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How to Determine Which Direction to Lay Vinyl Plank Flooring

September 12, 2022 4 min read

home with vinyl planks

You’ve picked out your luxury vinyl plank flooring. You know which room gets what design, but you may still have one question before installing it. How do you know which direction to lay vinyl plank flooring?

You’re not alone in your concerns. At The Wholesale Cabinet Supply, we have put some thought into the best directions to lay your luxury vinyl flooring so you don’t have to.

Things to Consider

The direction your vinyl plank flooring is placed across the floor sets the tone and feel. The truth of the matter is that there is no wrong way to lay them. There are more costly and more difficult ways, but there isn’t a wrong way as long as they all follow the same direction. What seems natural to the room? It’s a design choice. That doesn’t mean you’ll be happy with facing them in just any direction.

Material, Cost, and Room Shape

The first aspect to consider is almost always materials and cost. Unlike in the past, there is a wide selection of different engineered vinyl planks to choose from. Different mixtures offer varying qualities. At The Wholesale Cabinet Supply, we favor SPC flooring. It is 100% waterproof, durable, and eco-friendly. It’s as easy to install as any other vinyl plank flooring and emulates luxury deep embossed, wood grain.

Vinyl planks are often premade at uniform widths and lengths. That means you will likely need to cut some planks to fit the room perfectly. The direction you lay them can impact how many cuts need to be made for a perfect fit. If you want to save cost on materials and time cutting, you’ll want to lay them in the direction that follows the longer dimension of the room. This way, you’ll only need to cut planks that meet the shorter-length walls.

kitchen with light vinyl flooring

Following the direction of the longer-length walls in the room help to make it feel more open. If the adjoining rooms have open doorways or halls, you may want the vinyl to line up perfectly with the next room’s floor as well. This can help the rooms to flow better and feel connected. This is a big consideration when it comes to room size. Smaller rooms have a lot to gain from feeling more open. Just the same, a larger room can benefit from directing the vinyl along the shorter wall to make it feel cozier.

In some cases, you may want each room to feel separated from the other. If you make the direction of the planks flow perpendicular to doorways, you can achieve a clear-cut separation without having to change flooring materials between rooms.

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Room transitions 

When flowing your floors from one room to the other it’s best to continue your flooring into the next room by placing the floor planks in the same direction as the previous room you're coming from, i.e. the master bedroom to a master bathroom. This will give a seamless transition and becomes pleasing to the eye. It’s better to go with the continuous grain of flooring if possible. 

Light Direction

The window concept of your rooms can affect the visual appeal of your flooring as well. While following the longer length wall’s direction, you can sometimes find that light entering through the windows gives the vinyl flooring design a stacked look to it. If you prefer that light reflect in a smoother pattern, you may want to see which direction the light entering through the windows flows into the room.

If your windows are positioned to allow light in the mornings in through one side of the room and light from the evening in through the other side, you may find it more appealing to line the panels up with the direction of the light. As with most visual effects, lighting is essential for creating desirable outcomes. With vinyl flooring following the sun’s rays, you can maintain an open, large feel without having to follow the longer-length wall.

Of course, the design of the vinyl planks will greatly affect the outcome as well.

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Stairs and Room Features

Structural parts of a room such as stairs, chimneys, cabinets, closets, and doorways can make an impact as well. You’ll need to design around these features to ensure a quality design. Keeping the direction of the vinyl perpendicular to stairsteps and other features can help bring the room together in a cohesive design. It can also make fitting and cuts easier to achieve.

On the other hand, pointing the direction of the vinyl planks toward room features like a fireplace can focus attention on it. If you want to show off your room features, you may want the planks to flow directly toward these features.

living room with vinyl plank flooring

Conclusion

As easy as it is to install luxury vinyl plank flooring, you will still want to plan out the room well before laying it down. Redoing the floor is more difficult and can lead to wasted material and exact floor matching issues like stain, types of wood, age of wood and so on. In the end, it’s going to be a personal preference. The room is yours to design. 

It doesn’t hurt to dry-apply vinyl to get a sense of how the result will be. Just lay the vinyl across the open floor without truly installing it to get a feel for it. It’s a matter of taste and opinion. Try out a few different patterns just to be sure which is the best for you. No matter your decision, be sure to take time and care when planning before you lay down your vinyl plank flooring.


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