Vinyl flooring is one of the most popular types of flooring currently available on the market. Not only is it a lot cheaper than other materials, but it is also wipe-clean, durable and will give you enough traction under your feet.
Vinyl flooring often looks very stylish in most kitchen or living room scenarios. It is a wood-style substance that will complement most styles of flooring.
It comes in slats and it very easy to install in your home by simply slotting it together. It requires very little adhesive and can be installed without the need for a specialist.
There is also wood filler in the center of most vinyl flooring, which is what accounts for its durability.
It is also pet-friendly, meaning that it will be able to withstand all the clawing, scratching and general mess left by your indoor animals.
There are also a wider variety of finishes available of vinyl flooring - you can even get stone or marble styles of finish, which will complement the tiles in your bathroom or even a patio area in your conservatory.
Plenty of vinyl fans also like how this retains a lot of the heat from your flooring.
Fortunately, there are hundreds of types of vinyl flooring and finishes that you can choose from and even more manufacturers out there that will provide you with the best quality vinyl on the market.
However, if you are an indecisive type, then this might prove difficult for you when picking out your next flooring.
But what is the best vinyl flooring? Which companies are the best to go with for your vinyl flooring? What is the difference between features and various finishes?
How can you install vinyl flooring on your own? How much can you be expected for decent vinyl flooring?
Well, if you want that extra smooth quality on your flooring and are sticking to a tight budget, then you should read on, as we’ve compiled a list of some of the best vinyl flooring currently available on the market.
We’ll cover some of the best makers of vinyl flooring, as well as what you need to look out for in a decent quality vinyl.
We also will discuss the various properties of vinyl flooring and whether they will be suitable enough for your home.
But first, we’ll start off with a question that some of you might be thinking of but be slightly too embarrassed to ask: what exactly is vinyl flooring?
What Is Vinyl Flooring?
Vinyl flooring, as we have already touched on above, is a kind of synthetic wood material that easily attaches itself to the floor without the need for adhesive.
It can be given a wood or marble finish that will blend in with most styles of household decor.
It is resistant to water and will not experience bubbling in the same way as genuine softwood, hardwood and laminate flooring will.
It can be layered in between sheets, planks and tiles to give your floor a very eccentric and unique look.
Vinyl is a completely synthetic material, it is not comprised of genuine wood in the same way as natural laminate flooring is.
Vinyl can be enhanced or added to in order to increase visibility and make your floor last a lot longer.
The Good And Bad About Vinyl Flooring
Like most types of flooring, there will be pros and cons to having vinyl. However, one of the main reasons that this type of flooring is more popular is because it does have a lot more pros than it does cons, thankfully.
This type of floor is very popular for use in kitchens and bathrooms because of its water-resistant properties.
Pros Of Vinyl Flooring:
- It can be used in both residential and commercial properties - since this type of plank has various different cores and layers, it is a lot more resistant to the intense pressure that a floor might experience in a restaurant, for example. Vinyl will have no problem looking good even after increased footfall and boiling hot coffee.
- Inexpensive - this is one of the least expensive materials for flooring. Luxury Vinyl Plank or LVP has dramatically dropped in price over recent years, allowing you a decent floor pattern for even low-budget households.
- DIY installation - that’s right, one of the main draws of this type of flooring is the fact that you can install it yourself. Laying this flooring yourself will result in your saving quite a lot of money on hiring a specialist carpenter.
- More option for materials - You can have many different styles of core in this flooring, which we will discuss in further detail later on. You can also choose from a wide variety of finishes and thicknesses, matching them with the decor of your room.
- Budget options - you can also get high-quality styles for very low prices. That’s the genius of the vinyl flooring in that it is durable for an extremely low price.
- Resistant to water and stains - this type of flooring is perfect for use in the kitchen as it is very resistant to moisture, unlike genuine wood flooring, which can warp and rot after prolonged exposure to water. Vinyl also won’t stain, all you have to do after a spillage is wipe the thing clean.
Cons Of Vinyl Flooring:
- Off-gassing - due to the synthetic composition of this flooring, you might need to give it time to off-gas after it is laid. You might have to leave it for upwards of a week, resulting in your kitchen or living room being off-limits due to unpleasant odors.
