Vinyl Flooring – Pros and Cons
Vinyl flooring is a 100-percent synthetic material. In standard sheet vinyl and vinyl tiles, the base layer is usually fiberglass which is then coated in PVC vinyl and a plasticizer. The resulting sheet is printed and embossed with a surface print layer. Over this, multiple wear layers are applied, along with a layer of no-wax polyurethane. With vinyl plank flooring, the core layer is a thicker, multi-layer PVC vinyl. Luxury vinyl flooring comes in planks or tiles that fit side-to-side to form a floating floor. The overall thickness for vinyl flooring ranges from 1.5 mm for sheet vinyl to 5 mm for luxury vinyl planks.
What to About Installation
The key to successful installation of vinyl flooring lies beneath the flooring itself. Vinyl tiles require an extremely smooth surface, because any flaws and imperfections will show through as bumps and indentations in your floor. Usually the best subfloor is a layer of well-sanded plywood.
Most manufacturers do not recommend laying new vinyl over more than one layer of existing vinyl, and in fact will not guarantee the flooring if there is more than one layer of vinyl beneath. Another problem with laying over existing vinyl is that if the lower layer is patterned, the texture will eventually show through your top layer.
Vinyl flooring can be laid on top of concrete, but again, uniformity and smoothness can be a problem. Also, a plywood layer will give you a better feel under foot.
Maintenance and Repair
Vinyl flooring is relatively easy to care for. You have to make sure that grit and dirt are kept swept free to maintain the surface of the floor. Then, you can use a damp mop and an approved vinyl floor cleaner to remove stains. Few flooring options are as easy to care for as vinyl.
Printed vinyl tiles and sheets, as well as luxury vinyl tiles and planks, have a clear wear layer that acts as a surface barrier, protecting the floor from stains and spills. These materials are very easy to clean and maintain. While vinyl is generally resistant to stains, it is susceptible to discoloration when it comes in contact with rubber. Mats that have a rubber backing, or rubber shoe heels that scuff against the floor, can cause a chemical reaction in the material that can permanently discolor it.
As with any building material, the durability of vinyl flooring varies according to its quality. High-quality vinyl will be extremely durable, while low-quality material will be susceptible to rips and tears. Unfortunately, vinyl flooring cannot be refinished, so when it is damaged it needs to be removed and replaced.
Vinyl Plank Pros
Easy to Install
Most vinyl plank options have a click lock method of installation that is DIY friendly and can be free floated over your subfloor so that no adhesive is needed.
A Variety of Styles
Vinyl planks are available in numerous styles designed to mimic the look of all the most popular flooring options including wood, natural stone, cement, large plank formats, and more.
The cost of vinyl plank flooring is usually in the friendly $2-5 per square foot range. Compare that to some wood and stone options that can potentially be 2-3 times that cost.
Versatile and Moisture Resistant
Vinyl handles moisture better than wood flooring, so it can be used with confidence in kitchens, bathrooms, and basements.
Low-Maintenance and Easy to Clean
Vinyl planks might be the easiest flooring type of all to clean and maintain. It can be vacuumed, swept, or mopped with mild detergents to keep looking beautiful for years to come.
Vinyl Plank Cons
When it comes to cons of vinyl flooring, a disadvantage is that it can become discolored due to constant exposure to direct sunlight. So, it’s not a great option for outdoor use. Certain rubber material, such as a rubber backing from a floor mat, can also cause vinyl to discolor.
Unfortunately, vinyl planks are not biodegradable. They can also be difficult to recycle depending on the brand and composition. So, if environmental consciousness is a critical factor in your decision-making process, this is a drawback to consider.
Not Impossible to Damage
While vinyl will hold up for many years, you can damage it. Dropping a glass or moving heavy furniture can result in scuffs and gouges that are difficult to remove. If you do arrange furniture, be sure to cover the feet with felt, or lift the piece off the ground before moving it.
Vinyl plank flooring has come a long way over the last several years and has really grown in popularity. And when looking at the pros and cons of this material, you can see that the pros outweigh the cons. So, if you’re looking for an affordable flooring for especially a high moisture space in your home, then choose vinyl plank flooring. But, of course, it’s up to you to decide what works best for your home.