For homeowners looking for an easy type of flooring to install, it’s hard to beat vinyl planks. New techniques have made this flooring incredibly easy for homeowners to install throughout their homes. There are also a variety of other factors that have helped propel it to the top of the sales charts including the range of styles and affordable price points.
Despite being easy to install, there’s one major difference between vinyl plank flooring and vinyl tiles. Traditional vinyl and LVP both need to be cut, which can lead to some issues. In this guide, we’re going to discuss the right way to cut vinyl plank flooring and talk about some tips that will save you money and time.
Vinyl Flooring Construction and Installation
Before we talk about the tools you will need to successfully lay vinyl flooring in a home, we want to touch on the installation process itself. It’s something we covered in-depth in our vinyl flooring installation guide, but there are a few tips everyone should keep in mind beforehand.
Vinyl plank flooring can come in several different formats, and the main ones used today are, LVP, WPC, and SPC flooring. Peel and stick vinyl planks are also technically in this class, but something we’ll cover in a separate section.
The main thing to remember with these types of vinyl is that it’s composed of multiple layers. Some forms are more flexible than others as well, so while rigid vinyl could be easier to install, it may require a completely different type of blade. Even though these planks are synthetic, you can still ruin the edges of these boards in a variety of ways.
Vinyl Flooring Tools
In order to successfully cut vinyl plank flooring, you have to have the right tools for the job. That includes a number of smaller tools and accessories along with a saw or cutter. Below is a list of tools needed to cut vinyl flooring, although you will need to rely on some different ones for the installation itself.
Circular saws are power tools that can use several types of circular blades to cut different types of material. They are easy to use and the most versatile type of saw on our list considering they are used to frame houses, build decks, and for DIY projects.
We also feel they are relatively inexpensive given the number of models available to homeowners today. These powerful tools cost between $40 to $200 depending on your budget. There are affordable options like the SKIL 5280-01, which has a laser guide to help homeowners keep a steady line. Cordless circular saws are an alternative along with premium corded models.
With that in mind, all are essentially useless on vinyl plank flooring without the proper blade. Blades designed to cut wood or metal are not necessarily designed for vinyl, but Dewalt, Diablo, and other brands make ones geared towards plastics. While there is no perfect solution, blades like this one from Ivy Classic are ideal for vinyl, plastic, or aluminum.
You can check blade reviews to see how they worked with vinyl plank flooring, but the main thing to keep in mind is the size of the blade itself. Compound miter saws are the best choice for plank flooring if you already have one hand, and while a miter box and a high-quality hand saw will work, it’s not ideal for large flooring installations.
Floor Cutting Tools
Homeowners that aren’t partial to powered tools or are interested in greener alternatives have an option as well. Floor and siding cutters are popular with certain types of flooring including laminate and vinyl flooring. These tools are manually powered and more expensive than most circular saws, however.
When considering a cutter in this class, check to see which types of vinyl it can actually cut and the sizes it can handle. This cutter from Marshalltown can handle flooring up to 8” wide and can cut laminate or vinyl flooring up to 12mm thick.
This type of cutter can cover most LVP and EVP brands on the market, and some can handle engineered flooring as well. These tools are typically used by flooring or siding pros, not average homeowners. Flooring and siding cutters can be rented, but you will still need a circular saw or table saw to rip a vinyl plank to width.
Oscillating multi-tool & Blades
This tool is not used to cut vinyl flooring to length or width but is versatile around doorways, floor vents, and plumbing. An oscillating multi-tool vibrates at extremely high speeds with unique blades that can cut through plastic, metal, or wood. You can make fine controlled cuts with a multi-tool of this nature, and they come in handy with a variety of other projects as well.
A comparable alternative is a corded jigsaw, which can perform most of the same cuts but without the same precision. This Black+Decker Smart Select saw is a good example of that, but again, you need to have the right blade before it can be used on vinyl flooring. Blades are typically sold in packs, and it’s a good idea to have at least 3-4 on hand for a small flooring job.
There are a few other tools required to cut vinyl flooring, but all of these are things you could have in the garage or toolbox. A tape measure isn’t hard to obtain, although you will need to purchase a speed square or carpenter's square depending on the saw you choose. Chalk lines are handy for rip cuts with vinyl flooring, just make sure to chalk the backs of the boards – not the fronts.
How to Cut Vinyl Flooring
As a synthetic material, vinyl cuts differently than wood or even metal. Having the right blade can help to ensure a clean cut, but it’s important to go slowly as well to prevent burned boards or chipped edges with plastic flooring of any kind.
