Guide to Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring is an excellent and affordable flooring option that is easy to install and maintain. Plus, it offers you a way to mimic more expensive materials and flooring styles like marble, hardwood, or porcelain tiles.

Back then, vinyl flooring was usually seen as a patterned, plastic-ky, slick surface that covered just about every bathroom and kitchen in America for the second half of the 20th century. But in recent years, there have been a lot of developments in design and styles, meaning vinyl can create incredibly realistic effects. It has never been more sophisticated. With an endless variety of plank flooring on the market, there’s never been a wider and more versatile selection to choose from.

If you’re considering vinyl as a flooring material, here are some things you must know to guide you:

Why Choose Vinyl Flooring

A modern, minimal living room with vinyl flooring

Vinyl is exceptionally hard-wearing, moisture-proof, and slip-resistant, making it a very popular choice for high-traffic areas like kitchens and bathrooms. It’s also softer and warmer underfoot compared to laminate.

Vinyl has seen a lot of improvements in recent years, and it’s available in many forms: tile, planks, and sheets. There are many benefits to vinyl flooring:

It looks great.

The vinyl production process has become advanced in recent years. These days, it can be very hard to tell the difference between high-quality vinyl plank flooring and solid hardwood flooring.

It’s easy to install.

Vinyl can be glued directly to a subfloor or installed in a modified loose lay, depending on the product. You don’t need grout (unless you go for groutable vinyl tile), and it can be installed by the homeowner as a DIY home project.

It’s affordable.

Vinyl is a more economical flooring choice, as it costs considerably lower than stone, hardwood, or even porcelain tiles.

It’s moisture-resistant and can even be waterproof.

Many types of hardwood floors can’t be installed anywhere they’ll be exposed to moisture or water. But since vinyl is waterproof, it’s a great flooring option for kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms, mudrooms, and even basements. And given how realistic vinyl can be, it makes a beautiful floor for these rooms.

It’s easy to clean.

Because it’s a waterproof flooring option, it’s easy to clean and maintain. You can sweep it, mop it, vacuum it, whatever. You don’t need special sealants. Warm water with soap will usually be enough if you stain the floor.

Difference Between Vinyl Planks, Sheets, and Tiles

Sheet vinyl flooring

Sheet vinyl is the most affordable option because of its ease of installation. Available in a wide range of designs, sheet vinyl floors will cover most floors in one piece with a few seams. It usually comes in 6- or 12-foot widths cut to measurements or in prepared rolls. The adhesive types and methods vary by floor style. The soft surface is comfortable to walk on and waterproof.

One must take extra care when laying down sheet vinyl since incorrect cutting cannot be undone. Also, rips and damages can’t be repaired seamlessly.

Vinyl plank flooring

If you want the look of hardwood or stone, vinyl plank flooring is for you. This flooring method has improved a lot over the years to mimic the color and texture of different wood types. More expensive options feature slip-resistant finishes and a beveled edge. This material is attractive, durable, and can be used in areas that are not recommended for wood.

Vinyl plank comes in wide, medium, and narrow planks ranging from three to seven inches wide. Like vinyl tile, plank product is waterproof. One may need to seal gaps to prevent moisture from seeping through the floor.

If you want a more realistic look, consider luxury vinyl plank flooring. It’s thicker than a vinyl plank, so it’s not just more comfortable underfoot, but it’s quieter as well.

Vinyl tile flooring

Today’s vinyl tiles have the look and feel of real stone or ceramic tile but at a more affordable price. It’s waterproof, so it won’t crack, peel, or swell when exposed to water, making it great for bathrooms, kitchens, or laundry rooms. Plus, it’s easy to replace them because of precision-cut tiles.

It’s a lot similar to sheet vinyl, with the exception of size. Tiles are individually cut, invariably sized, and installed either with an adhesive or a peel-off backing. They are very lightweight and easy to work with.

