Peel-and-Stick Vinyl Plank Flooring DIY

If you read my post about removing the wallpaper from my master bathroom, you may have noticed the carpet on the bathroom floor. I’m 95% sure it was original to the house, which means it was 20 years old. Please revel with me for a moment in just how disgusting a 20-year-old carpet is in a BATHROOM. Are you reveling? Yeah. Ew. There was a little strip of linoleum running in front of the shower and bathtub, as if that’s going to help anything. The toilet room (water closet??) was the same tile-print linoleum and was curling up in one corner. The exact corner that I had to stare at every time I sat on the toilet. Every now and then I would pull at it a little and make it worse, just because it annoyed me. After a year of telling myself we needed new flooring I finally confronted the problem, and it was a surprisingly easy fix!

Before

My eventual goal for the bathroom is to install radiant floor heating and tile over that, and I think since that’s my ultimate dream, it never occurred to me that I could find a cheap intermediate solution that would end up looking so nice. If we ever decide to re-do the floor, I’ll actually be sad to see this stuff go. It looks really pretty in our bathroom! I used this driftwood gray wood-look peel-and-stick vinyl from Lowe’s. It has a nice, rustic, hand-scraped texture and looks surprisingly realistic. When I first decided to go this route, I was thinking I’d get some marble-looking vinyl tiles, cut them into thirds, and install them in a herringbone pattern. But once I saw this wood stuff in the store I was sold.

Removing the old flooring was really satisfying. After my husband and I pulled up the carpet and linoleum, we went to town scraping the plywood subfloor. Not only were a bunch of linoleum shreds and glue still stuck to the floor, but there was wall texture overspray that we had to scrape off too. After we scraped as much as we could, I used the orbital sander to smooth out a few areas. I feel like you don’t need to get the sub-floor as perfect as you would for laminate or tile flooring (says the lady who’s never installed either of those), but it’s still a good idea to scrape, sand, and level as much as you can. The better the base you start with, the better your finished result will be. Any decent-sized bumps or uneven areas will be noticeable after the vinyl is installed, so it’s worth the time and effort to prep the floor and try to get it right. Case in point: I had a plywood joint that was uneven. After sanding for a while, I got tired of it and quit. You can sort of feel it under the vinyl now, and it really would have been best to use a leveling compound to even out the joint.

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Next came the fun part…installing the new floor! Installing peel-and stick vinyl is pretty easy and straight-forward. I decided to just start along the tub and shower where I had a long, straight edge to work with. Once I got to the end of each row, I had to make lots of odd-shaped cuts to fit around moldings, odd corners, etc. The majority of my time was spent making those funky cuts, but if you have more of a square room with nice straight edges, this is a really quick and easy project. Here are some tips I learned from the process.

 

 

  1. Start with a clean, even floor. As I was laying planks down, I noticed a couple spots where I didn’t sand or scrape well enough, and I was left with a noticeable bump under the vinyl. Not a huge deal because you can’t really see it, you just feel it when you walk on it. But it really is better to get a nice smooth floor in the beginning. Vacuum well before you get started, and do it a few times as you go as well. I also kept a metal scraper handy because I found lots of areas that needed more smoothing out as I went.

 

  1. Do a dry fit of your planks/tiles before you start sticking them down. I laid some planks out across the width of the bathroom to see how they lined up, and what size my leftover sliver would be underneath the cabinet. If you start with a full plank on one side but end up with a little sliver on the other side of the room, you want to know this before everything is stuck down! In that case, it would probably best to start with half-width planks.

Dry Fit

 

  1. Know how to cut the vinyl. I’ve seen more than one DIY vinyl flooring post where a person says they made several passes with a utility knife to cut all the way through the vinyl. This makes me sad for them. You don’t have to do that much work! Using a straight edge, apply firm pressure and score the surface with a utility knife. Then you can easily snap the vinyl along that score line. If it breaks a little messy toward the back side of the vinyl, it’s really easy to shave off the rough edge with the utility knife. This method works for curved edges too, not just straight ones. Believe me, I made my share of odd-shaped cut-outs.

Cutting Vinyl Signed

  1. Use paper templates. I mostly made my tricky cuts around doorways and such by holding a plank up next to it and trying to sketch the right shape onto the plank. Then I’d cut it out, dry-fit it, trim it, fit it again….you get the idea. Well, that was stupid. Use some paper to make templates around detailed areas. I was lucky in some spots and the vinyl would fit under the baseboard or the door trim, and then the cuts didn’t have to be so precise. But in areas where the trim was too close to the sub-floor, it took me SO long to get things to fit right. My weird engineer OCD probably doesn’t help either.