How to Cut Vinyl Flooring to Length
The most common cut you’ll need to make when installing vinyl flooring is cutting boards to length. On each run, a board will need to be cut so the joints are staggered. While this is the easiest cut, it’s also the one you’ll need to perform most often.
Use the tape measure to mark the board for the cut. Always use the backside of the vinyl plank flooring to keep pencil marks and the potential for damage to a minimum. This also helps protect the wear layer from damage with miter or table saws.
Take the speed square to mark the cut line across the back of the board. With circular saws, the material will need to be secured to your workstation or sawhorses. Regardless of the saw used, remember to go slow, take your time, and follow the line. If you do this for each board and have a sharp blade, you’ll always get a clean cut.
Cutting Vinyl Flooring to Width
When you need to cut a piece of vinyl plank to width, things can get complicated quickly. You cannot perform this cut with a compound miter saw or handsaw, so you’ll need to break out the circular saw or head to a table saw for this type of cut.
Mark the board on the back as you would with any other cut, but pay close attention to the edge of the board. Make sure you are the edge that goes against the wall is the cut side, otherwise, you are just contributing to the waste pile.
Use the tape measure to measure and mark each end of the board for the cut. Take the chalk line, attach the clip to one end of the board and gently pull it across the plank to the other cut mark. Pull the line taught, and then have an assistant “pop” the line. Depending on the length of the board, a straight edge may also work.
If you have access to a table saw, cutting a piece of vinyl flooring to width is incredibly easy as you’ll have a guide or rip fence. For circular saws, things are more challenging as you need to make sure the stock is firmly held in place throughout the cut.
Cutting Vinyl Flooring around Pipes and Corners
If you are installing vinyl flooring in a room with plumbing or a radius corner, you’ll have to make a few odd cuts. While you still need to allow room for contraction and expansion, the goal is to make the cut as close and clean as possible.
This is also where the oscillating multi-tool or jigsaw comes into play, although marking the board properly is typically the hardest part. There are a number of ways you can go about this as well depending on the location of the pipes and distance to any walls. Just be sure of the measurements before you make the cut and don’t hesitate to make a template for radial cuts.
If the planks and pipes are very close to a wall, some flooring installers will “notch” a cut where the pipe should be, and while it works, it isn’t very clean. A hole saw rated for vinyl flooring is another option, although we prefer jigsaws and oscillating tools as they are useful in doorways as well.
Cutting Peel and Stick Vinyl Plank Flooring
While a powered saw or flooring cutter is ideal for thick luxury vinyl or EVP flooring, they are overkill for thin vinyl planks or flooring in the peel and stick class. You only need a high-quality razor knife both along with a bit of elbow grease. Classic utility knives will work, but new models like this one from Klein make blade changes a breeze.
To cut peel and stick vinyl plank flooring or tiles, you simply need to measure, mark and cut the piece with the utility knife. As long as the blade is sharp, you should get a nice smooth edge. Just remember to take your time and use the square as a guide while keeping something beneath the piece of flooring you intend to cut.
For vinyl flooring that’s a bit thicker, you may have to score the plank and snap it. You need to make the cut on the side with the wear layer, not the backside in order to get a clean break. Any type of cut can be achieved through thinner vinyl flooring or peel and stick with a razor knife and straight edge, including rip style cuts and cuts around the plumbing.
The Cost to Install Vinyl Flooring
If you don’t feel comfortable cutting up boxes of vinyl plank flooring or just need the job done quickly, you can always hire a professional. While this type of flooring is simple for most homeowners to install, the time it takes to move furniture, appliances and temporarily rearrange any areas under renovation is a factor as well.
Vinyl flooring installers typically charge a rate per square foot to install vinyl plank flooring. That’s not including the material itself or any prep work that may have to be done with the subfloor. On average, we found most homeowners across the United States pay between $1.75 to $3.00 per square foot for LVP, LVT, and vinyl plank flooring installation in general.
We found that sheet vinyl products are more expensive along with glue-down varieties in comparison to traditional vinyl plank flooring, LVP, or engineered vinyl. If you’re interested in having a flooring professional in your area take a look at your project, our quote tool can help you get started.
Cutting vinyl plank flooring is something almost any homeowner can accomplish given the right tools. Finding the right type of vinyl flooring can be more challenging, however, considering there are tiles and planks from dozens of manufacturers. If you are looking for the best vinyl flooring for your next project or just want to learn more about the material itself, we have you covered.