How to choose and lay vinyl flooring

Find out how to choose vinyl flooring, perfect for practical areas and ideal to suit every budget and space

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Advances in technology and printing mean that vinyl flooring can now compete with other kinds of flooring, including natural materials, such as solid wood, real stone and ceramic and porcelain tiles, in terms of appearance and texture. But what makes  vinyl flooring most popular is its long lasting durability, scratch resistance and easiness to clean.

As well as being highly insulating for both heat and sound, vinyl is one of the most affordable flooring options, alongside laminate. Available in a wide range of designs, you're sure to find a style that suits your space.

How much does vinyl flooring cost?

On average, vinyl flooring costs between £10 per m² and £25 per m². It is possible to spend more on vinyl flooring if you go for a bespoke option, but this depends on your own specifications, the quality of the material and the detail you require. 

It is also possible to buy vinyl for as little as £5 per m² or even less, but you will find that some of the thinner options will not be as comfortable underfoot.

Pomena stone finish Vinyl tiles from Tile Mountain

Pomena stone finish Vinyl tiles, £19.99 per sqm, Tile Mountain

(Image: © Tile Mountain)

How much vinyl flooring do you need?

How much vinyl you need depends on the size of the room you are flooring, and the format of the tiles you are choosing. Measure the length and width of the room and then multiply them. For example:

If your room measures 5m by 5m, the area of your room is 25m² and you will need 25m² of vinyl flooring. Most flooring suppliers will display how many metres squared a pack of their flooring will cover. Always allow for an extra 10%, just in case tiles are damaged, and so that you can replace worn tiles if you ever need to.

Otono and Fiore, Karndean Designflooring

What is vinyl flooring made from?

Carpetright True Colours UNI 556 Vinyl, £22.99 per sqm

True Colours UNI 556 Vinyl, £22.99 per sqm, Carpetright

(Image: © Carpetright)

Vinyl might vary in design, thickness and quality, but it is basically made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride), although other additives such as pigments and fillers are often included with different manufacturing processes and material compositions. It is finished with a wear coating, and high-gloss designs have a polyurethane coating added at the end.

How to fit vinyl flooring

Fitting vinyl flooring depends on the type of vinyl and the skill required: if you are laying a single sheet in a large room, then one wrong cut can be an expensive mistake. Some products require adhesives for installation, while others come with a peel-off sticky backing or click together like laminate boards.

As with most flooring types, you will get a better finish if it is professionally laid, but if you are competent at DIY then you might want to have a go. Do bear in mind, though, that tiles or planks will be a lot easier to work with than a rolled out sheet of flooring.

Where to lay vinyl flooring?

Due to vinyl’s durability and water resistance, it can be laid in virtually any room of the house, including kitchens and bathrooms, although it is not suitable for wet rooms. In its sheet form, vinyl is particularly good for busy family bathrooms as it can be fitted seamlessly, but make sure that the design you choose is slip resistant.

It can be fitted on any surface as long as it is smooth and flat, but it might be necessary to have the subfloor levelled so the vinyl doesn’t show up any undulations. If your floor is concrete, you could have a layer of screed put down first.

Harvey Maria Signature Collection in Church Pine

(Image: © Harvey Maria)

Using vinyl flooring with underfloor heating

Most vinyls are suitable for use with underfloor heating, but check the manufacturer’s recommended maximum floor surface temperature to ensure it is compatible. Vinyl will heat up and cool down more quickly than stone and wood.

Vinyl is subject to a top floor temperature restriction of 27°C which is controlled by a thermostat. So when considering installing underfloor heating with vinyl flooring, you must get a heat loss calculation to ensure the underfloor heating system meets the heat requirement of the room.

When installing electric underfloor heating systems, a certified electrician must fit the thermostat and make any electrical connections. For water based systems, you will need a plumber and electrician to provide the final connection.

When it comes to electric systems, vinyl flooring can be installed either as a floating floor or as a glued floor finish. If the vinyl is going to be floating, it is installed with insulated underlay and dual overlay with the exception of a wetroom or bathroom where dual overlay boards must not be used as these are not suitable for wet areas.

In the case of installation onto wet areas, the vinyl needs to be used with an under tile heater instead of a foil heater.  The under tile heater must be covered with a minimum of 10mm latex screed or self-levelling compound over the top. The vinyl flooring is then adhered to this base.

A thing to note is that any adhesive used in the installation must be suitable for use with underfloor heating so check this before purchasing any adhesive. You should also always check with the flooring manufacturer that the flooring is suitable for use with a floor heating system.

Murafloor, £39 – £49 per m²

How to clean vinyl flooring?

The advantage of vinyl is that it’s so easy to look after, but even though it is scratch-resistant, dirt and debris can cause scratching if allowed to build up. It should be swept regularly with a soft broom and mopped with warm soapy water or a recommended floor cleaner. Never use anything abrasive.

Where to find a vinyl floor reputable fitter?

The National Institute of Carpet & Floorlayers can give you a list of its members in your area. Many retailers will either offer a fitting service or can recommend local installers. You can post a job, get quotes and hire a tradesperson on websites such as mybuilder.com and ratedpeople.com.

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