How To Start First Row Of Vinyl Plank Flooring? [Easy Methods]

How To Start First Row Of Vinyl Plank Flooring

When it comes to renovating or upgrading your home, one of the most impactful changes you can make is installing new flooring. Vinyl plank flooring has gained popularity for its durability, ease of installation, and wide range of styles. However, it is crucial to know how to start the first row of vinyl plank flooring ensuring a professional and polished finish. 

To lay the first vinyl plank row, prepare with tools and vinyl planks. Mark a straight starting line, place spacers, and lay the first row. Connect planks, trim as needed, and continue installation, trimming around obstacles. Finish by adding trim for a polished look.

In this guide, we will walk you through a step-by-step process on how to start the first row of vinyl plank flooring, ensuring a seamless and impressive outcome. So keep reading!

To install the initial row of vinyl plank floors, first, you need these tools and materials mentioned below: 

  • Measuring tape
  • Utility knife or vinyl plank cutter
  • Chalk line
  • Straight edge
  • Vinyl plank flooring
  • Spacers
  • Underlayment (if required)
  • Adhesive (if required)

Cost: Dollars 1.50 To 4

9 Step-by-Step Guide: Starting the First Row of Vinyl Plank Flooring

Laying the first row of the vinyl floor is a crucial part that ensures that the entire installation process goes smoothly. If you are doubtful and confused, follow the guide below to complete this task. 

Step 1: Prepare the Subfloor

Make sure your subfloor is clean, dry, and smooth. If required, lay down an underlayment suitable for vinyl plank flooring to create a moisture barrier and provide a smoother surface.

Step 2: Plan the Layout

Starting from the longest wall in the room is generally recommended. Measure the width of the room and divide it by the width of a plank, including the expansion gap. This will help you determine if the last row will require cutting. Use a chalk line to mark a straight guideline along the starting wall, allowing for the expansion gap between the wall and the planks.

Step 3: Install the Spacers

Place spacers along the starting wall to maintain the expansion gap. This gap is essential to allow the flooring to expand and contract with temperature and humidity changes, preventing buckling or warping.

Step 4: Lay the First Row

Begin with the tongue side of the planks facing the wall. Start the first lay of vinyl plank flooring, ensuring it is flush against the spacers. The tongue should be facing the wall, while the groove side should face outward. Connect the planks by angling the tongue of the second plank into the groove of the first, then gently pressing down. Continue this process for the entire first row.

Step 5: Cut Planks as Needed

If the last plank in the first row needs to be trimmed, measure and mark the plank accordingly. Use a straight edge and a utility knife or a vinyl plank cutter to make a clean cut.

Step 6: Start the Second Row

For the second row and beyond, use the cutoff piece from the end of the first row to start the next row. This will stagger the seams for a more natural look. Remember to use spacers along the starting wall and between planks.

Step 7: Continue Installation

Continue laying rows of vinyl planks, connecting the planks using the tongue-and-groove system. Stagger the seams by starting each row with a plank that is at least 6 inches in length to prevent a repetitive pattern.

Step 8: Trim Door Jambs and Obstacles

When you encounter door jambs, vents, or other obstacles, you’ll need to make precise cuts to fit the planks around them. Use a template to mark the plank for cutting, and carefully trim it to fit using a utility knife or a jigsaw.

Step 9: Complete the Installation

As you approach the final rows, measure and cut planks as necessary. Remember to maintain the expansion gap and ensure a snug fit. Once all the planks are laid, remove the spacers and install any necessary trim or molding to cover the expansion gap along the walls.

9 Tips About How to Start the First Row of Laminate Flooring:

Starting the first row of laminate flooring is a critical step that sets the tone for the entire installation process. By following these key tips, you can ensure a smooth and professional-looking result.

1. Acclimate the Laminate Flooring:

Before you begin, allow the laminate flooring to acclimate to the room’s temperature and humidity. This prevents potential warping or gaps later on. Place the unopened boxes of laminate in the room for at least 48 hours before installation.

2. Choose the Right Starting Wall:

Select the wall that is most visible when entering the room as the starting wall. This ensures that the first row looks aesthetically pleasing. Remember to leave an expansion gap of about 1/4 inch along all walls to allow for the laminate’s natural expansion and contraction.

3. Use a Guide Line:

To keep the first row of laminate planks straight, use a chalk line or a straight piece of wood as a guide. This will help you avoid crooked installations that become more noticeable as you proceed.

4. Cut Door Jambs and Trims:

To ensure a seamless look, use a handsaw or jigsaw to carefully cut away the bottom of door jambs and casings. This allows the laminate planks to fit snugly underneath, creating a professional finish.

5. Leave Spacers and Expansion Gaps:

Place spacers along the starting wall to maintain the expansion gap. As you install the planks, make sure to insert spacers between each plank and the wall. This gap is crucial for the laminate to adjust to temperature and humidity changes.

6. Interlock the Planks:

Laminate flooring typically features a tongue-and-groove locking system. Start the first row with the tongue side facing the wall. Insert the groove side of the second plank into the tongue of the first at a slight angle, then lower it to interlock the planks. Repeat this process for the entire first row.

7. Stagger the Seams:

In subsequent rows, stagger the end joints of the planks by at least 12 inches. This creates a more natural look and enhances the stability of the flooring. Use the cut-off piece from the end of one row to begin the next.

8. Check for Level:

Periodically use a level to ensure that the laminate planks are laying flat and even. Adjust as needed to avoid an uneven final result.