- Hard to repair - if you do experience punctures or gouges in the surface of your vinyl flooring, then it would be easy to patch over. More than likely you’ll have to replace the whole plank.
- No increase in the value of your home - don’t expect the value of your home to increase if you sell it after you’ve installed vinyl flooring.
A Buyer’s Guide To Vinyl Flooring
Despite being made from relatively simple materials, there are still numerous things that you’ll have to consider before venturing out and buying your new vinyl flooring.
Although it is cheaper, you’ll want to buy the correct length and width, as well as core type.
Each style of vinyl flooring will give you different properties that will either be a plus or a negative for you and your kitchen or living room set up.
Below are a few of the things that you need to bear in mind when looking for a new set of vinyl planks.
What Is A Core Type?
A core type is basically the kind of material that is injected on the inside of your plank to give it that tensile strength.
It will also enhance the durability of your plank as well as how rigid it is.
The most common type of core that you’ll find is wood-plastic composite, otherwise known as WPC. This is a blend of wood and plastic, utilizing the pliability and strength of wood along with the water-resistant aspects of plastic.
The second most common is stone-plastic composite, which is a lot stronger and heavier, blending the tougher aspects of stone and the water-resistant aspects of wood.
These blanks are perfect for commercial use in a restaurant, being able to easily sustain the intense footfall and spillages that you’ll get in such an environment.
WPC is very soft to walk on, which will make it more suitable for a family home, particularly one where you have small children that might want a soft texture on their feet.
It won’t be able to withstand repeated stress, so it is probably best not to be used in a restaurant environment.
SPC is made from a limestone composite, so that will obviously make it perfect for a busy restaurant that you don’t want to crack or fragment after a few months of use.
You can use it in a supermarket or a local store, as it will be able to better withstand the repeating rolling of trolley wheels and intense footfall.
However, one of the drawbacks of having a vinyl floor with a stone core is that it is a lot less absorbent to noise.
This will result in a very echoey environment that might be slightly too noisy, especially if you want to cultivate a relaxed eating ambiance.
The availability of a stone core is also less than a wooden one, so you might find yourself finding it difficult to replace if it does get broken.
How Thick Should It Be?
Looking for your next vinyl planks, you always have to bear in mind that thickness, especially for luxury vinyl planking.
These are measured in millimeters and if you are going to have LVP in your home, then we would recommend having a thickness of at least 5 millimeters.
The higher your mil number, then the thicker the planks will be. Obviously having thicker planks means that they will be able to withstand intense shocks a lot better.
This means they will last you a lot longer and ultimately save you money in the long run.
If you have an increased mil on your wooden flooring, you’ll also have a better warranty, which means that you won’t damage your vinyl flooring in the first six months of use.
However, one of the main drawbacks of having a higher mil is that it will be a lot more pricey for you, both in terms of the product price and installation.
If you want your planks to line the floor of a restaurant or active commercial business, then you’ll probably be looking for a plank that is around 20 mil in density.
You can have a smaller density of around 12 mil, however, you have to bear in mind the amount of traffic that you can expect in and out of your building.
How To Install
Installation is probably something that most vinyl floor buyers will be worrying about, but don’t worry, LVP is known for its easy installation.
Now, whether you are hiring a professional or doing the job yourself, you’ll want to be aware of the fact that there are three different types of installation open to you.
One of the most common and probably easiest methods of installation is by simply locking each plank into place using adhesive spray, compound or flooring glue.
This is perfect if you want that sealed over quality similar to laminate flooring.
You can also have the grooved method of installation, which does not require any dangerous adhesive.
All you have to do is just interlock the planks, with a tongue and groove style that makes it easy for them to simply click into place.
This might be the easiest method of installation for those not equipped to deal with DIY tools.
This last method is also one of the most durable, the final piece locks into place to form one solid flooring strip.
This foundation will be immovable once it is set up, forming one single piece as opposed to individual slats that you might be used to on other types of flooring.
When one or a few of your planks get damaged, if you have not glued them, it is very easy to slide out the damaged slats and replace them.
This is perfect if you expect to have a lot of high impacts of increased footfall in your commercial business.
The final method of installation is the loose lay method, for which you will need specially-design slats that have rubber bottoms that will secure properly to the floor.
You can place each piece individually on the floor without gluing or interlocking them.
