vinyl plank flooring reviews

A vinyl composition tile (VCT) is a type of flooring made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), used primarily in commercial and institutional areas with high-traffic.

Although it’s the most widespread type of industrial flooring, and the material it’s made from has been around since 1926, vinyl has just recently gained popularity in the residential flooring market.

All of its industrial-grade characteristics (its water, scuff, stain, and scratch resistance) are why more and more people choose it over hardwood floors and laminates.

And with an increasing number of manufacturers focusing more on the luxury vinyl tiles that imitate the texture and colors of natural materials such as wood and stone, this type of flooring is bound to dominate the residential market soon.

But, howbeit practical and durable vinyl is, it is not without its flaws. Finding information about vinyl flooring can also be quite tricky as the information available is often limited to the commercial type and meant for contractors, not customers.

The following text is meant to be a go-to guide on residential vinyl flooring for anyone who might be considering installing it in their home.

Vinyl Plank Floor Pros

  1. Variety of styles and colors
  2. Different types of flooring to choose from
  3. Softness
  4. Easy maintenance
  5. Easy installation
  6. Extreme durability

1. Variety of styles and colors

The sky’s the limit when it comes to designing vinyl tiles, all thanks to the customization-ability of the manufacturing process.

The tiles are made by turning colored PVC chips into solid sheets of different thickness, which allows for a pretty wide variety of colors and patterns that can’t be achieved with other types of flooring.

An increased demand for residential tiles made way for more interesting designs. New residential types of vinyl tiles are now made with an extra layer of polyurethane, which can be made to resemble the texture and feel of stone, wood, and even clay tiles.

These printing technologies make it very hard to tell printed vinyl tiles from real hardwood floors. You can imagine all the designing possibilities that arise from this – you can mix and match colors, designs and even different materials to create a unique surface not necessarily possible with any other material.

2. Different types of flooring to choose from

Although tiles are the most popular type of residential flooring, there are a number of other types and shapes vinyl comes in. During the manufacturing process, vinyl can either be rolled out in sheets or cut into tiles or planks.

Sheets of vinyl are usually 6 or 12 feet wide, kept in rolls and sold by length. Using vinyl sheets makes the surface look neat and homogeneous, and is a great choice for a clean looking kitchen or bathroom floor.

Vinyl tiles have a standard size of 12×12 inches, but thanks to the flexibility of the manufacturing process, can be made bigger or smaller to fit the client’s needs. It can also come in the form of planks, which often vary in length, but are usually 4½ or 6 inches wide.

All of these different types are what make vinyl flooring suitable for a wide variety of room sizes and shapes, which significantly minimizes the amount of waste that’s left after installing.

3. Softness

Another advantage of vinyl floors is their softness and slight bounciness.

It might not seem like an important characteristic of a residential floor, but a few days of walking on a vinyl plank floor would definitely change anybody’s mind.

Vinyl tiles often have a layer of foam added during the manufacturing process that’s used to cushion the sound more. It makes for a surface that’s much softer than wood and laminate.

Softer surfaces are great for crawling babies, clumsy kids and people who spend a lot of time on their feet, as it reduces the pressure on the knees and joints.

4. Easy maintenance

Caring for floors made from natural materials requires special tools and a lot of time. As vinyl floors are made from quite resistant materials, maintaining them requires very little effort.

Vinyl planks are water and stain resistant, so cleaning up after kids or pets requires nothing more than water and a mop.

When installed properly, vinyl planks are perfectly flat with no cracks or dents, which makes sweeping and vacuuming much easier.

5. Easy installation

One of the biggest benefits of vinyl plank floors is that they are fast and easy to install. And what’s even more important – they can be installed over an existing floor without stripping it down.

Most vinyl planks are made to lock into one another and, depending on their backing, can be installed without an adhesive. When installing vinyl planks, the surface rarely needs to be perfectly flat and allows for minor inconsistencies.

Therefore, installing vinyl planks is a fast and a relatively hassle-free process, and can be done without removing the existing flooring and furniture from the room.

6. Extreme durability

Vinyl flooring installed in high-traffic commercial areas such as shopping malls, schools, and hospitals often come with ten or fifteen years of warranty.

