Which Direction to Install Vinyl Plank Flooring? Expert Tips and Guidelines - KF Architect - The Ultimate Flooring Guide for Vinyl, Laminate and Hardwood (2023)

Installing vinyl plank flooring in your home can be a simple yet transformative upgrade. However, one crucial aspect to consider during installation is the direction in which the planks should be laid out. The direction of vinyl plank flooring not only impacts the overall aesthetics but can also create a sense of space and harmony throughout your interior.

Though there isn’t a definitive right or wrong direction for installing vinyl planks, various factors, such as room size, lighting, and adjoining rooms, can help guide your decision. To achieve a balanced and visually appealing result, taking a thorough approach to determining the optimal layout direction for your flooring is essential.


  • Determining the Direction
    • Aesthetics
    • Room Size and Shape
    • Light Source and Orientation
  • Preparation and Planning
    • Measuring and Layout
    • Transitions and Thresholds
  • Installation Techniques
    • Parallel vs. Diagonal Installation
    • Starting Point
    • Expansion Gaps
  • Common Mistakes and Solutions
  • Conclusion

Determining the Direction

When installing vinyl plank flooring, determining the right direction is crucial to achieve the best look and functionality of the floor. Here are some factors to consider:


The direction of your vinyl plank flooring can have a significant impact on the overall appearance of your space. Generally, it’s recommended to lay vinyl plank flooring parallel to the longest dimension of the room to create an appealing and visually balanced look. Though, feel free to be creative with other layout options, such as herringbone, diagonal, or chevron patterns.

(Video) How to Install Vinyl Plank Flooring as a Beginner | Home Renovation

Room Size and Shape

For smaller rooms, you can make the space appear larger and wider by running the planks parallel to the longest wall. For oddly shaped rooms or multiple connected spaces, follow the general layout of the area to maintain consistency.

Light Source and Orientation

Another factor to consider is the main source of light in your room. You may choose to lay your vinyl plank flooring in the same direction as the light flow, especially for square rooms or areas with abundant natural light coming in from windows.

In conclusion, finding the appropriate direction for your vinyl plank flooring installation will depend on a combination of aesthetics, room size and shape, and light orientation. Be sure to evaluate these factors before you start laying your planks to achieve the best and most visually pleasing result.

Preparation and Planning

Before starting the installation of your vinyl plank flooring, it’s essential to plan ahead and prepare your space. This will ensure a professional-looking and durable result.

Measuring and Layout

Start by measuring the room to calculate the amount of flooring material needed. It’s a good idea to add 10% to the total square footage for cutting waste and potential mistakes. For instance, if your room measures 200 square feet, you would need 220 square feet of vinyl plank flooring.

Next, you need to determine the direction in which the planks will be laid. A popular choice is to lay them parallel to the longest wall of the room, which often provides a more visually appealing look. Additionally, consider the direction of light flow, as installation aligned with natural light can also create a pleasing effect.

(Video) 10 Beginner Mistakes Installing Vinyl Plank Flooring

Transitions and Thresholds

It’s important to plan for transitions and thresholds when installing vinyl plank flooring. This may include doorways, stairs, or areas where the flooring type changes. When using vinyl plank flooring on steps, you will need to run the planks horizontally for a seamless look.

For doorways and thresholds, you may need to purchase transition strips to enhance the visual continuity between different flooring types and ensure a smooth and safe transition. These can include:

  • Reducer strips: Used when transitioning from a higher flooring, such as hardwood or tile, to a lower flooring like vinyl plank.
  • T-molding: Ideal for joining two flooring types of the same height, like vinyl to laminate.
  • Stair nose: Required for the edge of steps when laying vinyl plank flooring on stairways.

By measuring, planning your layout, and addressing transitions and thresholds, you will be well-prepared to install vinyl plank flooring in a visually appealing and functional manner.

Installation Techniques

Parallel vs. Diagonal Installation

When installing vinyl plank flooring, there are two primary techniques to choose from: parallel and diagonal installation. Parallel installation involves laying the planks parallel to the longest walls of the room. This creates a visually cohesive flow and can enhance the sense of space in a room. On the other hand, diagonal installation positions the planks at a 45-degree angle to the walls. This technique adds visual interest and can make a room appear larger. The choice between parallel and diagonal installation is often a matter of personal preference and desired visual effect.

