What’s under your feet (or how you get around) is as important as anything when it comes to the house. That’s why this fall, we collaborated with The Home Depot on an A-to-Z guide that will give you the confidence to make the flooring choices you’ll love. Read the manual from A to Z here.
Choosing the right flooring for your home means considering a long list of questions, from what kind of vibe you’d like to how many shoes you’ll struggle with each day. When it comes to making decisions, however, the most important factor for most people is budget. Fortunately, there is a material that is accessible to almost everyone: vinyl.
Vinyl may have a reputation for being cheap and fragile, but this assumption contradicts the more modern versions on the market today. Today, vinyl is often made to intelligently mimic hardwood or tile, and is made up of a central core, a printed photo of the material it mimics, such as aged wood or ultra clean teak, and a transparent and protective “wear layer” finish.
Luxury vinyl flooring layers
The options for different looks are virtually endless – for example, Home Depot stocks nearly 1,000 options for vinyl planks – and costs on average a lot less than the flooring it emulates, between $ 2 and $ 5 per foot. square. (In comparison, hardwood can cost over $ 10 per square foot.)
Vinyl today often means luxury vinyl
When people talk about contemporary vinyl flooring, they are probably referring to luxury vinyl flooring (LV), which is made as planks or tiles – not unrolled sheets of the past – and is a big step up from older iterations of the material.
Vinyl planks can vary in thickness, from around 2 millimeters to 8 millimeters, and denser planks will be your best bet in busier areas of the house, such as hallways and living rooms, due to the larger stability.
If you are looking for vinyl flooring that can really stand up to wear and tear, a high-quality version of vinyl planks known as engineered vinyl planks (EVP) is created with a “hard core” system. Which makes them very robust even when faced with the most difficult situations. (They’re also completely waterproof, unlike some vinyls, which are only water resistant.) Whatever vinyl density you choose, the material is valued for its elasticity and warmth, which is welcoming under foot.
It is a material suitable for DIY
If you’re looking for a straightforward installation, you can’t get much easier than vinyl. Some brands use ‘floating floor’ technology which is also common with laminate, where the planks simply snap and lock onto virtually any existing surface without the need for nails or glue.
Others use a self-adhesive material that can be applied directly to a sub-floor in a method as painless as applying a giant, super-tough floor sticker. Along with vinyl tiles, there are even grout versions to further enhance their appearance.
Cleaning is less of a chore
Thanks to the wear layer on top (which can last over 10 years with proper care), you only need to sweep and mop regularly to keep your floors on top, without scrubbing. In fact, using too much elbow grease is about the only way to damage your vinyl floors, so avoid harsh chemicals, rough scouring pads, or steam cleaning.
Due to its easy-to-clean nature, spills and messes are less of a concern with vinyl than with other types of flooring, making it a good choice for spaces like playrooms, where painting finger is common, or kitchens, where slices of pizza can splash. Basements and bathrooms, which can sometimes be difficult places to apply new flooring due to humidity levels, are also prime places for vinyl, as it is less likely to warp even in the wettest conditions.
Be aware of the flip side
Of course, there are other aspects of vinyl to consider before choosing it. Vinyl is not biodegradable, so if you are looking to create a more sustainable home environment, it would be better to use a different material, like Cork or bamboo. While most versions are resistant to the scuffs and scuffs of everyday life, they can still get dented, especially when moving heavy objects like furniture. And it won’t necessarily add long-term value to your home, like hardwood or tile, so if you’re planning on selling or moving soon, don’t expect your investment to recoup.
But what if you’re home for the long haul and looking for an inexpensive, easy-to-install way to update the look of your space? Vinyl might just be the answer.