For years, vinyl flooring was regarded as the best option for areas prone to moisture and stains, including bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements, and kitchens. However, standard vinyl is made from a very thin layer of vinyl printed with a design layer and covered with a protective coating; it is prone to gouging and tearing, and it can feel quite hard underfoot, especially if it is laid over concrete.
Due to this, manufacturers developed a new type of vinyl called luxury vinyl flooring, or LVF. Vinyl flooring is available in semi-rigid planks (LVP) or tiles (LVT), and is installed using the same interlocking click-lock edges as laminate flooring. Despite being introduced in the 1970s, luxury vinyl flooring did not become popular until the 1980s. As the second-best flooring choice after hardwood wooden and ceramic tiles or stone tiles, it is challenging laminate flooring today.
Luxury vinyl is a completely different type of flooring, even though it contains the same PVC as standard vinyl flooring. Luxury vinyl is a multi-ply plank or tile with wear layers ranging from 2 to 8 mm thick (roughly 8/100 to 3/10 of an inch thick). Luxury vinyl planks are thus much thicker and more rigid than standard vinyl.
Vinyl luxury flooring requires six to eight layers, including a top-coat layer to add shine, a wear layer to protect the design, a cushion layer of foam to provide comfort, a fiberglass backing layer, and a solid PVC backing layer to add strength and rigidity. Luxury vinyl with a stone-look composition sometimes contains ground minerals, usually pulverized limestone.
As with laminate flooring, luxury vinyl planks (LVP) mimic the appearance of wood, while luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) simulate stone or ceramic tiles. The newest luxury vinyl products provide a good challenge to laminates as the best at mimicking the appearance of wood. There are now hundreds of colors and styles to choose from.
The luxury vinyl material is waterproof, but there are many seams between the tiles or planks that allow water to penetrate to the underlayment.
The same methods are used to clean both standard vinyl and luxury vinyl. Daily vacuuming or sweeping should be done, and spills and stains should be cleaned up immediately. Wet mop the floor once or twice a week with warm (not hot) water and mild soap. Unlike old resilient linoleum floors, these do not require sealers or waxes, since they can dull the shiny wear layer.
Durability and Maintenance
The wear layer of luxury vinyl is usually thicker, so it is more durable. Furthermore, if a plank is damaged, the flooring can be disassembled in order to replace the damaged plank. Manufacturers often recommend shading windows to prevent vinyl from fading over time if it gets too much direct sunlight.
Installed with a click-clock system, luxury vinyl planks or tiles interlock at their edges. It does not require glue-down adhesion to these floors. For certain applications, luxury vinyl can be glued down as well.
A square foot of luxury vinyl typically costs $2 to $4 at these same outlets. A square foot of luxury vinyl purchased from a specialty flooring store can cost up to $7.
Standard vinyl flooring has an anticipated life expectancy of about 10 years, though better types may last as much as 15 years.
Luxury vinyl is more durable, generally lasting 20 to 25 years if it is well cared for.
Best for Lifespan: Luxury Vinyl
As a thicker, heavier material, luxury vinyl flooring generally lasts considerably longer than standard sheet vinyl.
Vinyl flooring usually comes in planks or tiles. The typical plank size is 48 inches. 4 1/2 x 5 inches. Smaller and larger tiles are available. Most tiles are 16 x 16 inches.
Generally, luxury vinyl planks and tiles do not hold the same cachet as solid hardwood flooring or ceramic or stone tile, but they are at least comparable to laminate flooring-and perhaps better.
It feels somewhat softer underfoot and has better sound-dampening properties than standard vinyl flooring due to its thickness. For luxury vinyl products with cork or foam underlays, this is particularly true. Vinyl flooring of high quality offers greater comfort than laminate flooring.