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One of the most frequently asked questions for flooring experts is…just what IS the difference between vinyl floors known as luxury versus regular styles? Quite simply, it has to do with layers, technology, and form.
As Vinyl Time Goes By
In the 1960s through the 1980s, standard sheet vinyl was a best seller for home kitchens and bathrooms, along with other areas like entryways, game rooms, and more. Homeowners appreciated its waterproof advantage and its ease of maintenance. There was not a lot of consideration for long-term wear and tear or scratch-resistance. The flexible vinyl sheeting was fairly thin and soft, with just a paper-thin protective coating over its design layer.
The malleable vinyl material was cut neatly to fit a room and then often placed directly on top of a hard concrete base floor. This made it quite harsh to stand or walk on for long, so not very friendly to knees and other joints. Clearly, it had its benefits and its drawbacks.
Then came luxury vinyl options, which changed the flooring game considerably. This product was first crafted in the 1970s but truly took off in popularity about a decade later. People saw how pleasant it felt under foot as it had some soft give, and it was far more gouge-proof and lasting than its vinyl sheet cousin.
Luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) and luxury vinyl planks (LVP) have remained popular ever since, and its aesthetic offerings get more diverse and beautiful each year. One of the hottest choices is the wood-look luxury flooring—it is available in every shade, grain, and finish you can imagine, with many people having trouble distinguishing whether these authentic-looking foundations are real wood or faux. There are some truly elegant, gorgeous varieties available at surprisingly affordable prices.
What Are The Differences?
Modern vinyl options are easy to install and look incredible after installation, whether you select regular or luxury floors. Regular flooring is still available in sheets—they come in rolls and are cut to size—and are also now offered as peel-and-stick tiles, making it a handy DIY project. Luxury vinyl is manufactured in either tiles or planks, and these are both quite thick, sturdy, and rigid so they take a bit more effort to cut and fit for a space than standard vinyl products.
Through Thick & Thin
The most visually obvious difference in the two options is the thickness. Regular sheets or tiles are much thinner and flexible. The backing layer is usually vinyl or felt, and the protective coating wear layer is generally less than 15 mm thick, so wear-and-tear shows sooner than with luxury floors.
While standard vinyl incorporates those few layers, luxury vinyl has several more layers stacked together, making it far sturdier. In fact, manufacturers compile up to eight layers of material, including the attractive photo-realistic design, a firm fiberglass or PVC backing, cushioning foam, and a wear layer up to eight mm thick. Some styles even incorporate a crushed-stone-powder formula in its top vinyl layers for added strength and reliability.
The Real-Look Deal Before Your Eyes
The other major difference between the two vinyl products is the overall realism when they have a faux look for wood, stone, or other natural element. While traditional sheeting and regular vinyl tiles have greatly improved in these aesthetics, luxury products do have a leg up for realistic styling.
Some of the luxury planks and tiles incorporate amazingly authentic-looking textures, colors, designs, and even flaws. For example, there are some barnwood-looking styles that include intentional “nicks,” wood knots, hardware ridges, and other charming elements. The texturized wear layers in some of these products are tactile delights that feel like the real thing. It’s been fascinating to see how each year there is a creative new faux product on the market that truly stuns in terms of authentic-looking beauty.
Getting Floors Properly In Place
Another difference between the two types of vinyl flooring is the difference in installation needs. Some people are surprised to find out that the easier method uses the more rigid style of materials. Yes, the luxury vinyl planks are easier for both pros and DIYers to handle and work with because the planks are simple to carry around and use a click-and-lock system that essentially works like a puzzle. It’s a fool-proof method that makes the process fun.
On the other hand, large, hard-to-maneuver pieces of regular vinyl can be unwieldy and frustrating. These must be cut just so to avoid any wall or other gaps, and cumbersome movements while placing it on the floor make it tough sometimes. Many people prefer either regular vinyl peel-and-stick pieces or luxury snap-in tiles or planks.
Splashing Good Times
Do you have a puddle-magnet pool house or a mud room that sees more-than-average snowy or rainy weather results? For areas that are prone to a significant amount of moisture, you may want to opt for regular vinyl sheeting floors, as they offer more of a seal-tight waterproof barrier.
While luxury vinyl planks and tiles do a great job of repelling spills or splatters, and are perfectly water resistant, there are seams that may allow pooling water to penetrate to under-layers and cause issues over time. This is the one unique area where sheeting styles do stand out. And this advantage only holds for the sheeting option for regular vinyl, not the peel-and-stick tiles as they, too, have seems that could allow excess puddles to seep down to sub-floors.
For kitchens and bathrooms that see simply average moisture exposure, truly either option works wonderfully as every kind of vinyl flooring is hardily moisture-resistant.
Similarities With Vinyl Floor Types
Home and business owners—and particularly their cleaning crews—welcome the breezy maintenance needs of any vinyl floor. It’s a simple task to keep these durable floors looking their very best for years.
Regular and luxury vinyl floors need a brisk sweep or vacuum each day if it’s a high-traffic area, and any sticky spills or other marks can be spot cleaned with water and gentle cleaner. Then, about every week, you can simply mop the vinyl foundation with warm water and mild soap. There is no need for special cleaning formulas, floor wax, or other sealing processes at all. It does not take much time or elbow grease to keep your floor beautiful.
Finally, the budget-satisfying similarity with either vinyl product is the price as compared to other flooring types like hardwood, tile, marble, or stone. One look while comparison shopping will make any homeowner or business owner pleased to see how much they can save while still getting an elegant new floor installed that meets their needs in many durable & attractive ways.
Whichever choice you make, enjoy your new reliable vinyl foundation.