How to Cut Vinyl Plank Flooring Like a Pro in 5 Easy Steps

How to Cut Vinyl Plank Flooring Like a Pro in 5 Easy Steps


Vinyl plank flooring, renowned for its durability and easy installation, has become a favored flooring choice for many homeowners and businesses alike.

While the prospect of cutting vinyl plank flooring might seem intimidating at first, it actually can be quite a straightforward task when armed with the right tools and techniques. In this guide, we will unveil the most effective methods for cutting vinyl plank flooring, aiming for clean and precise results.

A clear understanding of what vinyl plank flooring is and the importance of accurate cutting for optimal installation will set the foundation for our discussion.

Get ready to dive into the world of vinyl plank flooring, where we’ll equip you with the knowledge to slice through your project with confidence and precision, turning you into a cutting pro in no time.

Step-by-Step Guide: How to Cut Vinyl Plank Flooring Like a Pro in 5 Easy Steps

Cutting vinyl plank flooring doesn’t have to be a task that fills you with dread. With the right approach, it can be simple, precise, and even enjoyable. Below, we break down the process into five easy-to-follow steps that will have you cutting your vinyl plank flooring like a seasoned pro.

Step 1: Prepare Your Work Area and Safety Gear

  • Clear a flat, stable work surface in a well-lit area to ensure accurate cutting.
  • Equip yourself with safety goggles and gloves to protect against splinters and sharp edges.

Step 2: Measure and Mark the Vinyl Plank

  • Using a tape measure, determine the length you need to cut and mark it on the plank with a pencil.
  • Align a straight edge or T-square with your marks to ensure a straight line.

Step 3: Score the Plank

  • Position your straight edge along the marked line.
  • Use a sharp utility knife or a vinyl cutter to score the plank. Apply firm, steady pressure to make a deep score.

Step 4: Snap the Plank

  • Firmly grasp the plank on either side of the score line.
  • Bend the plank gently along the score line. It should snap cleanly along the scored path.

Step 5: Fine-Tune the Edges

  • If any rough edges remain, use a fine-grit sandpaper to smooth them out.
  • Check the cut piece against its intended space to ensure a perfect fit.

Cutting vinyl plank flooring like a pro boils down to precision, the right tools, and a bit of patience. With these steps, you’re well on your way to achieving professional-looking results for your flooring project.

Step 1: Gather the Right Tools and Materials

Before diving into the task of cutting vinyl plank flooring, the first crucial step is to ensure you have all the necessary tools and materials at your disposal. This preparation will not only make the cutting process smoother but also ensure that your cuts are precise and clean.

Essential Tools:

I.             Measuring Tape: For accurate measurement of the vinyl plank to ensure it fits perfectly in the desired area.

Straight Edge or T-square: To guide your utility knife in making straight cuts.

I.             Utility Knife: A sharp utility knife is vital for scoring the vinyl planks. A vinyl cutter can also be used for more precision.

Pencil: To mark the exact measurements on the vinyl planks before cutting.

Safety Materials:

I.             Safety Goggles: Protect your eyes from any flying particles or dust that might arise while cutting.

Gloves: To safeguard your hands from sharp edges and enhance your grip on the tools.

Additional Materials:

I.             Vinyl Plank Flooring: Ensure you have enough planks for your project, considering possible mistakes or mis-cuts.

Adhesive, Underlayment, or Padding (if required): Depending on your specific installation requirements, have these materials ready.

Having the right set of tools and materials is foundational to achieving not only clean and precise cuts but also a safe and enjoyable DIY project experience. Remember, quality tools and materials are the backbone of any successful vinyl plank flooring installation.

Step 2: Measure Twice, Cut Once – Planning Your Cuts

In the realm of DIY and flooring installation, the adage “measure twice, cut once” is golden. Proper measurement and planning are key to ensuring that your vinyl plank flooring fits perfectly, with minimal waste and a professional-looking finish.

Measuring the Room:

Start by measuring the dimensions of the room to calculate the total area and, consequently, the amount of flooring required. Don’t forget to factor in closets, alcoves, and any other areas that will need flooring.

Consider the expansion gap that’s needed around the perimeter of the room for the vinyl to expand and contract with temperature changes. This gap is typically about 1/4 inch to 3/8 inch.

Planning Your Cuts:

Lay out a rough diagram of the room, including all obstacles like doorways, corners, and any irregularities that might impact how the planks are laid out.

Before cutting, lay some planks on the floor to visualize how they will fit together. This helps in understanding where cuts are necessary and how to optimize the use of each plank.

When planning cuts for obstacles or angles, consider the direction of the plank’s pattern or grain. This ensures a cohesive look throughout the room.

