage.

Place plywood over the floor if you’re moving large appliances, boxes or furniture over it. Lift the objects instead of dragging them over the material.

How to Deal With Existing Vinyl Floor Ripples

You have some options for eliminating waves that crop up in your existing vinyl flooring.

  • Take the following steps to get rid of bubbles that are less than one inch in diameter:
  • Use a strong, sharp needle to pierce the center of the bubble.
  • Use your fingers to press on the bubble and release air.
  • Place a thin towel over the spot.
  • Warm an iron to a medium heat setting, and place it over the towel.
  • Flatten the bubble using heavy books for 24 hours.

If the bubble is more than one inch in diameter, take the following steps:

  • Place a towel over the bubble, and apply heat to the towel using an iron.
  • Slice the bubble with a sharp utility knife.
  • While the vinyl is still warm, peel it up carefully.
  • Apply adhesive to the underside of the vinyl.
  • Smooth the material into place, wiping away excess adhesive with a damp sponge.
  • Place wax paper over the spot before piling books on top of it.
  • Allow the adhesive to dry underneath the weights for 24 hours.

If you don’t want to puncture your flooring, you can try the following method:

  • Heat the rippled area using a hair dryer on the lowest setting.
  • Smooth the spot using a floor roller.
  • Apply a board with weights on it for 24 hours.

Vinyl planks or tiles are relatively easy to replace. If you notice warping or bubbling in this type of floor, remove single planks. Correct moisture and subfloor issues before installing a new section.

With the right installation, maintenance and care, vinyl floors last a long time. They stand up to spills and don’t develop moisture issues as readily as some other porous materials. However, they’re not invincible. Follow the tips above to prevent waves in your vinyl flooring. If you notice ripples, take action as soon as possible.

A professional can give you the best advice for fixing ripples in your floors. Even if you prefer to do projects like this yourself, you may have better luck and extend the life of your flooring by working with an expert.

Does Vinyl Flooring Expand?

It takes a meticulous person to install flooring correctly. The planning is just as important as the execution. You often have to work around a variety of shapes, such as the corners of cabinets and the rounded base of toilets. To make matters more complex, you need to take expansion into account to prevent large gaps from forming in and around your flooring.

Why Does Vinyl Flooring Expand and Contract?

There are several reasons that vinyl flooring expands and contracts.

Temperature Fluctuations

Temperature fluctuations are the primary cause of expansion in vinyl floors. Almost every building material expands when it is exposed to heat and shrinks when it is cooled. Although you may think that the temperature inside of your house remains consistent, it varies enough to affect your floors.

Vinyl expands when the sun hits it or the heat is on. It shrinks when the air conditioning is running or the slab below it cools off in the winter. This means that your vinyl floors are constantly moving in miniscule increments.

Moisture Variations

Moisture also influences the stability of vinyl floors. Too much humidity makes the material expand. Extremely dry environments cause vinyl to shrink and become brittle.

The ideal humidity level for vinyl floors is typically 35% to 55%. You can extend the life of your floors by using a humidifier or dehumidifier to regulate the amount of moisture in your space.

Foot Traffic

Although vinyl floors feel hard to the touch, they’re much softer than hardwood and ceramic tile. The tiny air pockets in the porous core allow the vinyl to shift. Any weight that you place on the floors will compress them vertically, forcing them to expand horizontally.

This movement isn’t visible to the naked eye immediately, and you can’t feel it. However, over time, you may start to notice peaking, warping and curling due to the expansion.

What Types of Vinyl Floors Have the Most Expansion Issues?

There are a few types of vinyl floors. Each one has different requirements when it comes to accommodating expansion.

The installation instructions for your flooring should indicate how much of an expansion gap to leave. This is a 0.25 to 0.5-inch space at the perimeter of the floor that gives the material room to grow. You can usually cover it with baseboard molding or seal it with caulk.

Sheet Vinyl

Sheet vinyl is some of the most affordable flooring that you can buy. This flexible material comes in rolls that are 6 to 12 feet wide and can be cut to any length. You can typically cover a bathroom with one sheet. If you are installing sheet vinyl in a larger room, you may have to use more than one piece, which means that you’ll have a seam where they touch.

This seam is especially necessary in very large rooms. It will accommodate expansion and help to maintain the impeccable appearance of your floor.

Traditional sheet vinyl requires adhesive to keep it in place. Even though the glue will prevent it from shifting and lifting, the material can expand. You should leave an expansion gap around the perimeter of traditional sheet vinyl.

