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Vinyl Plank Flooring Review

Vinly plank flooring is budget-friendly, comes in lots of styles, and looks great. Is it the right choice for your home? Today we’ll look through the pros, cons, costs, installation, and more in our comprehensive vinyl plank flooring review.

Let’s dive in!

Vinyl flooring

Pros

  • Moisture resistant. With the exception of weaknesses at seams, vinyl flooring is very resistant to moisture. Check with the manufacturer; some are even are listed as 100% waterproof.
  • Easy to install. Vinyl flooring can be installed as a floating floor (directly over the existing floor without adhesive), as a peel-n-stick floor, or using traditional adhesives. It’s lightweight and easy to cut for varying floor situations.
  • Affordable. Vinyl flooring is inexpensive compared to other higher end look-alike finishes, like traditional hardwoods or porcelain tile. Material costs generally fall between $3-6/sf.

Cons

  • Cannot be repaired. Vinyl flooring is durable, but if it is damage, it basically cannot be repaired. The entire plank or tile would need to be replaced. This can be especially troublesome for sheet vinyl installations.
  • May emit harmful VOCs. Because vinyl flooring is 100% plastic, there may be fumes associated with the installation, especially when the product is new. As it acclimates to the environment, the odor should wear off.
  • Shorter lifespan. A good wood floor can last upwards of 25-50 years or longer with proper maintenance. Even with excellent maintenance, vinyl flooring is only designed to last 10-20 years before the wear layer will start to erode.

Price (per sf.)

$2-8

Ease of Install

Easy

Lifespan (years)

10-15

Table of Contents

  1. Appearance
  2. Durability
  3. Care & Maintenance
  4. Application
  5. Vinyl Plank vs. Tile vs. Sheet
  6. Cost
  7. Sizes
  8. Install
  9. Moisture
  10. Pets
  11. Sound
  12. Eco-Friendly
  13. Top Brands

1. Appearance

I like to say that vinyl flooring is the chameleon of designer flooring, because it can take on the look of so many different materials. Vinyl flooring can look like:

  • Wood
  • Ceramic tile
  • Porcelain tile
  • Natural stone
  • Marble
  • Concrete
  • Brick

…I’m sure you catch my drift. It is inexpensive and can give you the look of a designer floor, without the designer price tag.

Shaw vinyl plank flooring
Source: Shaw Flooring

Vinyl flooring is built-up using 4 distinct layers:

  1. Wear layer: this is the protective top coating that prevents scratches and helps protect the floor from wear and even protection from moderate water damage.
  2. Image layer: printed image; a high quality image will have exceptional resolution and minimal repeat. The realism of the image will determine the overall realism of the entire faux floor.
  3. PVC layer: contains the layers of PVC plastic that creates the flexible core of vinyl flooring
  4. Back layer: provides a strong foundation with more dense materials for easier install
Vinyl plank vs. laminate : What's it made of?
Vinyl plank vs. laminate : What’s it made of?

RELATED: Vinyl Plank vs. Laminate

2. Durability

Unlike cheaper alternative flooring, vinyl flooring is actually quite durable. It has quite a few advantages, in terms of durability.

Vinyl flooring is resistant to:

  • Scratches
  • Dents
  • Cracks
  • Moisture (seamless vinyls are fully waterproof)
How durable are vinyl floors?

If vinyl flooring had a kryptonite, it would be excess moisture. If water makes its way through the seams of standard vinyl tile, the moisture can cause warping of the planks or adhesive failure.

Of course, this is not something that you’ll have to worry about if the manufacturer states that their tile is 100% waterproof, just make sure that applies to the seams as well.

QUOTE Get an instant professional quote for your flooring project here.

3. Care & Maintenance

Proper care and maintenance of vinyl flooring really just comes down to:

  • Surface cleaning — Use a broom or robot vacuum to dry sweep debris off the floor
  • Damp mopping — Use a mop to gentle scrub away sticky spills, dried mud, or other large messes.
How to clean vinyl plank and laminate flooring
How to clean vinyl plank flooring

Can you repair vinyl flooring?