Double Checking Measurements:

Once you have your plan laid out, double-check all measurements against the physical space. This step cannot be overstressed, as it’s easier to adjust a plan on paper than to correct a miscut piece of vinyl flooring.

Keep in mind that for areas that are not perfectly square or have multiple nooks, it may be beneficial to take measurements in several places to ensure accuracy.

This meticulous approach to measuring and planning not only saves materials and time but also ensures that the end result looks as envisioned. Remember, a well-planned cut is the foundation of a flawless flooring installation.

Step 3: Cutting Techniques for Different Types of Cuts

Cutting vinyl plank flooring requires understanding the difference between basic and complex cuts. Here, we’ll explore the techniques for both, ensuring you’re well-equipped to tackle any situation during your installation process.

Basic Cuts:

Using a Utility Knife or Vinyl Cutter: For straight, basic cuts, a sharp utility knife or a specialized vinyl plank cutter is your go-to tool. Simply measure and mark your cut line on the plank, then score deeply along this line with your knife. Bend the plank gently along the scored line, and it should snap cleanly. This method is perfect for cutting planks to length.

Ensuring Clean Edges: If the edges aren’t as clean as you’d like, lightly sand them with fine-grit sandpaper to smooth out any roughness.

Complex Cuts:

Using a Jigsaw or Coping Saw: For intricate cuts, such as curves, notches, or cuts around door frames, a jigsaw or coping saw is necessary. When using a jigsaw, choose a fine-tooth blade to prevent chipping and ensure a smoother cut.

Marking for Precision: Accurately mark the area where the complex cut is needed directly on the plank. For curves, a compass or a flexible curve ruler can help draw precise lines. Remember, the goal is to cut just outside the line, then fine-tune as needed.

Safety and Precision:

Measure Twice, Cut Once: This age-old advice cannot be overstated. Before making any cut, double-check your measurements to ensure accuracy.

Secure Your Plank: When making complex cuts, secure the vinyl plank to your work surface with clamps to prevent it from moving and to ensure a cleaner cut.

Each type of cut requires its own approach and tools, but the foundation of successful cutting lies in accurate measurement and careful planning. Whether you’re using a utility knife for straight cuts or a jigsaw for more intricate shapes, taking your time to measure, mark, and cut carefully will lead to a professional-looking installation.

A close-up view of a worker's hands cutting a vinyl plank with a fine wood texture. The focus is on the precision of the cutting process, showcasing the blade of the cutting tool making a clean cut through the plank. The background is blurred, emphasizing the action and the texture of the vinyl. The worker's hands are protected with safety gloves, and there are visible wood shavings and dust around the cutting area, highlighting the craftsmanship involved in home construction.

Step 4: Making the Perfect Cut – Tips and Tricks

Achieving clean and precise cuts on vinyl plank flooring can transform a good DIY project into a great one. Here are some tips and tricks to help you make the perfect cut every time, ensuring your installation looks professional and polished.

Use the Right Tool: Always start with a sharp utility knife or a high-quality vinyl cutter. Dull blades can lead to jagged edges or require more force, which increases the risk of mistakes.

Measure Twice, Cut Once: This principle is crucial for minimizing waste and ensuring that each piece fits perfectly. Take your time with measurements to avoid any costly errors.

Guide Your Cut: For straight cuts, use a straight edge or a T-square as a guide for your knife. This helps maintain a clean line and reduces the likelihood of deviations.

Apply Steady Pressure: When scoring with a utility knife, apply firm and steady pressure to make a deep score line. This makes snapping the plank much easier and more precise.

Conservative Cuts: Especially with complex shapes, start with small, conservative cuts and gradually trim off more material if necessary. It’s easier to cut off more than to add back material you’ve removed.

Using Guide Rails: For power tools like a jigsaw, using guide rails can help keep your cuts straight and reduce the chance of the tool wandering.

Sand Rough Edges: If you end up with a slightly rough edge, don’t worry. A bit of fine-grit sandpaper can smooth it out. Just be gentle to avoid damaging the plank’s surface.

Secure Your Workspace: Make sure the plank is securely clamped down to your work surface to prevent it from moving while you’re cutting. This not only ensures a cleaner cut but also increases safety.

By incorporating these tips and tricks into your cutting process, you’ll find that making the perfect cut on your vinyl plank flooring is not only achievable but also satisfying. Remember, patience and precision are key to a successful installation.

Step 5: Double-Check Before Installing – Ensuring the Accuracy of Your Cuts

The final and crucial step before installing your vinyl plank flooring is to double-check all your cuts. This step ensures that every piece fits as intended, preventing any headaches during the actual installation process. Here’s how to verify the accuracy of your cuts for a seamless and professional-looking installation.