9. Take Your Time:

Installing laminate flooring requires precision and patience. Take your time to ensure each plank is properly aligned and interlocked. Rushing through the process can lead to mistakes that are time-consuming to rectify.

10 Mistakes to Avoid When Starting the First Piece of Vinyl Plank Flooring:

Starting the first piece of vinyl plank flooring may seem straightforward, but several common mistakes can lead to subpar results. By being aware of these pitfalls, you can ensure a successful and professional-looking installation.

1. Neglecting Acclimation:

Skipping the acclimation process can lead to issues down the line. Allow the vinyl planks to acclimate to the room’s temperature and humidity for at least 48 hours before installation. This prevents warping and gaps as the planks adjust to the environment.

2. Ignoring Subfloor Preparation:

A properly prepared subfloor is essential for a smooth installation. Neglecting to clean, level, or address imperfections in the subfloor can cause the vinyl planks to not lay flat, resulting in an uneven surface.

3. Starting Without a Guide Line:

Failing to use a straight guideline can result in crooked or misaligned planks. A chalk line or straight edge is crucial for keeping the first row straight, which sets the foundation for the entire flooring.

4. Not Leaving Expansion Gaps:

Overlooking the need for expansion gaps along walls can lead to buckling or warping. Place spacers between the planks and the walls to create the necessary gap, allowing the vinyl to expand and contract with temperature changes.

5. Misunderstanding the Tongue-and-Groove System:

Incorrectly connecting the planks using the tongue-and-groove system can lead to weak joints and an unstable floor. Ensure the planks are properly aligned and interlocked at the correct angle to prevent separation over time.

6. Forgetting Door Jambs and Trim Cuts:

Neglecting to make accurate cuts around door jambs and trim can result in unsightly gaps. Take the time to carefully measure and cut the planks to fit snugly around these obstacles for a polished finish.

7. Rushing the Process:

Installing vinyl plank flooring is not a race. Rushing through the installation can lead to mistakes that are difficult to correct later. Take your time to align, interlock, and trim the planks accurately.

8. Failing to Stagger Seams:

Installing planks without staggering the end joints can create a repetitive and unnatural appearance. Stagger the seams by starting each row with a plank that is at least 6 inches in length to achieve a more authentic look.

9. Not Checking for Level:

Ignoring the leveling of the planks can result in an uneven surface that’s noticeable once the installation is complete. Regularly use a level to ensure each row is even and flush.

10. Disregarding Manufacturer’s Guidelines:

Each vinyl plank brand may have specific guidelines for installation. Disregarding these recommendations, such as using incorrect adhesive or installation methods, can lead to voided warranties and unsatisfactory outcomes.


How Do I Choose The Right Vinyl Plank Flooring?

Choosing the right vinyl plank flooring involves considering factors like durability, style, and thickness. Thicker planks are often more resilient and can hide subfloor imperfections, while various styles mimic natural materials like wood or stone.

Do I Need Underlayment Under Vinyl Plank Floor?

Underlayment is recommended as it provides a moisture barrier, reduces noise, and enhances the comfort of the floor. However, some vinyl planks come with built-in underlayment, so check the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Can I Install Vinyl Plank Flooring Over Existing Tile Or Hardwood?

Yes, in most cases, vinyl plank flooring can be installed over existing tile or hardwood. Ensure the surface is clean, level, and in good condition. If the existing floor is significantly uneven, consider adding a layer of plywood before installation.

How Do I Ensure The First Row Is Straight?

Using a chalk line and spacers is crucial. The chalk line creates a guide for the first row, while spacers ensure the expansion gap is maintained along the wall. This prevents the planks from buckling due to temperature changes.

Should I Glue Down The First Row of Vinyl Planks?

Gluing down the first row is generally unnecessary. Most vinyl planks have a click-lock or adhesive strip system that secures the planks together without the need for glue.

Can I Install Vinyl Plank Flooring Myself, Or Do I Need A Professional?

Vinyl plank flooring is designed for DIY installation. With proper tools, patience, and following guidelines, you can achieve professional-looking results. However, if you’re unsure or have a complex layout, consulting a professional might be wise.

What Tools Do I Need To Install First Vinyl Plank Row?

Basic tools include a measuring tape, utility knife or vinyl plank cutter, spacers, chalk line, and a straight edge. Optional tools may include a jigsaw for intricate cuts and a rubber mallet for tapping planks into place.

How Do I Transition Vinyl To Other Flooring Types?

For transitions between vinyl plank flooring and other surfaces, use transition strips. These ensure a seamless and safe transition between rooms with different types of flooring.

Can I Install Vinyl Planks In Bathrooms And Kitchens?

Yes, vinyl plank flooring is water-resistant and suitable for bathrooms and kitchens. Ensure that the seams are properly sealed, and consider using waterproof adhesive in areas prone to moisture.

How Do I Maintain Vinyl Plank Flooring?

Maintaining vinyl plank flooring is easy. Regular sweeping or vacuuming and occasional damp mopping will keep it clean. Avoid using harsh chemicals and excessive water to prevent damage to the flooring’s surface.


Installing vinyl plank flooring can be a rewarding DIY project that enhances the aesthetics and value of your home. By following these step-by-step guidelines on how to start the first row of vinyl plank flooring, you can achieve a professional-looking result that will impress anyone who enters your newly transformed space. 

Just take your time, measure accurately, and work patiently to ensure each plank is laid with precision and care.

Jahidul Alam

Hello dear! This is Jahidul Alam. I am the admin of this Tidy Floor. I have been in the floor cleaning business for the last 20 years. My business is all about ensuring affordable flooring cleaning services for Americans.

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