The rubber padding will prevent the planks from becoming loose. You can replace any damaged slats with very few tools and they won’t scuff or crack any other planks upon removal.
They are very resistant to slippages although they are also generally more expensive than ordinary units.
How Available Will Your plank Style Be?
A lot of people overlook the general availability of their plank style when they are purchasing one. This can really affect how easily you can replace a plank or numerous planks if they get damaged.
Imagine: if you have a commercial business and need to replace a plank that is not widely available, then you might have unsightly exposed flooring for weeks on end.
Obviously, this will not look great to your customers and might see your revenue fall slightly over a certain period of time.
Looking at the different core materials that your planks are made from, as well as the design and the installation methods, you can be looking to spend a lot more money on your flooring over time.
Also, certain styles of flooring might become less available over time. If you purchase a particularly rare style of vinyl flooring, then you can expect this to go out of stock very quickly.
However, if you get a more common style of flooring then you can be certain that suppliers will restock them regularly.
One way to avoid running out of vinyl flooring is to purchase an excessive amount of it in the shops. If you have a few spare planks going, then you can rest assured that you won’t struggle to find more at a later date.
However, you’ll have to make sure that you have extra storage space for your reserve planks.
If you run out of planks that are hard to come by, then the chances are you might have to settle with a poorer replacement with a substandard core and a different finish surface.
Having mismatched vinyl flooring certainly won’t look good either in your home or your business property.
Additional Features For Your Planks
Vinyl flooring has plenty of additional extras that you will find are very useful for your kitchen or bathroom area.
As mentioned above, a lot of styles of LVP have moisture-resistant properties that will certainly help keep your home looking nice and clean, allowing you to wipe off stains very easily.
The waterproof planks are very easy to install in your bathroom or if you have a laundry room where leaks often occur.
You can find plenty of textured tiles and planks that are not common in other flooring types. You can get slats with wood grains, as well as stone, tiles and embossed patterns. You can also get color and clear patterns.
Having softer patterns for the flooring in your living room will be crucial if you have young children. You won’t want a floor that will damage the delicate soles of your child’s feet.
This will also give you added comfort, especially when the floor gets colder during the night.
Luckily, no matter what requirements that you might have for your flooring, there are plenty of options out there on the market. You’ll be able to find a flooring type that suits you and your living set up.
Now let's move onto the aspect of new flooring that not a lot of people will get much joy contemplating and that’s the budget.
Buying a DIY option for vinyl flooring can come with its own hazards, as the installation can be very draining on both your time and your finances.
You’ll want planking that matches the decor of your home and won’t hurt you too much in the wallet.
If you don’t fancy yourself as much of a DIY guru, then you’ll want to get a professional in to help you with the installation.
Remember: the quote on your flooring will cover the delivery, the removal of your old flooring as well as the cleanup operation afterwards, which could take a while.
However, be wary as a lot of professional installers will not include certain things with their quotes, so ensure that you will make a list of some of the most common charges that you think will come up.
This might include cleanup, as well as charges for additional labour.
Ideally, when buying your vinyl flooring, you should have a decent warranty on it. Most floors for residential properties go way beyond 5 or even 7 years. You can get certain quotes on a warranty that will last around 15 or even 20 years.
If you are buying flooring for your commercial business, then you’ll probably have a warranty that is a lot lower, as they will anticipate that your slat will wear out a lot quicker.
However, if the warranty of your residential or commercial planks is anything less than 5 years, then you should look elsewhere.
What Are The Best Brands Of Vinyl Flooring?
Now we’re going to cover a few of the major brands of vinyl flooring that you can get out there.
There will be enough variances between the different makes of tiles to allow you to make the right decision for your flooring options.
Shaw is a plank maker that is not reserved when it comes to having the most luxury elements. These planks are durable and resilient, although you can expect them to come with a price tag to match.
This company is one that has been in operation for decades, so they have learned a thing or two about luxury flooring.
They have made many classic styles of vinyl flooring in over 10 different color swatches, with 3 different luxury vinyl planks to choose from.
Their first brand of plank is the DuraTru collection, which is not very expensive and comes somewhere between 5 and 7 mil thicknesses.
This makes them ideal for home installation, with enough textures and colors to blend in with the decor of your room.
For an added level of thickness, then you can go up to the next level of flooring, which is the Floorte style.
