How To Stagger Vinyl Plank Flooring

Installing vinyl plank flooring is not a very difficult task and doing it on your own will definitely help you save a lot of money. However, if you are not that accustomed with the techniques to stagger the vinyl plank flooring, things might become complicated for you. It is true that problems can occur especially because of the similar size of the vinyl planks but if you know the basics and have a proper plan ahead, things will become easier for you.

We have heard a lot of queries regarding this and so today we will dedicate this article entirely to the process of staggering the vinyl plank flooring. We will cover all details from the tools and equipment required to the exact steps of staggering so that you can pull this off even if you are not a pro in it.

Common equipment and tools required

You need to have all the necessary tools and equipment ready before starting.

  • Vinyl planks
  • Measuring tape
  • Spacers (¼ inch)
  • Utility knife
  • Pencil
  • Insulation
  • Mallet
  • Tapping block

Vinyl plank flooring- Steps to stagger them?

You need to create a proper staggered pattern and for that, follow the below-mentioned steps.

1. Avoid the H and step pattern

In a H pattern, the end joints in the 1st row coincide with that in the 3rd row. This is something you should avoid because it does not look aesthetic. Besides it can also lead to a weak spot which in turn can increase the chances of the planks getting loose and coming out in the near future.

Step pattern is another thing you should avoid. It happens when the spacing in the 1st and 2nd 3rd is repeated in the 3rd one. This leads to a very regular pattern instead of the staggered pattern that you are aiming for.

Hence, you need to place the pieces as much random as possible while staggering and racking the planks. This will help you prevent making H and step pattern.

2. Do the spacing correctly

Getting the spacing right is absolutely vital. Usually, you need to have around 6-inches space in between the end-joint of the contiguous rows but the size of the plank is a determining factor that you need to consider. If the planks have the width of 2-3 inches, then the spacing rule of 6 inches is perfect. If they are wider, you must increase the space but avoid making it more than 10 inch as that may result in H pattern.

3. Know how many planks are required

To determine the number of planks required, you need to measure the size of the room with the help of a measuring tape. Then divide the width of the room with that of the planks.
Using the same method, find out the appropriate size of the planks in the 1st and last rows, both of which needs to be exact to get the desired pattern. In case of any mismatch, trim.

4. Find the proper stagger spacing

Besides knowing the number of planks required and the size of the 1st and last row, you also need to have a minimum spacing in between the end-joints of the vinyl planks. For that, once again, take the measuring tape to measure the length of the room and then divide it by the plank’s length. If the result is more than 6 inches, then start the 1st row with an entire plank, that is a whole one. If the result is less than 6 inches, then you will have to cut 1/3rdportion of the plank.

5. Mix the vinyl planks

In order to prevent having one color shade at one end and the other on the other end, you need to mix them up. This will ensure staggering of the vinyl planks of various colors which in turn will help you create a more natural look.

Please note that you need to keep the planks inside the room for 2 entire days, that is 48 hours to ensure acclimatization.

6. Time for installation of the first board

Take the first board and trim its tongue with the help of a utility knife. With the tongue side towards the wall, lay it down. While installing the planks, you should remember to leave a gap of 1/4th inch between the walls. Continue laying the planks until the entire length of the wall is covered. If the last plank is less than 6 inches, then trim the 1st one to allow the last one to be more than 6 inches. You can use the offcuts for next row.

7. Continue the installation process in the 2nd row

Use the offcut to start this row. While laying the plank, you should see that the end is not less than 6 inches from the nearest 1st row joint. This will help you stagger the planks well. Once you reach towards the end of the second row, you can do the trim to make it fit. However, in this case, you cannot use the offcut for the 3rd row as it will lead to step pattern that you want to avoid.

For the 3rd row, pick a whole plank and trim. Remember that a minimum of 6 inches spacing is necessary from the nearest joint. Now, for the 4th row, you can use the offcut from the 2nd row. The offcut from the 3rd row can be used in the 5th one. Then for the 6th row, you again have to cut a whole plank at random length keeping the 6 inches space gap in mind. The 4th row offcut can be used in the 7th row.

Well, this is the staggering process and you need to continue it until you are done with the entire space.


The strength and the stability of the vinyl planks is one of the primary reasons why it has become so popular with home owners. However, staggering can further improve the structural strength of the floor, so getting the staggering right is very important.