How to Stagger Vinyl Plank Flooring for a Smooth Installation

Why Staggering Planks is Important

When laying any type of engineered or solid flooring, it is structurally and visually imperative that you stagger the ends in adjacent rows. Staggering keeps off distracting lines from running across the floor.

It also keeps the boards intact to ensure they do not create gaps. Because vinyl plank flooring comes in fixed lengths, you need to have proper planning to maintain a random pattern.

Vinyl planks require basic household tools for installation. They are cut using a utility knife and secured with adhesive strips. It means as a homeowner; you can easily install your flooring over the weekend.  

Tools Needed to Stagger Vinyl Plank Flooring

  • Utility knife
  • Vinyl plank flooring
  • Straight edge
  • Tape measure
  • Fine-tooth saw
stagger vinyl plank flooring
Floor Installer making a mark in the flooring prior to cutting

Begin by Sanding Down the High Spots

You want to achieve a smooth surface, so begin by grinding down lumps and humps before installing your vinyl flooring. This can be achieved using a coarse sanding belt.

Vinyl plank can be installed over any smooth surface. Also, remove the trim, including door trim, casings, and baseboards for easier installation.

If you do not wish to remove them, you can cut your vinyl planks around the obstacles.

Prepare for Installation

You’re advised to place your vinyl planks in a room for at least 48 hours for acclimation. Remove the baseboards and then plan the floor. If the surface is uneven, noticeable high spots will be left behind, which will also cause your flooring to wear quickly.

The floor must also be dry and free of flaking. Should you notice cracks on the surface, fill them, and ensure you are laying your flooring on a smooth surface.

Before installing the planks, mix them up from different boxes to blend the patterns and dye lots.

Plan the Layout

Before installing your vinyl planks, it is always a wise idea to first lay them out in rows to achieve the optimal stagger pattern beforehand. This not only makes the process easier but also reduces wasted resources.

The following should be the characteristics of your stagger:

  1. The minimum distance of your pattern should be 6 inches. Some manufacturers recommend 8, 12, or 16. Check the requirements of your manufacturer.
  2. The pattern should be irregular. Avoid creating stairs in your pattern.
  3. Keep it random and minimize waste. Once you lay out the first row, cut the board to fit. If the dimensions allow, use the remaining part to begin the second row.

The first row should be run parallel across the room as you work your way outward. Because most rooms are hardly entirely square, the last row may appear uneven. Baseboards should, however, prevent this unevenness from being too obvious.

To ensure the ends do not meet, be sure to stagger subsequent rows. The first row should be laid at the center of the room and stretched outward on either side of the walls outwardly. In larger spaces, the unevenness may be more apparent. 

Armchair next to plant in vintage living room interior with wooden cabinet and chair at desk. Real photo
Armchair next to plant in vintage living room interior with wooden cabinet and chair at desk.

Make Plank Cut-Out for Protrusion

This type of flooring allows you to create cut-outs for protrusion. Once you have cut them out, install your flooring. Begin by attaching the cut out to the adjoining plant until it locks into place. Angle your flooring at about 10-15 degrees for it to fit easily.

After laying out your flooring in the entire room, re-attach your trim and baseboard. Use a brad nailer to re-attach them. Avoid using a hammer as doing so would create stress on the trim and the baseboard.

If you’re in need of high-quality and durable vinyl flooring we recommend Floor City Commercial Flooring.

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