Instead of installing hardwood floors that need repeated maintenance, you’ve decided to install vinyl plank flooring since the upkeep is less work and the installation is easier. Excellent choice! But where do you begin? One of the first things you’ll need to do when installing vinyl plank flooring is learn how to cut the planks correctly. But how, and with what tool? Luckily, these vinyl planks are a very user-friendly material and don’t require any particular tool when cutting to size. A laminate tile cutter, hand saw, table saw, circular saw, miter saw, jigsaw, or Dremel will all do.
Anatomy of a vinyl floorboard
Most vinyl floorboards are the same size, are covered in a wooden pattern, and come in a tongue and groove plank format, making installation straightforward. With that said, it’s important to know how to properly cut the boards in order to not damage the planks and leave frayed edges.
How to properly cut a vinyl floorboard with different tools
One of the many attractive qualities of using vinyl floorboards is the ability to install it yourself. However, as a DIY installer, you might not have any purpose-built tools for specifically cutting a vinyl floorboard. Luckily, there are a variety of different tools that you can use to cut a vinyl floorboard; however, with each tool comes its own practice. Listed below, we’ll cover every way you can successfully cut a vinyl floorboard with every tool we know how:
1. Using a Tile Cutter
A tile cutter is a fairly common shop tool that can be used for cutting vinyl floorboards if you have the right type. If your tile cutter is a ceramic tile cutter, then you’ll need a different tool as ceramic tile cutters use a diamond edge cutter that only scores the surface of your floorboard. It does not cut deep enough and will only leave you with a collection of mottled floorboards with flimsy fault-lines that will only lead to splinters and cracks if you break them.
We recommend you use a laminate or vinyl tile cutter. With its guillotine-like blade, you’re sure to make a clean and solid cut on your vinyl floorboards as the blade is designed to cut through materials like your floorboards. If, on occasion, the blade doesn’t go all the way through, the excess can be trimmed with a utility knife.
2. Using a Saw
Once again, depending on the type of saw, you may or may not be able to cut vinyl floorboards. A hand saw, like a finish cut saw, flesh cut saw, or hack saw, is perfect for cutting through vinyl floorboards. Whereas a hacksaw will destroy the material as it’s meant for cutting through tough wood. A saw with relatively fine teeth is generally ideal for creating a clean cut along the edge of the vinyl.
While it’s absolutely possible to use a saw to cut through vinyl floorboards, it’s generally the most labour intensive option and will take a lot longer than using other easier and quicker methods. Although it is possible, it’s for this reason that we don’t necessarily recommend it.
3. Using a Table Saw
A table saw is an excellent and more efficient alternative to traditional saws. It provides a clean cut on vinyl, and it works well for both rip cuts and crosscuts. Rip cuts are when you cut along the length of the floorboard, for example when you’ve reached the wall and realize you can’t fit a whole width of floorboard in. A crosscut is when you cut across the length of a floorboard, like when you have to shorten floorboards at the end of the wall.
However, when you’re using a table saw, it’s necessary you swap in a fine-tooth blade. Blades that have a lower Tooth Per Inch (TPI) count will generally leave a rougher edge. When cutting a smooth line on vinyl, you want a high TPI.
4. Using a Miter Saw
A miter saw will work for cutting vinyl, but only for specific cuts, like crosscuts. It will not work for a rip cut as the saw is simply not designed to cut long strips of anything. If you can pair it with any of the other methods listed, you’ll be well on your way.
5. Using a Jigsaw
A jigsaw is a great option for cutting planks as it offers a great deal of versatility in terms of cuts. For cutting planks, you’ll need a blade that has finer teeth, similar to other saws listed above. Blades for jigsaws are relatively inexpensive, so even if you don’t have one on hand, it most likely won’t be difficult to get a new blade.
Because of its versatility, a jigsaw is probably the best tool you can have for cutting vinyl floorboards. It’s great at making small cuts, rip cuts, crosscuts, and curved cuts. Although it’s a little bit slower for making rip cuts, it still offers the most precision and is our top recommendation for cutting vinyl floorboards.
6. Using a Circular Saw
Circular saws are commonly used to cut vinyl planks and perform longitudinal rip cuts much faster than many of the other saws. To be safe, be sure your vinyl planks are firmly secured to your workbench or another solid surface before beginning. If not, the planks could pose a real danger.
7. Using a Dremel
There are a number of Dremel tools that will cut vinyl planks. However, we recommend the Dremel Trio, which works similarly to a standard plunge router, just much smaller. The Dremel Trio is great for a variety of small cuts that will shape the planks around objects but won’t do well for crosscuts or rip cuts due to its small size. We recommend pairing a Dremel with any of the above tools for optimal performance and efficiency, as crosscuts and rip cuts are both necessary cuts when fitting planks to a space.