Inspect Each Cut: Carefully review each piece of vinyl plank flooring you’ve cut. Look for any irregularities, uneven edges, or inaccuracies in length or width that could interfere with a smooth installation.

Verify Straightness: Use a straight edge or T-square against your cuts to confirm they are straight and precise. Even slight deviations can lead to gaps or uneven flooring once installed.

Dry Fit Your Planks: Before applying any adhesive or clicking planks into place, lay them out in the intended area. This “dry fit” allows you to see how the pieces fit together and identify any adjustments that may be needed.

Make Necessary Adjustments: If any pieces don’t fit quite right, now is the time to trim them down or recut as necessary. It’s much easier to make these adjustments now than to try to correct them mid-installation.

Confirm Pattern Alignment: If your vinyl plank flooring has a pattern, take this opportunity to ensure that the pattern aligns properly across cuts and seams. Adjust as needed to maintain a cohesive look.

Check for Gaps and Overlaps: As you lay out the planks, pay close attention to the seams. There should be no gaps or overlaps. Each piece should fit snugly against its neighbors.

Taking the time to double-check your cuts and the fit of each plank can save you time and frustration later. This step, though it may seem tedious, is the key to a smooth installation and a beautifully finished floor. Remember, a little patience in the preparation phase leads to a lot of satisfaction with the final result.

Common Cutting Mistakes to Avoid When Working with Vinyl Plank Flooring

Cutting vinyl plank flooring requires precision, patience, and the right tools. Here, we highlight some common mistakes often made during the cutting process and provide practical advice on how to avoid them. Steering clear of these pitfalls will save you both time and material, ensuring a smoother installation process.

Measure Incorrectly

Avoidance Tip: The old carpenter’s adage, “measure twice, cut once,” is crucial here. Always double-check your measurements before making any cuts. Use a reliable tape measure and consider drawing a diagram of the room to help visualize the layout and required cuts.

Use of Inappropriate Tools

Avoidance Tip: A sharp utility knife or a dedicated vinyl plank cutter are essential for making clean, precise cuts. Using dull blades or the wrong type of saw can lead to jagged, uneven edges that compromise the fit and finish of your flooring.

Rushing the Cutting Process

Avoidance Tip: Rushing can lead to mistakes that are often difficult and costly to fix. Take your time with each cut, ensuring your measurements are accurate and your tool is correctly aligned before you begin.

Failing to Support the Plank Properly

Avoidance Tip: Ensure the vinyl plank is fully supported on a stable surface before cutting. Unsupported planks can lead to inaccurate cuts or even injury. For best results, use a workbench or a piece of sacrificial wood underneath the plank.

Forgetting to Check the Blade Sharpness

Avoidance Tip: Always start with a sharp blade in your utility knife or cutter. A dull blade requires more force, which can lead to slips and inaccurate cuts. Replace or sharpen your blades as needed.

Neglecting Practice Cuts

Avoidance Tip: If you’re new to cutting vinyl plank flooring, practice on a few scrap pieces first. This will help you get a feel for the cutting process and how to handle the material.

Overlooking the Expansion Gap

Avoidance Tip: When measuring and cutting, remember to account for the expansion gap around the perimeter of the room. This gap prevents the flooring from buckling as it expands and contracts with temperature changes.

By being mindful of these common mistakes and applying the suggested tips, you can significantly enhance the quality of your cuts and the overall success of your vinyl plank flooring project. Patience and attention to detail are your best tools in achieving a professional-looking finish.

Additional Tips for Installing and Maintaining Vinyl Plank Flooring

Installing and maintaining vinyl plank flooring are crucial steps in ensuring your floors look pristine and last for years. Here are some bonus tips covering everything from proper subfloor preparation to establishing long-term maintenance routines.

Installation Tips:

Acclimate Your Planks: Before installation, let the vinyl planks acclimate to the room’s temperature and humidity for at least 48 hours. This step is vital to prevent warping or buckling after installation.

Subfloor Preparation: Ensure your subfloor is clean, dry, and level. Any imperfections can affect the installation and final appearance of your flooring.

Use a High-Quality Underlayment: This provides a smooth, even surface for laying your planks and can also offer additional benefits like noise reduction and moisture protection.

Tapping Block and Rubber Mallet: Use these tools to carefully lock the planks together during installation. This ensures a snug fit and helps prevent gaps.

Maintenance Tips:

Regular Cleaning: Sweep or vacuum regularly to remove dirt and debris. For a deeper clean, use a damp mop with a mild detergent, but avoid using excessive water.

