Which Direction to Lay Vinyl Plank Flooring in the Kitchen?

which direction to lay vinyl plank flooring in kitchen

Choosing the right direction to lay your vinyl plank flooring in the kitchen is a decision of both aesthetic and practical importance.

The direction of your flooring can significantly influence the visual dynamics of your kitchen, creating illusions of space, length, or coherence with the rest of your home.

On a practical level, the right direction can also ease the installation process and promote durability in areas of high traffic.

This guide provides an in-depth look at these factors, allowing you to decide what is best for your kitchen’s vinyl plank flooring.

Understanding the Space

Assessing Kitchen Layout

1. Consideration of the Main Traffic Flow

In my own home, I found it incredibly beneficial to observe our kitchen’s natural traffic patterns.

This helped me decide which direction to lay the vinyl planks—parallel to the main pathway through the room.

This not only made the room seem larger but it allowed the flooring to withstand regular wear and tear better.

2. Kitchen Cabinets and Appliances Placement

Considering the placement of kitchen cabinets and appliances is also crucial.

In my kitchen, for instance, the fridge and stove are on opposite sides.

This meant that laying the planks parallel to these appliances helped create a smoother, more consistent look, making our kitchen appear more spacious.

Impact of Natural Light

Natural light is another element that can dramatically impact how your flooring looks.

In my experience, laying planks parallel to the direction of sunlight can minimize shadows from uneven edges.

We have a large window in our kitchen that lets in light from the east, so running the planks east to the west meant the light flowed down the length of the boards, enhancing their beauty.

Existing Flooring Direction

If you’re replacing current flooring in your kitchen, considering the direction of the existing flooring can be instructive.

In our case, the original ceramic tiles were laid diagonally, which was pretty but impractical.

When we switched to vinyl, we chose a traditional alignment parallel to our longest wall for a more classic look.

Main Considerations

Longest Wall Rule

1. Explanation of the Rule

The most extended wall rule, as the name implies, suggests that the flooring planks should be installed parallel to the longest wall in the room.

This general rule can create an illusion of a larger space while providing a uniform flow to the room.

I remember when I was redesigning my kitchen, following this rule gave the space a coherent and elongated look, making it appear more spacious than it was.

2. When and When Not to Apply

While the most extended wall rule is a good starting point, it’s not a hard-and-fast rule.

For instance, if the longest wall is windowless and your room receives ample sunlight from another side, you may want to orient the planks towards the light for aesthetic purposes.

I recall a friend who neglected this, and the result was less than optimal, even though he had a superbly large kitchen.

Aesthetic Impact

1. Creating a Sense of Space

The orientation of the flooring can significantly impact the perceived space in a room. Laying planks parallel to the longest wall, as we have already discussed, can enhance the sense of space.

In my cousin’s petite kitchen, this trick worked wonders, making it look almost twice its size!

2. Working with Room Shape

The shape of the room also matters. In rooms with an irregular shape, for example, you may want to lay the planks in a way that accentuates the room’s unique features.

I once helped a buddy with a kitchen that had an awkward corner; by adjusting the flooring direction, we turned it into a charming nook.

Visualizing Patterns and Lines

1. Parallel vs. Perpendicular Orientation

Choosing between parallel and perpendicular orientation can change the visual dynamics of the room.

I have found that parallel lines create a smooth and continuous visual flow, ideal for long, narrow rooms.

On the other hand, a perpendicular orientation can disrupt this flow, making the space seem more expansive.

Both approaches have their merits, depending on the room’s dimensions and desired effect.

2. Diagonal Option

The diagonal option, though less common, can add a unique and stylish touch to a room. This can mainly work well in more extensive, open-plan kitchens.

I recall a neighbor who pulled this off with aplomb; their kitchen had a distinctive and engaging look that was the talk of our community!

Transition Zones

1. Connecting to Other Rooms

When your kitchen flooring connects to other rooms, it’s essential to consider how the flooring transition will look.

In my home, we decided to continue the same flooring into the adjoining dining area, creating a seamless look and enhancing the sense of continuity and space.

2. Doorways and Transitions

Transitions at doorways should be handled with care. There’s nothing more jarring than a sudden change in flooring direction at a doorway.

At my sister’s house, we used T-moldings at the doorways. This ensured a smooth transition and added a professional finish to her kitchen flooring project.

Practical Tips

Acclimating the Vinyl Planks

One crucial step often slips under the radar is acclimating the vinyl planks. Like fine wine needs to breathe, your vinyl flooring needs time to adjust to its new environment.

My cousin once rushed into laying his vinyl without acclimating it. Within a week, his floors had warped, leading to an expensive re-installation.

To avoid such a mishap, I’d recommend letting the planks sit in the room for 48 hours before installation.

Subfloor Preparation

The success of your vinyl flooring project hinges on preparing the subfloor. I learned this the hard way when I laid vinyl flooring at my friend’s place.

We neglected to properly level the subfloor, which led to unsightly bubbles in the final installation.

Ensure your subfloor is clean, level, and dry before laying your planks. If needed, use a leveling compound to fill any indents or cracks.

Starting Point and Layout Planning

  1. Use of Chalk Lines

Using chalk lines is a handy tip I picked up from my handyman father. It helps ensure that your planks are laid straight and gives you a clear guide to work with.

When redoing my living room, chalk lines were instrumental in achieving a flawless finish. It’s as simple as snapping a line from one end of the room to the other.