Residential vinyl floors have quality standards very similar to industrial ones, so it’s safe to say it will last you at least a couple of decades.

Vinyl planks are produced in a way that makes them water, stain, scratch and scuff resistant, which makes for a very durable floor that takes a lot of time to wear out.

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Vinyl Plank Floor Cons

  1. VOC emissions
  2. Prone to gouging
  3. Requires skill and experience
  4. Marginal effect on resale value

1. VOC emissions

VOC stands for volatile organic compounds, and they’re organic chemicals that evaporate at room temperature and release dangerous emissions indoors. Unfortunately, they’re very common in vinyl flooring, as they evaporate from materials that are used to create PVC.

These compounds aren’t acutely toxic, but a prolonged exposure may lead to health problems such as asthma, eye and skin irritations, etc.

Since 2010, many manufacturers reduced the amount of PVC used in the production of vinyl tiles, but low-end products often come with a high concentration of VOC.

2. Prone to gouging

Although this is a problem mainly associated with vinyl sheets, vinyl planks can also suffer from this kind of damage.

Planks have a much harder surface than sheets of vinyl, but the polyurethane top layer that luxury vinyl tiles have is still easy to dent.

Thanks to its shock absorbing ability, a glass is more likely not to break when it hits the vinyl floor (depending on the height at which the glass was dropped). However, a dropped knife will leave a pretty visible, irreparable cut.

3. Requires skill and experience

The interlocking mechanism found with vinyl planks might make them seem like a dream DIY product, but don’t be fooled – installing vinyl planks requires the kind of experience even the most enthusiastic DIYer may not quite have.

Preparing the surface, applying a flattening mass, cutting and adjusting the shape of the plank – these are all things for which you might look to hire a qualified contractor.

4. Marginal effect on resale value

Although vinyl planks are probably the least expensive flooring option, they’re often the biggest expense when it comes to home renovating.

Any major renovating project significantly raises the resale value of the property, with every renovating expense being an investment.

However, investing in a vinyl plank floor will do little to increase the value of the property, as most buyers prefer more premium floors such as wood and stone.

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How to Find a High-Quality Vinyl Plank Floor

When you’re looking for vinyl planks online or in catalogs, planks on both ends of the price spectrum tend to look equally good, and their real life characteristics can’t be easily distinguishable.

There are a few things you should look for in vinyl planks that can help you determine its quality, and avoid buying an overpriced or a substandard product.

The most important trait of vinyl planks is their thickness, which also determines their price. So mid to high range planks would be 5-6.5mm thick, while the cheapest are usually 1.5 or 2mm thick.

Another thing to look for in a vinyl plank is a thick wear layer. A thick wear layer means more polyurethane, which is a lot harder than PVC and offers better protection from scratching and gouging.

Luxury vinyl planks are more expensive than the plain variety, because they have a texture almost exactly like real wood or stone. The deeper and more detailed the embossing, the better it is. Always try to pick a few random planks and check the quality of the texture with your fingers.

Although the vinyl itself is pretty durable, the entire plank can easily wear and tear if not made properly. The cheapest vinyl planks usually come with the shortest warranty, and vice versa. It’s recommended you always choose a product at the top of your budget to ensure the best value for your money.

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Cost

Vinyl planks are, on average, by far one of the cheapest types of residential flooring. However, determining the exact cost per square foot can be a bit tricky as there are a lot of factors that determine the price, and each of those factors varies from case to case.

To get a rough estimate, you should first know the cost of products on both ends of the price range. A quick search on Amazon or Home Depot will show you their approximate prices (anywhere from $1.99 to $9.99) and help you move along from there.

Don’t forget that the price per square foot you see is the price for the planks only. Every other aspect of flooring – dismantling the old floor, moving the furniture, skirting, and installing – will increase that base price.

Floor installers have different rates in every state and service area, which can vary quite a bit, and can be anywhere from $25-$40 per hour. This fee includes flooring only. Having your old floor dismantled and disposed of will require an additional contractor, but for a much smaller fee – usually up to $30 per hour.

By analyzing this data you can get a pretty good estimate of what the average price of installing this type of flooring will be.

Average price without installation

$3 per square foot

Average price with installation

$5.50 per square foot

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Durability

When it comes to durability, Luxury Vinyl Tile flooring gets mixed reviews.

