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How to Install Vinyl Planks Over Tile

Vinyl Plank Flooring

If you saw my post on how to install faux shiplap, you probably already know that our master bath has a lot of tile. I mean, every surface but the vanity and walls is tile. Brown, builder-grade tile. My plan was always to change it up. I mean, why is tile in bathrooms a good idea?? Do you know what gets stuck in that grout??? I don’t even want to think about it.

First I thought I’d paint the floor and use a stencil to give it a modern pattern, (I’ve had success painting tile, which you can see here.) but the prospect of all that work on so much tile was daunting. Then I discovered vinyl tile. I put some down in our small, upstairs bathroom (you can see that project here) and after a year of moderate use decided that probably wouldn’t work in our master bath that gets used daily. Finally, I learned that you can actually put vinyl plank flooring directly over tile. We found some 100% waterproof vinyl and it was the perfect solution!

This was one of our quickest bathroom installations to date and it made such a huge difference. Although it wasn’t our cheapest project, coming in at under $200, I would definitely recommend going this route over vinyl tile or painting. (Not to mention it’s wayyyy cheaper and less work than tearing out the tile and replacing it!) *Before going out an buying your vinyl planks make sure that by adding the flooring on top of the tile your floor won’t end up being to high to clear the bottom of any doors or that it won’t stick up higher than your carpet. You don’t want to end up with an awkward transition.


Utility knife to remove current baseboard

Cat’s paw or pry bar to remove current baseboard

Vinyl plank flooring (We used Style Select, Dovetail color from Lowe’s)

Vinyl floor installation kit

Saw for cutting (you can score the planks with a utility knife, but I found using a saw easier)

Brad nailer and nails to reinstall baseboard

Silicone caulk

Spackle for baseboard.

Step 1- Remove baseboards and toilet

The first thing you want to do is remove the toilet and your current baseboards. You will want to have the baseboards on top of the new flooring to give it a clean look. We also removed the toe kick under the cabinets too. Your baseboards will have a bead of caulk on the top so you’ll need to score it with a utility knife. We used a pry bar to get the baseboards off. We knew we weren’t going to use the original baseboards again, so we weren’t too careful when removing them. If you will be putting the baseboards back on you’ll want to be careful not to damage them.

Step 2- Prep the floor

If you’ve seen any of my other projects you may know that prep work is my least favorite part. But it’s oh, so necessary. Vacuum or sweep the floor and then give it a good mopping. I really wanted the floors underneath as clean as possible. After the floors are dry you’re ready to get going. That’s my kind of prep!

Step 3- Organize your vinyl planks (Optional)

Okay, so this step is optional, but I would definitely recommend it. Depending on the brand you get you’ll have a few different patterns of vinyl planks. We organized the flooring by pattern so that we could make them look more random and not end up with a bunch of the same pattern at the end.

Step 4- Installation of vinyl planks

Now it’s time to get rolling! We started by the bathroom door. I wanted the boards to slide under the door trip so it would look nice. I used our multitool to cut the very bottom of trim. If you don’t have a multitool you can carefully try a handsaw or remove the trim, cut it down and replace it. (If it’s not making sense watch the video below)

You also want to keep in mind that these floors are floating, meaning they aren’t glued to anything. You’ll need to give it some space to move around a bit as the floors fluctuate. We ended up leaving approximately 1/4″ for this. (We started off just using bits of wood for the spacers but quickly realized that to make this project easier we would need the installation kit. The one we purchased had spacers included.)

It may take a bit to get the hang of installing the vinyl planks. I wish I had a better video clip of us clicking the vinyl planks in. When we do the next bathroom I’ll make sure to get one. This will have to do.

At first I thought they should just snap in easily. The first row we did was especially frustrating. But then we bought the installation kit and using the bar pull was super helpful. Occasionally you’ll also need to use the mallet to get everything to snap in flat.

When you get to the end and cut off your remaining bit you can either use a sharp utility knife or a saw to cut your vinyl plank ends. I preferred using a saw to make my cuts, but just know that you can do this project without power tools.

For any cuts that you make you will only be able to use that leftover as the beginning of a new row. So where possible use the remainder for the new row. Make sure you’re starting with different lengths so you’ll have some staggering among the boards.

Installing vinyl planks
You can see a slight gap between the lighter board. This is where you use the pull bar to tighten them.

The middle portion is my favorite. When you don’t have obstacles to work around it starts to go super fast! Woohoo! The end of the installation was a lot of measuring and cutting. When I had to go around the toilet I just lay the board down and traced an approximate guide to cut. The toilet base should cover it just fine. If you’re using a utility knife you may have trouble at this part. I’m not sure how well it will cut curved lines. I used a scroll saw to cut these parts, but a jig saw would work well too.

Rough curved line for cutting vinyl planks to fit around the toilet
Line guild for cutting around the toilet plumbing.

To get under the vanity base we took off the toe kick. We had to rip a couple of the planks to get them to fit, and we ripped the toe kick before putting it back on. We re-attached the toe kick with the nice edge on the bottom touching the planks.

As you finish installing you will likely have to rip some of the vinyl planks to make them fit next to the wall. (You’ll have to cut some of them lengthwise.) For shorter planks we used the scroll saw, but for the longer ones we used a utility knife. Both worked just fine.

Install baseboards and toilet

When you’re all finished installing the boards it’s time to put everything back together. Start with the baseboards. It’s easier to get the baseboards put in before the toilet is reinstalled. If you have any bullnosed (rounded) outside corners and you’re not putting the original baseboards back on let me save you some time and give you the angles. Luckily most saws have this one marked because is a commonly needed angle. You’re inside edge will be 5/8-3/4″ and the cut angle will be 22.5 degrees. You’re welcome. Use a brad nailer to attach the baseboards.

bullnose corners

Last, install your toilet, touch up the brad nailer holes, and paint or apply touch-up paint to the baseboards and you’re done!!

Before and after photo of installing vinyl planks

So we’ve had this project done for a couple of months now and I am so happy with it. I would absolutely do this again and we’ll probably replace our vinyl tiles in our guest bathroom with vinyl plank flooring soon. We haven’t had any problems with water, it’s easy to clean and I don’t feel gross walking on it. This project was a bit more expensive than the vinyl tile I installed in our other bathroom a year ago, but since I don’t have to worry about the water I consider it worth it. Plus you don’t have to do as much prep work and it would be even easier to take out if you need a temporary solution for your bathroom or kitchen. Such a win! Have you ever put vinyl planks over existing floors? If you try it let me know how it went!