Luxury Vinyl Flooring: Reviews, Best Brands & Comparison
Home flooring is the main part of every home which faces everyone’s contact in everyday life. Humans and other living things like pet animals walk over floors as well as these bear the weight of all sort of furniture and other households, so, the importance of home flooring couldn’t be neglected. It is the most vulnerable part of your house which directly gets affected by wear and tear more than any other part.
Floor covering needs to be well studied and worked out before installation and the maintenance is required at regular basis because it adds value and gives aesthetic look to your home decor. No matter how much you spent in your home building, without a nice-looking and durable floor, all the beauty is meaningless.
There is a variety of floor coverings available in markets which depend on your taste, needs, budget and the environment where you live. Luxury vinyl flooring is one of the most popular, eye-catchy, environment-friendly, economical, and versatile floor coverings among the other floor types.
What is Luxury Vinyl Flooring?
Vinyl has come a long way in flooring since the day it was first made known in the 1930’s. Luxury vinyl flooring (also called LVF) is a compound of different synthetic materials which undergo on a specific temperature and pressure and finally it gives a natural look of wood or stone referred to be LVT (Luxury vinyl tile) and LVP (Luxury vinyl plank).
As the technology evolves day by day, the importance of luxury vinyl flooring got increased recently especially when it comes to sturdiness against rips, tears and grooves because it needs less maintenance, has high durability, and resilient to moisture.Being 100% waterproof, it has become a successful substitute to hardwood, stone, and tile flooring yet giving a similar aesthetic look.
The construction of luxury vinyl floor consists of 4 main layers which are;
Wear Layer: is the specifically designed transparent top surface that provides sturdiness to the vinyl flooring along with protection from warps and scratches. It maintains the originality of flooring without fading its shine.
Photo-Created Image: gives the realistic sheet or tile appearance which is adhered to the vinyl core. This layer has a paper print film with desired taste and color patterndeveloped to look like any natural stone or hardwood material. This layer is protected by the top layer.
Vinyl Core: is the main element of luxury vinyl floor. This flexible part is the compound of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), plasticizers, stabilizers and pigments. this layer doesn’t allow the water to penetrate and is waterproof.
Backing layer: A mixture of vinyl and a substance of plasticizer or fiberglass added to a synthetic resin. This layer provides plasticity and suppleness to reduce crumbliness.
In some cases, the wear layer is coated with urethane or ceramic bead for further protection against wear and tear and giving desired luster to the pattern.
Benefits of Luxury Vinyl Flooring
Luxury vinyl flooring is rapidly taking full charge of all types of floor coverings because of a wide range of advantages it owns. Gone are those days when you needed to spend a hefty budget on hardwood or stone flooring. LVT and LVP has all the benefits you can think of. Here are a few advantages of luxury vinyl flooring you’d love to know.
- Hard-wearing: Unlike other floor options, luxury vinyl floors absorb shocks open heartedly. No moisture can penetrate through and it will never absorb water and deteriorate. Ideal choice for tropical areas.
- **Budget-friendly:**Hardwood floors and tiles is a dream for those who have limited budget but their dreams can come true by bringing royal designs to their home with this flooring for significantly low price.
- Installation: It takes very less time and effort to install this flooring. You just need a smooth surface without any humps, bumps, and lumps and you’re ready to go. Grouting, which is really chaotic job is no more required.
- **Maintenance:**Maintenance of luxury vinyl floor is a fun breeze. Only a few simple care and maintenance steps are required to give it the new look as it is already moisture and scratch resistant and can withstand on high temperature, sun, rain and all weathers. Using a damp mop every now and then is suffice for its cleaning.
- Versatility: It comes in various color schemes, shapes, and designs. It’s great for all areas, all weather conditions. It’s best for messy areas, and recommended for the whole in-out house whether it’s living room, kitchen, bathrooms, stairs or garage.