Toilet Cuts

(At least I used a template to cut around the toilet drain!)

 

  1. Remove your toilet. If you’re working in a bathroom, you’ll get a much nicer finished result if you remove the toilet and extend the planks underneath it. Just replace your wax ring when you re-install the toilet. They only cost like $4, so don’t let that be what stops you. If it sounds intimidating, watch a couple videos on YouTube and you’ll find it’s much easier than it sounds. We kind of hated our toilet to begin with, and it leaked a bit between the tank and the bowl, so after we took it out we kind of used it as an excuse to replace it, seeing as we were already halfway through the process.

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  1. Stagger wood planks for a more realistic look. I started my first row with a two-thirds-length plank. The second row I started with about a third of a plank, then the next row with a full plank. Before you cut up a fresh piece to start a row, check the scraps you have from the ends of your previous rows. You can probably find something that will work well while saving full planks for the middle of the room.

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Just a few more photos so you can see just how beautifully this turned out. By the way, don’t you love the way the light blue walls and the gray-brown flooring complement each other? This room feels so much more soothing and inviting now. I’m totally digging these changes. Now I need to follow through with some ideas I’ve been scheming to build a new vanity and finish out the sink area.

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I hope this has inspired you to jump in and replace your flooring to get a fresh, updated look. I’m already thinking of installing this flooring in my daughter’s bathroom too. If you have any questions about how I did anything, please leave me a comment! Thanks for reading 🙂

 

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  • Donna Wood

    Hello, the floors look great. I’m about to use the same Driftwood gray peel and stick flooring from Lowe’s to do a feature wall in my teen son’s bedroom. Can you please tell me if you are happy with the adhesive? I’m worried the corners will lift and then look terrible. So thinking I should add extra adhesive to avoid this. What are your thoughts? Thanks

    • Sarah

      Donna, I’m so sorry I never saw your comment! I imagine I’m too late to help now, but I haven’t had any issues with the adhesive. I have a few places where I had to cut out small pieces to fill in a corner or small strip, and even those pieces are holding down well. I hope your project went well and that you’re loving your new floor!

      • Donna

        No worries Sarah, I actually haven’t started yet because we’ve decided to put our house on the market so didn’t think I should go to all that trouble if we plan to move to another house. I will be using the peel and stick flooring in his new room as a wall feature and I appreciate your feedback! Thanks

      • Jess

        We use some the same flooring and we used extra adhesive to make sure nothing came up.

  • Linda Meseke

    Love that you are willing to share your tips and pictures!

    • Sarah

      Thank you Linda! I’m happy to 🙂

      • Belinda

        Sarah
        Did you have to silicone/caulk the edges anywhere or around gaps where you’d made cuts?
        I noticed you left your skirting on so did it just butt up to the skirting..

        • Sarah

          Hi Belinda, DID I caulk and SHOULD I caulk are two different questions ;-). There was a gap between my baseboards and subfloor just big enough to slip the flooring underneath, so in those areas it looks quite nice. But there are gaps where I had to cut around doorways and corners, and those would absolutely look better if I would just go back and caulk them. My baseboards are in bad shape and one day (maybe, eventually…) I’ll replace them, so I’m just putting off the caulking until then. At that point I’ll caulk around the whole room to get a nice finished look.

  • Jane

    Can you link to the actual product that you bought?

  • Sandra

    Thank you for this post. I like when step by step instructions are posted. You’ve inspired me to go ahead and do the projects I had in mind with the peel and sticks vinyl planks. This can be a temporary fix until I decide on something else. Thanks.

    • Sarah

      Thanks Sandra! I hope your project goes well 🙂

  • Karen

    I just installed these floors over the New Years weekend and they are so slippery. Did you have the same issue?

    • Sarah

      I think after I first installed them they felt pretty slippery to me, but I chalked it up to the fact that we had just converted from carpet. I don’t know if they’ve gotten better over time, or if I’m just used to it now, but it hasn’t really been a problem for us. I hope they get better for you after a bit of use!

  • Sheila

    A subfloor needed?
    A top coaT? It’s going on concrete

    • Sarah

      Well it doesn’t need a top coat since it’s vinyl, it’s already a finished product. I imagine it’s ok to stick straight to concrete, but I would check manufacturer instructions. Just be sure the surface is good and clean before you get started!

  • Carol

    Hi Sarah,
    I want to replace my vinyl tile with peel and stick flooring. When you were laying yours did you have to remove the base boards?

