I’ve been in the flooring industry for many years, mostly working in an accessory distributorship selling tools, adhesives,metal/vinyl, patch, etc. I’ve seen tools come and go and helped many installers choose the right tools to buy for installing the different types of flooring in our industry. In my role now I find myself on a few job sites talking to installers about what they’re using and offering tips on tools. Over the years I’ve collected and purchased a bunch of tools for what I think an LVT installer would need … and before I knew it I’d outgrown the bucket I was using!
At Surfaces Expo in Las Vegas I’m still drawn to the “Tool Alley” every year. Mostly this is to see old friends but I also like to browse around and see what’s new in the industry. So, as I got to thinking about it, there are some really nice products out there for vinyl installation. And since I’m an LVT guy, let’s talk about a couple of my favorites.
Perimeter spacing is very critical to a floating/locking vinyl installation. For a while there haven’t been many options for spacers. I have an old set of double-ended/double-sized spacers from Sinclair I’ve been using which are quick and easy but limited on size. A couple of years ago, I ran across these from my friends at Gundlach: AV2 adjustable locking spacers. These are great for any type of floating floor and are adjustable from 3/16” – 13/16”.
Cutting of LVT is simple and easy, and with some of the new blades and cutters on the market it’s just getting easier. Utility blades have been the standby for years for vinyl installers, but I find that the tips break too easily when scoring some LVT. I like the deep hook blades shown here from Better Tools as they seem to stay sharp longer and allow for easier edge trimming.
Cutting engineered wood, laminate and LVT is best accomplished with a shear cutter like the Crain model shown here. There are a few different ones on the market and each have their own features, so be sure to look before you buy. These have a lot more shear cutting strength than a standard VCT cutter (which still work great too) but offer bigger cutting options for a wider variety of materials. Shear cutters are great for thicker LVT click and loose lay products.
As tile formats are getting larger in LVT, I find having a suction cup handy in my tool box too. I picked up this Raimondi model from my cousin and find it works better without the foam ring that is put on for holding to irregular faced tiles.
These are just a couple of items I’ve picked up that I like. As you can see above there’s a lot more in the tool box. Essentials like good utility knives, chalk line, scriber, Sharpies, door pin tools, heat gun, knee pads, trowels, rollers, scrapers, brushes, tape measure, mallet and BAND-AIDs should be in everyone’s tool box. Actually, the box above is only one box of four!