A vinyl floor is available in two types: sheet vinyl, which is cut to fit your particular room, and square tiles of vinyl which are laid edge to edge to fill a room, sort of like a regular tile floor, but without all the messy mortar and grout. The method you choose will depend both on the look you are wanting to achieve and on your ambition.
Simply put, sheet vinyl is more difficult and more suited to the person with a fair amount of experience. Vinyl squares are put in one at a time, building slowly to the final product. Some are available with adhesive already attached you simply peel the paper backing and press the tile into place. With small tiles, it is more likely for an inexperienced installer to achieve an appealing result.
Vinyl floors are thin and telegraph every nuance and defect in the subfloor on which they are laid. Even a piece of grit missed by your vacuum can become a permanent nuisance underfoot.
So plan on sanding your subfloor thoroughly and using a self-leveling compound on all cracks, seams, and holes. (This includes holes from subfloor fasteners.)
Apply the leveling compound (available at your home improvement store) with a wide knife, such as a drywall knife, allow to dry completely, and sand the floor to a smooth surface. Run your hand over the floor carefully, using a pencil to mark any variations. Then sand once more or fill any remaining crevices.
For the tiled approach, layout is the same as for ceramic or stone. Some simple math will tell you where to start your first row in order to achieve symmetry at the edges. Start with a full row in the center and lay all full tiles, leaving the cut tiles at the wall for last. This is so you don't have a full tile at one end of the room and a weird-looking tile at the other. Starting from the center gives you symmetry.
Sheet vinyl requires careful planning, and for this you should take a scale drawing of your room to the store where you order your vinyl. You may need a few inches of extra length all the way around to allow for pattern alignment.
Once the room is cut and fit, roll it back. Adhesive needs to be applied in sections, then the floor rolled over that section. Let the adhesive sit too long and it wont work.
Youll need to rent a roller no matter which method you choose. A standard 100 lb. roller will suffice, and it will press the tile into the subfloor, ensuring a bond with the adhesive.