- Warmth & Comfort: In comparison with wood or tile flooring, vinyl gives really comfy and cozy feeling underfoot. For all weathers it’s a great comfort as it doesn’t get hot or cold when the weather changes. Its cushion-type surface doesn’t hurt your sole when you have to stand for extended time.
- Doesn’t produce noise: If you’ve dropped something on the ground or you walk over or drag something, it absorbs the noise which likely to be annoying when it comes to other floors except carpets.
- Replacement: Although, this flooring type is rough and tough but if some damage occurs to a piece of vinyl sheet, replacement isn’t a big chore. You can get the piece from the market and replace way easily instead of replacing the whole floors or mending the existing piece.
Cons of Luxury Vinyl Flooring
Although, there are numbers of benefits of luxury vinyl flooring, yet some cons are associated with this as everything isn’t perfect in this world. These disadvantages are;
- Health Hazard: This flooring is prepared after processing different materials and these contain chemicals. Vinyl chloride is the main component of luxury vinyl flooring that is a known carcinogen and a VOC (volatile organic compound). This compound exhausts gasses which could be hazardous to health issues especially for allergy sufferers.
However, no need to worry about this issue because it isn’t persistent and likely to discharge its gasses for a few days. Once the gasses emitted in a few days, there’s no health risk.
- **It fades in the Sun:**Vinyl flooring isn’t good for the areas which are easily exposed to the sun because the top coating isn’t UV resistant which guards against fading. The real shine of this floor covering tends to decline if it is exposed to the sun gleams.
- Get Pierced Easily: This flooring is highly durable but softer than laminate or tile floors. Sharp edge objects like knife, wheelchair legs etc. can easily puncture the surface or it’s at least prone to dents if a heavy object is dragged upon it.
- Minimum Resale Value: It gives the real appearance of hardwood or stone flooring but it’s a mimic and can’t beat the traditional look and allure of real hardwood or stone.
Popular Luxury Vinyl Brands
Shopping for luxury vinyl flooring isn’t as simple as it looks. There are no significant criteria for quality product or no warning signs if there’s any lack in product. However, there’re few trustworthy brands who have built their trust over the years by providing over the counter luxury vinyl floorings. These popular brands are:
Armstrong Alterna : Armstrong Alterna is one of the top trending brands offering a variety of luxury vinyl flooringwhich provide exceptional foot comfort with enhanced cushioning and longevity through high resistance to scratch, dent, and stain.
Their high-quality planks give the real appearance of hardwood or stone having added texture and depth with variant and easy-to-go installation options.
Their popular collections are Luxe Plank with FasTak, Vivero, CushionStep, and Duality Premium with Diamond 10® Technology to prevent from scratches and stains.
COREtec: COREtec Plus has earned its reputation by providing top-notch luxury vinyl flooring options. No need to hassling with glue down LVT, laminate flooring, or solid locking LVT in the presence of COREtec Plus. Its pioneering core structure is constructed from recycled wood and bamboo dust, limestone, and virgin PVC.
COREtec offer a unique range of flooring in 5 main categories and each of these 5 has endless varieties. These five offerings are (i) COREtec Plus, (ii) Castle Combe Hardwood, (iii) Natural Wood, (iv) Natural Cork, and (v) Natural Bamboo.
Its 100% waterproof vinyl floors are safe for high tropical areas. Each plank comes with water resistant cork underlayment to provide odor-free flooring without any hazard of growing dander and mold.
Shaw Floorte: Started since 1950’s, Shaw has built its report in flooring and now leading the industry of luxury vinyl flooring with its incredibly durable material along with health safety as Shaw uses less toxic virgin vinyl instead of recycled PVC.
Shaw offers seven innovative lines of LVP with a wide range of variations and styles in different price ranges. The plank thickness varies from 2mm to 6.5mm with fiberglass filling made with virgin vinyl. Shaw’s OptiClean technology provides extreme resistance to tough stains and warping.
