Vinyl plank floors give you the look and feel of hardwood flooring while being water- and scratch-resistant. Unlike vinyl sheet floors, vinyl plank is much thicker, looks better, and is more durable, making it an excellent choice for homeowners. This article covers everything you need to know about vinyl plank flooring. 

 

Table of Contents:

 

  • What Is Vinyl Plank Flooring?
  • Pros and Cons of Vinyl Plank Flooring
  • Types of Vinyl Plank Flooring
  • How to Install Vinyl Plank Flooring
  • How Much Does Vinyl Plank Flooring Cost?
  • Vinyl Plank Floors FAQs
  • DIY or Hire a Professional for Installation?

 

What Is Vinyl Plank Flooring?

Vinyl plank flooring, also known as a luxury vinyl plank (LVP), has become a popular choice among homeowners. It mimics the look and feel of hardwood floors while being waterproof and scratch-resistant. 

 

Vinyl plank floors are thicker, more durable, and look better than sheet vinyl floors. They come in long, narrow planks instead of square-shaped tiles. The floor consists of four layers: 

 

  • Wear layer: This topmost layer, made of aluminum oxide, protects the floor from scratches, stains, and wear and tear. Some floors also contain a transparent film layer below this for added protection.
  • Design layer: This layer contains a high-resolution printed image of hardwood or stone that gives vinyl plank its realistic appearance. 
  • Backing layer: It provides support and stability to the plank. It’s made of vinyl and comprises nearly 90 percent of the thickness of the floor.
  • Attached underlayment: This layer, usually made of cork, provides cushion to the foot and absorbs sound. 

 

Pros and Cons of Vinyl Plank Flooring

Here is a breakdown of the pros and cons of vinyl plank flooring: 

Pros of Vinyl Plank Flooring

 

  • Aesthetic appeal: Vinyl plank flooring comes in various colors and styles and can seamlessly blend with the interior of your home. The planks replicate the appearance of natural materials like hardwood or stone. 
  • Durable: Vinyl planks are well-known for their durability. They resist scratches, dents, and stains, making them an excellent choice for high-traffic areas. 
  • Water-resistant: Unlike hardwood floors, vinyl plank floors are fully waterproof and won’t warp when exposed to water. You can also use vinyl planks in kitchens and bathrooms. 
  • Easy to maintain: Regular sweeping and weekly damp mopping are sufficient to keep vinyl plank floors looking pristine. They don’t require refinishing, unlike wooden floors
  • Easy to install: Most vinyl plank floors use a DIY-friendly click-and-lock system in which the ends and edges of the plank snap together. They are significantly easier to install than hardwood and stone floors. 
  • Affordable: Vinyl plank floors cost $2 to $6 per square foot, making them significantly less expensive than hardwood floors. The price is similar to laminate floors, but vinyl planks look better, are more durable, and waterproof. 

Cons of Vinyl Plank Flooring

 

  • Not eco-friendly: Vinyl plank flooring isn’t eco-friendly as it contains non-biodegradable, synthetic materials. 
  • Difficult to repair: Repairing vinyl planks can be challenging. If a plank is damaged, you have to replace it entirely. This process involves disassembling the planks, starting from one side of the wall and working toward the damaged plank. Finding the exact match for the plank can also be difficult. 

 

Types of Vinyl Plank Flooring

Vinyl plank floor primarily comes in two types:

 

  • Stone Plastic Composite (SPC)
  • Wood Plastic Composite (WPC)

SPC (Stone Plastic Composite)

Stone plastic composite vinyl floors are made by combining stone powder and PVC. They are highly durable and 100% waterproof. SPC floors range between 3 mm and 7 mm in thickness. 

 

SPC floors are tough and an excellent choice for high-traffic areas. You can also use it in commercial places because it doesn’t dent. The downside is that the floor is hard to walk on, so it isn’t the best choice for your bedroom and living room. You can eliminate this issue to some extent by installing an underlayment first. 

 

SPC floors can mimic hardwood, concrete, and ceramic floors. 

 

Characteristics

 

Durable: Yes

Waterproof: 100%

Stain-resistant: Yes

Scratch-resistant: Yes

Best for: Bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room  

Lifespan: 30 years

 

WPC (Wood Plastic Composite)

These floors are highly durable and 100% waterproof. WPC floors are made by combining wood fibers and PVC. They are slightly thicker than SPC floors at 5 mm to 8 mm. However, in terms of durability, SPC floors take the win. 

 

WPC floors have a cork underlayment, making them slightly softer than SPC floors, and are an excellent choice for living rooms and bedrooms. However, since these floors are durable, you can use them anywhere, including your bathroom, kitchen, and basement. 

 

WPC floors come in various colors and finishes to replicate hardwood floors.

