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Exploring The Pros & Cons of Luxury Vinyl Flooring
Luxury vinyl flooring is one of the fastest-growing flooring types in the world right now, and the innovation in the space in the last several years has been extraordinary. Luxury vinyl flooring is modern, beautiful, durable and affordable flooring solution that can stand against some of the most expensive flooring options out there.
But with any choice, there are pros and cons to be considered before moving forward with this type of flooring. Here are the top pros and cons of luxury vinyl flooring.
What is Luxury Vinyl Flooring?
Luxury vinyl flooring bears some similarities to regular vinyl flooring, but “luxury” vinyl flooring (LVF) differs from standard vinyl flooring in its ability to closely mimic the look of natural materials, such as wood or stone.
Typically luxury vinyl flooring is thicker than other types of vinyl flooring and looks much more realistic in its resemblance to classic hardwood. It accomplishes this resemblance with a surface layer that has a very realistic photo-created image of real wood, combined with textures that resemble that of the real materials.
Types of Luxury Vinyl Flooring
Below we outline the different types of luxury vinyl flooring available for you to choose from for your kitchen, bathroom and beyond.
Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT)
One of the most popular types of luxury vinyl flooring is Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT). Luxury Vinyl Tile has a wide range of design options and can replicate the look of natural stone or wood flooring, without the extensive installation or maintenance costs associated with either.
LVT is made up of several layers: the polyurethane coating (1); the clear protective layer known as the ‘wear layer’ (2); the print film layer (3); the vinyl core (4); and the tile backing (5)
Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP)
Another popular type of luxury vinyl is Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP). As the name implies, Luxury Vinyl Planks look like planks of hardwood floors. They are individual pieces of vinyl (not sheet vinyl), so they look very similar to the real thing.
Engineered Vinyl Plank (EVP)
There is a subset of Luxury Vinyl Plank called Engineered Vinyl Plank (or EVP). EVP its the most similar in look, feel and form to engineered hardwood similar in form and also looks similar to laminate flooring. However, it is much more versatile and resilient. And perhaps the biggest differentiator of EVP from other vinyl or floor types is that it is waterproof.
Another defining quality of engineered vinyl plank is that it’s much thicker than the typical glue down vinyl. Usually about 8 mm thick and constructed in layers, EVP is very similar to engineered hardwood. The top layer is vinyl, the middle is a high density core board, and usually, there is an attached back underlayment (e.g. cork) for more cushioning.
In the past several years, engineered vinyl plank has become a very popular alternative to expensive hardwood flooring and a more upscale, attractive alternative to plain vinyl or laminate floors.
Pros of Luxury Vinyl Flooring
There are many “pros” of choosing luxury vinyl flooring, from affordability, multiple design options and so much more. Here are some of the things we love about vinyl flooring.
Perhaps the biggest “pro” of luxury vinyl flooring is that with it, you can achieve a near-perfect hardwood look for a fraction of the cost. Hardwood flooring is, of course, a beautiful choice for any home. It comes in many colors, qualities and styles, but is one of the most expensive choices out there – the average hardwood floor costs between $8-$25/square foot, compared to luxury vinyl at $2-$5/square foot.
Luxury vinyl achieves almost the same exact aesthetic of hardwood in a much more affordable way. This is because the looks of luxury vinyl is essentially a photographic image layer of wood between the backing and the clear wear layer, meaning that luxury vinyl tile designers only need to photograph the desired wood to mimic the real-life material.
While vinyl flooring offers the clear benefit of being water-resistant, only luxury vinyl flooring can offer the added benefit of being completely waterproof. For this reason, engineered luxury vinyl is a great selection moisture-prone areas in the home, such as kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and mudrooms. Engineered vinyl plank is a preferred option for waterproof flooring, especially compared to laminate (or engineered hardwood) which can both
become ruined just from moisture, let alone a floor or water leak.
Ease of Maintenance
While hard surface flooring like natural wood or stone can be notoriously difficult to maintain, luxury vinyl flooring is can be one of the most low-maintenance choices for homeowners. For example, luxury vinyl tile (LVT) has a protective wear layer, which means that, for the most part, it doesn’t need waxing or polishing, and instead only requires mopping and sweeping to maintain its as-new appearance. Depending on the thickness of the wear layer, you can get up to 10 years’ use before it needs to be reapplied.
Other luxury vinyl floor options may require more effort. While Vinyl Composite Tile (VCT) also has simpler maintenance requirements than natural flooring, it requires daily mopping and sweeping, combined with regular waxing and polishing to protect the surface from scuffs and stains.
In general though, light sweeping and mopping will keep luxury vinyl floors in good shape. All-purpose cleaners will also help. With LVP, if you damage planks, you can easily pop them out and replace them.
