how to install luxury vinyl plank flooring in San Diego, CA

How to Install Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring: A DIY Guide

Luxury vinyl plank (LVP) flooring is a popular and versatile option for homeowners looking to upgrade their spaces. With its beautiful finishes, durability, and water resistance, LVP has a lot to offer. Best of all? It's surprisingly DIY-friendly, especially with the right preparation and guidance.

We’ll go over a step-by-step guide on how to install luxury vinyl plank flooring yourself.

Before you start your LVP installation… 

Review your specific type of LVP flooring

There are a many types of LVP to choose from, especially at our luxury vinyl flooring store in San Diego, CA. Consider the look you want and the room's function. 

  • Click-lock: These planks snap together easily, making them ideal for DIYers. While infrequent, California is an earthquake-prone region. Opting for a floating type LVP installation (like click-lock) gives your floor some flexibility to shift with minor tremors, minimizing potential damage.
  • Glue-down: Require adhesive and are a bit more complex to install, but can be better for heavy-traffic areas.
  • Loose-lay: These have a special backing for a quick installation without adhesives.

Account for accclimation time

Acclimation is important, even for luxury vinyl. Allow the LVP to acclimate to the room's temperature and humidity for at least 48 hours before installation. This prevents warping or buckling afterward.

Prepare your subfloor


LVP will telegraph subfloor imperfections. Your subfloor MUST be level and smooth. This might require filling in cracks, sanding, or even installing a self-leveling compound. Remove baseboards and trim: This allows for expansion space. 

San Diego enjoys fairly consistent temperatures, which means less severe expansion and contraction of your flooring compared to areas with extreme seasonal shifts. However, leaving a small expansion gap is still crucial.


Sweep and vacuum the subfloor thoroughly. Any debris left will create bumps or issues later on.


Be meticulous in ensuring the subfloor is completely dry. San Diego's coastal humidity levels do fluctuate and LVP is water resistant. 

However, with certain subfloors, like concrete, moisture can get trapped. This will prevent potential issues with warping or mold.

Additional notes: 

Termites can be an issue in certain areas. Ensure your subfloor doesn't have any existing infestations and choose an underlayment with termite-resistant properties if this is a concern.

How to install luxury vinyl plank flooring in San Diego, CA

Step 1: Gather your supplies

  • LVP flooring (calculate square footage with extra for waste)
  • Underlayment
  • Tape measure
  • Utility knife
  • Tapping block and rubber mallet
  • Spacers
  • Level
  • Flooring roller (for glue-down installation)

Step 2: Find the room’s longest, straightest wall

Find the room's longest, straightest wall. Begin in a corner, leaving a recommended expansion gap (check your product's instructions) along the walls. Use spacers to maintain it.

Step 3: Start on the first row

Cut the tongue side off the first row planks for a flush edge against the wall. Lay out the first row, staggering plank ends by at least 6 inches.

Step 4: How to install luxury vinyl plank based on flooring type


  1. Angle the tongue of the next plank into the groove of the first plank at a slight angle (around 20-30 degrees).
  2. Lower the plank flat until you hear or feel it lock securely.
  3. Use a tapping block and mallet to gently tap the joint if needed for a tight fit.
  4. Start the second row with a plank cut to a different length (stagger the seams at least 6 inches from the previous row’s end joints). Continue with this staggered pattern throughout your installation.
  5. Connect the second row by angling and inserting the tongue of the second-row plank into the groove of the first row.
  6. While applying slight forward pressure, also press down to lock the short ends of the planks together.
  7. Continue to work your way across in this fashion, connecting long sides and short sides of the planks as you proceed.
  8. You'll likely need to rip the last row of planks lengthwise for a proper fit.

Glue Down LVP

  1. Spread the adhesive. Follow the manufacturer's instructions carefully. Typically, you'll work in small sections, spreading the adhesive evenly using the recommended notched trowel.
  2. The adhesive will have an "open time" or "flash time". This means the period where it becomes tacky and ready for the flooring. This time can vary greatly between adhesives, so read the instructions thoroughly.
  3. Once the adhesive is ready, start laying your LVP planks according to your layout. Check the adhesive periodically – you'll know it's ready if it doesn't transfer to your finger when lightly touched.
    1. Use spacers along the walls for the expansion gap.
    2. Fit the planks tightly together using the tapping block and mallet.
  4. Measure and mark planks before cutting with a utility knife. A jigsaw may be necessary for intricate cuts.
  5. Use a heavy flooring roller to ensure your LVP is completely bonded to the subfloor. Roll in multiple directions for the best adhesion.

Loose Lay LVP

  • Leave a small expansion gap (as per the product spec) around the perimeter of the room for the flooring to expand and contract with temperature changes.
  • As with other LVP types, stagger the seams between rows of planks for strength and a more natural look.
  • Position the first plank in your starting corner, ensuring it's snug against the walls with the expansion gap maintained.
  • Loose lay LVP planks typically have a rubberized backing or some form of adhesive system. Simply press the planks together firmly to ensure a tight connection.

The beauty of loose lay LVP lies in the fact that you won't need a tapping block, mallet, or adhesives.

Working around obstacles & important considerations

Use a jigsaw to cut planks for door frames, corners, or other irregular shapes. Measure carefully, mark clearly, and cut with precision. 

Don’t forget to read manufacturer instructions carefully. Specifications can vary between products. Don't take shortcuts. Careful subfloor preparation will prevent issues later on.

If in doubt, consult a pro. Especially for complex layouts or if you encounter unexpected problems.

Final LVP installation touches

Install transition strips where needed (between rooms, flooring types). Replace baseboards (slightly higher to accommodate the new flooring).

Talk to the LVP installation experts at Geneva Flooring

Installing luxury vinyl plank flooring is a rewarding DIY project that requires patience and attention to detail. If this is your first time purchasing LVP, don’t worry! We offer quality, worry-free flooring installation services for those who don’t want to go through the troubles and risks of installing the floors themselves. 

For those in the San Diego area seeking professional LVP flooring expertise, consider contacting Geneva Flooring in San Diego, CA, servicing the areas of Rancho Bernardo, CA, Rancho Penasquitos, CA, Poway, CA, Scripps Ranch, CA, and Del Mar, CA. This woman-owned company specializes in hardwood flooring in San Diego, CA since 1999, and offers comprehensive flooring solutions.