In these seven lines; Premio and Classico are their top of the line products with 6.5mm thickness. Premio is top-trending and expensive line with 20-mil wear layer and slanting edges whereas, Classico has the same thickness but 12-mil wear layer and less expensive than Premio.
Aviator and Navigator both are 6 mm thick with 3.2-mil wear layer and squared edges. Easy Street line offers 4 mm thickness with 20-mil wear layer. All these three lines are Shaw’s mid-range lines.
Urbanality and World’s Fair are their economical lines which are 2 mm thick and with 6 mil and 12 mil wear layer options.
Karndean: Although, it’s not as famous in US as the above ones, but still it is prominent in UK and now entering in US homes. Karndean is the first vinyl floor manufacturer that offer Loose Lay installation method instead of click-and-lock or glue down vinyl.
Karndean offer 13 different premium and realistic wood and tile look product ranges which include Da Vinci floor which comes with lean and smooth 3mm thick planks or tiles and beveled edges. Art Select has the same thickness along with .7mm wear layer.Knight Tile is 2mm thick and .3mm wear layer.
Korlok comes in wood effect with 6.5mm thickness and .55mm wear layer with a dozen innovative designs. LooseLay has 4.5mm thickness with the same wear layer thickness as Korlok. Michelangelo and Opus offer both wood and stone effect with 2.5mm thickness along with .55mm wear layer. Van Gogh comes in wood effect with 3mm thick planks.
Mannington: This luxury vinyl flooring manufacturer is another reputable brand which offers high-end flooring options in very respectable budget. Adura Rigid is its basic offering which is prepared with highly durable anti moistening material best for basements, kitchens, washrooms and other moisture-prone areas.
Adura comes in plank effects having 4 and 5.5mm thickness which makes it royal choice of vinyl flooring lovers. The second offer by Mannington is Distinctive Plank which is basically upgradation of Adura. The thickness of plank is kept same but the material quality, color selection and comfort are doubled as well as this line has micro-beveled edges with complex embossing same as Adura. Both Mannington lines provide realistic appearance of oaks, maple, and teaks.
How to choose High-Quality Luxury Vinyl Flooring?
If you’re looking to install luxury vinyl flooring, you need to take few things in consideration before spending your money. One can’t say a luxury vinyl floor they chose will last a short period of time and its colors will fade away or get its face ugly with scratches, or it’ll not lose its shining and remain like brand new for tens of years. However, if you have some basic knowledge of luxury vinyl flooring, you can have better idea what I am going to buy and how long it’ll stay.
This flooring is not so complex like other flooring options and just a little knowledge about 2-3 things will help you deciding what is high-quality vinyl flooring. Consider these things before finalizing luxury vinyl floor.
- Wear Layer Thickness:
The first thing that will determine the quality of vinyl is the thickness of wear layer. The price goes up or down with the thickness of wear layer. However, you should choose the thickness according your requirements.
A wear layer of 10 mil (.01 in) thickness is a mid-range option for moderate traffic area. For high traffic areas and large families, or commercial uses minimum 20 mil wear layer thickness will work best. With the increased thickness the budget will also rise. A 2-mil thickness is also available but it will wear out quickly.
Moreover, the top layer with no-wax top coat is less likely durable. This top coating is also deciding factor of the vinyl durability. An enhanced urethane coating which is made with high-tech material like aluminum oxide provide unmatched sturdiness.
- Overall Thickness of Vinyl:
The second measure you should keep in mind is the total thickness of tile or plank and definitely the price varies as the plank width varies. For durability, wear layer thickness matters, but for uneven areas where subfloor is not smooth, the thickness of tile or plank plays its role by masking these anomalies.
The vinyl thickness ranges from 2mm to 7mm. If you’re residing in a low traffic area, 2-4mm thickness will do the work (definitely with smooth surface). With the increase of vinyl thickness the cost will definitely rise, so opt for the thickness you require. On the other hand, if there are imperfections in your floors, you need thickest sheets to cover up those irregularities.