Starting Point

The starting point when installing vinyl plank flooring can significantly affect the overall appearance of the floor. It is recommended to start in the center of the room and work outwards. To do this, find the center point of the room, then use a chalk line and straightedge to create intersecting lines that divide the room into four equal quadrants. These lines will guide your plank placement as you work outwards, ensuring proper alignment and balance throughout the floor (The Home Depot).

Expansion Gaps

When installing vinyl plank flooring, it’s essential to leave expansion gaps around the perimeter of the room. These gaps allow for the natural expansion and contraction of the flooring material due to temperature and humidity fluctuations. Typically, a gap of 1/4 inch to 3/8 inch is recommended, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions. To maintain these gaps while installing the planks, use spacers to keep the flooring at the proper distance from the walls. Once the installation is complete, baseboards or trim pieces can be used to cover the expansion gaps, creating a professional and polished appearance.

(Video) You Won't FAIL | Tips for a BETTER Vinyl Plank Installation

Common Mistakes and Solutions

When installing vinyl plank flooring, there are several common mistakes that may affect the final outcome. To ensure a professional result and prolong the lifespan of your flooring, it’s essential to address these issues.

Mistake #1: Not leveling the subfloor. An uneven surface can cause the vinyl planks to buckle or separate over time. To prevent this, make sure to level the subfloor before installation. You can use a leveling compound or sand the high spots to achieve an even surface.

Mistake #2: Leaving dirt and debris on the subfloor. Any dirt, dust, or small debris left on the subfloor can cause the planks to not fit properly, and it can create an uneven finish. Be sure to thoroughly clean the subfloor before installing the planks.

Mistake #3: Not undercutting door jambs. When installing planks near doorways, it’s important to undercut the door jambs to ensure a proper fit. This allows the planks to slide under the door jamb for a seamless appearance.

Mistake #4: Incorrect alignment of tiles. It’s essential to align the vinyl planks correctly to achieve a professional-looking finish. Use spacers when laying the planks to maintain a consistent gap and even pattern.

Mistake #5: Using too much adhesive. Excessive adhesive can cause the joints to separate and create an uneven surface. Apply a moderate amount of adhesive and only use the recommended type for your chosen flooring.

(Video) How To Install Vinyl Plank Flooring : START TO FINISH

By addressing these common mistakes and implementing the appropriate solutions, you can install your vinyl plank flooring with confidence, ensuring a professional finish and long-lasting performance.


When determining the direction to install vinyl plank flooring, it’s essential to consider factors such as the room’s dimensions, natural light source, and overall design. Usually, laying the planks in the direction of the room’s longer dimension can give the space a more cohesive and less constrained appearance.

While installing the flooring parallel to the main light source can enhance the look, it’s crucial to ensure that the layout doesn’t conflict with the room’s structure. Also, choosing the correct direction can save cost on materials and reduce the need for cutting planks during installation.

Planning your vinyl plank flooring installation can result in an efficient process and a visually pleasing outcome. Keep in mind it’s best to do it right the first time, avoiding re-installation and additional expenses.

In summary, understanding your room’s specific characteristics is essential when deciding the direction to lay vinyl plank flooring. Once you’ve carefully considered all these factors, you’ll be well on your way to achieving an attractive and functional floor for your space.


1. How to Install Vinyl Plank Flooring: Tips & Tricks for All Skill Levels
(Six Eight Woodworks)
2. DIY Laminate or Vinyl Flooring | A to Z
(Home RenoVision DIY)
3. How to Install Vinyl Plank Flooring Quick and Simple
(Home RenoVision DIY)
4. Where to start - Installing laminate and vinyl plank
(So That's How You Do That!)
5. How to Install Glue Down Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring on OSB Sub Floor
(Brent Darlington)
6. How to Install Vinyl Plank Flooring
(Lowe's Home Improvement)


Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Corie Satterfield

Last Updated: 09/01/2023

Views: 5727

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (42 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Corie Satterfield

Birthday: 1992-08-19

Address: 850 Benjamin Bridge, Dickinsonchester, CO 68572-0542

Phone: +26813599986666

Job: Sales Manager

Hobby: Table tennis, Soapmaking, Flower arranging, amateur radio, Rock climbing, scrapbook, Horseback riding

Introduction: My name is Corie Satterfield, I am a fancy, perfect, spotless, quaint, fantastic, funny, lucky person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.