Whenever the word “luxury” is regularly used to describe a product like flooring, not everyone who’s rich and famous sits up and takes notice. Luxury vinyl plank flooring may be a relatively new addition to the market, but it’s deceivingly affordable and makes a great addition to every room in the home.
If you’re curious about why it has become a favorite of homeowners, we have some answers for you that can help you make your buying decision a faster, easier process.
However, not everything is “roses” with this type of flooring option so in this article we’ll discuss the pros and cons of luxury vinyl plank as flooring material, cost, differences with other similar material etc.
What is Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring?
Luxury vinyl plank flooring is the contemporary version of sheet vinyl flooring that is frequently picked because it stands up brilliantly to locations that are known to be hot spots for moisture and stain collection.
This super thin sheet vinyl proved no panacea, however. It was as prone to gouging and tearing and as anyone who installed it will testify, sheet vinyl flooring wasn’t the first choice of folks who pad around in bare feet because it tended to be hard and cold.
Flooring manufacturers, likely with input from homeowners who loved the benefits of vinyl but would have loved to see their floors last longer, introduced a new kind of vinyl as long ago as the 1970s, calling it luxury vinyl flooring, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that it got the public’s attention.
Now so popular, people know it by its acronym LVF. While it’s available in two types — semi-rigid planks (the true LVP) and tiles (LVT) – we’re focusing on the planks because they compete with hardwood and who doesn’t love the look?
LVP is a 100-percent type of synthetic flooring system that is made by mixing and melting “polyvinyl chloride resin (PVC), with pigments, calcium carbonate, plasticizers, fungicide, and UV stabilizers to create a solid plastic.”
Planks are installed in the same manner employed to lay laminate or wood planks using a click-lock method that interlocks edges.
LVP is an ideal way to morph a boring floor into one that looks like it belongs to the rich and famous, only you don’t have to liquidate your stock portfolio to afford it, even if you hire labor to do the job.
Pros of Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring
- LVP costs half as much as wood but it’s so much easier to maintain. In fact, you could save thousands of dollars if you’ve got a very large area of floor to upgrade.
- The sheer number and variety of plank patterns, colors and textures on today’s market is breathtaking so any design objective you’re trying to achieve is much easier to accomplish.
- The installation process should be easy for folks familiar with floating floor installations that employ locking systems rather than glues. Trimming each plank for a perfect fit requires only a carpentry knife to do the job so you get an exact fit that contours to your room’s shape, no matter how many nooks and crannies there are.
- Given the origins of LVP, it should come as no surprise that it’s an extremely durable material. Thick, water-rebuffing and fairly impervious to the damage kids and pets can do to surfaces, these planks are beloved by families whose homes are the scenes of constant activity.
- LVP is easy to clean. Got a vacuum, broom, soap and water? All of these household tools can be used to KP floors covered with LVP planks and you can give away or donate products you once used to wax or seal your floors because LVP planks are easy to care for and require only dusting and washing.
Cons of Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring
- If you’re thinking that the 5 advantages listed above seem too good to be true, you should know that there are health risks associated with LVP. All vinyl floors release gasses into the air (VOCs) so this may not be the best choice for households where people suffer allergies or respiratory illnesses. But don’t despair. Emissions usually stop seeping into the air within 10 days of the install.
- LVP isn’t recommended for homes where elderly or physically-challenged people live because vinyl plank flooring is classified as a “floating floor,” thus it can shift subtly enough to make operating a wheelchair, walker or other aids difficult. Engineers recommend flooring that’s glued or otherwise attached to the floor in these situations.
- Despite the fact that your home will look like a million bucks once you install a luxury plank floor, this material remains a vinyl product so it won’t necessarily add value to your home if you decide to sell and contemplate listing LVP as one of the reasons browsers should consider your abode over others.
- Even if you invest in blinds and/or insulated curtains, unless you intend to keep them closed year-round, you risk watching your LVP floor fade if the sun is especially strong and bright. Given the fact that a room isn’t necessarily exposed to the same amount of sun during the day, that fade may not be uniform, so you risk winding up with a floor “decorated” with uneven and unsightly sun splotches.
- Not all LVPs are created equal. Some are deficient in the top-coat material that adds to the life of the floor. Further, beware of planks that don’t come with safety labels like “FloorScore” certified and “CARB2 compliant.” And don’t settle for a warranty that is less than 20 years long. If you can pull it off, see if you can also get the wear layers covered for at least 10 years, too.
