Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) floors are a disruptive flooring technology that replaces typical hardwood floors and tiles. The best LVP floors are so perfect it’s hard to distinguish them from real hardwood floors.
LVP flooring is waterproof, less expensive, and faster and easier to install than wood or tile. Even the high-end residential market discovered LVP floors last year. It works in wet areas such as bathrooms and laundry rooms as well as living rooms, kitchens, dining rooms, and anywhere in the house except for stairs.
You can install LVP in humid water-logged markets such as Florida and other tropical locations throughout the world. It looks great, is easy to install over the tile and other flat surfaces, and is easy to remove if you decide to remodel.
Below is the Floorte Palatino Plus Museum LVP flooring, which was discontinued. It looks good and has held up very well to our 2 dogs and five young adult and teenage kids.
We have this floor in our kitchen, living room, dining room, and a couple of bathrooms. I show it so you can see how it looks after four years. I’m very happy with it.
What are Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) floors?LVP floors are made from vinyl planks with high def photos of hardwood floors that look absolutely real. The best LVP floors look so much like real hardwood they’re basically indistinguishable. Planks are usually 36” to 48” long and 5-7” wide, and come in a rainbow of LVP color options and styles. Luxury Vinyl Planks usually have 4 layers. Layers include a tough clear plastic, a realistic high def photo of the wood, and a strong core of vinyl and other materials. The bottom layer typically provides a cushion for comfortable use. Each brand has its own “special sauce” for the LVP construction. This diagram from Flooring, Inc. is great!
LVP vs LVT: What’s the Difference?When you’re looking for the best LVP flooring, you might notice a lot of information about LVT flooring as well. LVT – that’s luxury vinyl tile – is essentially the same thing as LVP flooring. The main difference is that LVT is typically cut in a tile shape (square or smaller rectangles) and LVP flooring is done in a long, wide plank.
How to Choose the Best LVP FloorsIf you’re considering LVP flooring for your home, then chances are you want the most realistic LVP that will look like genuine hardwood and stand the test of time. Use the following tips to explore the right vinyl plank flooring for you.
Key LVP specs for durable residential wear
- Wear Layer is the thickness of the top protective layer (Minimum of 12 mil or 20 mil for pets and young children)
- Floor thickness is the total thickness of the floor (minimum of 3mm for low traffic areas; minimum of 6mm for high traffic)
- Read the warranty carefully. Higher quality products have the best warrantees. They can be as high as 20 years or more.
Look for fast and easy installationMost LVPs are available as floating floors with click-and-lock edges for quick and painless DIY installation. Hire a flooring professional for a complex installation. There is no need to spend days to install, sand, coat, and cure as with traditional hardwood. For stairs, pick an LVP with flush plank bullnose edges for a more natural wood look. A non-flush transition at the end of your floor plank can be a trip hazard.
Can you do heated floors under LVP?Yes, but it may not be the best idea. I’ve found several articles on how you can use in-floor heating with LVP, but one article said that you couldn’t go over 80 deg F because it could destroy the integrity of the floor. From an engineering perspective (a previous life for me), I wouldn’t risk it because it’s not hard to increase the temperature of the floor, and it would be hard to control. Think about it this way – plastics melt at higher temperatures. Even if your floor doesn’t melt, it could be impacted by heat.
How to Care for LVP FlooringThis section includes affiliate links for products I use and love. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no cost to you. Sweep or vacuum your floors daily to keep dirt particles from damaging the surface, just like hardwood floors. Consider a Roomba robot vacuum for carefree cleaning all day long. The Roomba uses sensors to guide the robot on the floor around the furniture to clean You can turn it on and off with your smartphone. Coolest gadget ever! It’s important to make sure you choose cleaning products safe for vinyl planks. If you need to mop, use clean water or a mild solution such as Shaw’s R2X Floor Cleaner. You can buy as a concentrate or diluted in a spray bottle. Although they are waterproof and have higher wear resistance than traditional hardwood floors, LVPs can still be pierced or gouged.
- Don’t drop knives or scissors onto LVP floors because they can pierce the vinyl.
