Best method for staggering vinyl planks?

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  #1  
Old 03-22-19, 12:43 PM
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Question Best method for staggering vinyl planks?

The instructions that are available from the website are vague at best. I watched quite a few videos but no one really mentions a set way to prevent a repeat stagger pattern.

The room is about 20 x 20. I was thinking of cutting the first 5 rows at different lengths and starting long, short, long, short and so on with the various lengths. Then using the end pieces to continue this method.

I am just not sure
A: if there is a better way.
B: If 5 rows in a 20ft span will be enough to prevent the pattern from reoccurring.

I'd like it to look as close to a real wood floor in terms of randomness as possible. Any help is appreciated. If you need more info I will be glad to supply.
 

Last edited by rufunky; 03-22-19 at 01:27 PM.
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  #2  
Old 03-22-19, 02:28 PM
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I would not over think it. I find that random staggering looks best so I would not lay out five rows cutting each one the same amount shorter than the previous as that is a pattern. Just whack the starter pieces off to random lengths and start from there. If you can't do random get a pair of dice or a spinner from a board game and let them pick random lengths for you to cut off. That said, always look at what you are doing to prevent seams from lining up or from having a series of pieces about the same length near each other.
 
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Old 03-22-19, 03:10 PM
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Random staggering does look best. Repeating patterns are the worst. Not overthinking it = best advice. If you overthink it, you will establish a pattern.

Your instructions should tell you what the minumum lap is (and smallest piece you should use).

You do need to think about how long your pieces will be by the time you get to the other wall. If the instructions say you shouldnt use a piece shorter than 12", for example... that may limit the range of sizes you use for your starter pieces.

If your pieces are 4' long and the room is 20' 1"... you obviously can't start with a full piece because a 1" piece on the end is too small. That's the sort of thing to think about.
 
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Old 03-22-19, 04:05 PM
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Typ you just use the last piece from prior row for next row and just keep going!

You just want to keep the joints at least 2X the plank width apart!
 
  #5  
Old 03-22-19, 04:06 PM
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Thanks, guys great advice. In reading the online installation manual I could not find anything about the min-height a strip has to be but they did say at least 6" from last seem.

The planks are 5.75 inches wide, the floor is 244 inches front to back. They suggest at least 1/4 gap for expansion and contraction which, if my math is correct, means id end up with a 2" strip at the end wall. Not sure if that's enough.

So do you guys recommend I randomly cut the first plank on every row until I reach the back wall?
 
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Old 03-22-19, 04:27 PM
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Be sure you are only measuring the exposure... not including the tongue. Ideally you would rip your first row so that it ends up being about the same size as your last row.... as wide as possible. Such as 4 & 4... not 5.75 and 2.

If they really are 5.75, your last row would be about 2 3/8. But knowing how floors work and how things tend to expand, that last row could shrink measurably. That's why you want to plan for it to be as wide as possible initially.
 
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Old 03-22-19, 05:49 PM
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I double checked and they're definitely 5 3/4 not including the tongue and groove or whatever they call it ... So if I rip my first row at 4" I should end up with 4" correct?

Also, I'm not sure if you missed it or if you didn't have an answer for me. I know you said as random as possible and not overthink it.

But I wasn't sure if you were saying to just randomly cut the first plank of each row until I hit the back wall?
 
  #8  
Old 03-22-19, 05:49 PM
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Most planks are a set length, usually 48". I set my normal stagger at 16" and maintain that throughout the floor. You basically divide the planks by 1/3rd and it usually works out from a math standpoint. Don't push the "six inch" rule, that only applies to end cuts near the walls. You want sufficient overlap of the planks that they maintain integrity across all joints. The closer the joints are, the less sturdy the floor install will be. Again, I use 16" stagger as my standard layout.
 
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Old 03-22-19, 06:01 PM
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These are 48". So I should go 48", 32" "16 and then use the end pieces to start the next rows rite aid their longer than 6 inches??
 
  #10  
Old 03-22-19, 06:09 PM
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Your call if you want to start with a full and cut each row or if you start with a small piece and grow each successive row. I usually start with a 16" piece and then grow to 32" and then a full piece. To me, knowing it grows makes it easier when you start each 4th row that you need a 16" piece. The stagger will begin to blend into a confusing mess if you don't have a plan. If you are looking at a full piece on the last row as a starter, easy to say to yourself, next one is a short 16" piece.

Edit, always start the stagger with the same sizes pieces ie - 16" or 32" or 48". This maintains a consistent pattern. You may lose some end cuts that won't work as starters, but you want a contiguous floor that is pleasing to the eye. Don't try to skimp in a short piece.
 
  #11  
Old 03-22-19, 07:12 PM
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Ok, I think I got it so just generally start your next row with a 16 32 or 48 and switch up the order as I go?
 
  #12  
Old 03-23-19, 03:26 AM
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So if I rip my first row at 4" I should end up with 4" correct?
In theory yes but in reality no, there is always a little looseness in the joints so even a gain of 1/64 per joint over a 20' room is 41 rows so it could gain 3/4".

Usually not a big deal unless you are trying to hit a specific spot somewhere in the floor.

Try racking 10 pieces and take a measurement and see what you get, it's good to know!
 
  #13  
Old 03-23-19, 05:51 AM
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I recently did about 600 sqft of living/dining/entry area using Marq's method from post #4. The area is somewhat t-shaped with some extra on one of the T legs. Between the use of starter piece from end of last previous piece and the changing length of run on the T, the stagger came out good.

Side note, the wood pattern on my pieces is fairly distinct, so you actually have to look to see the end joints. Some surface patterns are more visible than others when seen as a whole.
 
  #14  
Old 03-24-19, 04:16 PM
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Thanks, guys for all the help.

I got a good chunk done today and only had to backtrack one time due to working around the poles. I wanted the cutouts to land closer to the middle for stability. I ended up with two seems lining up.. not the row directly above it but the next row. I just ended up having to take 3 rows off to fix it.

Hopefully, I will finish up tomorrow without any issues.
 
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  #15  
Old 03-25-19, 04:29 AM
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Looking good. I think that's similar to one of the color/pattern I initially liked, but wifey wanted something browner.

How do you like working with the vinyl planks?
 
  #16  
Old 03-25-19, 05:51 AM
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Thank you.

once I got a method down it was great. One thing I realized quick is the use of a scrap piece to bang and join the seems together followed by a tap along the seems with a rubber mallet is a must.

It's a really nice gray brown. Very natural looking compared to some of the gray planks I've seen .
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