Some types of sheet vinyl are designed for a loose-lay application. This material has a fiberglass backing, which makes the flooring more rigid than basic sheet vinyl. Therefore, it remains flat without curling. You should use double-sided adhesive to secure the edges of this type of flooring.

Soft vinyl sheeting generally expands and contracts more than loose-lay options. However, both are prone to swelling and require you to leave an expansion gap around the perimeter.

Tiles and Planks

Tiles and planks are thicker and harder than sheet vinyl. They come in a variety of shapes, such as squares, rectangles and hexagons. You can arrange them in many configurations, customizing their appearance for your décor.

Stick-On Vinyl Tiles and Planks

Some vinyl tiles and planks come with adhesive backings. These act like stickers. You simply peel off the paper on the back to expose the adhesive, and stick the tile to the substrate. Other tiles and planks require a separate adhesive.

While these can expand and contract, they’re less likely than sheet vinyl to buckle. In fact, they will generally only swell and shrink as much as the subfloor does.

If you leave an expansion gap around the perimeter of your room, the tiles could shift slightly over time, creating spaces between them. Cut this type of flooring to the edge of the room. If you end up experiencing buckling, you can always replace a single tile.

Floating Vinyl Floors

Floating floors come as separate pieces that connect with a click-and-lock mechanism. When you measure and install these correctly, you won’t use any adhesive.

This type of flooring is prone to some expansion. However, it’s quite resistant to temperature and humidity. Still, you’ll need to leave space around any vertical surface, such as walls and pipes, to allow for movement. Expansion seams in the center of the floors are necessary in extremely large rooms.

Loose-Lay Vinyl Planks

Loose-lay vinyl planks expand and contract less than other types of vinyl flooring. They’re designed to remain stable in response to temperature and humidity changes. The friction created between their rubbery backing and the subfloor keeps these tiles in place.

Because loose-lay planks don’t expand or contract significantly, they’re an ideal option for rooms with high humidity, such as basements and bathrooms. You don’t need to create an expansion gap around the perimeter of this type of floor.

Preventing Vinyl Swelling and Shrinkage

When the walls or baseboards constrict vinyl as it expands, it can buckle. This may create waves and uneven surfaces in the flooring. If temperature fluctuations happen regularly, the floor will be subjected to repeated expansion and contraction.

Eventually, the material may shift. Cracks might show up between the floorboards. The material can also break down faster than it would if you kept it at a more consistent temperature.

Before installing vinyl flooring, you must acclimate it your environment. Unpack in the room in which you plan to install it. The temperature of the floor in this room should be between 59 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Arrange the vinyl in its expected location on the floor. However, you don’t have to be too nit-picky about it. Leave the flooring there for 48 hours so that it adjusts to the temperature and humidity of the room.

After installation, vinyl will expand and contract the most near windows and vents. Aim to avoid exposure to intense sunlight by drawing the blinds during the day. Keep your indoor temperatures as consistent as you can. In other words, don’t set the thermostat to 55 when you leave for work and raise it to 72 when you return. Finally, wipe up spills as soon as possible to prevent moisture from seeping into cracks.

With proper installation and care, vinyl flooring shouldn’t cause problematic expansion. If you’re dealing with cracks, waves and buckling on your current vinyl floor, you might need to perform some repairs. Upgrading to a new floor using advanced technology can produce desirable results that last a long time and prevent problems down the road.

What You Need to Know About Glue Down Vinyl Plank Flooring

Your flooring choices can make a difference to the feel and function of your home. Deciding to make vinyl flooring a feature of your rooms comes with a variety of benefits. However, it’s worth remembering that selecting vinyl as a material is only half the battle. You also need to consider the type of installation that best fits your aesthetic needs, your budget, and your long term plan. 

In this post, we’re going to be focusing on glue down vinyl plank flooring. Over the last couple of decades it’s become a popular choice for those home improvement enthusiasts who want to achieve the look of wooden flooring, alongside some element of permanence. That said, there’s still several aspects to consider before committing to what can seem like a cheap and easy alternative to natural wood.     

What is Glue Down Vinyl Plank Flooring?

While the clue is definitely in the name, here, there is a little bit more that goes into it. As this is generally an option for those who are taking the DIY route, it’s vital you know exactly what you’re looking for when you head to the hardware store.   


From a materials perspective, they are simply tiles made of vinyl, cut into plank-like strips for both ease of installation and to mimic the hardwood flooring look. Aside from the aesthetic decisions, you’ll also need to understand the differences in the cores. 