- Use furniture coasters to keep from gouging the LVP.
- Don’t install real wood or LVP floors if a family member uses a wheelchair. Consider a tile floor instead.
Stay Healthy When Installing LVP FlooringMany construction materials such as paint, carpet, or traditional hardwood floors emit VOCs when they are new. VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) come from toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde that can cause health risks when they are new. The best way to protect yourself when installing LVP flooring is to pick LVP products with the lowest amounts of VOCs. Third-party certifications such as FloorScore test products such as LVPs to ensure they have low VOC levels. Also, look for LVP floors that are phthalate free. Most major LVP manufacturers do not use phthalates. Where possible, use a floating floor with click-to-lock installations to avoid glue which can also be a source of high VOCs.
How to Find Vinyl Flooring That Looks Like Wood PlanksThere are so many reasons to choose LVP vs hardwood floors, from ease of installation to the cost of vinyl plank flooring and more. One of the best things about LVP flooring, however, is just how much they look like real hardwood. If you want the best LVP floors that mimic hardwood, use these tips:
- Choose floors without distressed finishes (a short-lived trend).
- Choose planks that are 48″ long or more, with matte or less shiny finishes. There should only be one plank per piece.
- The most timeless wood floors are mid-toned brown wood and unstained white oak and maple. Dark floors and gray floors are trends that are on their way out. That applies to LVP floors too!
- Avoid splotchy wood floors in colors that would never be found in wood.
- Stand on the sample. If it feels spongy like a gym floor, don’t buy it.
5 Best LVP Floors that Stand the Test of TimeNow that you’ve explored the many benefits of LVP flooring, we have picked 5 floors for you that will look stylish long after your warranty has expired. Just like you need to test paint colors in your home, always order samples of the floors you love to see what they look like in person and in your room. You can order samples from your dealer or manufacturer.
Waddington Oak Coretek EnhancedThis LVP floor is my absolute favorite! It has a mid-toned classic color, and when I update floors it is my pick. You can learn more about it here. We picked this floor in a basement upgrade project. The basement had been flooded and had these 18″ by 18″ carpet squares. We replaced them with this gorgeous LVP floor and added the yoga/office room as well. The floating floor has a 20 mil wear layer and a limited lifetime residential warranty. The floor was installed three years ago and has held up well. The planks are 72 inches long, and this floor looks just like a real hardwood floor.
Shaw Floore Palatino Plus, StadiumThis is the same floor that I have in my house but in a different color. Shaw Floorte Palatino Plus, Stadium is a light-colored wood that looks like white oak LVP flooring. The floating floor has a 12 mil wear layer and a 30-year limited warranty. It looks incredibly real and works well with modern finishes. Planks are 48″ long.
Calypso Oak Coretek EnhancedAnother light option for warm wood is the COREtec Calypso Oak floor. It has a 20 mil wear layer, is 8 mm thick, 48″ long and comes with a 25 year warrantee. It can be installed as a floating floor, without glue, and looks very realistic. Source
Mannington AduraMax Swiss Oak (Truffle Color)This slightly warmer LVP floor has a gorgeous texture and color and is available in 7″ by 48″ planks. It has a 20 mil wear layer and is 8 mm thick with a limited lifetime residential warranty. It is a traditional glue-down floor. The AduraMax product line features the Hydroloc waterproof core, a proprietary technology. This is one of the toughest, most durable LVP floors on the market. Link here for more information: Mannington Adura Max Swiss Oak (Truffle Color)
Pergo Extreme (Sand Dune)These Pergo Extreme Sand Dune floors have a 20-mil wear layer and are 6 mm thick, 9″ wide, and 60″ long. They carry a limited lifetime residential warranty, and I think they are gorgeous. I love the caramel color. They are another classic and timeless choice.
Key Learning Points
- Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) floors are a disruptive flooring technology that replaces typical hardwood floors and tiles.
- The HD wood images on the planks are so perfect it’s hard to distinguish them from real hardwood floors.
- LVP is waterproof, less expensive, and faster and easier to install than wood or tile.
- LVP flooring is easy to care for and can often be installed directly on top of your existing flooring.