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We’re installing luxury vinyl plank flooring in our kitchen and the instructions inside the box say not to install underneath appliances which we didn’t know until we started.

How hard and fast is that rule or would it be safe to install across the entire kitchen floor? We’re concerned about having an unfinished areas under the stove and refrigerator where moisture can get under and we’re not sure what to put in that area instead.

The kitchen is approximately 15 x 13" and we've laid down underlayment.

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    I'd maybe put some 1/4 plywood under the appliance on top of the new floor, large enough to support feet. – freshop Dec 12 '18 at 19:34
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LVP (luxury vinyl plank) floors will not warp, crack or otherwise damage by the weight of home appliances, and being a plastic, they're waterproof and impermeable, so moisture will not affect them. This leaves temperature as the only issue with LVP. They also have the least thermal expansion rating of all floating floors, having a rating of 0mm of expansion (none) in normal room temperatures.

They tell you not to install any floating floors under appliances only because you are tacking them down by weight and they could possibly fail to expand in any 2D direction if you lay the planks down with appliances on both ends, so they may tent.

If you leave a standard expansion gap for the flooring to expand in at least 2 of 4 directions, you will be absolutely fine. The flooring doesn't care which way it expands, just that it can expand.

In fact, if you do not allow direct sunlight to hit your flooring (dark flooring can go above 120 F in direct sunlight), and you never let the temperature in your house go below 50 or above 100, your LVP will never expand or contract at all in the first place.

Of any floating floor, LVP are by far the most worry-free for thermal expansion.

References:

https://www.floorstoyourhome.com/blog/which-flooring-expands-and-contracts-the-least/

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The answer depends somewhat on the actual product, but the idea is that floating floors shouldn't be pinned down. Doing so can result in joint separation due to extreme forces when humidity levels change, causing the floor to expand and contract.

Given your relatively small room I'd probably continue with your plan. Many a floating floor installer has deliberately violated that rule for similar reasons. Be aware that it can jeopardize your warranty, if that's a concern. If you ever see gaps forming between boards, revisit and consider cutting out below the appliances' feet or wheels.

  • Also the feet of the stove and the refrigerator would exert enough pressure that they would deform the flooring. Perhaps some pads would prevent that, say thin plywood. It would still prevent the floor from moving though. – Jim Stewart Dec 12 '18 at 19:39
  • I guess I don't consider that much of a concern since it's in a hidden location. – isherwood Dec 12 '18 at 19:45
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    The reason I mention it is that if a significant depression forms under the supports, it might make it difficult to slide out or roll out the stove and refrigerator. However, it would be pretty hard to put pads under the rear supports of these heavy appliances. – Jim Stewart Dec 12 '18 at 19:54

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