Differences Between Luxury and Engineered Vinyl Planks (LVP vs EVP)
The Flooring Girl proclaims Luxury Vinyl Planks as “the fast[est] growing segment in the market place, and the EVP (Engineered Vinyl Planks) are the most rapidly accelerating sub-segment.” Knowing the relationship can help you decide which one is a better option for you.
Engineered vinyl planks look and feel like real wood so shoppers can mistake it for hardwood. EVP holds up to moisture and water and you can install it over any flat floor — even on top of radiant heat systems.
EVP insulates better and provides extra sound proofing. Some say it is more comfortable to walk on because the floor has more “give.”
Relatively easy to install, repair and clean, EVP comes in stylish colors, but it may stand up to heavy appliances over the long haul. Installation requires lots of prep work and EVP won’t increase your home’s value. Professionals recommend against using EVP on stairs. They could become detached and cause someone to slip.
Luxury vinyl planks also require prep work before installing. While LVP products are marketed as being waterproof, some are only water resistant, so be sure to check.
While the highest-quality LVP planks feature the interlocking system referenced earlier, you can now find glue-down products that deliver a superior look with more security if, for one reason or another, you don’t want a floating floor.
LVP can be easier to find — from online resources to big box stores and retailers specializing in flooring. If you have concluded that both types of vinyl planks so similar, making the choice remains a mystery, you wouldn’t be the first homeowner to reach this conclusion!
How much does Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring cost?
You have already figured out that it costs less to install vinyl plank flooring than it does to lay natural planks like wood, but it’s important to know that that the $3 per square foot cost of this material is for regular, not luxury, vinyl planks.
Luxury vinyl products can cost as much as $7 per square foot because they are thicker and sturdier. Be wary of planks that sell for less than $4 per square foot because while they may be labeled luxury vinyl planks, you’re not getting the best quality.
Here’s a surprise you may not have seen coming: Those per square foot prices include labor because this material really is inexpensive.
Even with a mark-up that covers labor costs, you’re still not likely to spend more than $7 per square foot to install an LVP floor.
What factors can impact the final cost of undertaking this job? Do you intend to do the grunt work associated with removing old flooring so your LVP can be installed?
Are you prepared to purchase between 10 and 20-percent more planks than you need to take care of trimming and corners?
Further, will you have to purchase underlayment because the planks you choose are lacking in this important material and your floor is being replaced in a bathroom or kitchen?
Finally, if you’re tackling this job yourself, you’ll need to purchase special tools that add to the cost of your install.
In addition to inexpensive essentials like a rubber mallet, utility knife and multi-tool, a moisture meter and tapping block are highly recommended by contractors and don’t forget knee pads unless you enjoy walking around looking like a Neanderthal after the job is done.
Which Thickness of Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring is best?
Like milk shakes and steak, the thicker the luxury vinyl plank flooring you choose, the less wear and tear you’ll enjoy over time.
Unlike other types of flooring you’ll be able to find a wide variety of plank thicknesses that can range between 2mm and 8mm.
Even if the product you choose is closer to the 2mm thickness, you’re still going to get the rigidity you seek because the manufacturing process is made up of bonding between 6 and 8 layers of material.
That doesn’t take into account the top coat that boosts the shine and enhances colors and patterns, the foam cushion that makes this flooring comfy, plus both fiberglass and solid PVC backing layers.
Thicker planks tend to be pricier, and according to professional flooring pros, your objective should always be to wind up with a 20Mil wear layer overall. That’s a lot of thickness for an affordable price, so it’s easy to see why LVP planks haves become so popular so quickly.
How Long will your Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring Last?
Homeowners undertaking upgrades when they are seeking to put their homes on the market want the best look for the least amount of money, but for those who intend to stay in their homes until retirement beckons, choosing a high-quality vinyl plank crafted to last for up to 20 years is not just possible but doable.
While heavy furnishings and enough traffic to impact any type of flooring could take 5 years off that two decade estimate, the key to longevity will always be based on the quality of the product and the amount of time and attention you devote to the floor’s upkeep.
On the other hand, neglect your LVP floor and don’t be surprised if your floor stops looking like the photos and samples you saw on the day you made your decision to choose luxury vinyl planks. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
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