    • Sarah

      Hi Carol, since builders seem to leave a little space between the subfloor and the baseboards, I was actually able to slip my vinyl right underneath the baseboards before pressing it down. I lucked out and it was actually a perfect fit. If you don’t have enough space under your baseboards, what I would probably do is install the vinyl snug up against them and then caulk the seams.

  • judy boguslawske

    Sarah How about where vinyl meets carpet in bathroom doorway.Will it look natural?

    • Sarah

      I think it looks about the same as any other transition between carpet and hard flooring. My carpet is still just a cut edge that sits over the top of the vinyl (which I stuck underneath the carpet by a couple inches so the subfloor wouldn’t show), but even that doesn’t look too bad. To properly finish the carpet edge, you would use something called a z-bar. I believe you use it with a tack strip, the carpet goes over the top of it and then curls back underneath itself and under the z-bar, which you then hammer down and it gives that nice rolled finished edge. I haven’t yet used one, but I bet you could get some good guidance on YouTube!

  • Lee

    Is it water tight? I made the mistake of putting laminate in a powder room, some of it is buckling. I need water tight for powder rm and kitchen.

    • Sarah

      This product is different from laminate flooring. The previous owners of our home put laminate in the kitchen and powder room, and we’re having some issues with water damage there too. But this product is vinyl, so it’s impervious to water. We haven’t had any issues with it in our bathroom. If you want a wood-look floor in your kitchen and powder room, I’d go with either a wood-look tile, this peel-and-stick vinyl, or the thicker vinyl planks that install and click together the same way laminate flooring does (but since it’s vinyl, you won’t have any issues with water damage).

  • Vicky

    Thanks for sharing. Motivating!

  • Lori

    This weekend after following your blog I decided to do my own bathroom, I was so excited and proud of how nicely it turned out. Then I had someone that renovates homes mention that they do not withstand water and putting them in the bathroom is the worst. So my question is, how is your holding out and does the steam and water seem to bother your floors?
    I had planned on doing this in my master bath also

    • Sarah

      Hi Lori, I’m definitely not a flooring expert, but I can say that I haven’t seen any water damage in ours. Our floor honestly doesn’t get very wet though. I just checked the product listing on the Lowe’s website and it claims to not be water resistant, so perhaps your friend is right. I’m not sure the vinyl flooring itself will necessarily be damaged by water, but one issue that comes to mind may be that because you don’t get a perfect seal between the planks, if the floor gets really wet then water can seep into the subfloor. I imagine this could cause problems with adhesion, and possibly mold issues with lots of water and poor air circulation. For our purposes it’s worked out really well, but it’s a good idea to evaluate how much moisture you think it will be subjected to and then decide from there. (And a side note: is it possible this person you spoke with misunderstood and thought you installed laminate flooring? Because THAT is DEFINITELY not a good idea in bathrooms)

    • Rita gary

      I have it my bathroom and ur friend is right , over time the steam from hot baths and water from getting in and out tub causes the corners to pop up . At first they will stick back down but the glue on the back wears out , when that happens the corner will crack and break off . I have at least ten broken ones in my bath . Maybe you could use some sort of sealant to cover the top of it since you recently did yours. Maybe that would prevent the moisture getting between the tiles which is what causes the problem. Good luck with your floor

      • Sarah

        Rita, that’s so disappointing to hear! And thank you for the info! I haven’t had these issues, so it’s interesting to hear about your experience. Maybe since I have a fairly large bathroom with two doors that are kept open (and we rarely use the bathtub), I just don’t have the moisture issues in there that others might have. Again, thanks for sharing!

  • Cheryl

    Sarah, I have a small bathroom with a vinyl laminate that was installed 28+ years ago. Do I need to pull that up before applying this product or will adhesion be fine to laminate?

    • Sarah

      Hi Cheryl. I have no experience with laying it over existing linoleum, but I googled around a bit and it seems to be OK to do. Just make sure you don’t have any corners/edges peeling up, and scrub the existing floor really well to make sure it’s good and clean.