This kind of tile flooring is manufactured to exact dimensions, including thickness, to give the finished floor a uniform appearance. Flooring is available in different colors, patterns, and textures. If you want the most realistic look with all the benefits of vinyl, look for luxury vinyl tile (LVT).

Here are some types of vinyl tiles

  • Groutable vinyl tile

Groutable vinyl tiles are grouted like real ceramic or stone tiles. Tile makers offer a broad range of color options for the grout to give you the flooring you’re looking for. Depending on the source, grout is ready to use and needs no sealing. It’s also resistant to moisture, stains, and cracking.

  • Vinyl composition tile

Vinyl composition tile (VCT) or commercial VCT is designed to be durable and maintain its look despite being in high-traffic areas. It’s also available in different designs and patterns.

Disadvantages of Vinyl Plank Flooring

A modern contemporary living room with vinyl floors

Vinyl flooring offers a lot of benefits, but it also comes with some disadvantages, such as:

It may not last a lifetime.

If you’re looking for flooring that will last a lifetime, and even for many generations, vinyl flooring may not be the best flooring option for you. Solid hardwood floors need to be refinished again and again once the wear layer is worn through, but when it happens to vinyl, it needs replacement. The lifespan of vinyl depends on the product – some have a 6-year warranty, while some have a 35-year warranty.002

Its color can fade.

Though most wear layers of vinyl flooring are UV-resistant, some can occasionally fade from exposure to sunlight. As it gets exposed to the sun for years, the colors become less lustrous than it first were.

It’s not eco-friendly.

If you are concerned about being environmentally friendly, vinyl is not an excellent option for you. This material is made of plastic, and once it’s used, it’s very hard (if not impossible) to recycle. Also, some reports surfaced regarding certain types of vinyl, particularly those made in China, giving off dangerous, volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) after being installed. These reports have led to reforms in the flooring industry. Nowadays, there is more oversight over vinyl flooring production methods than there was a couple of years ago.

But for your maximum peace of mind, look for FloorScore-certified products. This certification complies with the state of California’s VOC emission standards, some of the country’s strictest standards.

Some types can scratch or dent.

Though they are highly durable, some vinyl plank floors are still susceptible to scratching and denting, especially over time. So if you’re planning on leaving heavy furniture on your flexible vinyl planks for years, use floor protectors to avoid dents.

How to Install Plank Flooring

A worker installing a vinyl plank flooring

With proper surface preparation, vinyl flooring can be installed over an underlayment, subfloor, concrete, old ceramic tile, wood, or even non-cushioned vinyl flooring.

It must be laid on a clean, flat surface so that you may need some sub-floor preparation. This step must not be overlooked since the quality of your subfloor will have an impact on the longevity and appearance of your vinyl flooring.

There are three options for installing vinyl tile, sheets, or planks:

  • Interlocking planks
  • Peel and stick
  • Glue or adhesive

How to Maintain Vinyl Flooring

Maintenance and protection of vinyl flooring are essential so that you can make the most out of your flooring. Here are some of the ways to properly maintain vinyl:

Keep it clean

Since it’s easy to clean up vinyl and it doesn’t need wax, it’s easy to keep it clean. Regular sweeping, vacuuming and occasional damp mopping are all you need to keep your floor looking new. Once something spilled on this material, wipe it immediately with a damp cloth to prevent it from getting stuck on the floor, which may cause staining if not cleaned up immediately.

Guard it against sunlight

Letting more sunlight in is great for your interiors, but it may not be the best way to keep your vinyl flooring in its best appearance. Direct sunlight can fade or even damage your vinyl floor. To prevent this, find the areas in your home that are hit with direct sunlight. Make sure you close your blinds or curtains during the times when sunlight strikes the strongest. Also, you can place a rug or a floor mat on that area to prevent vinyl flooring from fading and discoloration.

Protect it from the furniture

An added layer of protection between your vinyl floor and furniture will help prevent scratches and help it look brand-new. You can use furniture pads under couches (especially on their feet), chairs, tables, and heavy cabinets and armoires.