Luxury Vinyl Flooring

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Luxury Vinyl Flooring

Many clients are interested in luxury vinyl flooring (LVF) for their bathrooms, kitchen, and living areas.  They have seen LVF in the homes of their neighbors, friends and family and it looks nice.  It’s being installed rapidly across orange county as an inexpensive replacement for carpet and tile.  Retailers such as Home Depot, Lowes, Floor & Decore, Costco, and the internet advertise LFV as the perfect alternative to expensive wood floors, hard tile, and stained carpet.

Luxury Vinyl FlooringPart of my job as your Contractor is to provide important and valuable information on building and remodeling materials.  Let’s look deeper into LVF.

In the 1970’s the first vinyl plank flooring (VPF) was introduced to the market.  These are made of vinyl but cut into planks designed to look like wood. It was a durable, cheap alternative to real hardwood flooring.  Although hardwood continues to dominate home flooring and remains at the top of the podium, many folks are looking for a cheaper alternative.  VPF was an alternative, but most definitely did not even closely resemble hardwood flooring.

It was not until the mid-2000’s that the popularity of LVF took off.  Due to improvements in technology and the manufacturing process, LVF now almost resembled a real wood floor.  It is relatively cheap since it is made from composite materials.  This made it affordable and accessible to more consumers.  LVF does not accumulate dust particles.  It is durable, making it resilient and not prone to scratching or scuffing.

Is there a difference between Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) and Luxury Vinyl Flooring (LVF)?

Luxury Vinyl Flooring (LVF) consists of two products.  These are Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) and Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP). LVT and LVP are two different types of luxury vinyl flooring.  LVT is vinyl flooring designed in a tile shape, whereas LVP is vinyl flooring designed in planks to resemble traditional hardwood floor planks.

Luxuary Vinyl Flooring (LVF)
Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT)Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP)

LVP is often referred to as Vinyl Plank Flooring (VPF) and Luxury Vinyl Floor (LVF).

Many clients confuse LVF for LVP.  This is how estimates get misunderstood and incorrectly calculated.  It’s very important to be clear on the type of LVF you want – LVT or LVP.

Luxury vinyl planks (LVP) are usually designed to simulate the look of wood.  Luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) are usually designed to simulate stone or ceramic tiles.

What is the difference between standard vinyl and luxury vinyl flooring?

Luxury vinyl feels somewhat softer underfoot and has better sound-blocking properties than standard vinyl flooring.  It is a thicker product. This is especially true of luxury vinyl with cork or foam underlayment layers built into the product.

Both look very similar.  Below are pictures of both.  Notice that the luxury vinyl flooring looks more like a wood floor.  The standard vinyl flooring resembles a wood floor; however, it clearly does not look like a wood floor like luxury vinyl.

Standard Vinyl FlooringLuxury Vinyl Flooring
Standard Vinyl FlooringLuxury Vinyl Flooring

Regardless of the cost, style, type, and quality of the vinyl flooring, the finished product requires a smooth, flat subfloor surface. If the subfloor has warps, cracks, missing chunks, or (most commonly) uneven seams, the vinyl plank flooring will show it. It might bounce, wear unevenly, or show humps in the floor.

Luxury Vinyl FlooringStandard sheet vinyl is usually installed with a full glue-down bond that secures the flooring to the underlayment. Some types can be installed with a perimeter glue bond that secures the flooring only around the edges and along the seams. Standard vinyl tile is always secured with a glue-down bond.

Luxury vinyl planks or tiles are generally installed with a click-lock system where the planks or tiles interlock.  These floors float over the subfloor.  There is no glue-down bond used during installation. There are some forms of luxury vinyl that offer a glue-down option for certain circumstances.

What is the cost difference between standard vinyl and luxury vinyl flooring?

Luxury Vinyl FlooringStandard vinyl is quite affordable.  The per-square-foot costs for materials range from $.50 to $2 per square foot when purchased at large home improvement stores.  Professional installation costs for vinyl flooring are affordable since the work generally goes quickly.  Plan on adding $1 to $2 per square foot for professional installation.

