Have you ever wondered what luxury vinyl plank really is?
Maybe you've heard some of the buzz about it: like how's it the latest and greatest flooring material. Or maybe how it holds up well in families for spill-proof and scratch resistance characteristics.
But, is it really the right flooring product for you, your home and budget?
If that's the question you're seeking, I'm here to help.
I’m going to tell you everything you need to know about luxury vinyl plank flooring so you can feel confident when making the decision on your next flooring purchase.
Welcome to the ultimate guide to buying luxury vinyl plank flooring for your home!
In this article, I’m going to cover a lot of information about luxury vinyl plank including:
Cost of LVP (material)
Ready? Let’s get started!
What is LVP?
LVP is the acronym for Luxury Vinyl Plank. That’s a lot of syllables, so that’s why most people call it LVP for short. LVP is a type of wood-looking plank flooring that is, in part, made from vinyl. Vinyl is basically plastic, and they use a similar compound of hard PVC plastic. (Like other durable construction materials such as PVC drain pipes.)
Luxury vinyl flooring is an extremely durable, resilient flooring that holds up well to scratches, dents, and is 100% waterproof.
With many design features available, LVP can give the appearance of real wood, oftentimes with less overall costs, better resiliency, and easier maintenance and cleanup.
Because of this, we are seeing more and more homeowners opt for LVP over wood flooring. Because of its durability, easy care, and 100% waterproof qualities, LVP is often the choice material for households that include kids and pets. But honestly, who doesn’t like easy clean up?
Types of LVP
There are a few types of LVP including loose-lay, glue-down, click and lock, and those with a rigid core.
Loose-lay is probably the least used. It was developed to lay easily over the top of subfloors that have some wonkiness to them. (Yes, I consider wonkiness a technical term. 😉) However, in my experience, I’ve found that while they do layover imperfections because the planks are flexible, they tend to move and shift, so I don’t advise clients to use this type.
Glue-down is a type of LVP, typically thinner in overall thickness and describes the method of installation. Yep, you guessed it, it's glued down. Typically this is used for commercial applications over very flat concrete floors because it can show imperfections in the subfloors due to it's relative thinness and flexibility.
Click and Lock is the most common, and it avoids having boards pull apart from one another because they are all interconnected. Installers like them, too, because they are easier to put together.
You’ll also hear the term “floated floor.” A floated floor means your floor hasn’t been glued or stapled down.
In a floated floor installation, all the boards have clicked together like one giant puzzle and are laid on top of your subfloor, without any glue or staples holding them together or down to the subfloor. Baseboards secure the edges, but more on that later.
Rigid core LVP will always be a click and lock installation system. But not all click and lock are rigid core. (Like all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares.)
Basically, click and lock defines how they are constructed/installed, but they can be flexible or rigid. LVPs that are simple click and lock without any core tend to be the least expensive of the click together LVPs out there. However, they can also show tiny imperfections of your subfloor easily, so additional prep work (a.k.a. cost) may need to be done prior to laying down the planks.
Rigid core luxury vinyl is vinyl that has been mounted on some type of solid material. Rigid core LVP avoids minor imperfections in the subfloor because the vinyl is on a solid, perfectly flat base. LVP that has a rigid core is by far the most popular choice, and what most manufacturers focus on producing.
For this article, when I am talking about LVP, I am referring to rigid core LVP, but I want you to know what other ones do exist out there. It’s helpful to know the other types because if you see a 99 cent special at Lumber Liquidators (now called LL flooring), I can pretty much guarantee that it’s going to be the flimsy stuff that’s going to cause you more headaches than the savings are worth. You definitely get what you pay for.
LVP vs. LVT
LVP is short for Luxury Vinyl Plank and LVT is short for Luxury Vinyl Tile. The plank version will be just that: planks.
These are shaped in long plank forms to mimic the style of wood. Planks can range anywhere from 5” to 12” widths and most commonly 48” long, but there are extra long versions on the market, too. The extra long lengths look spectacular in open plan homes.
LVT is shaped and designed to look like tile. Oftentimes, these are 12” x 24” tiles that interlock just like the planks, but will look like tile. They come in a variety of options that look like ceramic tile, concrete, and stone.
If you are looking for LVT specifically (in a kitchen or bathroom for example), I highly recommend that you select a product that has a clearly defined beveled edge.
A beveled edge will show a distinct border to each tile piece when connected. Without a beveled edge, the tiles will have a more blended look when connected together on your floor. That results in looking more like vinyl sheet or linoleum flooring, which might be exactly what you’re trying to get rid of!
Luxury vinyl tile that has a beveled edge will look more realistic because it will look grouted. Seeing a grout line between each tile is crucial in my book, so just a heads up on that. (I'll be talking more about edge details later, too!)
LVP vs. Laminate
LVP and laminate are terms that get thrown around interchangeably often in this industry, but they are not the same thing.
Luxury vinyl plank is a completely different product than laminate flooring. Yes, they both are planks. Yes, they both look like wood. But that’s about where the similarities stop.
Like I mentioned before, LVP is completely and 100% waterproof. Laminate is not.
Now, before I get a bunch of comments telling me that I’m crazy because Home Depot clearly sells waterproof laminate, let me explain more about what “waterproof” really means.
Before I go into detail, let me ask you, what does "waterproof" mean to you? Or better yet, under what circumstances would you want a waterproof floor?