The number of styles, colors, and size continue to grow in the market for LVP and LVT. LVP is the short name for Luxury Vinyl Planks (a vinyl wood plank flooring) and LVT is a short name for Luxury Vinyl Tile (a stone or tile looking vinyl flooring). There are different installation methods on the market for the different types of LVP. You may come across three primary methods. A glue down method is very common with entry level products and thick heavy duty commercial products. Loose Lay is another method that is for a thicker heavy LVP and is not as common. The other method is a click together method. Different companies have different locking features, but the end product is the same. With all the different installation methods, it is still important to have the floor preparation down properly so that there are no problems down the road with the flooring.
Product acclimation is a step that many don’t pay attention to or they don’t make time for. Most LVP products will have a manufacturer’s specification form that will state that the product needs to be stored in a conditioned environment job site prior to installation. It means that before the flooring can be installed, the HVAC system in the building must be operational. Once the HVAC is operational, the flooring is to be brought to the job and allowed to get used to the temperature in the building. It can take 24 to 72 hours depending on what the manufacturer says. Doing this step will avoid cupping or shrinking after the installation as the product expands or contracts later.
When installing on a concrete slab, checking the RH or relative humidity of the slab is important before the installation begins. If there is a high moisture content in the subfloor, there could be problems later on with the subfloor itself or with the adhesive that is to be holding the LVP in place. If a high reading of RH is found in the concrete, some additional work may need to be done to the subfloor which may require a change in the installation method. A manufacturer sales rep for the product that you are installing can help you determine what those changes may be.
A good subfloor preparation is probably the most time consuming part of the installation many times. For installations that the flooring is being changed, it is important to remove old adhesives or foreign substances from the concrete. If something is still there when the new adhesive goes down, it could prevent it from working properly that will lead to a flooring failure. There should also be no holes, cracks, or surface defects in the subfloor. It is important to have a smooth and flat floor so that the flooring will lay down properly.
If you are installing a glue down LVP, which adhesive you use is important. If it is over a concrete floor with high-moisture content, make sure it is the appropriate moisture-resistant LVP adhesive. The manufacturer sales rep can help you with which product that would be. If you use the wrong adhesive, the flooring could eventually pull away early. The adhesives will also tell you which notch size to use when laying out the product on the subfloor. To much glue will seep through and to little will not hold onto the flooring. It is important to follow the directions that are posted on the adhesive.
When installing the LVT, leave a 1/8- to 1/4-in. expansion gap where the LVT meets a vertical structure (a wall, cabinet, etc.) This will prevent future buckling as the LVT and subfloor expands over time. It is a good practice to take pictures and document that you did what the instruction told you to do at every point so that if there is ever a warranty issue, you have documentation through your installation that you followed the manufacturer’s guide lines. A manufacturer will not respect the warranty if you do not follow the guidelines for the installation.
When in doubt, ask questions from where you bought the material or the manufacturer. They are to be there to help you through the installation or provide you with installers that know what to do. The quality of how long the product last is greatly affected by how well the product was installed.