The short answer is no. Unlike traditional hardwoods, which could be sanded and refinished, there’s really no way to repair vinyl flooring.

If you install vinyl plank flooring, there may be potential to rip out the damaged plank and install a new plank (if you had surplus at install).

But keep in mind, if you go this route, you may end up damaging surrounding planks in the process and may need to replace more than one plank.

4. Application

Vinyl flooring is mainly recommended in common areas, bedrooms, entry rooms, or circulation spaces.

Some vinyl flooring is 100% waterproof. If you go with a waterproof vinyl, you could also use it in a kitchen, bathroom, or laundry area.

100% waterproof vinyl
100% waterproof vinyl

Standard vinyl plank flooring is installed with seams between planks. These seams are points of weakness where water or moisture can enter and cause the planks to warp.

RELATED: 12 Best Flooring Types for Your Home

Want vinyl with less seams?

Consider seamless sheet vinyl. This vinyl is sold on rolls (generally 12′ wide) and creates a stronger flooring, without seams. Many sheet vinyl mat still have the “look” of seams between planks or grout lines between tiles, for aesthetics.

Want vinyl with strong seams?

Consider click-together planks. As the name sounds, these planks “click together” but having small overlaps on the top and bottom of the plank.

The overlap is designed to help prevent moisture from leaking into the underlayment and damaging the substrate.

“click together” vinyl plank flooring

5. Vinyl Plank vs. Tile vs. Sheet

Vinyl planks, vinyl tile, and vinyl sheets are the 3 most common types of vinyl on the market. Each has their purpose and what they are best for.

Below we’re going to compare these 3 vinyl types in a vinyl plank vs. tile vs. sheet side-by-side comparison.

Vinyl Plank

  • Best for wood-look
  • Easy install
  • Most seams

Vinyl Tile

  • Best for tile or stone look
  • Easy install
  • More seams

Vinyl Sheet

  • More difficult install
  • Most waterproof
  • Less seams

6. Cost

Vinyl flooring is almost always going to be the cheaper alternative to installing the traditional floor that the vinyl is mimicking. That means that vinyl is cheaper than most wood floors, tile floors, concrete floors, etc.

Vinyl plank flooring will run you between $2-8/installed.

As general notes:

  • Sheet vinyl is usually a little cheaper than vinyl planks or tiles.
  • Vinyl with a more realistic / higher resolution printed image will generally cost more.
  • Wood-look vinyl planks are generally more expensive than standard 12×12″ vinyl tile.

QUOTE Get an instant professional quote for your flooring project here.

7. Sizes

Vinyl Plank vs. Laminate: Flooring Sizes
Vinyl flooring – sizes

Vinyl flooring comes in three standard sizes:

  1. Tile: Vinyl tile includes and any square or rectangular pre-cut piece of vinyl flooring, ready for install. Popular sizes include 12×12″, 12×18″, or 12×24″.
  2. Plank: Vinyl plank flooring is most popular for wood-look vinyl, as traditional wood floors are usually installed in long, linear planks as well. Popular sizes for vinyl plank flooring is usually around 6×36″, give or take a few inches depending on the style.
  3. Sheet: Vinyl sheet flooring is sold on a roll and helps provide a seamless installation, for better protection from moisture. Vinyl sheet rolls are typically around 12′ wide.

8. Install

One of the most attractive features of vinyl flooring is the easy install. It is easy to install for DIYers and professionals alike.

Vinyl flooring can be installed in 3 different ways.