Avoid Harsh Chemicals: Harsh cleaning agents can damage the surface of vinyl flooring. Stick to mild detergents and always follow the flooring manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations.

Protective Measures: Use furniture pads under heavy furniture to avoid scratching or denting the vinyl. Consider protective mats in high-traffic areas or under office chairs.

Immediate Spill Cleanup: To prevent stains, wipe up spills as soon as they happen. Although vinyl flooring is moisture-resistant, letting spills sit can lead to damage over time.

Avoid Abrasive Tools: When cleaning, avoid steel wool or any abrasive scrubbers that can scratch the floor’s surface. Soft cloths or mops are best.

No Wax or Polish: Vinyl plank flooring has a built-in shine and protective coating. Using wax or polish can dull the surface and attract dirt.

By following these additional tips for installing and maintaining your vinyl plank flooring, you can ensure a smooth installation process and maintain the beauty and durability of your floors for years to come. Proper care and routine maintenance are the keys to enjoying the full benefits of your vinyl plank flooring.

When to Call in a Professional

While installing vinyl plank flooring can be a rewarding DIY project, there are circumstances where calling in a professional might be the best course of action. Recognizing when you need professional help can save you time, money, and ensure your flooring is installed correctly and looks great.

Lack of Confidence or Experience: If you’re not confident in your ability to cut and install vinyl plank flooring accurately, it’s worth considering professional help. Experience matters, especially when dealing with intricate cuts or patterns.

Access to Specialized Tools: Professional installers have access to high-quality tools and know how to use them to achieve the best results. If you lack the necessary tools and aren’t willing to invest in them, hiring a professional might be more cost-effective.

Complex Layouts: For large or complex room layouts, professional installers can ensure that the flooring is cut and laid out correctly. This includes dealing with uneven subfloors, intricate cuts around obstacles, and ensuring the pattern flows seamlessly from one room to another.

Time and Efficiency: A professional can complete the job faster and with fewer mistakes than someone with less experience. If you’re pressed for time or want to avoid the frustration and potential delays of a DIY project, hiring a professional can be a wise decision.

High-Quality Materials: If you’re working with expensive or high-quality vinyl plank flooring, any mistakes can be costly. Professionals have the experience to handle these materials properly, minimizing waste and ensuring a flawless finish.

Encountering Challenges: If you start the installation and encounter unexpected challenges, such as subfloor issues or complex cuts you’re not equipped to handle, it’s time to call a professional. They can troubleshoot and solve problems efficiently, ensuring the longevity and appearance of your flooring.

Peace of Mind: Ultimately, hiring a professional offers peace of mind. Knowing that your flooring is installed correctly, looks great, and will last can be worth the investment.

While cutting and installing vinyl plank flooring can be manageable for many DIY enthusiasts, recognizing when to seek professional help is key to ensuring a successful project. Don’t hesitate to consult with a professional if you have doubts or want to guarantee that your flooring project is completed to the highest standard.

The scene is set in a bright, naturally lit room within a house under construction, where a worker is seen installing the freshly cut vinyl plank with a wood texture. This image captures the moment the plank is being carefully placed and aligned on the floor, highlighting the worker's focus and the precision of the installation process. The worker is kneeling on the floor, using both hands to adjust the plank perfectly into position. Around the worker, various installation tools and materials are neatly organized, showcasing a professional and meticulous work environment.


Cutting vinyl plank flooring is a crucial step in the flooring installation process, requiring precision, the right tools, and a careful approach. The journey from selecting the perfect vinyl planks to enjoying a beautifully finished floor involves several key steps: gathering the right tools, measuring and planning cuts meticulously, understanding the techniques for different types of cuts, and implementing tips and tricks for making the perfect cut.

Additionally, recognizing when it might be time to call in a professional can be just as important for ensuring a successful project.

Armed with a sharp utility knife or vinyl cutter, a straight edge, safety gear, and the knowledge to measure twice and cut once, you are well-prepared to tackle this task. Remember, the goal is not just to cut the vinyl plank but to do so in a way that ensures a clean, precise fit that complements the aesthetics and functionality of your space.

As you embark on your next vinyl plank flooring project, take these lessons to heart. Approach each step with patience and precision, from planning your cuts to double-checking measurements and making adjustments as needed.

With the proper precautions and attention to detail, cutting vinyl plank flooring can be a straightforward process that yields results you can be proud of.

We encourage you to refer back to this guide whenever you need a refresher on the best practices for cutting vinyl plank flooring.

Whether you’re a seasoned DIY enthusiast or a first-timer ready to transform your space, the power to create stunning, durable flooring is in your hands. Go forth with confidence, and remember that a well-laid floor is a foundation for countless memories and moments to come.