Solid Vinyl Core

The entire product is produced from a solid piece of vinyl. As a result, this tends to be a more durable product, and relatively resistant to water and wear damage. 

Stone/Polymer Core

Usually the lowest in price. Manufacturers combine crushed limestone with polymer in order to create a thin but hard core. 

Wood/Polymer Core

The mid-range cost option. In this instance, manufacturers combine bamboo or wood dust with the polymer. This results in a more flexible product, but it’s more susceptible to dents. 


The other factor to consider is the type of adhesive that is most appropriate for the planks you select and the area you’ll be laying. 

This generally comes in two forms:

Pressure Sensitive

In the majority of cases, this refers to flooring tiles that have the adhesive already applied to the underside of each plank. This makes for relatively easy installation, and there is usually a window of time during which the adhesive remains sticky, allowing for adjustments in positioning during installation. 

Hard Setting

Depending on the supplier, this may also be referred to as “transitional” adhesive. Used on glue down vinyl plank flooring that isn’t supplied with PSA on the underside, this can be a bit more of a challenge during installation. This glue is spread across the subfloor area before laying the vinyl planks on top of it.

How Much Does It Cost?

For most of us, the primary consideration for any project has to be the budget. We might have some ambitious ideas about the look we want to achieve, but in the end we still have to make it fit our finances. The good news is, while vinyl planks are often more expensive than a single vinyl sheet, it is still one of the lower cost options on the market. The question of how much glued down vinyl plank flooring costs comes down to a few key factors. 


The cost of vinyl planks can vary depending upon the design, quality of finish, and — as mentioned above — whether there is a pressure sensitive adhesive already applied. At 2020 prices, you’ll be looking to pay around $2.50 to $5 per square foot for your planks. 


If you’ve chosen not to go for the PSA option, you’ll need to include costs for your hard setting or transitional adhesive in your budget. A gallon of roll on vinyl adhesive will set you back around $30 at current prices.


If you’re going the DIY route, additional costs to consider can include a trowel or roller for applying the hard setting adhesive (around $10). Depending on the room you’re flooring, you may also need to consider an underlay to reduce noise — this usually runs at around $0.40 per square foot. In some cases, a vapor barrier to protect your glue down vinyl plank flooring from rising moisture might be necessary, which could add around $0.15 per square foot to your total. 


There’s no shame in bringing on a professional installer to minimize the potential for additional unnecessary costs resulting from mistakes. A few things to bear in mind include the complexity of the room shape, whether you’re using PSA or hard set adhesive, and how far away from the installer’s base your property is. Each of these has the ability to affect how long the job will take, and can therefore influence the cost of labor. It can also be worthwhile removing any old flooring and disposing of it yourself, prior to your contractor’s arrival, as this can also make a difference. On average, labor alone can range from $2.85-$5.25 per square foot.     

In total, the cost of glue down vinyl plank flooring for a room of 100 square feet ranges around $300-$1100.

What are the pros/cons of Glue Down Vinyl Plank Flooring?

As always, there are upsides and downsides to any flooring choice. 


  • Easy installation — particularly with PSA options, this type of flooring is relatively simple to trim and apply directly to the subfloor surface. 
  • Moisture resistant — the material is ideal for areas that could see spillage. The addition of a vapor barrier on the subfloor can also prevent rising moisture issues.  
  • Durable — glue down vinyl plank flooring is relatively hard wearing. Depending on the core you choose, this can be a long term flooring solution.
  • Low maintenance — vinyl is very easy to clean. The plank nature of the materials also make the PSA variety simple to individually replace if they’re damaged. 


  • Varying quality — while there are high end brands of vinyl flooring, quality can vary significantly, and it can be difficult to ensure you’re getting a good, long-lasting product.
  • Difficult removal — this largely applies to the hard setting adhesive variety. Once glued down it can be a difficult material to remove quickly and cleanly.
  • Ecologically unfriendly — vinyl is a non-biodegradable product, and when glued down it makes them unsuitable for reuse.

Conclusion – Making the Choice

Taking into account the factors we’ve outlined during this post, it’s clear there are a variety of approaches you can take which give you a combination of desirable outcomes. Do you prioritize longevity above ease of replacement? Does your budget stretch to quality materials, but not to labor costs? The versatility of glue down vinyl plank flooring means that, whichever route you take, there’s the potential for this to be a durable, attractive choice for your home.