LVT vs. Tile: Which is Better


When looking at multiple floors, you may have come across some interesting finds, such as LVT flooring. This stands for luxury vinyl tile because it offers a great many deals of benefits. The question of if LVT is better than tile has been revolving around multiple conversations and debates, and we will be going over this in detail to see what our conclusions about it are. 

Is LVT better than tile? In retrospect, both LVT (luxury vinyl tile) and real tile are excellent in many ways, such as being durable, mostly waterproof, and heat resistant. However, they are incredibly different in other ways, like the initial cost, fading in the sunlight, and the impact each one has on the environment.

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In this topic, we will be going over the pros and cons of LVT and ceramic. We will also determine which one is better than the other or no definitive answer, the places and styles best suited to them. Before going any further, it’s good to note that LVT has made some pretty extreme leaps in its ability to replicate the real thing, but we’ll go into detail on that a little later on.

Initial Flooring Installation Costs

Ceramic Tile Cost:

Fundamentally tile would come off as being a much more expensive alternative, with it being considered “the real deal” and having a price that reflects as much. The truth is you are looking at paying roughly twice the price for real ceramic tile, depending on the quality, size, and color of the tiles.

  • Usually, tile comes in at the expense of anywhere between $3 to $10 per square foot
  • With installation costs, it will be roughly $4 to $14 per square foot.

The reason why installation costs are higher than usual is that tile has to go through a lot of prep before starting and clean up time afterward. Ceramic tile is too messy, so it would make sense as to why this is. 

LVT Cost:

However, luxury vinyl tile boasts photographic technology that allows it to be indistinguishable from the real thing. The significant cost difference typically is only suited for people who wouldn’t accept anything from the whole thing.

Truly, LVT is a much cheaper and more durable option for almost half the cost in most cases. Keeping all that in mind, it stands to reason that you are getting more value for your dollar in going with LVT from durability, style, and price.

  • LVT costs anywhere between $2 to $5 per square foot, already making it twice as cheap as tile floors.
  • Not only that, but installation costs are also much more affordable, being at $1.50 to $2.75 per square foot.

However, vinyl tile floors are one of the most straightforward DIY installations, so this could very much save you even more money in the long run.

Difference In Aesthetic

If you were to take the time to analyze ceramic tile and LVT carefully, you would be able to notice a few sharp differences, but it would take an extremely talented eye to spot them at a glance. 

Ceramic Tile Aesthetic:

Ceramic tile offers timeless beauty in its own right, especially coupled with how much effort must be put into installing the tile themselves. It only makes sense that it would be able to hold its own in pure cosmetics.

Deciding to go with ceramic tile is a difficult choice in itself, but if you are looking at a more fashion-based option, it’s a bit disheartening. Ceramic tile is not very forgiving if you wanted to change up the look and style of a room due to how difficult it is to install, let alone remove.

Typically, if you’re going to keep it “in-style,” you’ll want to go with a simple black or white color instead of something different, like orange or dark neon blue.

LVT Aesthetic:

On the other hand, luxury vinyl tiles strength comes in photographic picture layering and high flexibility in keeping it in beautiful condition. Because it uses a simple photo, it is much easier to keep up with the current trends in homes.

LVT can also be cut with a simple straight edge knife and laid down to be installed, changing the room’s entire look a breeze.

Fading In The Sun

Heavy sun exposure almost always can fade floorings, but there are some unique attributes in play for both LVT and ceramic tile. Let us take a look at them to get a better understanding.

Ceramic Tile Sun Fading:

Starting with the ceramic tiling, it truly does not fade regardless of how much sun it is exposed to. This is due to how color is added to the tile. Methods vary depending on whether or not the tile is glazed or not. Either way, due to it being fired into the clay itself, the colors will never fade. That is a pretty strong big feather in a ceramic tiles hat.

LVT Sun Fading:

However, LVT is somewhat fade resistant in itself, but there are a few ways to limit this from happening. Let us go through it more in detail:

  • If you were to purchase and install the right window coverings, you could extend the LVT’s longevity in that area by quite a bit. Not only do those window coverings play a big part, but there are a few other steps to keeping LVT in prime condition before needing to replace it due to fading. Some homeowners may not like this because they love to let the sun in their homes, but you can do a couple of more options.
  • Alternating your furniture in different arrangements around a room will keep your LVT from looking faded in certain areas. This is by allowing excess exposure to sitting in other spaces and enabling the room to get some fresh life breathed into it.
  • One final tip for keeping your LVT up would be to make sure you are using proper cleaners that are safe for vinyl and help clean up stains and messes faster, and prevent any decay from chemical residue and sun exposure. If you wish to go with a more natural alternative, vinegar or apple cider vinegar mixed with water and a few drops of dish soap does lovely work for the floors. 