Luxury vinyl purchased from large home improvement stores generally runs $2 to $4 per square foot. Designer styles of luxury vinyl purchased at specialty flooring stores can cost as much as $7 per square foot or more.  Professional installation adds another $4 to $8 per square foot.  If you properly prepare the subfloor and install a moisture and sound barrier, add another $3 to $8 per square foot.  Installation costs are primarily factors of subfloor condition and difficulty of product installation.  Do not be surprised if there are additional costs to correct the subfloor after removing the old floor.

Quality and durability of luxury vinyl flooring depends on several factors (partial list):

  • Materials used during the manufacturing process.
  • *Wear layer thickness (typically varies from 3mil – 28mil . . . 12mil is most common).
  • Installation method (glue down, click-lock, interlocking, peel and stick, etc.).
  • Water proofing.
  • Product thickness (typically varies from 2mm – 8mm . . . 5mm is most common). Budget to mid-range lines is in the 5mm to 6.5mm range.  Premium luxury vinyl plank collections are 8mm thick. Premium LVF is best suited for homeowners looking for strong durability that will last several decades and comes with a limited lifetime guarantee. 
  • Backing construction (foam, vinyl, cork, IXPE, dry, adhesive, etc.).
  • Subfloor installed over (concrete, wood, OSB, plywood, tile, vinyl, etc.).
  • Where installed (bathroom, kitchen, family room, laundry room, entry, living room, etc.).

*Note: The wear layer thickness of LVF is measured in units called mil, referring to the level of wear it can withstand. Despite the similarities in the name, this measurement (mil) is not related to millimeters (mm), as 40 mil is roughly equivalent to 1.0 mm.  Thicker wear layer LVF is more resistant to dents and scratches.

For resale value, luxury vinyl planks or tiles will almost always carry more resale value than standard vinyl flooring.

What about lifespan for standard vinyl and luxury vinyl flooring?

Luxury Vinyl Flooring is durableStandard vinyl flooring has an anticipated life expectancy of about 10 years.  However, better types can last as much as 15 years.

Luxury vinyl is more durable, generally lasting 20 to 25 years if it is well cared for.  Because luxury vinyl is a thicker, heavier material, it generally lasts considerably longer than standard sheet vinyl.   Luxury vinyl is clearly the best for durability and maintenance.  It is also easier to repair.

How are luxury vinyl planks made?

Luxury Vinyl FlooringLVP is built in layers, like hardwood laminate flooring planks.  LVP has a protective finish over multiple layers of pressed vinyl, sealed into a hardboard core, and finished with an underlayment backing. Cork or felt backing adds an extra cushion under every step, easing the impact, as well as keeping the floor a more consistent temperature than cold tile. Using LVP with a sound mitigating underlayment makes it quieter and more sound-absorbent.  It also helps to reduce echo and noise in the home.

LVP is available as water resistant planks, so they can stand up against spills, messy pets, and rain-soaked family members.  Some brands are completely waterproof and are good for high humidity areas, while others are intended for dry areas only.  Be sure to check the specifications before you buy to make sure of a good fit for your household’s lifestyle.

I see lots of people installing LVF in their kitchen and bathrooms.  Is this a good idea?

Luxury Vinyl Flooring in the bathroomNo.  Almost all manufactures do not recommend installing LVF in wet areas such as, but not limited to, bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms.  Reviewing their warranties makes this abundantly clear. 

Although many manufactures offer waterproof flooring, it is not a moisture barrier, nor can it stop water from penetrating the groove where it clicks together.  LVF also requires a 1/4-inch expansion joint along all perimeter edges.  Water from bathing and drying will enter through these openings. 

Water leaking and/or entering over or around the outer edges or through the click connections of the flooring can damage a wood subfloor and breed mold and mildew growth on subfloors and walls.  Moreover, moisture arising from new or old concrete can create high levels of moisture vapor emissions, hydrostatic pressure, and high levels of alkalinity. This combination is highly corrosive and will damage the floor over time.  This too will also breed mold and mildew.