Vinyl’s ability to resist most environmental factors is what sets it apart from any other type of residential flooring.

Vinyl planks are completely water-resistant and can be installed in very humid rooms such as bathrooms, basements or garages. They’re less slippery and much warmer than ceramic tiles or concrete.

What makes vinyl planks more desirable than hardwood floors is their ability to resist the wear and tear that comes after a lot of foot traffic. If you take good care of it (i.e. don’t drop any sharp objects or chemicals on it) it should last you a good 15 years before seeing any wear.

However, furniture or sharp objects CAN damage the surface of the tile. Using furniture pads underneath furniture will help prevent scratches.

It is a less expensive option than laminate, stone tile, or hardwoods, however, in some ways, it is not as durable as the other options.

That being said, tiles that are damaged can easily be replaced. So, always keep extra tiles on hand for repairs.

Vinyl planks are suitable only for indoor use, as the PVC starts to deteriorate faster when exposed to the elements.

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Vinyl Plank Reviews

Thanks to the huge popularity of vinyl in residential flooring, there are more and more major companies offering vinyl plank flooring in North America every day. We’ve created a list of a few companies whose names tend to pop up the most to help you get a more clear view of what the vinyl flooring market looks like.

Shaw

A very prolific company that resides on the high end of the vinyl flooring market. They currently have seven lines of vinyl planks, with each one of those lines having a dozen or more variations.

Shaw produces 6.5 mm thick planks in its Premio and Classico lines, which are the thickest in the industry.

Their mid-range products are often better than high-end flagship products of other companies, and the price averages around $4 per square foot.

Armstrong

In the flooring business for almost a century, this company relies on its stability and consistency to beat the competitors.

If you have a hard time deciding between dozens of types of planks, you might want to try Armstrong floors as they only come in three variants.

Their reliability is a great trait for someone that’s concerned with warranty, but that reliability is what puts their products on the very high end of the price range.

Lumber Liquidators

Although they’ve gained a bit of a bad reputation for their cheap and aggressive advertising, Lumber Liquidators are one of the leading companies in the market.

What sets them apart are their low prices and availability. However, extremely low prices often indicate a lack of quality when it comes to vinyl flooring, so keep that in mind if you shop at Lumber Liquidators.

They offer 1.5mm planks that go for as low as $0.50 but make the most revenue from selling 4mm thick planks for half the price of those at Shaw’s and Armstrong’s.

Mannington

This New Jersey company has potential to become one of the leading floor manufacturers in the world.

Their vinyl planks come in two different categories, with a huge difference in both price and quality between the two.

The Adura is their entry-level plank line, and it offers a pretty unspectacular design for a fraction of the price of its premium line – the Distinctive Plank.

The Distinctive Plank, although on the pricey side, boasts quite an impressive design and high-end characteristics.

Gerflor

It might not be a household name in the US yet, but this French company is the biggest resilient floor manufacturer in Europe.

Although they’re mostly known for their indoor sports floors, they’ve just launched Creation in the US – their most popular residential vinyl plank line.

All of the planks in the residential line have backings made from recycled materials, which is quite a novelty in the flooring industry.

In spite of being 2mm thick, their planks lean towards the higher end of the price range, and have a slightly different feel to them than other US-made tiles.

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32 thoughts on “Vinyl Plank Flooring: Reviews, Best Brands & Pros vs. Cons”

    1. I don’t have any personal experience, but I am considering purchasing and am researching the topic. One of the advantages of vinyl plank flooring over other types of flooring is their color stability over time. They are particularly resistant to fading from indoor sunlight exposure through a large window or patio door.

  1. Good overview.
    Question, which products are made in the USA? What are their country of origin?

    Thanks

    RWC

  2. Thank you so much for all this information. I have to redo my floors but feel like the dear in the headlights and frozen in fear of making the wrong decision.

  3. Is Metroflor as good a company as Cortec? Why do they not put a padding, cork of rubble under their Genesis Select, higher priced vinyl? Shouldn’t there be something under the vinyl instead of just solid vinyl?

    1. Metroflor didn’t honor our warranty even though the floor faded to a blue color and several scratches showed up on our floor. Deal with them at your own risk.