Durability

The ability to withstand a beating and keep on trucking is an admirable trait in almost any 

flooring, but these two take that phrasing and just run with it.

Ceramic Tile Durability:

Ceramic tile is very tough, and it can handle everyday wear and tear almost flawlessly and not show a lot of damage to it. On the other hand, if you were to shake things up and add a few accidents, such as something heavy toppling onto it, you’ve probably got a nice crack at the very least and a small job on your hands for it.

LVT Durability:

Nevertheless, LVT is exceptionally durable. Not only does it survive the wear and tear of your average family, but it makes for fantastic flooring inside most businesses and reduces sound pollution as well.

If we were to backtrack and speak on its ability to withstand accidents and general abuse, we would find it excels in both areas. On accidents like a vase or chair falling over, LVT may have a small scratch to show for it, but otherwise, it would be excellent. If the said accident was bad enough to leave a deep gash that is unsightly, you could easily replace that tile segment in no time, and very cheaply at that.

One final note about the durability topic would be general safety for a growing family, small children run and play, that’s more or less a given, falling on a hard ceramic tile flooring would have a good chance of causing a severe injury. At the same time, LVT will not only soften the fall but mitigate a lot of the extra headache of potentially cleaning up afterward.

Lifetime Length

We already went over durability, but let’s jump into how long we can expect these floorings to last for the investment. When you are looking for new flooring, you are usually thinking of style and cost, but those two choices play a huge factor in general lifetime length. If it goes out of style, it doesn’t matter how long it lasts. The same thing can be said of the tiles being too costly to change that style.

Ceramic Lifetime Length:

As we mentioned above, ceramic tile will stand the test of time. Assuming you take good care of it and don’t have any mishaps, it’s guaranteed to last around 100 years! Now that is going to be incredibly hard to beat in most conversations about lifetime length.

One quick question to ask is that although the ceramic tile will last for a lifetime, will that style itself last over 100 years within your house and location into consideration? More than likely not, but that is entirely up to you to decide.

Here are some ways you can extend the life of tile floors:

  • Use non-abrasive cleaners.
  • Reseal the cracks every few years.
  • Keep the tile from scratchy dust and debris.
  • Choose glazed ceramic tile flooring.
  • When buying tile flooring, invest in replacement tiles just in case if one cracks.

LVT Lifetime Length:

Now let us bring LVT into the conversation. Luxury vinyl tile has a working lifespan of roughly 10 to 20 years with good maintenance but has been known to withstand much longer.

While on paper, that seems pretty small compared to tile floors, let us consider that you are looking at a substantially cheaper product than real ceramic flooring. It is highly customizable to be swapped out at your discretion according to changing lifestyle preferences.

Here are a few ways to ensure the longevity of LVT floors:

  • Mop and sweep regularly.
  • Keep traffic low, if you can.
  • Don’t put any sharp objects on the floor.
  • Provide pads under the furniture.
  • Keep shoes off of the floor.

Waterproofing Qualities

Ceramic Tile Waterproof Qualities:

Ceramic tiling is widely considered to be waterproof, but the truth of the matter is it isn’t. Well, not entirely anyway. Ceramic is made to be highly water-resistant, but it has tiny holes making it slightly porous. These holes are here to help give the tile a bit of survivability from cracking and chipping. The downside of this is that if there is significant enough time for water to sit on them, they will eventually damage.

At this point, there are two significant ways water can damage your ceramic tile.

  • The first being if the weather allowed for the water that was on the tiles to freeze. Water in those small holes we spoke about earlier would cause the ceramic tile to crack as the water froze. This is due to water expanding as it freezes, thus giving rise to damage occur.
  • The second reason for water-based damage is mold, mildew, and the adhesive keeping the tiles mounted eroding. Given the opportunity for the water to seep entirely through the tile, it can get behind it, giving birth to mold and mildew but also allowing the adhesive that binds it to the wall to come off. This is dangerous because inhaling mold can cause serious health issues, but this same water damage can not only soak through the bathroom but if it were to happen in an upstairs area, it could damage your ceilings as well.

