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Home / Installation Questions / Which Direction Do I Install Vinyl Plank Flooring?

Which Direction Do I Install Vinyl Plank Flooring?

In today’s flooring landscape, vinyl flooring tiles and planks reign supreme, and it’s obvious why. These attractive wood-look floors bring a gorgeous, natural appearance but are engineered to endure in busy households, holding up to constant foot traffic and moisture exposure while resisting scratches and offering a quiet comfort. One of the main reasons why consumers adore this type of floor is because it’s supremely versatile, both in terms of design (there are thousands of sizes, styles, finishes and textures available) as well as in installation.

Beauflor Boardwalk flooring in living room


In fact, vinyl plank flooring can be installed virtually anywhere, even on top of existing flooring. Just consult your manufacturer installation instructions. And since it is inherently resistant to water, it is also a great choice for the kitchen, bathroom or basement. Plus, vinyl is designed to be DIY friendly, and many homeowners opt to lay the flooring themselves. There is one frequently asked question surrounding the installation of vinyl planks: Which direction should the planks go? Ultimately, that decision is (most likely) up to you, but here are some tips to help you decide:

Follow the Light

In traditional design, flooring is usually installed following the direction of the main light source. If there are big windows or an entryway contributing streams of natural light, install floors in the same direction as their source. With that being said, light is not always the best guide, especially if you’re dealing with a narrow room or have other space limitations. Note that horizontal and vertical aren’t the only options—vinyl plank and wood floors can also look really amazing when installed diagonally, too.

Consider the Room Shape

If the room is narrow, such as a hallway, a corridor or a long kitchen, planks should run the length of the room. In the same vein, it’s typically recommended that planks are installed parallel to the longest wall of the room. So, if you’re installing vinyl planks in a 12 foot by 18 foot living room, run the planks parallel to the 18 foot wall. This will make smaller rooms feel bigger and wider. Additionally, some rooms have angled walls, which may make a diagonal layout a bit more visually intriguing.

Take Note of Room Features

Another way to determine the best possible direction for your planks is by following the lead of your room’s features. For example, you can follow the direction of the main or most frequently used entrance of the room. So, if you’re redoing the floors in the foyer, run the planks in the same direction as the front door. Other considerations, such as steps, should be taken into account. Of course, planks are installed horizontally on stairs, so this may be the best bet if you’re aiming for uniformity from your steps to your main floors.

Let the Floor Guide You

The shape, color variation and grain of the flooring may affect the aesthetic so you may want to consider this as you choose the installation direction. If you install the planks in a certain direction, say, according to the light, you may be able to better highlight some of the most beautiful parts of the floor. Additionally, it is important that you reference your manufacturer’s installation instructions before installing, as the floor type may have a “correct” pattern of installation.

foyer in home

Choose Based on Personal Preference

Usually, selecting the direction of your wood or vinyl plank flooring comes down to personal preference. The way your floors are laid out can affect the entire feeling of the room, making it feel larger, smaller, busier or calmer. But at the end of the day, the layout doesn’t  typically impact performance or quality. Choose the direction that makes the most sense to you and your qualified installer.

Palmetto Road Impact Waterline 

Palmetto Road Impact Collection, Waterline

Taking Your Time to Consider Direction

The direction your plank flooring is installed will have a massive impact on the final look and overall feel of the room, so it’s worth taking some time to consider. Remember that if you have any questions or are dealing with a particularly challenging space, nothing compares to getting advice from a professional installer or having a local pro do the job. Taking a little extra time to visualize your layout or consult a local professional will help ensure that you get gorgeous, long-lasting flooring.

Twenty & Oak Flooring Experts
Twenty & Oak Flooring Experts are a team of flooring professionals with over 150 years of combined experience in the industry. They have hands-on experience with all flooring types and bring inside industry know-how to homeowners in the Southeast.