Flash Coving is a challenging task for any installer, and when working on a radius, becomes even more difficult. Columnist Jon Namba offers step-by-step instruction on several different methods for flash coving a radius.



As if flash coving isn't challenging enough, what do we do when we have a radius to flash cove (Photo 1)? We'll cover a few different techniques that will work for flash coving a radius. Here is a list of items that you will need for flash coving.


  • Pattern felt
  • Dividers
  • Masking tape
  • Pencil
  • Vinyl cove stick or wood cove stick
  • Utility knife
  • Seam roller


First, install the cove stick; if installing a vinyl cove stick, it will be easier to wrap a radius as this type of cove stick has some flexibility. You may need to cut the vinyl cove stick into small segments, depending on the tightness of the radius(Photo 2). If using a wood cove stick, you will need to cut the cove stick in small pieces using a miter box and hacksaw to follow the radius (Photo 3).


Attach the cove stick with either double face tape or electric tacks(Photo 4).


For the first method, we will be using a template from a piece of vinyl. Measure the height of the coving then cut a piece of the material you will be installing, two inches wide, and measure from the top of the area to be coved out onto the floor approximately three to four inches and cut to length. Place the template you just cut into the top of the cove and make a pencil mark on the template at the center of the radius of the cove stick(Photo 5).


Transfer the template to the material to be installed and make marks on the material; then make a straight edge cut.(Photos 6-7). Now that the height has been cut, it will be necessary to fit across to the ends of the radius.


Cut the material an inch long at each end. Center the cove piece and then make a reference mark on the cove stick and the coving material. Shift the coving material away from the end of the radius until there is a ¼-inch gap between the material and the end stop(Photo 8).


Take dividers and space them to match the pencil mark on the cove stick and the cove material; this is the exact distance from the end stop to where the material will need to be cut(Photo 9).


Place the dividers at 90 degrees or perpendicular to the material and follow the contour of the end stop(Photo 10).


Cut the material where you scribed with the dividers and adhere the cove material to the radius(Photos 11-12). Now the flooring is ready to be installed and cut to fit to the radius coving.


Place pattern felt on the floor and in the area of the radius flash coving, cut a 3/8-inch gap around the base of the cove stick radius. Cut V windows in the felt to prevent the pattern felt from moving, lift the V and place masking tape across the open area and secure to the substrate.


Make sure to mark a reference mark on the pattern felt that is on the floor and to the flash coving that is already installed and wherever else you need to make sure that your material fits properly to your reference marks(Photo 13).


Now take the two-inch template that you used for the cove height and cut it down to a three-inch piece and make sure that it is square on all sides.


Take the two-inch-by-three-inch template and place it up against the radius coving that is already installed and then make a transfer with a pencil onto the pattern felt, move another two inches and continue to carefully mark the entire radius(Photos 14-15).


Once you have transferred all your marks onto the pattern felt, set the pattern felt on the material, align, and then proceed to transfer all the marks to the material and then cut(Photos 16-17).


When installing the material, make sure that all of your reference marks are aligned. The finished product is shown inPhoto 18.


For the second method, the installation of the flash coving to the radius will be the same. The difference here will be in the use of dividers and the trimming of the pattern felt to the cove stick


Once the flash coving has been installed, lay out the pattern felt the same as we did in method one with one exception; Where the pattern felt meets the flash coving, cut the felt to within 1/8-inch to the installed coving(Photo 19-20).


Take dividers and open them up to 5/16-inch and then mark the pattern felt for a reference mark.


You can use the mark on the pattern felt to verify that the alignment does not change on the dividers during use.(Photos 21-22).


Take the divider point along the installed coving and slowly follow and transfer marks to the pattern felt.


With the cove stick having a radius, you do not want to open the dividers too wide and distort the marks to the pattern felt for this type of installation(Photo 23).


Fit the pattern felt to the material to be installed, transfer marks and cut(Photos 24-25). Install the same as the first method and make sure to match up to your reference marks.


The third method begins with the floor being installed first and then the radius flash coving last. This method requires the cove stick to have a smooth transition around the radius; a vinyl cove stick is preferable to wood cove stick if it can follow the contour of the radius in a smooth arc. Install the cove stick and attach.


Lay out the pattern felt, cut Vs to secure and tape in place with masking tape. Cut the pattern felt around the radius area approximately ¼-inch away from the cove stick(Photo 26).


Set dividers at 2 ¼-inch spacing. Set one side of dividers on the top of the cove stick and transfer mark onto the pattern felt keeping the dividers perpendicular to the base(Photo 27). Now the dividers are not flat and will distort the final fit, you say; yes it will unless we make an adjustment, but we'll get to that in a minute.


When finished transferring all marks including reference marks, remove pattern felt and position on to material and trim(Photo 28-29). For this type of installation, you will want to finish the radius cut last; the reason for this is that you will need to adjust the dividers ¼-inch plus or minus.


By closing the dividers ¼-inch for our installation, it allowed the material to fall at the center point of the cove stick. Make sure to test fit with a waste piece prior to the start of the installation, as not all cove stick has the same radius.


You may find that you need more or less adjustment. We found that a ¼-inch adjustment worked for this installation. Once the flooring is installed, make a two-inch template as in method one.


Lay the template strip up into the top of the cove and make a mark on the template where the flooring and the coving will meet. Transfer the marks onto the coving material, cut the cove strip, center and mark for the end stops and install(Photo 30). The end result is show inPhotos 31and32.


Thanks to Tim Provence from Armstrong; Dave Lewis, Instructor for INSTALL; and Suzy Namba, Certified Floor Covering Installer.