Installing vinyl flooring for wheelchair users

At No Place Like Home Remodeling, we often get questions like these: “I’m moving into a new house. I’m trying to decide on the best flooring to handle my wheelchair… I’m not a fan of tile — I’m thinking maybe vinyl? Thoughts?”

What is Vinyl flooring?

Vinyl flooring is 100 percent synthetic material. In standard sheet vinyl and vinyl tiles, the base layer is usually fiberglass which is then coated in PVC vinyl and a plasticizer. The resulting sheet is printed and embossed with a surface print layer. Over this, one or more wear layers is applied, often a tough layer of "no-wax" polyurethane. Sheet vinyl is known as "cushioned vinyl" features a closed-foam lower layer.

Vinyl plank flooring, also called luxury vinyl flooring (LVF), is also 100 percent synthetic, but in these products, the core layer is a thicker, multi-layer PVC vinyl. Luxury vinyl comes in planks or tiles, sometimes called LVP and LVT, respectively. There are glue-down and loose-fit versions available, but also interlocking styles that join together in much the same way as laminate flooring planks.

Overall thickness for vinyl ranges from 1.5 mm for sheet vinyl to 5 mm for luxury vinyl planks, making these products decidedly thinner than most laminate flooring. (Lee Wallender)

How is Vinyl Flooring Installed?

Prepare for Installation:

At least 48 hours prior to installation, place the new vinyl plank flooring in the room for acclimation. During installation, mix planks from different boxes to blend the dye lots and patterns for a more uniform appearance. (Lowes)

Step One:

Remove the baseboards.


Step Two:

Prep your subfloor so that it is clean, dry and level within 3/16-inch change per 10 feet. Use a self-leveler on low spots and / or sand high spots of wood or concrete. Do not sand vinyl flooring – it may contain asbestos. Self-leveler is available in powder and pre-mixed form and is used to create a flat, smooth surface in flooring projects. The strength of the product is similar to concrete. Self-leveler dries quickly, so work quickly.


Plan the Floor:

Step One:

Mark the center of each wall and snap lines between them with a chalk line. 


Step Two:

Measure from the center to the starting wall, subtracting the 5/16-inch expansion gap, and mark this distance at each end of the wall. Snap a chalk line between these two marks to get a straight line against the wall.


Step Three:

Finally, calculate the width of the last row. If it will be less than 1/3 of a plank, cut about 1/3 of the plank off the first row for even starting and finishing rows.


The First Row:

Step ONE:

Score and cut the tongue off the first row of vinyl planks using a utility knife. Set the first plank in place on the starting line with the cut side toward the wall, maintaining the expansion gap.


Step TWO:

Hold the next plank at a slight angle against the previous plank's end and fold down to click it into place.



The end piece must be at least 6 inches long. If it’s not, cut a bit off the first plank and slide the row.


To cut the last piece to fit, score with a utility knife and snap the plank.


The Second Row Onward:

The joints must be staggered at least 6 inches. Measure and cut your first piece accordingly, using a cut end from the first row if necessary.


Step ONE:

Insert the tongue of the first piece into the groove of the previous row's first plank and rotate down to click together.


Step TWO:

For the next piece, connect the short end first and then connect the long end. You should feel it lock.



Continue the installation, making sure to stagger the joints by 6 inches and maintain the expansion gap.


Step FOUR:

To get under doorjambs, slightly bend the planks into place and use a pull bar or tapping block to lock the joint if necessary.


Peel-and-Stick Vinyl Plank Flooring:

The floor preparation and layout are the same for peel-and-stick vinyl planks as they are for floating vinyl plank floors. To install each piece, peel the adhesive backing off of the plank and stick it to the subfloor.



Replace the baseboards and add transitions and additional trim pieces, like shoe-moulding, if desired. Be sure to nail the trim pieces to the wall, not the floor.


Examples Of Our Vinyl Flooring Work:

If you’re looking to modify your home with vinyl flooring, but you’re still not quite comfortable with installing the floor yourself — feel free to call or email with any questions, or if you’d like a free estimate from us please don’t hesitate to ask, because at No Place Like Home Remodeling, we’re here to help!