  1. Dry Fitting

Dry fitting is another trick up my sleeve. It involves laying out your planks without adhesive to get a feel for the final look.

During my first DIY flooring project, dry fitting saved me from a significant miscalculation that could have left me short of planks. Now, I swear by it. It’s a great way to avoid surprises during the actual installation.

Cutting and Fitting Planks

  1. Dealing with Obstacles

When cutting and fitting planks, obstacles can be a real challenge. Be it radiators, corners, or door frames, these elements demand special attention.

When I encountered such a hurdle in my bedroom flooring project, I used a jigsaw to tailor the planks around the obstacle. The result? A perfect fit and a satisfying end to a day’s work.

  1. Maintaining Spacing and Alignment

Maintaining spacing and alignment is critical to a professional-looking finish.

When I was helping my brother with his flooring, our lack of attention to this detail resulted in uneven gaps between the planks.

We had to redo the entire floor, a lesson learned the hard way. Now, I always use spacers to keep a consistent gap between the planks, ensuring an aligned and visually pleasing result.

Installation Process

Step-by-Step Installation Guide

  1. Laying the First Row

The first row sets the tone for the rest of the project. I remember when I was doing my kitchen floor, I started by choosing the wall that was most visible upon entering the room.

This ensured that any irregularities would be less noticeable. I then placed the first plank in the corner, allowing for a small expansion gap between the plank and the wall.

The end with the locks faced towards me while the other end was against the wall. It was a simple yet effective way to start the project correctly.

  1. Interlocking the Planks

Interlocking the planks was a game-changer for me. During my first flooring project, I struggled with this aspect until I realized that the trick was in the angle.

I found that inserting the tongue of one plank into the groove of the other at an angle of about 20-30 degrees and then flattening it down made the planks click together seamlessly. It was like finding the key to a puzzle!

  1. Dealing with End Joints

End joints can be a bit tricky. I recall working on my office flooring and having difficulty with the last plank in a row.

The solution was to measure the space and then cut a plank to fit it, ensuring to factor in the expansion gap. I then inserted the cut end towards the wall, and voila, the row was complete!

Techniques for a Professional Finish

  1. Tapping and Seaming

To get a professional finish, I learned the art of tapping and seaming. There was a time when I noticed a small gap between the planks in my living room.

I used a tapping block and hammer to gently tap the planks into place, ensuring they were snugly fitted. It took a little practice, but it was well worth the effort.

  1. Maintaining Consistency

Consistency is critical to a visually pleasing floor. While renovating a friend’s house, I found that the middle rows had inconsistent gaps because we didn’t check regularly for tight seams.

Now, I make it a point to double-check each row before moving on to the next, ensuring that each plank is perfectly aligned and securely interlocked. This simple habit has turned my DIY projects from good to great!

Maintenance and Care

  1. Cleaning and Stain Prevention

Keeping the floor clean is essential to maintaining its appearance and lifespan. I remember an incident where I accidentally spilled some red wine on my newly installed floor.

My heart almost stopped! But then, I remembered that a quick, timely clean can prevent staining. I quickly grabbed a soft, damp cloth and gently wiped away the spill without allowing it to soak in.

To this day, I make it a point to promptly clean any spills and sweep or vacuum the floor regularly to prevent dust and dirt from scratching the surface.

  1. Repairing Damages and Replacements

No matter how careful we are, accidents happen, and floors can get damaged. I’ve had my share of mishaps.

Once, I dropped a heavy pan on my kitchen floor, leaving a nasty dent. I was initially devastated, but then I realized that the plank could be replaced.

I carefully removed the damaged plank and replaced it with a new one, and the floor was as good as new!

Remember, it’s always a good idea to keep some extra planks from your original purchase for such situations.

  1. Tips for Prolonging Lifespan

Through the years, I’ve learned that small habits can dramatically increase the floor’s lifespan.

I always use pads under the legs of heavy furniture to prevent scratching. I also try to avoid walking on the floor with high-heels or sports shoes that can cause damage.

And, I always make sure to use cleaning products specifically designed for laminate floors – it’s one lesson I learned the hard way after a general cleaner dulled my once shiny floor.

These small steps can keep your floor looking new for years to come!


In conclusion, my journey into laminate flooring maintenance has shown me how pivotal attention to detail is.

From promptly cleaning spills to regular sweeping, every action counts. Our direction in maintaining our flooring determines its longevity and how it enhances our home’s aesthetics.

It’s important to remember that our homes reflect our style and sensibilities. While I’ve shared my experiences and tips, it’s crucial to understand that what works for one might not work for another.

Tailoring these suggestions to meet your home’s unique needs and your lifestyle ensures practicality and ease.

I encourage everyone reading this to give these tips a try. They’ve served me well and have significantly increased my floor’s lifespan, reducing the need for frequent, costly replacements. Remember, the key lies in consistency and promptness.

In my experience, vinyl plank flooring has proven to be a fantastic choice for my kitchen. It’s not only visually appealing but also durable and easy to maintain.

With the proper care, you, too, can enjoy a beautiful and functional kitchen floor that stands the test of time and everyday chaos. Here’s to many more years of spotless, shiny floors!


Hi! I’m Kobby, one of the co-owners of favoredstoneguides.com and the newest house owner in town. I’m a huge fan of most things natural. Over here on this site, I'm happy to share all the exciting hacks, tricks, and tips I have learned and continue to learn each day about taking care of natural stones.

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