Vinyl plank flooring on walls

Someone asked me about using vinyl plank flooring on walls recently. It’s an interesting idea, except for one problem the person brought up: vinyl planks falling off.

The adhesive on vinyl planks works better with gravity helping out. On walls, the gravity is working against it. Here are some tips that will help give you better results with vinyl plank flooring on walls.

Why vinyl plank flooring on walls?

vinyl plank flooring on walls
Vinyl planks can give you a durable, resilient, good-looking finish on the wall. The trick is getting them to stick well.

Wood walls are a popular trend again, and vinyl planks are a cheap and relatively easy way to get that look. But in some rooms, vinyl has a practical application too. It makes a good backsplash for a kitchen or bathroom, and installation is cheap, quick, and easy. Vinyl is cheaper than most other backsplash materials and the only tools you need to install it are a pair of heavy duty scissors so you can cut pieces to fit, a square to help you draw straight lines to cut, a paintbrush, and a floor roller.

Make sure the walls are smooth

If you have textured walls, the texture will show through the planks. The texture also makes it harder for the vinyl to stick. So if your walls have a bumpy texture on them, which is common, either sand them smooth or stick some 1/8-inch hardboard over the wall first. It’s going to be some extra work, but you’ll get better-looking, longer-lasting results. Use a low-grit sandpaper in an electric sander to make the work go faster.

Wipe the wall clean afterward with a damp sponge to remove any remaining sanding dust, then let it dry. If you sand the wall, you can skip the next step. The surface from sanding gives the wall enough tooth that adhesive should stick nicely to it. Let the wall dry afterward. Few things interfere with vinyl adhesive sticking better than water.

Prime the walls

Covering the paint with some primer will help. Yes, I mean primer as in paint. Adhesive sticks better to the flat surface of primer better than it sticks to glossy paint. And here’s a tip. Get your primer tinted a color that’s close to the color of your planks. That way, if you get a gap for any reason, the wall will disguise it since the color underneath the planks is similar to the planks themselves.

Add extra adhesive

I recommend extra adhesive on floors, but it really helps on walls. Brush some VCT adhesive onto the wall after the primer has a chance to dry and let it set up. Ideally, you want it to feel tacky, not wet. Once the adhesive feels tacky and takes on a translucent look, stick the tiles onto it.

Use heat

One thing that really helps make vinyl stick to floors is using heat. Heat up your vinyl planks with a hair dryer or heat gun just before you peel off the backing, then stick it to the wall. The heat activates the adhesive and really helps it grip. For the same reason, if you’re installing the vinyl on an exterior wall with poor insulation, you might get better results on a warm day than on a cold day.

Roll the planks

Once you stick the planks onto the wall, run a floor roller over the planks on the wall to really cinch them onto the surface. This will give you a bit of a workout but it makes a big difference in how well the adhesive sticks. Adhesives don’t fill gaps well, and rolling the planks out eliminates the gaps for you.

Secure vinyl plank flooring on walls with brads

Last and least, you can secure planks with some brads from a nail gun. As long as the adhesive is working, one brad near each corner of the plank ought to suffice. If you were attaching real wood to the wall, you’d nail it, so brads in your vinyl planks on the wall probably won’t look too out of place. You can dab a touch of flat brown paint onto the brad’s head to disguise it. Or for a more rustic look, leave them alone. The brads will help the planks resist curling, and also hold the planks in place until the adhesive sets up. Normally the brads won’t be necessary, but if you really want to make sure the planks stay on the wall, they help.

Caulk around the edges if using vinyl as a backsplash

Finally, if you’re using the vinyl planks as a backsplash, caulk around the edges. This will help keep water from getting under the vinyl and causing problems. To get a nice straight line, apply a piece of painter’s tape along the edge on each side. Apply your caulk, then run a wet finger over the edge to push the caulk down into the gap. Let the caulk set up for a few minutes, then remove the tape for a nice, even edge. Be sure to use caulk suitable for kitchens and bathrooms. And if you end up using brads to secure the planks to the wall, be sure to caulk around each brad too.

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