  4. Thank you for sharing this informative review. Have some additional research to do in the VOC category, but this was a great start!

  5. We looked at two brands of luxury vinyl tiles and were blown away by how much they look like fine hardwoods. We had planned to use hardwood throughout our new home but we are now seriously considering LVT.

  6. Looking for reviews on Mayflower, One Will VCP flooring out of China. I hear it is the up and coming thing but cannot find any reviews on the company or the product. I have samples and am impressed. We have installed several floors over the year and this stuff feels great and seems bullet proof. It says it comes with a 50 year gurantee.
    Anyone out there know anything about this company or product…

  7. UBERHAUS Vinyl Plank Flooring is NOT easy to install. It is the most difficult flooring I have ever installed. It breaks easily and it is very difficult to get it to click together without breaking it. Don’t buy this crap.

  8. Do you have any product reviews on Nucor that is sold through Floor and Decor. They say its waterproof and it is thick and looks pretty awesome. I am a designer and am considering it for a beach house because of water and sand issues. The driftwood oak looks amazing.

    1. I am also considering nucore and have not been able to find review anywhere. I agree with the quality appearance. Looks great!

  9. How long does it take these VOC emissions to gas out typically? We are looking at the Engage Genesis 2000xL. And the Shaw Floorte Alto Plank- Premio. Does anyone have any feed back on these?

    How early are these Vinyl Planks to repair if you did some how get a gouge?

  10. Mine are almost a year old and I love them. I put in the XL No scratches or dents. Unlike hardwood floors I don’t have to worry about my dogs running on the floors and scratching them. They are super easy to clean. I can tell the difference between these and true hardwoods, but the easy care is more important to me. They still look great. Coretec now makes one with beveled edges and I would think they would look even more like hardwood.

  11. My wife and I recently had vinyl planks installed throughout our home and it looks fantastic! However I would caution about one thing…..It dents very easily! We have dropped butter knives in the kitchen and low and behold an indentation! We have two dogs that are very active and one is huge and they have not harmed the flooring except…..when the big one is entrenched in a large bone and he drops it….guess what!
    A DENT! Anything with weight dropped on the flooring will dent it. Beware!

  12. I have been researching Luxury Vinyl Planking to do an entire house. After looking at all the major names in flooring, I found a manufacturer called Nuvelle in my local flooring store. The line is called Density 20. The planks are 7″wide and 48″ long. The sample board label stated it was 8 mm thick. I emailed the company to ask the wear thickness and was told it has a surface wear layer of 20 ml.

    What I liked most was the planks have beveled edges and are textured like wood. The sample board look like a real hardwood floor. Unless I learn any real negatives, I am moving forward with this product.

  13. We are looking at smartcore ultra sold at lowes. Specks look good and we will have it installed. Any thoughts?

  14. Help! I am in the process of preparing to install vinyl wood flooring. After reading the cons, especially the one about VOC releasing dangerous emissions into the air, I am now afraid to go through with this install. Also, the company I am using for the install told me the brand is Advantage and I cannot find anything online about the flooring brand. I should’ve done more homework on this. Anyone have any suggestions?

  15. I was looking at the new Lifepoof Luxury Vinyl at Home Depot to put in my mountain cabin. The sales girl said that if the temperature in the home gets below 60 degrees it voids the warranty! She said that is true for ANY vinyl product. It’s a vacation home, and we don’t heat it if we are not there. Temperatures can get in the high 20’s. Your thoughts?

  16. Looking for flooring for our home, our son is in a wheelchair and also uses a hospital bed, which is always moved away from a wall and back to it for transferring and positioning purposes.

  17. I saw the inquiry on Moduleo and no response I am considering Embellish for high traffic, pets at lake home. Concerned about scratching and fading. How does moduleo vinyl plank rate? I see it is 4.50 mm with wear layer of .55. Any reviews or comments?

  18. Considering the Lifeproof brand from Home Depot. How does this brand compare to those listed in the reviewed list? Thanks in advance for the feedback.

  19. Hi I’m considering Mohawk solid tech plank vinyl flooring. Our floors need leveling. My question is do these planks have ridges – and does dirt get trapped in them?

    Thanks!

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