When searching for new flooring, you should consider luxury vinyl plank flooring (LVP) for your home. We look at the advantages and disadvantages of LVP flooring options. It’s important to note how vinyl plank flooring has evolved since the 1970s. Now, quality luxury vinyl plank flooring options can mimic hardwood beauty at a fraction of the cost of real hardwood floors.
There are numerous pros and cons of vinyl plank flooring. LVP flooring is one of the best flooring types due to its durability, easy installation, and how it looks similar to hardwood. One of the essential qualities is luxury vinyl flooring is waterproof. However, some disadvantages are the flooring can fade in direct sunlight, can be hard to uninstall, and has a lifespan of only 10 to 20 years.
Although there are advantages and disadvantages to every flooring you will get, vinyl plank flooring is one of the best to purchase for many reasons. At the end of this article, I am confident that you will have your mind made up whether or not vinyl plank flooring is right for your home. Now let us go more into detail on what I mean down below.
What is Vinyl Plank Flooring?
Vinyl plank flooring comes in long and narrow planks instead of square tiles or sheet vinyl. However, there is a couple of vinyl plank flooring to consider. Here is a rundown of what each one is:
- Luxury vinyl plank (LVP): LVP flooring is durable, making it pet and kid-friendly, and it is well suited for high-traffic areas. It consists of multiple layers of high-quality vinyl material, a realistic wood design layer, and a clear wear layer. The flooring planks are flexible and easy to install. They require no glue or padding underlayment and can be installed over virtually any existing floor surface (except carpet).
- Luxury vinyl tile (LVT): LVT flooring is made from the same material as LVP flooring but cut in squares and has a design layer to look like natural stone or ceramic tile.
- Stone Plastic Composite (SPC): SPC vinyl plank flooring is a vinyl product with the same qualities above. The main difference is that the rigid core is made from powdered limestone, polyvinyl chloride, and stabilizers. It is a click-type installation and does not require gluing, making it extremely easy to install and has become a popular choice over the years. SPC is similar to wood laminate flooring because of its rigid core.
Pros of Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring
First and foremost, let us get to the pros before reaching the cons. In my personal opinion, the pros heavily outweigh the cons but see for yourself why this is down below.
1. Looks Remarkably Similar to Real Wood Flooring
One of the best things that vinyl plank flooring has available to us is that it has the look of hardwood. Many professionals have a hard time knowing the difference between real wood and vinyl plank flooring at first glance.
With that being said, this is a huge reason why vinyl plank flooring is trendy. For many homeowners, solid hardwood flooring is no longer affordable. Some love natural hardwood floors but don’t like the maintenance that hardwood requires. Having beautiful floors that are easy to maintain is a unique feature of luxury vinyl flooring.
2. Luxury Vinyl is Extremely Affordable
Most people looking to profit from homes installing vinyl plank flooring are going straight on price. If you went with a traditional hardwood flooring option, you would spend three times as much money. However, wood flooring can last 100 years or more with proper care.
Wood-look vinyl planks are very family-friendly because of the base material. It is very forgiving of hard falls and accidents that the growing family always experiences. Depending on the vinyl flooring product, you can expect vinyl plank flooring to cost $2 to $12 per square foot. You can save on labor costs by installing it yourself. Otherwise, labor costs about $1.50 to $6 a square foot for professional installation.
3. It’s Affordable but Does Not Look Cheap
On top of vinyl plank floors looking the same as hardwood floors, they do not look cheap. This makes vinyl plank flooring even more of excellent addition to your home. These floors can mimic every piece of hardwood that has ever been made possible and even more than that.
Since luxury vinyl flooring uses a designer layer with a protective finish, you can customize the way your floors look. The only limit is what you can imagine to come up with stunning and creative floors.
4. Durable Floors Stands Up to Kids and Pets
If your current lifestyle is hectic, vinyl plank flooring is perfect for active kids and pets. Alongside being affordable, most vinyl plank flooring can last anywhere between 10 to 20 years if maintained properly. Its durability comes from its water-resistant properties and its ability to withstand how much wear-and-tear a typical family.
5. Resists Scratches, Dents, and Dings
Vinyl plank flooring is very much less susceptible to being scratched. This goes along with being durable, but the reason is the wear layer the company provides. Vinyl plank floors are made up of multiple layers for better protection over the floors.
The first layer is the clear protective layer, which makes it durable and helps with scuffs that may have occurred if you had hardwood floors. There are different thicknesses for the wear layers, usually 6, 12, 20, and 28 mils.