This is somewhere in the mid-range when it comes to thickness, as there are a dozen or so styles that you can choose from even within this range. This is another popular choice for homes, with a medium range of thickness.
If you want something for commercial use, then we would recommend that you pick up the Floorte Pro, which is a 30 mil thickness and comes with a stone plank core.
It is perfect for repeated heavy footfall and can even survive a heavy object being dropped on it.
One of the drawbacks of the Floorte Pro will obviously be the price, however, if you are serious about having the utmost protection for your cafe or business, then we would recommend that you fork out the money.
It will also last you a lot longer than the average plank.
Mostly all of the designs of the Shaw range are 100% waterproof, which will definitely be a plus point if you are running a food-based business or want flooring for your bar. The thicker mil units come with a higher warranty too.
If you buy one of the Shaw planks with a 30 mil thickness, then you can be sure that the warranty will be somewhere around the 20-year mark.
This will be a major boon for anyone who plans to use their vinyl flooring in the long term.
If you are selecting a residential warranty, then you’ll want something that is around 5 to 7 years. This will ensure that you will get the most out of your vinyl in a home environment where impacts and spillages are not much of a concern.
- A lot of the planks on this list are waterproof - this is something different from just water-resistant. You can submerge these planks in water and not expect much damage.
- The color selection of these planks is very impressive, you’ll have plenty of colors to mix and match with the decor of your home.
- Shaw also offers a great service where they will match the colors from a simple photograph or existing color palette.
- You can get vinyl flooring that will match wood or stone textures, making this the perfect choice if you want to decorate a patio area in your home.
- The price - the Shaw vinyl flooring will be a lot more expensive than some of the other brands on this list. However, with a top price comes top quality.
Next up we have a company that is very well renowned for producing only the highest quality vinyl floor tiles and has established itself over the last century as one of the most enduring companies in both America and Europe.
Armstrong is a company that has many wood grain appearance planks, featuring a natural, low gloss and distressed effect.
They also have plenty of stone and tile aesthetics too. If you want that durable plank effect inside and outside your home, then we’d certainly recommend that you check out this company.
These planks use self-stick rubber bottomed planks, so you won’t need any extra adhesive to fix them to your floor.
They also have a growing list of free-floating planks, making them perfect for residential and commercial use. With the exception of one range, most of the warranties are very short.
The Armstrong Vivero Best Line is a range that is highly durable and resistant to water and high impacts. This brand does not use silicone or ceramic beading for its strength or resilience, rather using diamond.
That’s right, these diamonds are engineered in a lab to give your planks that extra toughness that you simply will not find anywhere else on the market.
They are very glossy and very tough, meaning that they will last for years if giving the right tender love and care. The warranty on the Armstrong Vivero is around 15 years.
There is a lot of variation between the price of these various models, although they could all be bracketed in the mid-range category.
When it comes to reliability, installation and price, Armstrong is amongst the best.
- Plenty of sophisticated and innovative designs including grain, stone and tile finishes.
- These vinyl planks are resilient to various different kinds of corrosion, including water, scuffs, impacts and spillages. This makes them perfect for both home and commercial use.
- The price - these are some of the most affordable planks on the market, with plenty of features such as diamond cores and a smooth finish.
- You can get these Armstrong brands from most local hardware shops.
- These lines don’t have the best warranty, so if you want that security of repairs for years down the line, you might want to browse a different manufacturer.
This final company is part of the Home Depot brand, making it one of the most trusted models of vinyl flooring available on the market.
This LVP range is designed to last for years and is perfect for residential homes.
If you want something that can withstand the test of time and repeated footfall, then this is some of the best vinyl flooring to look up.
You can have various different textures and styles, with up to 6 different colors to choose from.
These are some of the thickest planks on this list, so if you have a busy workplace that needs lining with some sturdy and non-slip flooring, then LifeProof is the brand for you. They are great for those businesses that are working to a budget.
If you are installing it in your home though, then we would recommend that you use an adhesive and allow for a long setting time.
You might want to let it off-gas for at least 15 hours after installation. The company itself recommends that you allow the adhesive to set for at least 24 hours.
This is because the thickness of the planks is around 22 mil and will need a little more time to settle in. So make sure that you give it a few days before moving in your armchairs and widescreen television.
