How to Stagger Vinyl Plank Flooring Like a Pro

by Sep 28, 2021Cleaning

how to displace vinyl plank floors

When laying plank floors of any kind, it is important to displace the plank cracks.

There are several reasons why you should displace your planks, which we will cover in this article.

Although the actual displacement of the planks is not too difficult, it is important that you handle it properly. You want the result to look good and professional, but you also want it to last over time.

Improper displacement or not dizzying at all will make the work faster, but the floor does not last nearly as long.

In this article, we will cover why you need to shift what materials and tools are needed and take you step by step through the flooring process.

Why shift LVP?

Abundant vinyl plank floors are important for several reasons. Let’s see what these causes are.

  • Aesthetics. A properly laid and staggered floor will give you the best look. Imitation hardwood, staggered planks give you the look you want.
  • Durability. When properly installed, a staggered LVP floor is more durable, able to spread the weight distribution around and last longer for normal wear.
  • Prevents lifting. The weakest point on any plank floor is at the end joints. If a floor is not displaced, these end connections are queued and will eventually lift and disassemble.
  • Easier to remove. If a plank or two is damaged, you can more easily remove the damaged planks for replacement without lifting the entire floor.
  • Helps with waterproofing. One of the many benefits of LVP is its water resistance. A staggered floor helps minimize water absorption or pooling so you can clean up faster and easier.

Necessary materials for plank displacement

When laying plank floors (even constructed hardwood planks or even laminate planks) you need the right tools. For the ideal displacement, additional tools are needed. Let’s cover the whole list.

Vinyl planks

Of course you need your LVP. Choosing the right brand or the best LVP for your home is a crucial step. We have a few guides here for various LVP brands and the best options for your LVP needs if you have not already decided.

Floor spacers

Spacers for floor installation run along the walls to keep the minimum spacing required for a proper installation. These inexpensive rubber spacers make it easier to lay the first few rows and allow for proper expansion of the planks once the installation is complete.

Hammer and bank block

You want to make sure that all the planks are locked together on all sides. Using a hammer and pounding block will ensure that the planks slide in their grooves and lock together without causing damage to the planks themselves.

Circular saw

When shifting your floor, cut some planks to make them smaller. A circular saw or table saw will make quick, straight cuts and keep the edges flat and straight.

Measuring tape

You will need to measure many of the planks before and after cutting. This ensures that you have the right space needed for a proper displacement and that your cuts are of the required length. A measuring tape is the best method to get the right measurements.

Chalk line

Although not important, a chalk line is a cheap and fast way to find space and wall center and helps keep your first row in line for a proper installation. If you choose not to use a chalk line, use a scale or a T-square to keep everything in line.

How to shift luxury vinyl plank floors

how to displace lvp floors

Displacement simply means the process of shortening planks so that the end joints (short side) do not align on each row. It is also called masonry or masonry if this term is easier to understand. Basically, your floorboards will lie side by side in different lengths, giving you the look of a brick wall or off-centered planks.

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Starts the first row

The first row is one of the most important parts of the process. If you do not get the first row laid correctly, the rest of the floor will look bad eventually. It is important to take the time to get everything set up in the first row. Laying subsequent rows gets faster as you go.

First, you will measure your floor along the longest wall. Find the center of the room and run a chalk line from the center to the wall. This is the center of the wick. Next, you will place a chalk line along the wall that measures half the width of your plank plus 1/8 inch.

For example, if your plank is 4 inches wide, you will snap a chalk line along the wall that is 2 1/8-inches from the wall. This will be the centerpiece of the planks as you lay them, allowing for distance.

Next, you will take your first board and cut 6 inches from the end. It is also optional to cut 1/8 to ΒΌ inches from the side of the plank that goes against the wall. This will remove the grooved edge and give you a flat surface to expand against the wall at the end.

With the first plank insert, you will place your rubber spacers on the end and along the sides where the plank will lie. Push the first plank up against the spacers. Take your other plank and do not cut the end off. If you are cutting the long edge, do it for this plank and lay it end to end with the first one.

Make sure the end connections lock together. Repeat this process until you reach the other side of the room. If you need to cut the last board to fit, do so. Just remember to place your spacers along each board and at the ends of the first and last board.

