When it comes to your floors, there are a few options to consider beyond hardwood and carpeting. Today, we want to discuss an underdog we love: luxury vinyl plank flooring. If the words “luxury” and “vinyl” don’t seem like they should be beside each other, we are about to convince you otherwise. Back in the day (read: the years following the Second World War), vinyl was extremely popular because it was super-strong, easy to care for, and cheap to produce. In the years since, it’s gotten a bad rap for looking and feeling a bit cheap—at least compared to authentic hardwood floors.
Consider this our PSA that luxury vinyl plank flooring does, indeed, exist, and there’s a way to make it both look and feel expensive. You can even make it look like the real deal. If you’re feeling skeptical, hear us out: Just like any design element, there are good options and lesser options, and we’re here to tell you which is which. Ahead, we break down how to choose and buy luxury vinyl plank flooring. It’s like the ultimate design play: You’re paying a fraction of what you would for hardwood, but no one will be able to tell the difference.
So if your interest is piqued, keep reading for a few tips on scoring the ultimately luxurious floors without spending more than a few hundred bucks! We break down where to look, what to look for, and more. We even went ahead and picked out our personal favorite finds for each area of the house. So go ahead, keep scrolling to score the floor of your dreams. Let’s get into it, shall we?
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Types of Vinyl Plank Flooring
Before we start suggesting the best options, we want to go ahead and explain the various types of vinyl floors because even though they may look similar, there are a few subtle differences that set them apart.
Rigid Core Vinyl Plank Flooring: Rigid core is often made in four or five layers, which gives it its signature durability (and flexibility). It’s also typically made using a click-and-lock technique, which utilizes a tongue and groove design, eliminating the use of any messy glues and dangerous power tools.
Waterproof Vinyl Plank Flooring: Waterproof vinyl plank flooring doesn’t look particularly different from other types of vinyl floors, but it does boast one benefit: it can weather some wear and tear—especially when it comes to spills.
Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring: Lastly, luxury vinyl plank flooring, which is similar to rigid core vinyl plank flooring with a few key differences. LVP flooring, as it’s commonly referred to, comprises between six and eight structural layers, as opposed to four or five. Those layers can be made of about a million different materials, but the most common order of things is an attached cork under-layer; the core structure, which can feature as many as five layers; the vinyl top, and a wear layer, which is usually a waterproof, UV-protected fiberglass.
Best Vinyl Plank Flooring for High-Traffic Areas
For places that tend to see more traffic than others, including the entryway and the path from the kitchen to the living room, and the hallways between the bedrooms, you may want to lay down a sturdier floor option. Luxury vinyl plank flooring is a good consideration because it really takes a lot (and we mean a lot) to cause degradation or fading.
Best Vinyl Plank Flooring for Low-Traffic Areas
For low-traffic areas, such as bedrooms, there’s no need to invest in such a durable vinyl floor because it’s not getting nearly as much of a beating as the high-traffic areas. Though you can certainly go with luxury vinyl plank flooring, you can save and go with rigid instead. Of course, for areas that tend to get wet, like bathrooms, powder rooms, and laundry rooms, go with either luxury vinyl plank flooring or the waterproof alternative.
Benefits of Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring
If you aren’t already sold on all of the benefits of luxury vinyl plank flooring, this will convince you. For starters, it’s waterproof, so you won’t need to worry about staining it, oiling it, or racing to dry it if something spills. Second, and perhaps most important, they’re super easy to clean. All you really need is a vacuum and a Swiffer if you’re feeling fancy. These types of floors are also highly durable because they’re composed of so many layers that make them strong. Lastly, because it’s in such high demand, there is a lot of variety out there, so you’re bound to find something that suits your space.
Drawbacks of Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring
Of course, nothing is perfect—even luxury vinyl plank flooring. We’ve said many times that luxury vinyl plank flooring is extremely strong but never explained the whole reason why. In addition to the fact there are so many layers, it’s also permanently attached to the floor, meaning they don’t interlock like rigid core vinyl flooring. Installing luxury vinyl plank flooring is more time-consuming and challenging than other types. If you aren’t a flooring expert, we don’t suggest doing this yourself.
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Jessica Cherner is House Beautiful’s associate shopping editor and knows where to find the best high-low pieces for any room.