If you are searching for the best floor for your kitchen, living room, bedrooms, etc. chances are that you are torn between installing a hardwood floor or a luxury vinyl plank floor. Flooring is one of the most visible parts of a home and plays a crucial part in enhancing both the aesthetic and functionality. As one of the most used spaces in the house, you need to install high-quality floors that will stand the test of time and enhance the functionality of your kitchen space. But choosing the right flooring for a kitchen is not an easy thing as most people think. There are so many things you need to consider, which makes the entire process even more complicated. In this hardwood vs. vinyl plank floors blog, we will tell you everything you need to know about these two types of floors to help you make the right decision.
What is Vinyl Plank Flooring?
Let’s start with the basics of luxury vinyl plank flooring, also known as laminate flooring. Many of our customers like this option because it is an affordable alternative to hardwood flooring. Back in the day, laminate floors weren’t as durable as they are today. So today, vinyl plank floors are affordable and durable. We’ve installed many jobs and a comment we always get is “I can’t believe this isn’t real hardwood!”. And we agree. Today’s vinyl floors are nothing like the reputation they earned 20 years ago.
Today’s vinyl plank floors are highly engineered and thus durable and aesthetically pleasing. There are two types of vinyl planks: luxury vinyl plank and vinyl rolls. Luxury vinyl plank, which is very popular, resembles a natural floor. Vinyl roll is fiberglass cushioned and comes in long flexible sheets. Vinyl planks are available in a wide variety of styles, designs, and thicknesses.
Are Vinyl and Laminate Flooring the Same Thing?
This one gets confusing but its pretty basic. Vinyl, laminate, and LVP are all the same thing…mostly. There’s some difference when it comes to quality, price, durability, etc. but for the most part these terms are used interchangeably. The differences really only apply to the product you end up installing in your home. Not all products are created equal. For example, you may put a more affordable laminate sheet vinyl in a 1/2 bath that doesn’t get used very often and a more expensive luxury vinyl floor in your kitchen to enhance its beauty and durability.
What Makes Luxury Vinyl Floors Unique?
The advantage of luxury vinyl is that its layers work together to provide durability, stability, and a realistic wood-like appearance. The technology thats used in today’s luxury vinyl is far superior to what was used in days past. There are three main layers to most luxury vinyl flooring. These layers work together to to not only make your floors look beautiful but they will last for a very long time. In fact, the life expectancy of today’s vinyl planks exceed 20 years. Here’s a quick run down of the different layers of vinyl plank flooring;
Wear Layer of Luxury Vinyl
A translucent layer protects floors from scratches, stains, and UV fading. Flooring durability depends on wear layer thickness. High-traffic areas in homes and businesses benefit from a stronger wear layer.
Design Layer of Laminate and luxury Vinyl
Next, the design layer replicates hardwood’s natural beauty under the wear layer. This layer embeds a high-definition wood grain or other design using advanced printing processes. It looks and feels like real wood. Wood types, colors, and patterns are available for homeowners to complement their style.
Core Layer of Vinyl Flooring
Last, the core layer underpins multiple layers of vinyl plank flooring. It gives flooring stability and dimension. Rigid, composite, or WPC (wood plastic composite) cores can be used. A robust, stiff core makes rigid core vinyl plank flooring impact-resistant and indentation-resistant. Composite core and WPC core vinyl planks use wood fibers, plastic, and foaming agents to make them more comfortable and soundproof.
Hardwood and Engineered Hardwood Floors
Now a word about other flooring options. As the name suggests, a hardwood floor is a type of floor made from timber. There are two types of hardwood floors. They include engineered hardwood and solid hardwood. Engineered hardwood has several layers of wooden plies and is covered with veneers of a specific type of natural wood throughout. Solid hardwood, on the other hand, is simply timber that has been cut into planks. These two types of hardwood floors have very similar textures, looks, durability, and warmth. In fact, it is difficult to distinguish them if you are not an expert.
Hardwood vs. Laminate Flooring, Which One Is Better?
Now that you know the difference between these two types of floors, you are probably wondering which one of the two is better for your home. Both hardwood floors and vinyl plank floors have their strengths and weaknesses. In this section, we will discuss the major differences that set these two types of flooring apart to help you make an informed decision.
