You’re renovating your home and want the durability of laminate and the beautiful look of hardwood. Maybe you also heard luxury vinyl is waterproof and scratch proof, perfect for houses with kids & pets Luxury Vinyl gives homeowners an option to get the best of both worlds. The real question is, “what to look for in luxury vinyl plank?” Today we will answer that question by looking at what is a luxury vinyl plank, the cost of luxury vinyl plank, ease of installation, and if you need underlayment for your luxury vinyl. First, lets look at what is luxury vinyl plank?
What is luxury vinyl plank?
Luxury vinyl is a vinyl-based flooring material consisting of 3 layers. It is designed to look and feel like other materials such as stone, ceramic, and wood. The newer technology used in creating luxury vinyl actually makes it a high-end material, unlike ordinary vinyl, making it commonly used in luxury homes and condos.
The vinyl itself is the bottom layer (usually called the backing). It is normally made out of one hundred percent vinyl or a mixture of vinyl and limestone together. Different manufacturers sometimes use slightly different materials which can be found in the description of the product.
The second layer sits on top of the vinyl backing and it is what gives the flooring its natural look. This allows the manufacturers to create various styles of wood, ceramic, and even stone.
The third layer is the very top layer. It consists of a heavy film of aluminum oxide, which gives the laminate the ability resist damage from UV rays and some scratching. Below that is the wear layer that protects against more serious damage like sliding furniture.
Considering thickness level
One thing to be extra cautious about before buying any luxury vinyl product is the thickness level. Brands usually have different ways of listing the thickness level of their planks. Some brands refer to the wear layer thickness rather than the full thickness of the plank itself.
To find the actual plank thickness, you’ll want to look for measurements in mm. You’ll come across a wide range here, the entry level of planks will be in the 4mm range, while the premium level planks have an impressive 8mm or thicker.
Don’t forget! If your vinyl will transition into another type of flooring, you will want to keep that in mind when calculating the thickness of the planks. Poor transitions between the flooring could make one type of flooring uneven with the other. Not only will this make your floors unattractive, but it also adds a risk of tripping on the uneven ridge.
Wear layer thickness
The wear layer lies between the printed design and the heavy film of aluminum oxide (mainly for UV protection). The wear layer is normally a clear, urethane based coating that protects the appearance of the floor. If the wear layer fails, the floor design can be damaged and fade, making it an important aspect of luxury vinyl.
The wear layer can range from 4 mil to 40 mil. A mil is an imperial measurement meaning thousands of an inch. Be aware the wear layer can be measured in mil or millimeters (mm). Approximately 40 mil equals 1 mm (39.4 to 1mm, to be exact).
Now you might be wondering, well what wear layer is the best? To decide on the best wear layer, you will need to consider how much usage will be on the floors. Building professionals often prefer a minimum of 12 mil for residential and 28 mil for commercial. If you have kids, pets, or there is large amounts of foot traffic through your home you might want to consider meeting in the middle at 20 mil or higher.
Never overlook what kind of warranties you’ll receive with your vinyl plank floor. Generally, the luxury vinyl can be rated two different ways, commercial or residential. Commercial warranties tend to be weaker than residential warranties. Manufacturers will often underrate the vinyl plank’s life expectancy to avoid costly warranty claims. Residential warranties are often more accurate representations of how long the vinyl plank is expected to last. Both ratings of warranties can differ greatly from brand to brand so make sure to take a look at each brands own warranty policies.
Some luxury vinyl products may have a LEED score. LEED is an acronym for “Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.” LEED is the standard rating system for any sort of green building and to recognize sustainability achievement. When looking for Eco-Friendly vinyl plank flooring you should look for a good LEED score. LEED scores are usually categorized by Certified, Silver, Gold, Platinum.
Another great certification is the Floorscore. The Floorscore was developed by SCS Global Services and is the most recognized indoor air quality standard. The product is sent to a lab and ran through a series of tests. The test usually take 3-4 weeks. The results are then looked over by professionals. If a vinyl floor is Floorscore certified you will not have to worry about any harmful VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) being emitted into your air.
Cost of luxury vinyl plank
Like all flooring, luxury vinyl plank an be sold in different price points. Starting at three dollars per square foot all the way up to seven dollars per square foot. Usually the mid-priced lines are the best bang for your buck. Majority of luxury vinyl will be slightly higher price than laminate due to having many benefits over laminate. Such as:
Waterproof – Luxury Vinyl plank is engineered to hold up against water and moisture.
Looks and feels real – It’s impressive how real luxury vinyl looks. Many guests often mistake it as real hardwood.
Saves you money – In general, luxury vinyl is less expensive than hardwood or tile.
Can be installed on almost any surface – As long as the surface is flat, luxury vinyl can be installed over plywood, concrete, and tile. It can even be used over radiant heating systems.
Beautiful looking colors – They have a bigger variety of colors than hardwood and tile. They also have colors that are more expensive and harder to find in hardwood and tile.
Ease of installation
Most of the time many homeowners are capable of installing their vinyl floors themselves. If you have managed your own home renovation projects in the past, installing your vinyl shouldn’t give you any problems.
There are two main ways to install luxury vinyl. The first way involves gluing down luxury Vinyl tiles. Glue down tiles work better for rooms with heavy foot traffic.
On the other hand, most planks usually come with a click & lock system. This click & lock mechanism essentially allows the homeowners to snap the flooring together without any adhesive to be used. The floating floor design of these planks make them perfect for first time DIY’s.
Remember to pay close attention to your flooring manufacturers as how to they want the floor to be installed (floated – no glue or glue-down – adhesive). Instructions just in case your luxury vinyl plank can also be glued down.
Do I need Underlayment?
The first factor you will want to consider is the material of your sub-floor. If it is a concrete sub-floor, underlayment is probably a wise choice. In addition to providing a moisture barrier, it will even provide cushion to make walking more comfortable. It also provides good insulation to keep your feet warm in the winter.
Unlike a concrete sub-floor, a wood sub-floor does not need a moisture barrier. An underlayment will still provide cushion and sound reduction. You can find even more benefits of underlayment here.
Considering all the points above, luxury vinyl plank is an excellent choice of flooring for homeowners. If you are looking for the best value of vinyl plank, you should look at our Mannington selection of flooring and tell us why you choose luxury vinyl over laminate or hardwood or visa-versa.