Just note that the thicker, the better. However, commercial properties should typically get a 28 mil due to heavier traffic, whereas homeowners should consider getting the 12 or 20 mil. I suggest that if you have a lighter traffic home, a 12 mil will do the job, whereas a 20 mil wear layer will be much more durable in a busy household.
6. Known for its Waterproof Qualities
Another remarkable quality of vinyl plank flooring is its waterproof vinyl planks prevent water damage to wood subfloors in wet areas. It’s a great choice inside the laundry room, bathrooms, kitchen, and other areas that could get wet such as a foyer or mudroom.
The difference boils down to what kind of cosmetic products you want for that area, but the definitive difference will be merely aesthetic. They’re both going to be water-resistant products that can withstand the test of time and whatever water exposure may be in the area.
7. Does Not Need An Underlayment
Many floors need underlayment to keep moisture out between the subfloor and the flooring. However, vinyl plank flooring does not need this—the reason is that they come with an underlayment on the planks themselves.
On the contrary, this does not necessarily mean that you cannot have one if you wish to have an underlayment. There are many specific underlays specifically geared towards vinyl plank flooring. Just make sure you find one that suits your floor needs.
8. Even Novice DIYers Can Install Luxury Vinyl
In short, vinyl plank flooring is one of the most straightforward installations you can do, especially if you are going with the floating floor system. Although there are many steps, the most important thing to ensure is that you leave 1/4th of an inch between the floors and the walls to ensure no buckling occurs later.
If you choose to do it yourself, look at all of the instructions beforehand to ensure the proper precautions are made.
9. Messes Are Effortless Cleaning Up
One of the best qualities of vinyl plank flooring is a simple fact that it is effortless to clean up. You need to do a quick sweep every day with either a broom or damp mop 2 to 4 times a month with apple cider vinegar or vinyl-safe cleaner to ensure a more refined finish.
One of the better ways to maintain cleanliness is to buy a Swiffer or Libman to make your cleaner. If you wish to go this route, make the solution by adding 1/4ths of apple cider vinegar, and 3/4ths of water with a few drops of dish soap to ensure a much more clean finish. Not only is it better for the environment and the floors, but making this mixture is extremely affordable.
10. Can Be Removed Then Reinstalled
Since many homeowners decide to loose-lay their floors or use the floating floor system, vinyl plank flooring can be removed and reinstalled again with this system. Although these floors are relatively inexpensive, they can save you even more money in the long run.
You lay the vinyl planks instead of gluing them down, making them extremely easy to pick up out of the subflooring. If you are worried about them not staying on the floor, know that it is much harder to move on the ground due to their underlayment beneath the planks.
11. Luxury Vinyl is Comfortable to Walk On
Vinyl plank flooring is not carpet, but it will do very nicely on your feet. Thanks to the underlayment installed underneath each plank, your feet will be the best part of your body that will benefit from the flooring.
If you choose to have concrete as a subfloor, it will be best to install underlayment for better protection over your feet, but this is still deemed unnecessary. Not only this, an underlayment retains potential moisture from the concrete to the floor to enter and keeps the flooring even if the subfloor happens to be uneven.
Cons of Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring
Almost everything good always has something negative to them, especially regarding different home appliances brands. There are some things that homeowners may not be looking for in a particular flooring type, so we must go over all of the rights and wrongs of vinyl plank flooring.
1. Fading can Occur in Direct Sunlight
Over time, vinyl plank floors fade in direct sunlight. This news is most certainly one you do not want to hear. Some vinyl plank flooring companies offer UV rays sun protection, but even the provided shielding is not good enough given enough time, but it certainly does help.
Although this may be an issue later on in its lifetime, it does not necessarily mean that it can be redeemable in some aspects. There are a few things that you can do, such as:
- Put large rugs in front of large windows.
- Place large furniture where the sun will hit the most.
- Install blinds and curtains in your windows.
- Keep the blinds closed.
2. Not Good for the Environment
The biggest problem that vinyl plank flooring has is that it is not suitable for the environment. The reason being is quite a few reasons. The first reason is that vinyl plank floors are made of heavy-duty plastic called PVC, or polyvinyl chloride. PVC is essentially a synthetic thermoplastic material used in many products within your homes, such as pipes, wall coverings, and sidings of the doors.
Why is this dangerous? Because it causes a lot of harm to humans, such as weakening the heart muscles and may develop heart rhythm muscles. However, you can look for vinyl plank flooring that contains non-toxic brands. If you are unsure which route to take, I suggest looking into Cali Bamboo flooring, known for its green products, or Mannington’s, certified as a low-VOC vinyl flooring.
