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How to Install Vinyl Plank Flooring in a Kitchen

In this DIY Smarts project, Carpenter Nathan Gilbert helps a homeowner replace a dated vinyl kitchen floor with modern vinyl plank flooring to complete an updated look.

Carpenter Nathan Gilbert goes on a house call as he helps a homeowner dealing with a dated kitchen floor. After explaining to Kevin what goes into planning a floor, such as materials and subflooring, he heads to the home to lend a hand.

Why Choose Vinyl Plank Flooring?

There are many reasons to like luxury-vinyl-plank (LVP) flooring. It looks like tile or wood but is more affordable and simpler to install, and it’s waterproof, durable, and easy to clean. Its VOC levels are very low—far below the thresholds to meet green certification—and if you are concerned about exposure to phthalates (in plasticizers), you can find planks that don’t contain those chemicals.

CAUTION: Vinyl-sheet and vinyl-tile flooring installed before 1986 is likely to contain asbestos, as are the flooring adhesives used to hold them down. While it’s safe to lay new flooring over vinyl-laced asbestos, it’s definitely not safe to cut into or pull up asbestos flooring; doing so could send its lung-damaging fibers into the air. If your vinyl flooring dates back to that era, or you are unsure of its age, have it tested before doing any work. Search “asbestos abatement” online to find local contractors who are trained and equipped to test for and safely remove flooring that contains asbestos.

How to Replace a Vinyl Kitchen Floor with Plank Flooring

Step 1: Remove any furniture, appliances, and floor or wall vents from the room.

Be sure to shut off any gas lines you might need to disconnect beforehand.

Nathan Gilbert preforming steps 2 and 3 Makayla Townsend

Step 2: Use a utility knife to score along the top of the baseboards to separate them from the wall surface.

Carefully slip the pry bar behind the baseboards and remove them. Number each baseboard so you know where they go when it’s time to reinstall them.

Step 3: Assess the existing floor

If there are multiple layers of vinyl flooring with thin sheets of luan underneath, it may be best to cut the floor into small, manageable pieces for easier removal.

Wearing a dust mask and a pair of safety glasses, cut squares between 1 and 2 feet wide. Be sure to set the saw’s depth of cut so it doesn’t cut through the subfloor. With all the squares cut, remove them with a pry bar and hammer.

Step 4: Prepare the first few rows of flooring.

For the first row, use a full plank. For the second row, cut ⅓ off of the plank with the flooring cutter or miter saw. For the third row, remove ⅔. You’ll repeat this process for the first piece in each row as you move across the room as this staggers the joints and provides a more appealing aesthetic.

Step 5: Lay the first piece on the floor and place spacers between it and the wall

Nathan Gilbert fits a piece of vinyl flooring into place. This Old House Productions

Slide the tongue of the second row into the groove of the first row. Use the tapping block and rubber mallet to tap the piece securely into the groove and close the gap.

Continue across the floor, placing spacers between the wall and any planks along the edge of the floor.

Step 6: As you meet cabinets, you’ll have to start making custom cuts

Take careful measurements and transfer them to the vinyl planks. Cut these pieces to fit with a jigsaw and tap them into place with the tapping block.

For rows that end in front of cabinets or far walls, hook the end of the plank with the pull bar and tap it until the gaps close. Be sure to leave a ¼-inch gap between the end of the plank and the wall or cabinet.

Step 7: Install transition pieces and thresholds at the doors

Cut them to length with the miter saw or flooring cutter and lay them in a bead of construction adhesive.

Step 8: Reinstall the floor and wall vents and the baseboards before replacing the appliances and furniture

For a more finished look, caulk the moldings and give them a fresh coat of paint.


Nathan installed Pergo Defense+ 7.5 in. W Classic Weathered Pine Antimicrobial Click Lock Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring in a homeowner’s kitchen. Nathan used Marshalltown 13-inch Flooring Shears. To account for the expansion and contraction of the planks, Nathan used 1/4-inch flooring spacers along the perimeter.

To remove the existing vinyl flooring, Nathan used a circular saw to cut the floor into 2’x2’ squares, then removed the squares using a pry bar and hammer, all of which is found at The Home Depot.

William C. Gilbert Carpentry provided expert assistance with this segment.

See more flooring options at The Home Depot.


Note: It’s a good idea to let the new flooring acclimate to the humidity in your home. Open the packages and give the product a day or two to adjust before laying the floor.