  • Cheri

    Hi all, I did apply this over my existing vinyl floor. It was nice that my vinyl had vertical lines in it which made laying down my first line of planks a little easier. I would remind everyone of your advise measure out how the planks will lay so that you don’t end up with a think strip against one wall or the other. I did clean the vinyl thoroughly before laying the planks, but will share that the vinyl is shiny and I wonder if after laying the planks I should have taken a sander to it to rough it up, so that the plank adhesive grips better. The planks at first have moved slightly length ways even with making sure that they were really tight at the joints. Because the vinyl is slick, the planks seem to “slide” therefore. To remedy (since I laid the whole floor) it was really easy to lift any planks that had slid and relay it retightening the joints from one wall to the other. I then took finishing nails and drove them into the ends of the planks that butted up to the walls…about 1/2 inch from the wall. I hadn’t yet put my replacement foot boards in yet, so they would cover the nails once installed. I also ended up placing a nail in the planks that butted up against the hall carpet under the threshold, which also covered the nails once I tacked the threshold back down. I also did this to a couple of the planks that butted up to the bathtub, even though they are exposed. Because the planks are natural grey the flush nails look purposeful so don’t look out of place. The “slipping” is now fixed and the floor looks amazing. If I were to do it over again, I’d rough up the vinyl, (or pull it up…maybe) to get a better stick of the adhesive.

    • Sarah

      Thank you so much for all that info! I’m glad it’s working out well since you added the finish nails around the edges!

  • Antoinette Levy

    Hi Sarah,
    Thanks for your informative tips. Do I have to remove the existing “plastic looking flooring” ..(.not sure of the name) before laying the peel and stick flooring as this is a rental property.
    Regards,

    • Sarah

      Hi Antoinette. As long as the old flooring (probably linoleum) isn’t peeling up anywhere, I think it’s ok to install directly over it. Another reader actually just wrote a really informative comment about installing over existing flooring, if you can find it. But if you’re in a rental and you need to remove it when you move out, I’m not sure I’d go this route. I imagine you would be left with a really stick floor from the adhesive. If you meant that you want to install it in a rental that you own and you’re looking to spend minimal time/money, then I’d say just scuff up the current floor really well with sandpaper to help the adhesive stick better. Hope that helps!

  • Christina

    Where did you purchase the tiles and what was the cost.

  • I,m getting ready to place peel and stick. I want high gloss which it does not have. Has anyone put polyurethane or some type of gloss over it ? I,d Like to know if that will give it the over the top shine without damaging it.

  • Jelisa

    Hello I came across your post and was wondering if this cam come up easily? I am a renter with a landlord who won’t allow any permanent changes to the apartment.

    • Sarah

      I’m honestly not sure, I haven’t tried to remove it. I feel like it would probably leave a lot of adhesive behind though…I don’t think I’d take that risk, personally. 🙁

  • Swannie

    I just finished laying my peel and stick vinyl floor and some tiles have adhesive on them, how do I remove this without hurting the finish on the tiles?

    • Sarah

      I didn’t have that issue, but my first try would be Goo Gone. Hopefully that works! Maybe test it on a piece of scrap first to make sure it doesn’t ruin the finish.

  • Deserae

    Thanks for all the detail on your project! Floor looks great. I’m in the process of buying my first home and am now planning on trying this out. Was thinking in the kitchen…thoughts?

    • Sarah

      I think it would be beautiful in a kitchen! Good luck!

  • Charlie

    Just moved into a house with this kind of vinyl . 1) how do I clean it? Ok to mop? I’m worried about water seeping under and loosening the planks
    2) a few planks have ends that are popping up a bit. Any idea how to fix that?
    Thank you!

    • Sarah

      Hi Charlie, we use a spray bottle with a vinegar/water mixture and a microfiber mop pad to clean our floors. We haven’t had any issues with planks popping up, but I know there’s glue specifically designed for flooring that you could use to adhere yours back down. I can’t recommend any since I haven’t had to use it, but someone at a home improvement store could point you in the right direction! Sorry to hear you’ve had issues with planks popping up!

  • Marie

    Sarah, I just came across your site. It’s fantastic. I’m just looking to redo our guest bath and this is the best I’ve seen, Thank you.

    • Sarah

      Thanks Marie! I’m glad you find it helpful 🙂

  • Katelin

    Did you have to caulk any areas? I.e. The side that lines tub….

    • Sarah

      I didn’t caulk around the tub, walls etc. I SHOULD have, but I didn’t. At the time that I installed the flooring, I didn’t have any on hand, and I never did go back to do it. It sure will look a lot nicer when I get around to it, it just never seems to be a priority…

  • Sara Maria

    I’m loving this easy floor fix! I am currently living in Mexico and hoping that I can find this here. I think you should try painting your vanity…something worn would look great with the floor, maybe try chalk paint.

    • Sarah

      Thanks Sara! I hope you’ve had luck finding this flooring in Mexico! Thanks for the suggestion 🙂 Painting the vanity has been on my list of things to do ever since I did the floor, but I keep prioritizing other things ahead of it. I also plan to (eventually) build a new vanity, so maybe subconsciously I feel like it would be wasted work to paint this one!