This article will tackle the cutting and fitting of solid floor materials such as lino and vinyl which come on a roll. The general principles are the same regardless of the material and the width of the roll as it is mostly about cutting accurate profiles so that the flooring fits perfectly.
Preparation and First Fitting
Preparation is vital for a quality finish. If you are laying the flooring on floorboards then it’s best to cover them with a layer of hardboard to provide a smooth surface. Concrete floors won’t need this but check all over for any imperfections and in particular chip off any ridges or raised points. Sweep the area clean and make sure it’s dry.
Lay out the vinyl and cut it to roughly fit the room but leaving at least 75mm extra on all sides to allow for trimming. Err on the side of caution: remember that you can always cut more off if it’s too large but if you cut it too small you are in trouble.
Fitting to the First Wall
The next job is to pick the longest, straightest wall and push the edge of the sheet up against it as best you can. Then take a large washer and a soft pencil and lay the washer down in one corner. Place the pencil in the centre of the washer and draw along the length of the wall.
The washer will roll with you but keep the pencil an exact distance away from the wall at all times. When you are done you will have a line on the edge of the flooring that will exactly match the profile of the wall.
Cut along this line with strong scissors or a trimming knife then push the vinyl hard against the wall and underneath the skirting boards if there are any. This gives you a point of reference to work from for the rest of the room. Get a soft broom and sweep the vinyl sheet from the middle of the reference wall out in all directions to work out any air bubbles and get it completely flat.
Continue Around the Sides
Work along one for the side walls next, using a bolster or other thin, flat tool to push the vinyl hard into the angle between the wall and the floor. Cut along the resulting crease line and lay the vinyl back down. If there is skirting board along this wall and space to fit the vinyl underneath it then cut 5 to 10 mm on the waste side of the crease and push it under.
It is imperative to check every so often that your sheet is still in place on the first wall and hasn’t moved as you move around and tug the sheet into place. Do this even more regularly as you follow the same process on the other side wall and then finally the wall opposite the wall where you started.
Fixing in Place
Once it’s all fitting snugly it’s time to stick the flooring down. Don’t be tempted to do this as you go because the movement of people doing the fitting may crease or move the sheet of flooring. This could mean that your trimming may go wrong or the flooring is creased irretrievably.
Some solid flooring should be laid down on a layer of glue but others do not, they just need to be stuck at the edges near doorways or perhaps on external corners where there’s a lot of foot traffic. Follow the manufacturers’ recommendations as to whether glue or double-sided tape should be used but bear in mind that the exact type of glue or tape may differ depending on the type of surface underneath.
Cutting Around Obstacles
To cut around corners or objects that stick out into the room, like kitchens or lavatory cisterns, cut the area roughly to shape with about a 5cm overlap. Then push the sheet down onto the floor making vertical downward cuts in the waste portion as you go to allow it to go flat.
Eventually the sheet will be completely flat and you will be left with the remaining waste sticking up against the item or wall. Peel the flooring back again, cut the excess portions off and lay it back down. Stick the flooring down in tricky areas like this.
Once the floor is down you should leave it for around ten days before washing it, particularly if it is the type that is stuck down all over. Depending on the layout of the room you may have to fit threshold strips at doorways. These will be screwed or otherwise fixed to the floor and protect the new flooring from being caught and lifted up by shoes as people walk into the room.