Vinyl Flooring 101

Vinyl flooring used to get a bad rap for being a cheap, lower-quality flooring option. Today, vinyl has reclaimed its popularity in residential settings due to its durability, versatility, and affordability. 

Types of Vinyl Flooring

Types of Vinyl Flooring

Luxury Vinyl Plank

Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) replicates the appearance of hardwood planks. LVP offers wood’s visual appeal while providing vinyl’s durability and water resistance.

Luxury vinyl planks are available in different plank sizes, textures, and finishes to achieve your desired wood look. Professionals install LVP using glue-down, click-lock, or loose-lay methods.

Sheet Vinyl

Sheet vinyl is a continuous roll of flooring material often available in 6 to 15-foot widths. Installation involves cutting the sheet to fit the room dimensions and adhering it to the subfloor.

Sheet vinyl features a seamless appearance, as it can be installed without visible seams. It provides excellent water resistance in bathrooms and kitchens.

Luxury Vinyl Tile

Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) is a premium vinyl flooring with high-quality aesthetics and enhanced durability. LVT comes in tile or plank formats and designs with realistic textures and patterns.

It features advanced wear layers and protective coatings for resistance against scratches, stains, and wear. LVT has various installation methods, including glue-down, click-lock, or loose lay.

Wood Plastic Composite Vinyl

Wood Plastic Composite vinyl flooring comprises a core layer of wood and plastic or wood flour and thermoplastic polymers. The composite core adds stability, rigidity, and durability to the flooring.

Perks of Vinyl Flooring

  • Durability: Vinyl withstands heavy foot traffic, making it suitable for residential and commercial applications.
  • Moisture resistance: Vinyl is an excellent choice for moisture-prone areas. It withstands spills, pet accidents, and moisture without warping or damage.
  • Aesthetic options: Vinyl flooring has various styles, designs, and colors. Its versatility allows you to achieve the desired aesthetic for your space.
  • Easy maintenance: The flooring only requires regular sweeping or vacuuming and occasional damp mopping.
  • Cheaper: Vinyl flooring is cheaper than hardwood or natural stone. It provides a cost-effective alternative without compromising on appearance or quality.

Downsides of Vinyl Flooring

  • Poor air quality: Vinyl flooring emits volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are respiratory irritants.
  • Prone to color fading: Exposure to the sun causes discoloration and UV damage.

Considerations Before Choosing Vinyl Flooring

Room Suitability and Traffic

Heavy foot traffic rooms need vinyl flooring that withstands frequent use and wear and tear. Vinyl options with a thick wear layer provide better resistance against scratches, scuffs, and indentations.

Bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and basements have frequent exposure to moisture. Install water-resistant or waterproof vinyl flooring for such areas.

Thickness and Wear Layer

The thickness of vinyl flooring ranges from around 2 mm to 8 mm or more. Thicker options in the 5 mm to 8 mm range are more resilient and long-lasting.

The wear layer is the topmost protective coating of the vinyl flooring. It’s often made of clear PVC or polyurethane, and its thickness is measured in mils. One mil equals 0.001 inches.

A thicker wear layer protects against damage and extends the floor’s lifespan. A wear layer thickness of 12-20 mils (0.3-0.5 mm) is suitable for residential applications.

Installation Type

Sheet vinyl requires professional installation due to the complexity of cutting and fitting large sheets. Other options, like vinyl tiles or planks with click-lock systems, are suitable for DIYers.

Subfloor Preparation

Assess the condition of the subfloor where the vinyl flooring will be installed. Ensure it’s clean, level, and free of moisture or structural issues. Certain subfloor preparations may be necessary depending on the type of vinyl flooring.

Budget Considerations

Determine your budget for the flooring project, including materials, installation, and any extra costs. Vinyl flooring is available at different prices, making it easy to narrow your options.

Vinyl Flooring Care and Maintenance

Proper care and maintenance extend the life and appearance of your vinyl flooring. Here are some essential tips for maintaining vinyl flooring:

  • Regular cleaning: Regular sweeping or vacuuming removes loose dirt, dust, and debris. This prevents scratching and keeps the floor looking clean. Ensure you use a vinyl-suitable vacuum with a soft brush attachment to avoid damage.
  • Damp mopping: Periodic damp mopping removes stubborn dirt and stains. Use a mild, pH-neutral cleaner formulated for vinyl flooring. Avoid using abrasive cleaners, ammonia-based products, or harsh chemicals, as they may damage the floor’s surface.
  • Spill cleanup: Clean up spills as they occur to prevent staining or damage. Use a soft cloth or sponge and mild detergent to wipe away the spill. Avoid letting liquids sit on the floor for an extended period.
  • Avoid excessive water: While vinyl flooring is water-resistant, excessive water may seep between the seams or edges and cause damage. Wring the mop or cloth well to avoid excessive moisture when mopping.
  • Furniture protection: Place protective pads or felt under furniture legs to prevent scratching and indentations. When moving heavy furniture, use a dolly or lift it instead of dragging it across the vinyl floor.
  • Sunlight protection: When exposed to direct sunlight, vinyl flooring fades or discolors over time. Use curtains, blinds, or UV-protective window films to prevent fading.
  • Periodic maintenance: Some vinyl flooring types may need periodic maintenance, such as buffing or applying finish. Refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines for specific recommendations

Vinyl vs. Hardwood Flooring

Vinyl flooring comprises synthetic materials such as PVC or a composite of PVC and other additives. In contrast, hardwood flooring is made from solid or engineered wood, offering a natural, authentic look.

Vinyl vs. Laminate Flooring

Vinyl flooring consists of synthetic materials, such as PVC or a composite of PVC. Laminate flooring consists of a layered construction with a fiberboard core. It has a printed image layer mimicking wood or other materials and a protective wear layer.

Choose laminate over vinyl flooring for a more realistic wood or stone appearance.