5 Best LVP Floors & Why They’re Better than Hardwood

Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) floors are a disruptive flooring technology that replaces typical hardwood floor and tile.  The HD wood images are so perfect it’s hard to distinguish from real hardwood floors.  It 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 tile and other flat surfaces, and easy to remove if you decide to remodel.

LVP Floor in Living Room

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.  They are usually 36” to 48” long and 5-7” wide, and come in a rainbow of colors and styles. Luxury Vinyl Planks usually have 4 layers.  Layers include a tough clear plastic, a realistic high def photo of wood and a strong core of vinyl and other materials.  The bottom layer typically provides a cushion for comfortable use.  Each brand has their own “special sauce” for the LVP construction. This diagram from Flooring, Inc. is great!

Luxury Vinyl Construction

Wood floor contractors lost business to LVPs in 2018

The Extended Industry Outlook 2019”, published by the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) publishes trends from industry surveys. Contractors surveyed in the study show concerns that wood-look LVP is taking business away from the wood floor industry. Half the contractors surveyed said that wood-look floor coverings have had a negative impact on their real wood floor sales.

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 warrantee carefully. Higher quality products have the best warrantees.  They can be as high as 20 years or more.

Fast and Easy Installation

Most 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 a 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.

How to Care for LVP floors

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 furniture to clean You can turn it on and off with your smart phone.  Coolest gadget ever!

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.

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 its 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.

Stay Healthy

Many 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 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. Pick 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 Pick LVP that mimics Hardwood Floors

For a look that mimics real hardwoods, choose floors without distressed finishes (a short-lived trend) or beveled edges.  Real hardwoods are sanded smooth, and beveled edges are dirt catchers. Choose planks that are 48″ long or more, and 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, just say no.

5 Classic LVP Floors that Stand the Test of Time

We have picked 10 floors for you that will look stylish long after your warrantee has expired.  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.  

Shaw Floorte Palatino Plus, Museum is a mid-toned classic color. This is the floor that I chose for my new home, and I love it! I’ve been carrying a sample in my purse now for two months. The floating floor has a 12 mil wear layer and a 30 year limited warrantee.  It looks just as real as any classic hardwood floor. This floor is great for white kitchens and looks amazing with blue or gray lower cabinets. The planks are 48 inches long.

Shaw Floorte Palatino Plus, museum

Shaw Floorte Palatino Plus, Stadium is a light colored wood that looks like a white oak. The floating floor has a 12 mil wear layer a 30 year limited warrantee.  It looks incredibly real and works well with modern finishes. Planks are 48″ long.

Shaw Floorte Palatino Plus Stadium

This COREtec Bruges Oak is 6 mm thick, 48″ long and comes with a 25 year warrantee.  This is an entry level product for COREtec, and I love it! It can be installed as a floating floor, without glue.

Coretek Bruges Oak

Mannington Adura Max Dockside has a gorgeous texture and color and is available in 6″ by 48″ planks.  It is 8 mm thick with a limited lifetime warrantee.

Mannington Adura Plus Dockside

Mohawk Perfect Escape Praline floors have a 20mil wear layer, are 7.5 mm thick, 6″ wide and 48″ long. They carry a 30 year residential warrantee, and I think they are gorgeous. I love the caramel color.

Mohawk Perfect Escape Praline

The Verdict

Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) floors are a disruptive flooring technology that replaces typical hardwood floor and tile.  The HD wood images are so perfect it’s hard to distinguish from real hardwood floors.   LVP 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.

Don’t forget to test your paint colors! Check out “Learn to Test Paint Colors Like a Pro“.

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