Sometimes, there’s no requirement of thickness in terms of subfloor condition but someone wants extra cushioning underneath their feet, so opt for 5mm or more to serve the purpose.
- Printed vs. Inlaid Vinyl:
Printed vinyl color patterns are the most economical way but quality wise, it’s not perfect because it receives scratches way easily and also it gives less realistic wood or stone appearance.
Inlaid vinyl is expensive but it gives the real look of wood or tile as the color pattern infused deep inside the vinyl and is resistant to scratches or will not fade away.
- Core Layer and Backing:
Vinyl core layer and backing of your flooring are equally important for its durability. Two types of vinyl material are used in these two layers, virgin vinyl and the recycled one.
Recycled vinyl is made with mixed materials as discussed above and prone to wear and tear over time. Sometimes, the recycled vinyl is made of high-quality compound but how will you ensure it? No answer. Virgin vinyl has no such mixture and is highly recommended in terms of durability and keeping its shape unchanged over long time.
Virgin vinyl core and backing is a bit more costly but it’s the perfect for long use and less prone to get punctured or wearing away.
The cost is the most important factor to consider when you’re getting ready to install luxury vinyl floor or replacing it or upgrading it with the existing floor. The cost to install a luxury vinyl floor depends on different factors such as the location, material type and the professional you’re going to hire or making it a DIY project and buying necessary installation tools.
Here’re some factors you’ll have to keep in view when preparing your budget for luxury vinyl flooring.
- Wear Layer Thickness: The cost of installing vinyl flooring depends on the thickness of wear layer. The thicker the wear layer (it is measured in mil which is one thousandth of one inch) the higher price you’ll pay.
- Location: The prime factor affects the installation cost is the location where you want luxury vinyl flooring. A high traffic area needs thick wear layer and definitely it’ll cost more. A home with kids and pets also needs the same. Moreover, the uneven subfloor needs thicker vinyl plank or tile which will cost extra. Stairs, more edges and nooks need extra time and more cutting and it’ll cost more in terms of labor and other material used for such purpose.
- Material Type: The price will vary with the type of material you’re using. The virgin vinyl is way expensive than a sheet with a compound of mixed materials but the quality would be compromised then. Also, vinyl with imprinted color patterns costs lesser than inlaid one.
- Labor Cost: You have two options for installation of vinyl floor. Either you do it yourself, if you have guts or you’ll hire a pro who will charge other than the cost of material. This cost also varies from $.75 to $3 per square ft and in some cases, they work on hourly bases and the cost would be up to $36/hr. Ensure guarantee on the labor before hiring someone for the project to reduce the extra cost.
- Job Complexity: The installation could be more or less expensive with respect to the complexity. For example, on stairs, complex angles, and uneven subfloor need extra time to get aligned. Also, some sheets are peel-and -stick and some are click to lock, some are glued and some need underlayment. So, the cost for labor will fluctuate accordingly.
- Brand: The budget for each brand is different and normally each brand offers three qualities, economical, mid-range and high-end material for different locations and surfaces and other needs.
There’re many other considerations like vinyl molding and trimming, installation of stair treads, transitions such as flush stair noses, door thresholds, transition strips, removal of old floors etc. also affect the overall cost.
Luxury Vinyl Comparison:
Flooring is the basic of a home décor and adds value and texture. When we are talking about luxury vinyl flooring so much, why don’t we compare this type with other floor coverings.
Luxury Vinyl vs Carpeting
Here’s a short comparison of luxury vinyl vs. carpeting. Both have their rich areas as well as some dark sides. Here’re these.
- Durability: Carpeted floors are very long-lasting and durable but are prone to discoloring and stains whereas luxury vinyl floors are way better in this area. A mid-quality carpet retains its life for 5 to 10 years. On the other hand, vinyl stays for longer period of time without needing any repair.