LVT Waterproof Qualities:

On the other hand, LVT is made up of an entirely waterproof synthetic material called PVC, or polyvinyl chloride. Thus, it can be submerged in water and come out and be installed the same way without suffering any damage at all. This is primarily due to its waterproof core layer, which ensures it doesn’t retain water.

Heat Resistant 

The ability to resist heat is a common question in flooring as well, and these two are reasonably resistant in their rights. Here is why. 

Ceramic Tile Heat Resistant:

Starting with ceramic tiles, they are heat resistant, yes, but they are not entirely heatproof. Excess exposure to heat can cause discoloration in tiles. Additionally, if they are exposed to heat, changes (hot to cold) can cause cracks in them or potentially ruin them entirely.

LVT Heat Resistant:

LVT is also incredibly heat resistant, and more to the point, it is also very compatible with it, under vinyl heating is a thing as well, so you could say it’s a little more than heat resistant. Extreme heat can still cause damage. It is just like the ceramic tiling, though, so it is worth taking extra precautions on installing it.

Maintenance On Both

Keeping both LVT and ceramic tile in good shape is dramatically different in how you go about it. LVT is the more lenient of the two. Let us see as to why that is. 

Ceramic Tile Maintenance: 

I am sure you have heard already that ceramic tile can be tough to clean as time goes on due to the dirt and grime that get into the grout areas, mostly if you have personally done this in the past. Well, those stories are not wrong, as they can be time-consuming. Not to mention a good old workout is going to be involved! 

However, this may not be for another year or so after initially installed, but it is still essential to maintain cleanliness, as you can often find mold in the grout. Not only this, but there are a few more things to keep in mind to maintain your tile floors:

  • Regrouting the floors every 12 to 15 years.
  • Choose the right floor mop, like a Swiffer.
  • Clean up loose debris. 
  • Watch out for any tile stains.
  • Keep an eye out for any soap residue, and use a non-abrasive all-purpose cleaner. In a natural sense, you’ll want to have 2 cups of warm water, ½ cup of vinegar, ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol, and a few drops of dish soap.
  • Dry the tiles immediately after cleaning.

LVT Maintenance:

As mentioned a bit ago, LVT is one of the most comfortable floors to maintain and clean up because of its sleekness. It does not require anything special or extra to be successful in upkeep. The most you would need to do for vinyl flooring is a quick daily sweep and mop every so often. When the time is right, you need to replace it.

Impact On The Environment

Both tile and LVT make a significant impact on the environment. This is one of the biggest things to take into consideration while buying any flooring.

Ceramic Tile Environmental Impact:

One of the most suitable floors to recycle is tile, but you will need to provide your transportation to do this, as it is not so simple as someone comes out to get your old tile. Contact your local Household Waste Recycling Centre (HWRC) to see what all you can do. 

Furthermore, you can also do many other options with old tiles, especially if you are incredibly creative or artistic. Here are a few ways to maximize ceramic tiles, and even to sell, if you want to go that route as well:

  • Create tile coasters and placemats
  • Tile up a flower vase or plant stand.
  • Make a mosaic painting or drawing. 
  • Have a plant pot decorated with tile.
  • Mosaic tile magnets.

LVT Environmental Impact:

Unfortunately, most LVT floors are not so great for the environment. Many LVT floors are PVC, a heavy-duty plastic used for the wear layer, which allows the floors to be used for more than just a few months. 

PVC is tough to recycle because many places do not allow for this to happen due to not making enough financially, so check with your region to see if you can recycle LVT floors. 

They do not do so well with the surroundings because LVT floors release gasses into the air called VOCs, or volatile organic compounds when initially installed. It is not suitable for our overall health, especially if one is prone to respiratory issues.

Final Thought

In a nutshell, LVT and tile floors are excellent in both of their ways. They are both tough, mostly waterproof (due to the ceramic), reasonably easy to maintain, and have colossal heat resistant qualities. Besides that, both floors differ in their lifetime, general aesthetic, cost-effectiveness, and different fading from the sun. Now it is your turn to decide which would be better suited for you and your family!

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Hubert Miles

I've been conducting home inspections for 17 years. I'm a licensed Home Inspector, Certified Master Inspector (CMI), and FHA 203k Consultant. I started HomeInspectionInsider.com to help people better understand the home inspection process and answer questions about homeownership and home maintenance.

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