Vinyl floors have been around for many years; but, now vinyl and luxurious can be used in the same sentence. Luxury vinyl floors are not the vinyl floors you remember from your childhood. Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) and planking (LVP) are much more sophisticated and desireable products than those from the seventies; in fact, luxury vinyl products are one of the fastest growing market segments in the flooring industry. So what makes them different than the vinyl floors from your childhood?
LVT and LVP are made up of many complementary layers, each adding something to the final product. Luxury vinyl is waterproof, has the durability of vinyl and can have the added scuff resistance of a urethane top layer. (Urethane is used to make skateboard wheels.) For stability, there can be a rigid layer and some luxury vinyl products also include a cushioning layer to make the floor quieter and warmer, providing a similar comfort level to that of cork.
Modern photographic printing means that these products can mimic the look and texture of natural stone and wood with astonishing accuracy. Unlike the vinyl sheeting of the past, LVT and LVP do not come in rolls, but are created flat and kept that way until installed in your home, enhancing their dimensional stability. Where vinyl sheet flooring was primarily saved for kitchens, laundry rooms, bathrooms and basements, LVT and LVP are also being installed in living rooms, bedrooms, exercise rooms, etc., creating a pleasant, yet functional, atmosphere.
Because of the dimensional stability of many of these products, there is no need for an uncoupling layer, (often needed under more traditional stone or ceramic tiles to minimize the risk of cracking). LVT and LVP do an amazing job of hiding underlying cracks or imperfections in the subfloor and there is no need for expansion joints in large areas. Some products can even be installed over tile floors without filling in the groutlines. LVT and LVP are often installed as floating floors, which can be a huge advantage when desiring to have a floor that can be easily replaced or updated to a new pattern at a later date.
Even with the advantages provided by LVT and LVP over their "natural" counterparts, the installed cost is often less and the range of aesthetic choices just as great. If there is a look you like in a stone or wood floor, there is a very good chance that there is an LVT or LVP product that is similar. In addition to stone and wood, there are block colors, geometric patterns and unusual textures -- let your imagination be your guide.
The specifications for these products varies by manufacturer, so discuss your needs with your flooring specialist to find the best one for you.