LVT flooring has distinct pros and cons. Make sure to fully understand the product before installing it on your next renovation.
There’s a few key elements to consider when choosing flooring. First, is it a high traffic area? Next, will the floor be exposed to moisture? Will the floor continually be exposed to sunlight? For many, the way a floor looks and feels is a primary factor. Lastly, the flooring must fit within your budget. With choices ranging from concrete, hardwood, tile, carpet, and vinyl – how do you know what’s best for your renovation? In this article we’ll explore LVT flooring, along with its pros and cons.
What Is LVT Flooring?
LVT, or LVP, is short for Luxury Vinyl Tile or Luxury Vinyl Plank flooring. It’s one of the most common flooring choices found in the world, primarily used in commercial applications. You’ll find LVT in airports, schools, hospitals, office buildings, hotels – the list goes on. Generally, this is because LVT is wear resistant, easy to clean, easy to install, comes in almost every color and style, and is usually inexpensive compared to hardwood and stone.
LVT consists of several layers of material laminated together. Through the use of heat and pressure, a sound absorbing backing layer is bonded to a fill layer. The fill layer is impact resistant, but adds a slight cushion over stone or hardwood – this makes LVT more comfortable to walk on over long distances or continually throughout the day. Next, a photographic print layer is added to create realistic visuals resembling ceramic or stone. Finally, a clear wear layer is added for longevity and durability.
The Pros of LVT Flooring
- Affordable – a fraction of the cost of most stone and site-finished hardwood.
- Photorealistic – surprisingly accurate replication of stone or hardwood.
- Water resistant – great choice for entries and bathrooms.
- Easy to clean – sweep, wipe, and mop. Also great for pets.
- Easy to install – fully glued or simply loose-lay
- Fast to install – minimal surface prep.
- Comfortable to walk on.
- Sound absorbing compared to hardwood or stone.
- Wear resistant – we recommend a 20 mil wear layer or higher.
- Sections or Planks are easy to repair.
The Cons of LVT Flooring
So far, LVT seems like a miracle material for flooring. After reviewing all of the benefits, what would possibly lead anyone to traditional materials? Well, LVT has a specific purpose. In most commercial applications, we fully recommend it. The square footage of flooring these areas require is massive, and function usually outweighs form. With that said, LVT may not be the best choice for your home.
- Aesthetically, there is no substitute for real hardwood or stone. If your heart is set on one of these traditional materials, you’ll never be satisfied with LVT.
- LVT isn’t as comfortable to walk on with bare feet. In an airport, LVT makes a lot of sense, but a quick trip to the bathroom in bare feet is a different story.
- LVT can’t be repaired or refinished in small patches. Generally speaking, your door entry or bathroom fitted with LVT is much smaller than a “commercial section” or plank. The entire area will need to be replaced if damaged.
- Inexpensive or “residential” LVT can have a very thin wear layer. This layer can very easily be scratched, scuffed, dented, and scraped. Insist upon a 20 mil wear layer or higher.
- Most LVT is not UV-resistant. LVT exposed to daily sunlight will fade or face discoloration over time.
- If glued when installed, LVT can be very difficult to remove.
- LVT is not eco-friendly and is very hard to recycle.
- LVT emits toxic VOC gasses into the air. Volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) can be hazardous to people with respiratory problems. VOC’s are also pretty bad for the environment – being one of the highest contributors to acid rain.
- Inconsistent quality. Cupping, bubbling, peeling, color variations, and photorealism flaws are just a few issues plaguing LVT. This is largely dependent upon the manufacturer and improper installation.
Luxury Vinyl Tile flooring serves a very specific purpose and client. When used for the proper situation, LVT can be the perfect selection. For homeowners, the best use of LVT are in laundry rooms, storage rooms, craft areas, and home gyms – basically rooms that benefit from a bit of water resistance and easy cleanup. In our opinion, there has yet to be a product invented that surpasses or replaces natural hardwood or stone in living areas. However, outside of kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, and main living areas – LVT can be an affordable and prudent flooring choice for most homeowners.
Still a little unsure of which flooring material is best for your renovation? Give us a call. One of our Project Managers would be happy to guide you and recommend products that you may have never before considered.