 

Characteristics

 

Durable: Yes

Waterproof: 100%

Stain-resistant: Yes

Scratch-resistant: Yes

Best for: Bedroom and living room 

Lifespan: 20 years

 

How to Install Vinyl Plank Flooring

If you’re passionate about home improvement and have a free week, you can DIY install vinyl plank flooring. Here’s how:

 

1. Arrange for the Necessary Tools

Here are all the tools you need for DIY vinyl plank flooring installation:

 

  • Vinyl plank floors (measure your room accurately and purchase at least 10 percent more flooring for future replacements)
  • Utility knife
  • Measuring tape
  • Sander
  • Self-leveling product
  • Pry bar
  • Spacers
  • Pencil
  • Rubber mallet 
  • Construction adhesive
  • Caulk 

 

Safety gear:

 

  • Safety goggles 
  • Gloves 
  • Knee pads

2. Remove the Baseboard

 

  • Use a utility knife to cut through the top edges of the baseboard. 
  • Use a pry bar to gently loosen the baseboard away from the wall by applying even pressure. Start at one end and work your way along the other. 
  • Make sure to label the baseboards to avoid confusion when putting them back. 

3. Prepare the Subfloor

 

Check if your subfloor is level. Fix low spots with a self-leveling product and sand down high spots. Self-leveler dries fast, so you should work quickly. 

 

Note: If your old flooring is vinyl, remove it instead of sanding, as it contains asbestos. Even a small percentage of asbestos can pose significant health risks to both humans and pets. 

 

Inspect your subfloor for cracks. Use a wood filler to fill them. Once done, clean and dry the floor. 

 

Use a sealer to seal cracks in concrete floors. 

4. Measure and Plan the Layout

 

Measuring and planning the layout requires some math. Here’s how to do it:

 

  • Install the planks parallel to the longest wall in the room for the best appearance. To do so, measure the side perpendicular to the longest wall.
  • Subtract ¾-inch from the room measurement to determine the expansion space between the plank and the wall. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the recommended expansion space. It’s usually between ½- and ¾-inch.
  • Divide the room measurement by the width of a single plank to determine the number of rows needed.
  • Round the number of rows to a whole number. Multiply that by the width of a single plank. Then, subtract that number from the initial room measurement to find the width of the first and last rows.
  • If the width is less than half the width of a single plank (which is often the case), do the next step.
  • Add the width of the last row to the width of the plank and divide it by two to determine the width for the first and last rows. This prevents one side from being too narrow.

 

Example: If a room’s size is 354 inches and the manufacturer recommends a ¾-inch expansion gap between the plank and the wall, subtracting both gives 353¼ inches.

 

If the width of a single plank is 8½ inches, the total number of rows is 41.55 (353¼ inches / 8½ inches). Round the number of rows to a whole number, which is 42.

 

Multiplying 42 by the width of a single plank gives 357 (42 * 8½ inches). Subtracting 357 from the initial room measurement gives 3 inches (357 inches – 354 inches = 3 inches).

 

Since 3 inches is less than half of the width of a single plank, there’s one more step to do.

 

Add 3 inches to 8½ inches (plank width) and divide by two. This gives 5.75 inches.

 

The width of the first and last rows is 5.75 inches.

 

4. Cut the Door Frame

 

Cut the door frame so the planks easily slide beneath them. To do this accurately, follow these steps:

 

  • Lay a plank upside down next to the door’s molding. 
  • Draw a guiding line along the molding. 
  • Use a jamb saw to cut along the traced part. 

5. Install the First Row

 

Start by laying the first row of vinyl planks along the longest wall, ensuring a proper expansion gap between the edge and the wall. Use spacers to keep the gap along the entire perimeter. 

 

To install a plank, hold it at an angle and insert the tongue edge of the second plank into the groove edge of the first plank. Gently tap the planks into place with a rubber mallet. 

 

When installing the last plank, trim it as needed so there’s a proper expansion gap. 

6. Install Subsequent Rows

 

Continue installing the subsequent rows side-by-side to the planks in the first row. Click the planks together at the tongue and groove edges. Install the planks in a random pattern for a natural appearance. 

7. Reinstall Baseboards

 

After installing the planks, reinstall the baseboards with construction adhesive. Use caulk to cover the seams of the baseboard for a finished look. 

How Much Does Vinyl Flooring Cost? 

Vinyl plank floors cost significantly less than hardwood floors and about the same price as ceramic or porcelain tiles. The material cost is $2 to $6 per square foot, and the installation cost is between $1 and $7 per square foot. 

FAQs

What are the recommended cleaning products for vinyl plank floors?

Prepare a solution by combining a cup of white vinegar with water. Add a few drops of dishwashing soap to the solution for dirty floors. You can also use commercial cleaners.

Can I install vinyl plank flooring over concrete?

Yes. However, ensure the surface is clean, level, and in good condition. Use a sealer to seal any cracks in the floors.

Can I refinish faded vinyl plank flooring?

No. However, it takes several years to notice fading on vinyl plank flooring, and by then, it’s probably time to replace the flooring.

DIY or Hire a Professional for Installation?

Installing vinyl plank flooring is easier compared to other floors. However, it’s still tedious and time-consuming. If you’re a busy homeowner and don’t have prior experience installing floors, it’s best to hire a pro for the job. 

If you’re in San Diego county and need help with vinyl plank flooring installation, contact Family Interiors. We can also help you choose the right vinyl plank flooring type and design based on your needs.