- Variety of Style: Carpets come is a range of color schemes and styles such as loop which requires less maintenance, formal, striking bold etc. but these choices are limited. Vinyl, on the other end has a wider range of textures, colors and patterns. You have an endless choice of real looking stone, wood, tile, and sheet patterns.
- Maintenance and Care: This is another area where luxury vinyl wins. Carpeted floors are very needy and will get affected if not taken care of properly and at frequent basis. Vinyl, is water resistant and require very less effort to keep it maintained and clean.
- Health Safety: Carpets are way behind in this area too. This flooring is the home of dander, molds, and allergens and is exhausting to keep things clear. Vinyl flooring can be mopped and vacuumed easily without any hazard of any allergens penetrating into the flooring. Tips: using best vacuum for vinyl floor to get maximum effective.
- Comfort: Although, carpeted floors are the source of great comfort. These floors won’t produce noise, and snug to walk over. Vinyl floors, however, come with exceptional versatility and the same comfort level could easily be achieved by installing vinyl using underlayment without the fear of allergens.
- Weather-Friendly: Carpet flooring provide greater comfort when it is cold and it retains warmth but vinyl is all weathers friend. It keeps the temperature static whether it is summer or winter. It is best for tropical areas where carpets need extra care.
- Budget-Friendly: In comparison with carpeted floor, luxury vinyl floors are very economical and budget-friendly. If you get bored with one style and want replacement, vinyl is what get win-win situation and needs very less price with respect to carpets.
Luxury Vinyl vs Hardwood
Mimic can’t beat the real but there’re many areas where we have to think especially when it comes to cost-effectiveness and style. Same goes to luxury vinyl flooring and hardwood.
- Durability: Luxury vinyl flooring needs less care and maintenance to keep its real shape although it is prone to dents and can get punctured with heavy furniture movement. Hardwood is way better in many cases but it also gets stains overtime.
- Waterproof: Hardwood is not water resistant and can get severe impacts from water spills. Vinyl is waterproof and best for humid areas.
- Cleaning: Mops cannot be used on hardwood floors and specific chemicals are allowed for cleaning. Luxury vinyl floors have no problems with traditional damp mopping and no-wax cleaners. Hardwood floors retain their shining with time to time waxing.
- Ease of Installation: DIY lovers can easily install luxury vinyl floors but installing hardwood floors is the professionals’ job and requires extensive attention and care.
- Snugness: Hardwood is hard on feet and is less comfortable during winter than vinyl which is easy to put step on and doesn’t change its temperature as quickly as the hardwood.
- Cost: This area, in my view is not comparable. The hardwood is far way expensive than vinyl. In the cost of hardwood floor of 1000sqft house, you can go with three similar houses having vinyl flooring.
Luxury Vinyl vs Cork
These both floor types are similar in many cases like ease of maintenance, ease of installation, cushioning etc. but still in some features both differ.
- Water Resistance: Although cork is water resistant and can bear limited amount of moisture but water can penetrate through the cracks and put severe impacts. Vinyl has no such issues.
- Repair: If vinyl plank or tile is punctured and needs repair/replacement, it’s way easier to remove or patch that particular one. Repairing or replacement of damaged cork is pretty difficult task.
- Pet and Kids-Friendly: Vinyl flooring is incredibly sturdy and doesn’t scratch from daily use and is kids and pet friendly. In case of cork, this is not the case. A home with pets and children should not choose cork which gets punctured way easily than vinyl.
- Expansion and Contraction: Being natural material, cork tends to expand and contract with the climatic changes and can become uneven over time, whereas, vinyl has no such issues.
- Sealing: Cork needs sealing after every few years otherwise it looks grimy and outdated. This will also consume your budget and time. In case of vinyl, you set it and just forget it.
Luxury vinyl flooring is becoming instep with other flooring types due to its numerous benefits and advantages. It provides incredibly realistic and contemporary look yet cost-effective than hardwood, carpet and tile flooring. Its sturdiness, underfoot comfort, water resilience, easy maintenance makes it the perfect choice for DIYers and people with low budgets.