Vinyl planks and tiles both provide a durable and easy-to-install covering for high-traffic areas. The only difference between them is their dimensions -- tiles are square, while planks are rectangular. Vinyl planks are designed to resemble wood. Each has a glue strip on one side and one end, and you install the planks by pressing them together. A vinyl plank floor floats over the subfloor. You can install it over dry, hard and flat materials like wood, tile, concrete and linoleum, but not over carpet. This type of floor is recommended for interior use only.
Pry off any existing baseboards in the room with a pry bar to ensure full access to all of the floor area.
Prepare the subfloor by thoroughly sweeping and vacuuming it. Any household or construction debris that you don't remove will be noticeable under the new flooring.
Spread leveling compound over the floor with a trowel if the subfloor texture includes height inconsistencies of 1/8 inch or more. Allow the compound to dry, sand it flat with a belt sander, and vacuum the dust. If the floor is already smooth and level, it's unnecessary to use leveling compound.
Unpack the flooring three days prior to installation and spread it around the room to acclimate it to its new environment. This prevents shrinkage and gaps. Mix the planks from different packages together to ensure a uniform color distribution.
Start the installation along a wall. Unlike hardwood flooring, you can't start the installation in the middle of the room, because the glue strips on the planks are unidirectional.
Measure the width of the room from both ends of the wall along which you start, using a tape measure, and trim the first row of boards to compensate for half of the difference between these measurements. You'll be able to compensate for the other half by trimming the last row when you reach the opposite wall.
Lay the first row of planks without gluing them, cutting the final plank to fit, then fit the next row into place tightly against them, again without gluing. Cut the first board in the second row so that its end is staggered with respect to the board next to it by at least 6 inches. Avoid removing the peel-off strips during this process. Maintain this stagger pattern throughout the installation. Use a utility knife and straightedge to cut the planks.
Disassemble the floor, keeping the planks organized so you can put them back in the same order. Pulling the protective covering off of the glue strips on each plank in turn, reinstall the planks and glue them together. There should be a 1/4-inch gap between the planks and the wall. Use spacers to maintain this gap along all walls.
Secure each plank to the glue strip by aligning its edge with the plank next to it and pushing it down onto the strip. For a gap-free installation, hold the plank at a 45-degree angle against the one next to it and push it against the existing plank while you flatten and lower it. Run a hand roller over the seam to secure it.
Trim the planks to fit around obstacles by cutting them with a utility knife or a hacksaw. Avoid cutting the vinyl with a wood saw -- you'll damage the edges of the vinyl.
Install baseboards around the perimeter of the room after you've finished laying the floor. They hide the gap between the flooring and wall and hold the floor down.