How Durable are Luxury Vinyl Planks?
One crucial factor that most homeowners look for when choosing a kitchen floor is durability. Surprisingly, the durability of both the hardwood and vinyl plank floor is nearly the same. As mentioned earlier, the cutting-edge engineering used to make today’s vinyl and plank floors are incredible, and they are thus very strong and durable.
Hardwood sheet vinyl floors are naturally strong and very durable. The only difference between the two when it comes to durability is that hardwood floors are susceptible to scratches and cracks, while luxury vinyl plank flooring is prone to breaking when something heavy is dropped or dragged on the floor. But overall, both of them are incredibly durable.
Are Hardwood Floors and Laminate Floors Both Waterproof?
One of the main differences between these two types of floors is their ability to keep off water. High-quality laminate floors are 100% waterproof, meaning they don’t absorb water. On the other hand, hardwood floors are not so good at keeping off the water. In fact, water is one of the greatest enemies of hardwood floors because it usually degrades them when exposed for a prolonged period. And considering that the kitchen is prone to spills, vinyl plank floors indeed have an edge over hardwood floors on this factor.
Vinyl plank flooring’s moisture resistance prevents mold and mildew growth, creating a healthier indoor environment. This feature benefits homes in humid regions or places prone to spills and wetness. Vinyl plank flooring is low-maintenance. Sweeping, vacuuming, and periodic damp mopping usually keep floors clean.
Is Luxury Vinyl Flooring Expensive?
Another area where vinyl planks really shine is in costs. They are a lot cheaper compared to hardwood floors and offer almost the same when it comes to looks, durability, and functionality. Hardwood floors are very expensive, mainly because of the type and quality of the material used.
The price range of a vinyl plank floor typically ranges from $2 to $8 per square foot, while the cost of a hardwood floor ranges from $7 to $25 per square foot. So, if you are on a tight budget, then it vinyl plank flooring could be the best choice for you.
Does Vinyl Plank Flooring Look Like Hardwood?
Besides the fact that they are derived from high-quality natural materials, hardwood floors are also very attractive. Vinyl planks and tiles are also very attractive and closely resemble hardwood floors. In fact, it is difficult to tell the difference if they are professionally installed. However, they don’t have warmth like hardwood floors but are softer and quieter.
Of course, there’s something nalstalgic and cool about a natural wood floor but the daily demands of a home today with kids, gatherings, and more time spent in the home, luxury vinyl is an incredible option. They’ll last longer, cost much less to maintain, and are easier to install. Many times we can be in and out in 1-2 days and leave you and your family with a brand new floor.
Which Type of Floor is the Easiest to Maintain?
Vinyl planks win again when it comes to ease of maintenance. The fact that they are waterproof means that they need little maintenance. The only maintenance they need is regular cleaning with the right cleanser. But it is important to note that not all vinyl planks cannot be repaired once they get damaged.
Hardwood floors, on the other hand, are quite sensitive and need regular cleaning to keep them in good shape. As mentioned earlier, hardwood floors are not waterproof, meaning you need to clean spills immediately to prevent damage. You also need to use the right cleaning products to prevent moisture build-up from damaging the floor. However, hardwood floors can be refinished or repaired.
Additionally, vinyl plank flooring requires no refinishing or resealing, saving homeowners time and money. Vinyl plank flooring’s adaptability to changing lifestyles and design trends also affects its lifetime. With a variety of shapes, colors, and finishes, homeowners may alter their area without replacing the same flooring materials. Vinyl plank flooring may match many home design concepts and last for years due to its versatility.
Hardwood and luxury vinyl flooring and planks have their own pros and cons. We recommend that you choose flooring for your kitchen that suits your individual needs and budget. Regardless of the option that you choose, one thing that is very important is how the floor is installed. If you want to get the best for your vinyl planks or hardwood floor, you need to ensure that it is professionally installed. While DIY is an option, many times it is worth it to rely on professional installation.
Luxury vinyl flooring is becoming more popular with homeowners and designers. Many households prefer it for its versatility, durability, and aesthetics. Vinyl floors is a low-cost, durable, and realistic alternative to hardwood, engineered hardwood, natural stone, or ceramic tile, flooring. Bravo Flooring has been installing Vinyl plank flooring for over 15 years and are here to answer any question you may have.