However, once these vinyl planks have been installed, you can be sure of having a floor that will last you for at least a few years.
The one downside, as with a lot of high-end vinyl flooring, is the price.
If you are on a budget, then there are better options that will give you a lot of the same features as this one.
What Is The Best Way To Fit Vinyl Floors?
One of the major plus points of having vinyl flooring will be the installation. You can clip one plank into another without having to use adhesive and minimal tools.
Whether you decide to go with a professional or go it alone, there will be things that you’ll need to know before embarking on the job and potentially making irreversible mistakes.
Even though vinyl planks can be installed relatively easily, you will still need some tools to make sure the job is done to a decent standard.
- Chalk - this is to help you get the measurements of the room as well as marking the starting line with the extension gap.
- Utility knife - this will be needed to cut the various pieces of vinyl flooring to the correct length. You must make sure that you use this knife to remove the tongue side of the very first plank that you lay down. If your plank is particularly thick, you might need a small hand saw.
- Spirit level - you’ll need this to make sure that the planks are level with the floor underneath. Make sure to never lay planks over uneven flooring.
- Crowbar - this will be mainly needed to remove the old planks, wedging it underneath first.
- Hammer - you will probably need a rubber mallet to ensure that the surface of your wood does not get damaged when you knock them into place. You can use it to knock the pieces into place or under a doorjamb.
- Square - this tool will help you to better get the angles on a room that is a slightly irregular angle.
- PPE - equipment such as goggles and industrial-strength gloves will help you to stay safe during the harder work, protecting your skin and eyes from splinters and flying debris. You can also use knee pads to ensure that your knees don’t bruise or get fatigued.
One of the reasons that a lot of people end up buying LVP is because they lend themselves nicely to self-installation.
If you have decided to forgo the extra price that you will have to pay for a professional carpenter to fit your wooden flooring and install them yourself, then there are some things that you’ll need to know first.
First, you’ll have to prepare the floor properly. Two days before the installation of your new flooring, place the planks in the room you are going to pay them.
Let them sit for around 48 hours to allow them to acclimatize to the atmosphere and temperature of the room.
When you install the planks, make sure that you will use variances in dyes and colors, taking planks from different boxes.
This will ensure that your patterns and grains will be a lot more seamless and uniform when you have finished laying them.
Remove the old flooring using a crowbar. However, there are types of flooring that can be laid down on top of old planks, if necessary.
Make sure that you remove the trim and baseboards of your rooms beforehand. Sweep, mop and vacuum the area before laying down your new vinyl flooring.
Installing The First Row
The first row is the most tedious to install, as you will need to go through the rigmarole of cutting each one before you lay it down.
You’ll need to cut the tongue off the side of each piece of vinyl on this first row. You will then need to lay these along the chalk line, with the tongueless edge facing the wall.
As you lay your planks, make sure that you leave an expansion gap as you move along, sliding each plank into the slot of the previous one as you go along.
Now that you’re done with the first row, you need to remember that the second row needs to be offset 6-inches from the first one.
This means that the end of the joint where the two pieces come together needs to be around 6-inches away from the joint of the former row.
Cutting the first piece of the second row to the right size, you then have to slot it into place in the groove of the first row.
The next piece should join the first one end to end, inserting it into the row until it clicks into place. You might have to use a rubber mallet for this one.
You need to repeat this process for the entire row that you do after the second one, until the entire room is covered with your vinyl slats.
Corners and Doorjams
Getting under a door jam can be a difficult procedure, although we would certainly recommend that you use a mallet to tap it into these narrow spaces.
You will have to bend the plank underneath the jam itself.
Ideally, you should lock the plank into the place of the previous plank and then bend it underneath the door jam to form one secure piece. This will also stop the plank from coming loose at a later date.
Remember to tap the plank into place with the hammer lightly, so that you don’t damage the surface of the plank.
Pushing the plank underneath the door jam will require a little bit of force, but you won’t want to force it, otherwise, you might split your vinyl.
Make sure that you cut the corners of any vinyl pieces that do not fit.
Once your room is completely fitted with vinyl planks, then you’ll want to install the trim and the baseboards of your room. However, a lot of users might find that transition pieces fit in well with the decor of the room.
If you do use transition boards, make sure that you use finishing nails rather than your vinyl planks to secure them, as they will expand over the next day or so.