Two types of visitors are reading this article. Those who already have their first mistakes, sometimes costly, behind them and do not want to repeat them again, and those who want to be careful to prepare for the installation of Arbiton vinyl flooring before the purchase. For both groups tips below will come in handy.
Original sin - it is a waste of time to read the assembly instructions
Whoever reads the assembly manual sins less when it comes to installing a vinyl floor. It is not enough to have a look, see the pictograms, because “I have installed some "panels" in my life already, I know what I am dealing with”. Professionals know that laying panels from different companies may require a different preparation of the substrate or the technique of joining the locks. Locks in all types of panels are always the most sensitive element. We currently have at least a dozen locking systems on the market. Modern locks are profiled with extreme precision, joining does not require force, only the appropriate technique. It used to be common to hammer the panels together to better connect the rows, today it is forbidden in many cases and may result in irreversible damage to the panels. Even the locks of one company require a different connection technique, e.g. Valinge locks are connected completely differently depending on whether we are dealing with 2G or 5G locks. Before starting work, it is highly useful to watch instructional videos, here we recommend the channels of producers (e.g. the Arbiton movie) or recognized professionals.
Vinyl panels from different manufacturers have completely different methods of installation. Different types of locking system, even from the same manufacturer, require different assembly techniques.
The second sin - a poorly prepared subfloor
Before installation, vinyl panels should be acclimatized for a minimum of 24 hours at a temperature of 18–30 ° C in the room where they will be installed. The room where Arbiton vinyl panels will be installed must be swept and clean. The substrate should be even, flat and dry. If there are any unevenness, use cement leveling compounds or ready-made self-leveling compounds. Pay attention to the humidity of the floor. In the case of a cement screed, the moisture content in the substrate must be lower than 2.5%, and in the case of anhydrite screed, it must be lower than 1.5%. When installing vinyl panels on a floor with underfloor heating, the above-mentioned values must be 1.5% and 0.3% respectively. The floor humidity can be checked with a meter, which can be borrowed from a construction equipment rental company.
Vinyl panels are a good idea for renovation, so it should be taken into account that if we are laying panels on an existing floor, we must meet several conditions. Arbiton panels can be installed on ceramic tiles, in this case, if the grout is wider than 4mm and deeper than 1mm, it should be filled with an appropriate mass (e.g. resin grout).
The panels can be laid on glued parquet, glued PVC and linoleum floor coverings, as well as on OSB or plywood floors, with no sagging and less than 10% moisture content in the wood. Installation on floating floors, such as layered boards and laminated panels, is possible, provided that underneath them it has been laid underlay with a parameter of CS = 200kPa and a vapor barrier of SD>75m. Do not lay the panels directly on carpets and other soft floor coverings.
Sin number 3 - saving through neglect - wrong underlayment
The underlay is not visible every day, but it is a very important element of the floor system. The underlay plays a similar role as the suspension and wheels in a car - it carries weight, absorbs and allows you to take advantage of all the advantages of the engine. Vinyl panels are very durable but thin, so they need an appropriate underlay to serve us for many years. If we install panels on the so-called click (the panels pressed together), just like the panels from the Liberal collection (more about the LIBERAL collection), we must ensure adequate protection of the locks, which in vinyl click panels are extremely precise. Regular PE foams available in supermarkets are not suitable for vinyl panels, here we need dedicated solutions. If we do not know the parameters of underlays, choose those proven, reputable brands, such as Arbiton.
Arbiton vinyl panels can be installed on ceramic tiles where the grout is smaller than 4mm and shallower than 1mm.
Photo: The floor after the test of the chair - wrongly selected underlay
Sin 4 - vivid fantasy, later it will be somehow - no planning
Laying vinyl panels is similar to installing tiles in a bathroom - we have to plan everything well. Before we start laying the first row, let's think about whether we should start with the entire panel? Will it not leave us with an unsightly narrow strip at the end? Lack of planning can also make it difficult for us to move between rooms. If we have a problem with imagining the final effect, we can draw the entire room using a scale. This will greatly facilitate the best arrangement of vinyl panels. In terms of planning, let's take into account not only how much material will fall off, but also that the end result should be aesthetic.
Sin 5 - crooked first row
Unfortunately, if we start badly, we will have to arrange it from scratch, and we can even destroy some panels irretrievably. A crooked first row of panels is a common problem. It may appear, for example, when the wall is uneven or if the lock of panel is inserted unevenly on the short side. It takes really little, even fractions of a millimetres shift between the panels, and in a few rows we will have a visible gap. Therefore, to make sure that we have started well, connect the first two rows alternately, taking care of the right angle and the correct fastening of the locks. This will create a solid, even base for further laying.
Sin 6 - wrong direction of the panels
Theoretically, we can arrange vinyl panels freely - even diagonally. In practice, however, the best arrangement is perpendicular to the largest light source. Thanks to this arrangement, the joints between the panels are less visible, and thus more aesthetic. When laying vinyl planks, remember to shift the next rows by at least 30 cm. This guarantees a more durable connection between the panels. The spacing should be equal if we want the floor to look aesthetically. By default, we can use a 1/2 shift (one row of vinyl panels shifted in relation to the next by half the length of the board), then we have a so-called brick arrangement. We can also arrange with a shift of 1/3 (one row of vinyl panels shifted in relation to the next by 1/3 of the length of the board). Currently, the most popular is irregular arrangement with different shifts in the rows, in this case we get a more natural effect.