vinyl plank flooring reviews

Vinyl Plank Flooring: Reviews, Best Brands & Pros vs. Cons

Last Updated on February 8, 2018

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. Cleaning & maintaining vinyl floors requires very little effort as the flooring is made from quite resistant materials.

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 click & 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, including the Floorte, 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 in their Coreluxe Vinyl Planks line 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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126 thoughts on “Vinyl Plank Flooring: Reviews, Best Brands & Pros vs. Cons”

  1. Has anyone used harbor plank from south wind? It’s supposed to have a lifetime warranty and we have had nothing but trouble with this floor. It’s coming apart everywhere. Not sure what to do from here.

    1. If its coming apart, that’s not good. Most likely the locking mechanisms were damaged during installation. Or the LVP was not installed on a flat enough surface, which causes stress on the locking mechanism as you walk on them. Did you have the floor professional installed?

  2. Has anyone heard of or installed Provenza MaxCore Waterpoof LVP? We are purchasing a new build from Calatlantic Homes and the only LVP flooring they offer is Shaw or Provenza. I can’t find any reviews online on Provenza’s LVP only thier hardwood, is this a good or bad sign?

  3. I’m getting ready to build a 3 season porch (i.e., neither heated nor air conditioned). The floor will not be subject to rain or snow, but must endure outside temperatures. Are any of the vinyl planks rated to be used in such an environment?

    1. I have been looking into LVP for our cabin in northern Michigan and have learned that temperature is a BIG factor. Some products can not be used below 50 degrees or the warranty will be voided. Other products are rated for -30 to -50 degrees for the type of application you describe. There doesn’t seem to be anything in between. Good luck!

  4. Has anyone used the Hydracore Innove Luxe vinyl planks from Menards? We will be doing our kitchen/dining area and back hall.

  5. I love my Golden

    Our contractor has shown us (and we are looking to go with) Natures Choice WPC / LVP flooring. It’s marketed as “100% Virgin Vinyl Commercial LVP Flooring” and a 25 year residential warranty. However we can’t find much of any information about the brand online. Has anyone used this product or heard anything about it? All seems to point to a very solid make up (WPC core density of 850, 20 mills wear layer and a specialized under layer they use which apparently most other LVP manufacturers don’t use). We have two children and a growing 60 lb Golden Retriever, as well as a pool and love the idea of a very easy maintenance floor that should withstand kids, water, etc. Anyone know of this one or can offer any input? Much appreciated!

  6. We are looking at installing Wanke Cascade EVP in our house. Does anyone have experience with them? Reviews?

  7. Has anyone installed Karndean or Congoleum? I’ve heard Karndean has a great reputation. Can’t find any reviews on Congoleum. Thanks!

    1. We did a Karndean Van Gogh line lvp throughout every square foot of our 1st and 2nd floors and are very happy with it! We did the glue down version as I didn’t want any chance of cupping or curling, plus our primary reason for choosing lvp was because of our dachshund who is a notorious indoor piddler. We felt gluing would make the plank fit the tightest it could be so there was no seep through if and when he had an accident. It’s been great, we’re very happy with it. Looks great, people regularly mistake it for hardwood. Easy to clean and we believe will be very durable.

  8. Has anyone had any experience with Metroflor Engage Genesis 200xl vinyl planks? I am considering vinyl plank flooring and have also looked at CortecPlus XL. Really need need some informed experience with both of these,

    1. I have been considering Metroflor Genesis Engage 600NP myself. But just a few concerning comments above about discoloration and the warranty not being honored. We are also considering Mohawk and Nuvelle products. Would love to hear from anyone who has experience with any of these!

      1. I am building a new home. My contractor is a custom design builder in Florida? He is very high on Tarkett LVT Plank glue down flooring. We are spending high dollars on this home in a higher value community. I don’t want to make a mistake on floor choice as most of the flooring will be consistent throughout the home. The home will be exposed to a great deal of natural sunlight plus our dog.

        Please provide me some guidance

    2. We just did about 1200 sq ft this week in cameo white. I love it. I was told that this product is top of their line. I am trying find out why their PH Neutral cleaner is so expensive. My dog already peed on it. But he is having bladder issues. It wiped right up. It was not cheap.

    1. We have the Mannington Distinctive LVT and absolutely love it. Stain proof, scratch proof (we have grand children and dogs) and it looks beautiful.

  9. I am looking for reviews on the waterproof Nucor vinyl wood planking. It can be installed over existing flooring, has a cork backing and is easy to install. This is only sold at Floor and Decor. I found a couple reviews, but they seemed to have been connected with getting something free from F & D — so I don’t know how valid they’d be. Im trying to sell a rental – and I love the fact that you can install this right over existing tile. That will save me a lot of money. Any info would be appreciated!

    1. Save your money. this stuff is awful and Floor and Decor does not care. The NuCor flooring we purchased was defective–uneven cuts, wouldn’t click together. Floor and Decor refused to refund the cost of the second box we made the mistake of opening to check for quality.

  10. Anyone have any experience w HALLMARK vinyl? We are building and this is one that our flooring person recommended without going to top of the line LVP. It is a glue down I believe.

    Thanks!!
    (:

  11. I have used this in bathrooms where I did not want to deal with a ‘water resistant’ product. Installation is not hard if you follow instructions and buy the tool kit. Lowe’s has one with a puller and tapping block though I would highly recommend getting the longer/wider one. I’m putting this in a laundry room since the laminate flooring I knew I put in years ago was a bad idea. (Water and cardboard don’t mix!!) That said, this is a great product, wear rating of 20 is the highest and Cali-Bamboo definitely has one in that range, which is all I know.
    As for doing a whole house, I would never do it. This is expensive and you can get bamboo, wood-look flooring from lumber liquidators with longer warranties that you can still install yourself. Bamboo has a higher hardness rating than red oak and will increase the value of your home. LPV is cool but at the end of the day it’s modern day sheet vinyl.

  12. I just had 1000 sq. ft of high quality LVP (8mm, 20 MUL, extra wide, extra long) installed on second floor of my home. It looks beautiful and is so easy to clean. Love it.. It has a rustic, hand scraped texture that looks like wood. It is very comfortable to walk on (far softer than tile). I suppose the only draw back is that it feels like plastic underfoot, which shouldn’t be surprising since the floors I chose are 100% plastic. Despite this, I would consider putting the same type of LVP on the 1st floor as well. Hubby wants something just a little nicer, so we are looking into engineered hardwood.

  13. Just wondering what you feel about Summit Plank SFI Luxury Vinyl Plank. We are going to do about 4,000 sq. ft. .Please give me the pros vs cons. Thanks.

    1. Bob – Did you go with the Summit Plank SFI LVP product? If so, how do you like it? We are considering it for a 1600 sf project in a house in Florida. Thanks.

    1. We are using Lifeproof Ocala Oak for our entire home, around 1650 sq. ft. It checks every box on what you need in an EVP product at $3/sq. ft. Lifetime residential warranty, thick 8mm planks, low VOC, high quality underlayment + foam core, very scratch & wear resistant, comfortable to walk on, 100% waterproof, easy click-lock system. Looks great, having no problems installing it myself after learning a few tricks doing one bedroom first. I couldn’t find anything better even going up to $4.79/ sq. ft. Very happy with this flooring.

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