You now may be wondering what VOCs are. This stands for volatile organic compounds, which discharge gasses into the air after initially being installed and can last up to months after installation. This is not good, especially for those people who have asthma or respiratory issues.
3. Luxury Vinyl is Hard to Recycle
On top of having heavy plastic and containing toxic gasses, it is tough to recycle vinyl plank flooring. Just note that it is possible but rare to do. Because these floors are not reusable in the long run, this can cause a massive issue in the environment, causing more landfills, especially as time goes on.
In recent years, the entire world has been working together to make the environment a much safer place by eliminating many unauthentic products within our homes. Something vinyl flooring companies can work on is making them more environmentally friendly. Although they have many excellent qualities, you must ask yourself if it is worth getting due to this issue.
Many homeowners still recycle their vinyl floors, making it anywhere between 50 to 100 million pounds of recycled vinyl. However, each year’s recycled material makes it only 1/3rd of 1% of PVC building materials produced each year. Check if your region has PVC recycling available, as they do not offer it everywhere due to it not being a steady flow of profit.
4. Luxury Vinyl may be Hard to Remove
There are two types of flooring in terms of putting them in, one is by being a floating floor system and the other using adhesive, there is only one installation that is hard to remove.
Assuming you use adhesive to install your flooring, it can be extremely difficult to uninstall. The glue you used is likely heavy-duty, making sense as it is not easy to pull up.
If you are wondering what the best way to pry up vinyl plank flooring, here are some quick and easy steps to show:
- Using a utility knife, make a deep cut into the center of the floor, and create an opening with a putty knife.
- With the metal blade part of the floor scraper, you will insert it into the floor and make a 30-degree angle from the floor. Then, force the blade into the plank and the subfloor opening.
- Lastly, grip the end of the plank with your hands to take it out of the floor.
- Keep doing this with the floor scraper while ensuring not to dig too deep into the subfloor, as this may damage it.
- With vinyl planks that are hard to get out of, it is best to use warm water to soften the adhesive to pull them up.
5. May Get Dented from Heavy Furniture
As we have learned earlier, vinyl plank flooring is highly durable. While it is durable, it’s not impervious to damage. Vinyl plank flooring can get dents or be badly damaged, so individual damaged planks may need to be replaced.
As we learned earlier, although vinyl plank flooring is extremely durable, it can still make an indentation in it. I have vinyl plank flooring and have noticed dented spots under the stove and heavy furniture, such as the couch or recliner, so beware of those things before purchasing.
There are a couple of ways to remedy this issue, but know that if it does not work or the dent is too bad, it may be time to call your contractor, replace the entire plank, or keep it the way it is.
- Properly clean the area with soap and warm water.
- Heat the area with a blow dryer. Make sure it is not too hot.
- Roll it out with a seam roller.
- Clean the area with soap and warm water.
- Heat a clothing iron on the cotton setting.
- As the iron heats up, grab a towel, damp it up, and place it over the dented area.
- Afterward, take the iron and hover it over the towel covering for roughly 2 to 3 minutes. Make sure not to place it directly on the towel.
6. Luxury Vinyl Can’t Be Repaired Or Refinished
The majority of the time that vinyl plank flooring is damaged can be because you somehow scratched the floors. The scratch could have been anything, from a nail that fell to moving furniture without any pads underneath.
The downfall is that it cannot be repaired if the scratch is deep enough and will need to be replaced. Nevertheless, there is a way that you can improve the floors if the scuff that was made is not as bad as it seems. Here is how:
- First, use a mixture of soap and warm water, then clean the floor thoroughly. For deep cleaning, use a sponge to get the nitty-gritty out. Ensure the entire floor is clean with soap and water, then allow it to dry before anything else.
- Gently sand the scratched area with 320 grit sandpaper, then finish it off with 500 grit and 800 grit for a smoother finish.
- After making sure the area is soft and smooth, wash it with soap and water again, then allow it to air dry before moving on to the last step.
- You will wax the floor with a buffing agent or car wax in this final step. Use a soft cloth to buff the waxed area for a shiny finish. It is important to note that you will have to reapply the wax every few months as it wears off in the flooring area.
7. Material Quality Can Be Inconsistent
There are many vinyl plank flooring companies out there, and some companies are just not very good. This is often due to not using high-quality vinyl during production. It is imperative to ensure you do your research before buying any vinyl floors, ensuring you get the best quality possible. I have Shaw and do not have any issues with it. I love how durable and easy to clean they are.
It is crucial to do your research before buying any vinyl floors. Some of the best quality flooring aside from Shaw are COREtec and Mohawk.
