What is Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring? What are the pros and cons of Luxury Vinyl Flooring (LVP & LVT)?
In this post, we’ll discuss what Luxury vinyl is, the good and the bad of luxury vinyl, the different forms/types of the product as well as the acronyms/abbreviations used in the industry (e.g. LVT, EVP, LVP, EVT).
Vinyl has come a long way since its original inception. There are plenty of different options that feel and look like real hardwood and stone.
What do all of the acronyms stand for?
LVP stands for Luxury Vinyl Plank, which are vinyl planks that look like hardwood planks. LVT stands for Luxury Vinyl Tile, which are vinyl planks or squares that look like tile or natural stone. They are individual pieces, much like tile or stone, and have the added benefit of being waterproof.
LVP/LVT comes in a variety of grades and forms. The innovation in both quality and durability has been evolving extremely fast yearly. There are more form and color options available than ever.
What is EVP?
EVP short for Engineered Vinyl Plank. It is a subset of Luxury Vinyl Flooring. EVP has an incredibly realistic hardwood look and feels and is very durable. It is waterproof and has a high-density core.
EVP – or Engineered vinyl plank, is a thicker form of the standard glue down vinyl. At an average of 8 mm thick, it’s fairly similar to an engineered hardwood or laminate flooring in thickness. Much like engineered flooring, it is constructed in layers. The top layer is vinyl, the center is a high-density core board and there is typically an attached back underlayment, such as cork for more cushioning. Like laminate, these floors are designed to click together for easy installation.
Engineered vinyl plank is similar in form and looks to an engineered hardwood and laminate flooring, but it is much more resilient. Another great benefit to EVP is that it is waterproof.
Engineered vinyl plank has is a great alternative to more expensive engineered hardwood flooring, that is more durable and attractive to cheaper looking vinyl and laminate. Both of these have an unfortunate tendency to curl over time.
What are the different forms of luxury vinyl flooring?
Years ago luxury vinyl was only available in a glue-down form. These materials could be glued directly to a concrete slab or a plywood sub-floor. They are fairly thin so when glued directly to a concrete slab, they just lay on top of it without providing any sort of cushioning. It’s essentially as if you are walking on top of a concrete slab, so it can be pretty hard and cold.
Because vinyl is thin, imperfections in the sub-floor can show through, it’s very important that you prep the floor before installing vinyl.
Eventually, a variation of vinyl was created that was floating. Floating means that the floor covering isn’t glued or attached to the sub-floor. This makes it much easier to install without hiring a professional and to replace or repair the floor at a later date.
Big box stores carry some varieties of these materials. These offerings tend to be lower quality and much less durable than you would find from a vendor that specializes in flooring. These have a habit of curing over time and delaminating in areas that see more moisture, or where the floor isn’t even. This could cause the pieces to not line up properly, and in more trafficked areas could be tripping hazards.
What are the advantages of EVP?
- Waterproof– Engineered luxury vinyl is a great choice for areas with a lot of moisture such as bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms
- Appearance– Luxury vinyl looks great, specially engineered vinyl plank. Many people mistake it for hardwood
- Price– On average EVP/LVP is less expensive than hardwood or tile
- Provides more insulation and soundproofing than glue down laminates and vinyl
- Can be installed on top of virtually any surface that is flat. Luxury vinyl can go on top of plywood, tile, or concrete
- Easy to install nothing more really needs to be said about that
What are the downsides to Engineered Vinyl Planks?
- It doesn’t improve the value of your home in the same way that hardwood or tile does. However, it’s certainly a preferable and longer-lasting option vs laminate flooring or your basic cheap vinyl
- It can scratch, especially with heavy objects such as appliances. It’s more scratch-resistant than hardwood and a bit less resistant than laminate. You can replace individual pieces if they get scratched, so it’s handy to have an extra box or two for repairs
- May require a lot of floor prep if your floor is uneven or wavy. If your floor is very uneven or wavy, Engineered vinyl planks (which are rigid) will not line up very well, and they can bounce (just as any floating floor can). So, if your floors are wavy or uneven, you will probably want to either add self-leveling, mix which can be a bit costly, or consider a glue-down installation
When does it make sense to do a floating engineered vinyl plank rather than a glue-down luxury vinyl?
- When your floors are flat and level, you can use whichever type of vinyl (or another flooring you want). In these circumstances, most customers prefer an engineered vinyl plank as it looks and feels nicer. It often costs a bit less, too
- When you want a floor that is waterproof and moisture resistant. Engineered vinyl plank is perfect for this, and a way better option vs laminate (or engineered hardwood) that can become ruined just from moisture, let alone a floor or water leak
- When you’re looking for more stylish colors. Because the engineered vinyl planks are newer and more popular, they are rapidly expanding their lines and color selection. It’s often easier to find more options in the more recent hot trends for grays, weathered woods and farmhouse looks in the engineered planks. There are generally fewer options in the glue-down versions
Luxury Vinyl Planks are a quickly growing segment in the marketplace, and the Engineered Vinyl Planks are the most quickly expanding sub-segment. They provide a gorgeous real and contemporary look, and they are very durable and versatile. It is a huge benefit that they are waterproof, so they are great for water or moisture-prone areas such as kitchens and bathrooms.
Luxury vinyl tends to hold up much better than laminate and engineered hardwood and they can be installed on top of virtually any type of surface.