Multiple Design Options
Luxury vinyl flooring offers a wide range of design options. And since luxury vinyl flooring is only growing in popularity, the number of colors and styles to choose from are growing every day. Whether you’re looking for a modern gray or weathered woods and farmhouse looks, there are endless luxury vinyl flooring (and luxury vinyl plank) options to choose from. LVT can even mimic some of the texture of natural stone or wood because the patterns can be embossed into the tile to give it a more realistic feel.
One of the most common misconceptions about LVT is that the design will wear away through use. But the design is printed onto the film layer of the tile, and protected by the clear “wear” layer, which guards against scuffs and scratches, and protects the printed design layer against walk-off.
Looks & Feels Like Real Wood
If you want the look and feel of real wood, but don’t want the upkeep, luxury vinyl flooring is your best option. Luxury vinyl, especially engineered vinyl plank, looks so much like real wood that many guests to your home will inevitably mistake it for hardwood. Also, since the planks are thicker and more rigid, luxury vinyl feels more like a real wood floor.
Luxury vinyl flooring, specifically engineered vinyl planks, are much more comfortable on your feet than other cheaper options. Plus it carries the added benefit of both temperature and sound insulation, so you won’t have to worry about cold winter floors or extra loud footsteps.
Flexibility of Installation
While it used to be that luxury vinyl was only available in glue-down form, much has changed since then. It used to be the case that luxury vinyl could only be glued down directly to a concrete subfloor or, preferably, plywood. This wasn’t an ideal scenario due to the thinness of luxury vinyl – when glued directly to a concrete subfloor, the vinyl just lay on top of it without providing any cushioning, which gave off a cold hard feel.
Nowadays, though, there are options available for “floating” luxury vinyl flooring. “Floating” means that the floor of the vinyl isn’t in any way glued or attached to the subfloor, but rather, lays on top. This adjustment makes LVF much easier for the layperson to install without having to hire a costly installation specialist. In addition, floating vinyl flooring is much easier to rip up and replace.
In addition, the development of engineered vinyl plank has advanced flexibility of installation even further. EVP is thicker than other luxury vinyl planks, and is installed by clicking together individual pieces. So, not only do they provide more cushion and insulation from the subfloor, than other vinyl floor types, they also stay firmly in place.
Luxury vinyl tile is also fairly easy to install. Some brands of luxury vinyl tile will use glue or grout, while others lock together or have peel-off backing, but almost all provide installation for the homeowner.
In general, luxury vinyl flooring is very easy to install and carries the added benefit of being able to be installed on top of almost any surface.
Luxury vinyl flooring is much less expensive than hardwood, tile, or other high end flooring options.
And, you can often avoid tile rip up which can add a lot to your labor costs)
Cons of Vinyl Flooring
While vinyl flooring is low maintenance and highly durable, as with any product, there are a handful of “cons” to be aware of. Here are some potential cons of vinyl flooring.
Not Impossible to Damage
While luxury vinyl flooring is incredibly durable, it’s not completely impervious to damage. It can scratch or scuff, especially with heavy objects such as appliances. On the positive side, luxury vinyl flooring is more scratch-resistant than hardwood, and, with LVP, you can replace pieces if they get scratched.
Extensive Prep Before Installation
Because of the sensitive nature of some luxury vinyl, your subfloor may require a lot of prep if it is uneven or wavy. If you are dealing with a particularly unruly subfloor, engineered vinyl planks will not line up well. If this is the case with your home, you will probably want to either add self leveling mix (which will be an added expense), or opt for a glue-down installation.
No Long Term Value
Despite the name of the product, luxury vinyl flooring won’t improve the value of your home in the same way that hardwood or tile does. If investment value is an important factor in your floor choice, you won’t want to overlook this consideration in the planning phase. This is an easy remodeling mistake to avoid.
While the uniform, smooth look of luxury vinyl flooring can be considered a benefit, we’d be remiss not to mention the obvious “con” that vinyl flooring will be more slippery, and subsequently more a a fall risk, that some other floor choices out there. Unlike carpet, hard flooring won’t absorb moisture away, meaning that in wet weather the surfaces will become slippery, which will, in turn, increases the likelihood of slips and falls.
Luxury vinyl tile is more slip-resistant than most other hard surface floor coverings, making it the best option if your next flooring installation specifically requires hard surface flooring.
In conclusion, luxury vinyl flooring has come a long way over the last several years and has grown in popularity as one of the preferred household flooring choices. Knowing the various styles of luxury vinyl flooring, and the pros and cons of the material will assist you making the right choice for your home.