  1. Floating — In floating flooring installations, the underlayment is attached to the tile or plank and you can lay it directly over existing flooring (as long as the floor is solid and flat).
  2. Peel-n-stick — The adhesives for install are already attached to the vinyl. Simply peel it off and stick it down. This method is easy for DIY installers.
  3. Click-tight — Some vinyls also have a “click tight” base, which allows the edges of the tiles or planks to overlap slightly and “click” together when fully installed. This overlap of material makes it a little more resistant to moisture.
How to install vinyl plank and laminate flooring
How to install vinyl plank flooring

Vinyl flooring can be cut with a utility knife pretty easily, which means you don’t need to have access to a lot of fancy tools.

NOTE: Sheet vinyl can be a little awkward to work with if you’re not a professional, due to its size so if you’re not confident in your instillation abilities, it may be better to stick with tiles or planks.

9. Moisture

As mentioned above some, but not all vinyl flooring is 100% waterproof. If it’s not waterproof, you may need to worry about moisture seeping into the seams between the tiles or planks.

Vinyl flooring that is less susceptible to moisture damage includes:

  • Sheet vinyl — sold off of a 12′ wide roll
  • “Click” together vinyl planks
  • Vinyl noted “100% waterproof” by the manufacturer

10. Pets

For families with pets, vinyl flooring is an excellent choice. Here’s how it competes against all of the most common issues for pet owners.

House cleaning with a dog
How durable is vinyl for pets?
  • Scratches: Vinyl flooring is considered scratch resistant, thanks to the durable top layer. To minimize the appearance of scuffs and other signs of pet traffic, consider opting for a low gloss vinyl vs. a traditional higher gloss floor.
  • Pet Odor: The top wear layer of vinyl flooring is non-porous and does not harbor pet odors, like traditional carpet would.
  • Accidents: Wet accidents or spills from pets are also not a big issue for vinyl floors. Vinyl is moisture resistant and generally not prone to significant water damage, especially from something small like a pet accident.

QUOTE Get an instant professional quote for your flooring project here.

11. Sound

Vinyl flooring falls somewhere in the middle when it comes to sound absorbency.

It will not echo or reverberate as much as hardwood or tile floors. However it will bounce more sound than a carpeted room, for example.

RELATED Cheapest way to soundproof a room

12. Eco-Friendly

The short answer here is yes and no. Let me explain why.

Is vinyl eco-friendly?

No. Because vinyl flooring is made mostly of oil and chlorine. Cheap vinyl can have an odor to it or experience some “off gassing” after install, while it acclimates to the environment.

Is it Eco-Friendly?

But also…

Yes. No trees were cut down to produce that wood-look vinyl flooring.

Vinyl is a synthetic man-made material made of ethylene (found in crude oil) and chlorine (found in regular salt), which turns into Polyvinyl Chloride (aka: PVC resin), when processed. Environmental resources are not used to create this man-made flooring and vinyl can be recycled, melted down, and reused.

Top Brands of Vinyl Plank

Shaw Flooring

Shaw Flooring provides a range of colors and texture of vinyl plank flooring, including many that are waterproof.

Shaw vinyl flooring
Image Source: Shaw

BEST: For a waterproof vinyl plank in 16 different colors, check out Shaw’s Uptown Collection.

Armstrong Flooring

For a variety between wood-look and stone tile vinyl, check out Armstrong. They also have a wide variety and are an approved vendor of residential or commercial-grade vinyl flooring.

Image Source: Armstrong

BEST: For the quickest DIY install, check out Armstong’s vinyl plank collections with FastTak install. This peel-n-stick method requires no adhesives or glues.

Mannington

Mannington offers a wide range of colors, styles and patterns — specializing in seamless vinyl sheet flooring. Sheet flooring can be installed with fewer seams, making it a better option for wet applications, like bathrooms, kitchens or laundry spaces.

Image Source: Mannington

BEST: For on-trend looks like hexagon, marble accents, and ornate art deco or filigree patterns, check out Mannington’s Revive Collection.

Still have questions?

You can get a pricing quote from professional installers and contractors local to your area here.

Drop us a comment down below and we’d be glad to point you in the right direction of a vinyl flooring solution that meets your needs.

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