There is one type of flooring that has grown in popularity faster than any other type in recent years: vinyl plank flooring. It is also known as “luxury” vinyl plank flooring or “waterproof” flooring. So what is it exactly and why is it so popular? Let’s take a look.
WHAT IS LUXURY VINYL PLANK FLOORING?
WHAT VINYL FLOORS USED TO BE
Most people are familiar with vinyl flooring in their kitchen and baths, which is mostly referred to as “linoleum,” although it is technically not linoleum at all, but a sheet vinyl made to imitate linoleum. This form of vinyl is inexpensive and waterproof. However is it also soft, so it dents and scratches easily, and it also has a typically shiny and plastic-like appearance. This form of vinyl flooring is fast disappearing, and for good reason. There’s a much better option.
THE VINYL PLANK
The vinyl plank is based on the idea of a laminate plank. In other words, a plank about five feet long that locks together with other planks and simulates the look of wood. It is also a “floating” floor that sits on a thin pad or has a pad attached to the back. However there are some critical differences to vinyl plank.
The primary one is that the vinyl plank is composed of 100% waterproof ingredients. This means that this type of floor can literally be submerged in water and not be damaged. Not so with laminate. Practically this means that spills, accidents, pets – no problem. Bathrooms, wet areas – you bet.
QUIET UNDERFOOT & WON’T EXPAND AND CONTRACT
Unlike the softer versions of vinyl flooring the vinyl plank has a rigid, dense core. The best ones all have what is referred to as an SPC core, or Stone-Polymer-Core. This means that there is literally ground up stone content mixed with polymer (glue) to form the core. Why? Two reasons: First, it makes the plank dense and heavy, which means it absorbs sound wonderfully. No more “click-clack” sound when you walk over it, like old-school laminates. Second, the stone content renders the expansion and contraction of the plank to almost nothing. This means your floor won’t move, expand, open up or separate when temperature changes, the sun hits the floor, etc.
On top of that rigid dense core the layer of vinyl is adhered. In a good product, this should be 20 mil thick and will typically give the plank its lifetime residential warranty. The vinyl layer is also sealed with aluminum-oxide urethane, making it tough and scratch resistant. This a pretty worry-free floor, meaning kids, traffic, dogs and dog nails, etc. are no problem, unlike wood floors. After installation we will still protect a vinyl plank floor by putting felt pads on the legs of all your furniture, but that will make moving and sliding furniture over your floor a non-issue.
This is what gets a lot of people. Many ask: is that real wood? This has come a long way from the shiny, fake look of old vinyl or old-school laminates. The surface of each plank is typically embossed with a grain texture, and the finish has a more matte, natural look. This is one big reason why vinyl plank flooring is going into high-end homes more and more instead of real wood.
AFFORDABLE & EASY TO TAKE CARE OF
Although a good vinyl plank typically costs more than laminate, it still comes in around half to two thirds the cost of a wood floor. That’s hard to argue with, if budget is a priority. Then there’s the ease of care: sweep it, vacuum it, wet-mop it, Swiffer it – anything goes. The main thing to remember is not to treat it with any special sealers, waxes or oil cleaners. The vinyl plank’s finished surface needs no special cleaners or treatments. Just water is really enough. Specific hard surface cleaners like Bona are fine, but not required.
For more questions about waterproof vinyl plank flooring, or other hard surface flooring, please contact Desert Hardwood Flooring at (928) 925-3084 or visit www.DesertHardwoodFlooring.com
Sylvan Incao is the owner and lead installer of Desert Hardwood Flooring, and a Prescott resident since 1992. Desert Hardwood Flooring is a small craftsmanship-oriented company focusing on quality workmanship and attention to detail in the arena of hardwood flooring and other hard surface flooring.