Luxury vinyl flooring warranties

Luxury vinyl flooring warranties typically have a guarantee of several years for lessor brands to a limited lifetime warranty on higher quality brands.  These warranties only apply if the manufactures installation instructions are strictly adhered to.  Warranties typical do not cover (this is not a full list):

  • Luxury Vinyl Flooring in the kitchenImproper installation. This includes issues relating to installing the wrong product, unsuitable sub floor, and improper conditioning of jobsite flooring material.  This includes installation technique, adhesives, extreme temperatures, and sun light during installation.
  • Improper use or abuse – Includes issues from mishandling the product, physical or chemical abuse, improper care and maintenance, and leaks from appliances and plumbing. High heels, pet nails, urine, and mats or area rugs constructed of rubber or PVC will void the warranty.
  • Installing residential product in a commercial environment will also void the warranty.
  • Damage caused by the impact of falling objects, furniture, and moisture. This includes damage caused by sharp objects.
  • Fading, discoloration, or other damage due to excessive temperatures or sunlight.
  • Flooring installed on stairs (this is also a building and safety code violation).
  • Installing under fixed objects, such as cabinets, toilets, and tubs. Trims, moldings, and transition pieces installed directly to the floor also void the warranty.
  • Excessive radiant heat temperatures.
  • Installed near, under, or around fireplaces, water heaters, floor heaters, cooking appliances, washers, and dryers.

Are the warranties transferable?

These limited warranties are not transferable and extends only to the original end user.  So, you can see why so many home sellers install this product prior to placing their house up for sale.  They install LVF incorrectly to save money and give the house greater appeal.  You purchase the house thinking you are getting an amazing wood floor look but at the price of vinyl.  What you are not aware of is you purchased a facade with no warranty and all the problems that will come with it.

What are the biggest issues you see for warranties?

The problem I encounter most frequently is when LVF is installed directly over concrete, tile, wood, and vinyl.  Prior to installation, these surfaces were not properly prepared to seal-out moisture emulating from the subfloor and/or from above.  Without exception, prior to installing any LVF product, a moisture barrier must be installed, and the existing flooring removed.  To keep costs down, hardly any LVF installers install a moisture barrier or remove existing flooring material.

A vapor barrier is a must under click-lock vinyl plank flooring.

What are the top brands for LVF?

Most major manufacturers of vinyl flooring now offer both standard vinyl sheets and tiles, as well as luxury vinyl planks and tiles. Major players in the vinyl flooring category include familiar big names:

  • Armstrong: In addition to a full line of sheet vinyl and luxury vinyl planks and tiles, Armstrong offers a good line of “engineered” tiles, which combine luxury vinyl with pulverized mineral content, usually limestone.
  • Shaw: This company offers a full range of premium-quality standard sheet vinyl as well as luxury vinyl planks and tiles.
  • Mohawk: Offering an impressive selection of nearly 600 styles, Mohawk produces both standard sheet vinyl and luxury vinyl planks and tiles.
  • COREtec: This company specialized in luxury vinyl only, both planks and tiles. These are more expensive products, at $6 to $9 per square foot, but COREtec uses a unique construction that features a cork underlayment layer that provides softness and good thermal insulation.

Always Hire a Reliable and Dependable Contractor to Remodel your Home

Design Build Bathroom Remodel | Best Local Contractor DAD's ConstructionAlways work with a trustworthy contractor like DAD’s Construction.  We are experts in bathroom, kitchen, and interior remodeling.  We remodel and manage projects in an efficient manner.  DAD’s Construction will do everything to minimize the possibility of change orders.  Our team will make sure we have all the necessary information to prepare a proposal that meets your requirements.  Rest assured that we will provide you with a detailed, by line-item contract.  We will make sure that the contents of this agreement are properly and clearly communicated to you.  If you have questions or need updates regarding your project, we will always answer your inquiries.

How Can I Receive More Information?

If you would like more information on enjoying the best bathroom, kitchen, and interior remodeling experience in Orange County, call Dan at (949) 380-0177 or at dan@dadsconstruction.com for a free in home consultation.  DAD’s serves all of South Orange County California.  This includes Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Foothill Ranch, Portola Hills, Ladera Ranch, Irvine, San Clemente, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, Rancho Santa Margarita, Coto de Caza, Dove Canyon, Laguna Niguel, Laguna Hills, Newport Beach, and Aliso Viejo.

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Daniel A. Derkum is the owner of DAD’s Construction, the best local contractor for South Orange County, California. A design-and-build remodeling and renovation contractor, https://www.dadsconstruction.com.  © DAD’s Home Services & Construction, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.