Congratulations! Your first row is complete.

Second row is shifted and installed

When you start the second row, you have an important decision to make. You will need to decide if you want to make a single slab cut or two board cuts in the rest of the flooring process. None of the options are wrong and it is up to you what you go with.

If you decide on a single cut, start the second row with the 6-inch piece you cut from the very first plank. Lay this as the start of your second row, and knock it into place against the first plank laid on the first row.

If you decide on two cuts per. Row, you will now cut 12 inches of the new plank and then put it in place. This method requires you to cut most of the first boards from now on. Most installers have the option of the first method of using the cut end from the previous row.

As you can see now, the end connections on the two rows are not aligned, they will be from 6 (or 12) inches from the ends of the previous row. This is your shift and the whole point of this process.

Now just keep going.

Finish laying planks

As you move along rows of planks, you will use the cut end of the last board to start a new row. If the piece becomes too small, or the last row where the last board is not to be cut, start over with a 6-inch cut, as you did on the first row.

These cuts and reuse of the cut end give you a perfect displacement and repetitive joint lines that look great and hold strong.

As you continue to lay rows, you will see the displacement pattern begin to repeat, and as you approach the last row, you will understand the importance of this process and how large it makes the floor look.

Everything is the same for all remaining rows. Use spacers at the ends and tap the lengths of each row together so that they lock in place and lie flat. When you get to the last row, you have a little more work to do.

Installation of last row

Before laying the last row, make a lot of measurements. Some find it helpful to snap another chalk line to re-establish the center.

You also have two options.

The easy way is to go back and remove all the rubber spacers now. They are easier to get out before the last row is in place.

However, this can cause uneven displacement. We recommend that you choose the “harder” route and leave the spacers until you are done. With that, you will also continue to use end spacers for the last row.

Sometimes the last row has to be cut lengthwise. You can clean this for aesthetics and remove the grooved edge facing the wall or you can leave it.

However, if you only have a 3-inch subfloor and a 4-inch board width, cut the inch off to fit the boards.

You will also find this series the most difficult to install. Most planks need to be bent, twisted and tapped flat to lock in place. However, the LVP is pretty strong, so you do not have to worry about bending and twisting too much. Just walk slowly and take your time with each plank.

Once you have the last row in place, go back and remove the spacers. You will first remove the end spacers and side spacers last. This prevents uneven displacement of your floor as you walk around it.


When the set time is over, you must clean your floor, replace sills, moldings and baseboards. You can then clean, sweep and dry the floor to make it look its best and then move your furniture back in.

You must now have a clean, functional and correctly displaced vinyl floor.

Frequently asked questions

faq dizzying vinyl plank floors

In this section, we will answer a few of the common questions about dizzying vinyl flooring. If you have more questions, feel free to use the comment box below.

Sp. What happens if I do not move my LVP?

  1. If you do not move your plank floor, all the end joints will come to a standstill. When this happens, your floor has a large weak point and will lift at the end of the joints eventually. Some can get away with it for a few months, others make the elevator happen as soon as they put furniture in the room. In either case, your floor needs to be pulled up and laid properly, which adds time, effort and cost to your floor.

Sp. Which way do you lay vinyl planks?

  1. Vinyl planks are usually run along the longest wall of the room. Doing this will give you a larger look, require smaller cuts of planks during installation, and tend to last longer. But walking along the shortest wall can change the look and give you a floor that stands out. There is no “wrong” way to do it, but following the longest wall is the recommended method.

Do you need a moisture barrier for vinyl plank floors?

  1. This will depend on the type of subfloor, the quality of the plank and the type of underlay used on the planks. High quality sheets will generally have a waterproof underlay already attached, which means you do not need extra protection. Similarly, if your subfloor is anything other than concrete, you also do not need a moisture barrier. However, concrete floors can condense, which may require a 6mil moisture barrier regardless of plank and substrate type.


Shifting your vinyl flooring does much more than just give you an aesthetically pleasing pattern. It also adds durability, functionality and longevity to the floor.

A proper shift is easy to implement, takes no more time to install and can add years to your floor life. Hopefully, using this article, you are better prepared to properly install your vinyl plank flooring.

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