There have been issues reported with some Armstrong flooring products. You can read about those here.
Is Luxury Vinyl Flooring Worth it?
Although some people may prefer vinyl plank flooring over real wood, the fact remains that it’s not real hardwood. They may look and feel natural, but this will never change. Not only that, but vinyl plank floors do not last nearly as much as hardwood does, which can last hundreds of years with proper protection and care.
Hardwood also carries a much higher resale value over LVP. You should expect to replace LVP when the protective layer wears out, which occurs within 7 to 12 years, depending on foot traffic.
However, there are many ways you can continue to keep your floors in top-notch shapes, such as:
- If possible, create lower traffic. Some households may not be able to do this due to being extremely busy, but don’t worry, there are other ways.
- Clean up spills reasonably quickly. Although vinyl flooring is waterproof, it does not necessarily mean that water can slip through the cracks, causing mold to form underneath the planks themselves. One way to avoid this issue is not allowing the small pool of water to linger on top of the floors.
- Sweep up dirt, grime, and old food. If food gets older, it more than likely becomes hardened, leaving a higher chance of potential scratches available due to these things. A quick sweep once a day is more than enough to keep the floors in better shape.
- Keep furniture pads underneath any appliances or furnishing.
- When moving furniture, lift the heavy-duty movable items off the floor.
- Use a cleaner specifically designed for vinyl plank flooring.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is LVP Better than Laminate?
Both LVP and Laminate have their pros and cons. Laminate tends to be more durable than LVP. LVP is a softer vinyl material that can dent easier than laminate. Rigid core vinyl plank flooring can stand up to dents better than LVP. However, LVP is more family-friendly and is waterproof, whereas laminate is not.
Does LVP Scratch Easily?
LVP is more scratch-resistant than the hardwood but not more so than the laminate. Because LVP is softer and has a protective layer, it has proven to resist scratching better than hardwood or engineered wood flooring. Laminate is a click-lock flooring product with a protective coating making it more scratch-resistant than both LVP and wood flooring.
Is a 12 Mil Wear Layer Good?
It’s best to have a wear layer of 12 MIL or 20 MIL in active households. A product’s wear layer is more durable the more MILs it has. A 12 MIL is a medium-grade wear layer and will have a longer warranty than a 6 MIL layer. A 6 or 12 MIL product will work for your home, but not in a business where heavy foot traffic exists. A 20 MIL product works well in a home and business.
Can You Mop Vinyl Plank Flooring?
You can use a damp mop vinyl plank flooring. While LVP is waterproof, you shouldn’t use a wet mop on the flooring as it can be slippery. You can use a special floor cleaner for LVP or a homemade cleaner of white vinegar and hot water. Vinegar cuts through tough dirt and grime quickly and dries streak-free. Don’t use ammonia or bleach, as it can leave a cloudy film on the flooring.
Can You Use PineSol on LVP Flooring?
It’s OK to use Pine-Sol Multi-Surface Cleaner on vinyl plank flooring, whether it’s Original Pine-Sol or Scented Pine-Sol. Pine-Sols formulation is safe to use as a vinyl floor cleaner and disinfectant for your home.
Can You Use Swiffer WetJet on Luxury Vinyl Flooring?
You can safely use a Swiffer WetJet on luxury vinyl flooring. The Swiffer WetJet cleaning solution is safe to use on LVP flooring, and the spinning pads won’t damage the surface during cleaning. The solution doesn’t contain harsh chemicals, dries quickly, and doesn’t leave a residue behind.
Can You Put Heavy Furniture on Vinyl Plank Flooring?
Yes, you can. A single vinyl plank can hold up to 500 pounds in weight, so you can go with the reassurance that if you want to place a new refrigerator, there should be no issues doing so. Again, remember that it may be best to lift the heavy appliances while moving them instead of wheeling them in. However, if you are gluing your floor down, it should not be much of a problem in this case.
Can You Use 2 Layers of Underlay Under Vinyl Flooring?
We don’t recommend using an underlayment beneath vinyl plank flooring. Vinyl plank flooring doesn’t require an underlayment pad. After all, it can hinder the locking system because it is too soft. Since vinyl plank floors have an underlayment installed beneath them anyways, it would be much better to only use one pad beneath the surface instead of multiple layers.
Overall, there are many advantages and disadvantages to vinyl plank flooring. In summary, vinyl plank flooring’s main qualities are waterproof, looks very similar to hardwood, and can withstand a hefty amount of punishment.
Do all of the research required before purchasing the best vinyl plank flooring before going forward. Now that you know all there is to see, you can go with the confidence of knowing if these are the floors for you or not!