Introduction: Sheet Vinyl Installation

Are you unsatisfied with your current bathroom floor or wish you had a more modern feeling to the room? If so, boy do I have some good information to share with you! I must ask, have you ever heard of sheet vinyl and the amazing qualities it beholds? Sheet vinyl comes in many intricate colors and designs; it is a multi-layer, durable flooring that is highly inexpensive. It is easy to clean, modern, and is a much higher quality than the former style of flooring called linoleum. This guide will explain in detail how to plan and install vinyl sheet flooring in any bathroom.


Before the work portion of this guide is described, make sure “free floating vinyl” is being looked at when picking a design. Not just any design will do as it should compliment the current colors of the trim, vanity, and paint on the walls. This process can be simplified by choosing a few designs and asking for samples from whichever store carries them so that they can be brought home and compared in person. If a smaller sized bathroom is being done, be sure to avoid large abstract designs as they will most likely not be fully visible due to a vanity or toilet taking up some of the picture. If a longer bathroom is being done, say a 5’ by 15’, and a design that runs long (such as a real wood design) is chosen, the design on the sheet vinyl should run the long way and not the short way. A simple list of tools is necessary to complete this project from start to finish including but not limited to: utility knife, tape measure, dry-erase marker, yard stick, hand saw, patching compound/self-leveling compound, putty knife, double sided tape, pry bar, rubber mallet, claw nose hammer, level, and depending upon the situation, adhesive remover.

Step 1: Step One: Removal & Preparation of the Subfloor

Now that an awesome design has been picked out, it is time to remove the old flooring from the bathroom. The old saying “preparation is everything” holds a lot of meaning when it comes to installing any and all flooring so follow along closely! It is best to gently remove the base trim at this time with a pry bar so that it is not damaged during the removal or installation process (it can be set aside and will not be re-installed until the last stage). Regardless of what type of flooring is currently installed, it can all be removed with a pry bar and or a hammer. The pry bar along with a claw nose hammer can be used to remove ceramic tile, vinyl tile, linoleum, carpet, hard wood floor, laminate, you name it and those two can get ‘er done! All staples, tack strips, nails should be gone as well as any excess glue that could have been used to install the previous flooring (adhesive remover works well on glue). After the old floor has been removed, the subfloor is revealed at this time and should have an almost perfect flat orientation and if it does not, have no fear! There are two ways to go about obtaining a flatter finish for the subfloor: a small divot can be fixed by using a patch compound and a putty knife to fill it in, or if the floor is very unstable, a self-leveling compound can be applied to the entire subfloor. Self-leveling compound generally comes in a 40-50 pound bag and is mixed with water and then poured directly onto the subfloor and then levels itself out by rushing to the low spots in the floor. If the self-leveling compound is used, it should sit for at least 24 hours before moving forward on the installation process. So that’s it, your subfloor has been properly prepped and is almost ready for a refreshing sheet vinyl flooring to be installed!

Step 2: Step Two: Sketching the Layout

This next section, being the layout, is fairly simple and should not take much time at all. Use a tape measure and a buddy to carefully and accurately measure the dimensions of the bathroom. Take a piece of paper, sketch the layout including the vanity and any other obstacles that may be attached to the floor (the toilet is of no concern because it will be removed). The more accurate the dimensions, the easier the installation will be, hands down. When the measurements are completed and have been double checked add 3 inches to every dimension to ensure enough material is available, then take the sketch to the store of choice and purchase the sheet vinyl. Keep in mind, most of the sheet vinyl comes in a 12’ width while some come in 15’. Regardless of the bathroom’s size, most of the time there will be excess pieces of sheet vinyl left over which should be kept for future repairs or to fix small mistakes.

Step 3: Step Three: Implementing the Layout Onto the Sheet Vinyl

Moving forward, the sheet vinyl should be rolled out with the design face up and your hand sketch, tape measure, marker, yard stick, double sided tape, and utility knife ready. Use the hand sketch, tape measure, and marker to replicate your bathroom layout onto the sheet vinyl and be sure to add at least 2” to every dimension for this process. Three inches was added earlier to ensure there would be enough material while two inches is now used because that will be the excess material that will be eliminated after the layout is complete. A yard stick is a great straight edge that should be used to cut around the vanity and any other things attached to the floor that cannot be moved. Card board can be cut and used as a template to mimic rounded corners and edges so they can be cut out on the sheet vinyl. The outside perimeter does not need to be straight as an arrow by any means because the trim and mold will cover it up once it has been re-installed.

Step 4: Step Four: Uninstalling the Toilet

At this point, the toilet should now be uninstalled and can be reinstalled after the installation of the floor has been completed. There is a way to install sheet vinyl around the toilet without removing it, but it is much easier and quite honestly looks more professional if the toilet is omitted. To prevent a disaster from happening, find and shut off the water valve located behind and underneath the toilet before unscrewing the water line. Depending upon the bolts that are fastening the toilet to the ground that are being used, the type of wrench used to remove them may vary. The toilet should now be able to be picked up and removed from the bathroom.

Step 5: Step Five: Setting Up and Cutting Sheet Vinyl

There is light at the end of the tunnel as the second to last step is described here! Start in the corner farthest away from the vanity by putting double sided tape down to hold the sheet vinyl firmly in place while the cutting and tampering happens. As walls and corners are met, use double sided tape to secure the flooring and make sure it is pulled tight and is flat on the ground with no humps anywhere. Remember the extra two inches that were added to every dimension in the layout process? They come in handy just in case a mistake was made when cutting or measuring as the excess material will roll up the walls and up the vanity. After the sheet vinyl has been secured firmly, the excess should be cut or trimmed as close to the walls or vanity as possible. Don’t forget to trim around the PVC pipe that the toilet connects to. Patience is a virtue as mistakes can easily be made when using a utility blade to cut sheet vinyl. Double sided tape can be placed in all the corners as a safety precaution, but most of the time it is unnecessary. Caulk can be applied between the sheet vinyl and the bathtub/shower to prevent water from running down to the subfloor, causing damage over time.

Step 6: Step Six: Clean Up and Finish!

Embrace and behold the glory of a fresh new floor as the toilet is reinstalled in the reverse order it was removed, turning the water valve back on last. A rubber mallet should be used to safely and gently put the trim back on the floor base and vanity. For future reference, cleaning is simple and only needs to be swept and then wiped down with a damp mop and a no-rinse cleaner. Congratulations! The sheet vinyl has been installed and is finished!