What Is Luxury Vinyl Flooring — Gimmick or Real

What Is Luxury Vinyl Flooring - Gimmick or Real

Luxury Vinyl Flooring Basics

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What It Is:

Luxury vinyl flooring is a term that loosely describes a vinyl-based flooring material that closely mimics the look of a natural material through realistic images and textures. Generally, expect to pay higher prices for this product. Features of luxury and traditional vinyl tile do overlap and in some cases are indistinguishable.

What’s It All About?

Coupling the word luxury with vinyl may seem like an oxymoron. After all, vinyl flooring has long been associated with bargain installations. So why are we now seeing LVF in $2 million downtown condominiums? Answer: new technologies plus some good old fashioned marketing.

Long ago, laminate flooring eclipsed vinyl as the go-to inexpensive and easy-to-install flooring product. Two reasons: laminate’s photorealistic image layer successfully imitated the look of wood and its plank format imitated the long and narrow board shape of real hardwood. Sheet vinyl could only offer up unrealistic grout lines for stone-look flooring and practically nothing in the way of wood-look flooring.

With its introduction in October 2006, luxury vinyl flooring became more about the reinvention of vinyl flooring and an attempt by manufacturers to position it as a viable flooring material for homeowners who are well-educated about flooring. It is also seen as an initiative to capture the urban market—condominium dwellers who are loath to install solid hardwood due to cost, or who may be prevented from this by HOA covenants.

1. Simulates Natural Materials

Luxury vinyl flooring takes on either of two forms. Either it simulates stone (slate, travertine, marble, etc.) or it simulates wood (teak, maple, oak, walnut, and pine).

Traditional vinyl flooring sometimes imitates natural materials and sometimes does not (solid color, patterned, etc.).

Photo Gallery — Looks Like Stone: Luxury Vinyl Tile

Photo Gallery — Looks Like Wood: Luxury Vinyl Planks

2. Often Plank-Shaped

Another thing that distinguishes luxury vinyl tile (LVT) from other types of vinyl floor is the shape of individual pieces. Traditional sheet vinyl flooring comes in room-widths and -lengths to minimize or even eliminate seams. Normal vinyl tiles are usually square: 12×12 or 16×16 most often.

Because LVT often imitates solid wood flooring. it comes in plank shapes. In this respect, LVT and laminate flooring are the same.

Sizes vary, but the general idea is long and narrow. A typical size is 7 wide by 48 long.

3. Composition

Either 100% vinyl* or a vinyl/limestone mixture. Any wood-look LVF will be made of all vinyl.

Stone-look LVF might have some stone composition. Armstrong’s Alterna, for example, is 75% limestone and 25% vinyl. Note that only the base layer is limestone, with top layer being vinyl. So, you are looking at and walking on vinyl.

Layers

There is no difference in the number of layers between traditional and luxury vinyl tile, only the thickness of these layers.

Both generally have four layers, starting at the top and going down:

  1. Aluminum Oxide. This topmost aluminum oxide-based layer prevents light scratching and shoe scuffs.
  2. Clear Film. This layer protects against harder damage, such as rips and tears.
  3. Design Layer. This is the photo-realistic print of stone or wood.
  4. Backing Layer. The bottom layer is the real meat of the flooring, giving the product structure and solidity. The backing layer comprises 90% of the product’s thickness.

* = All vinyl tile is still composed of the multiple layers listed directly above. This term is used only to distinguish it from tiles which have limestone added into the base.

Manufacturers and Brand Names

Basic information is below. See here for a complete list of luxury vinyl flooring companies and brands.

  • Armstrong Alterna. Stone-look vinyl tiles in 12 x 12 and 16 x 16 sizes. They can be butted against each other for the no-grout look or spaced and with the seams filled with an acrylic grout.
  • Armstrong Luxe Plank. Self-adhesive, floating floor planks that look like wood. Designed for DIY installation.
  • Mannington Adura. Adura is a glue-down LVF in both plank and tile form.
  • Shaw Floors. At this time, about 80 LVF products. Check out this site, as this is a manufacturer who is good enough to list estimated prices.
  • Burke Flooring. Wood plank-look and stone-look LVF, with a super-thick product that is 20mm thick.
  • Mohawk Flooring. A small collection (only 20 right now) of LVF—no stone-look, only wood-look.

Prices

Prices ordinarily range from around $2.00 to $4.00 per square foot. They can range up to $7.00 per square foot (Shaw Floors’ Array Collection).

For ordinary vinyl flooring, prices can be as low as $0.30 to $1.00 per square foot. When you get into the higher prices, almost by definition you are now looking at LVF.

Size and Thickness

Sometimes, as with Mannington Adura, you can find unusual shapes, such as rectangles sized at 12 x 24.

Thicknesses range from 10mm to 12mm, which is about 1/8. Ordinary vinyl flooring can be as much as 10 times thinner, with bargain tiles coming in at 1.2 mm. Burke Flooring offers a product that is 20 mm thick.

What Is Luxury Vinyl Flooring - Gimmick or Real

Luxury Vinyl Flooring Basics

Send to a Friend via Email

Recipient’s Email

This field is required.

Separate multiple addresses with commas. Limited to 10 recipients. We will not share any of the email addresses on this form with third parties.

What It Is:

Luxury vinyl flooring is a term that loosely describes a vinyl-based flooring material that closely mimics the look of a natural material through realistic images and textures. Generally, expect to pay higher prices for this product. Features of luxury and traditional vinyl tile do overlap and in some cases are indistinguishable.

What’s It All About?

Coupling the word luxury with vinyl may seem like an oxymoron. After all, vinyl flooring has long been associated with bargain installations. So why are we now seeing LVF in $2 million downtown condominiums? Answer: new technologies plus some good old fashioned marketing.

Long ago, laminate flooring eclipsed vinyl as the go-to inexpensive and easy-to-install flooring product. Two reasons: laminate’s photorealistic image layer successfully imitated the look of wood and its plank format imitated the long and narrow board shape of real hardwood. Sheet vinyl could only offer up unrealistic grout lines for stone-look flooring and practically nothing in the way of wood-look flooring.

With its introduction in October 2006, luxury vinyl flooring became more about the reinvention of vinyl flooring and an attempt by manufacturers to position it as a viable flooring material for homeowners who are well-educated about flooring. It is also seen as an initiative to capture the urban market—condominium dwellers who are loath to install solid hardwood due to cost, or who may be prevented from this by HOA covenants.

1. Simulates Natural Materials

Luxury vinyl flooring takes on either of two forms. Either it simulates stone (slate, travertine, marble, etc.) or it simulates wood (teak, maple, oak, walnut, and pine).

Traditional vinyl flooring sometimes imitates natural materials and sometimes does not (solid color, patterned, etc.).

Photo Gallery — Looks Like Stone: Luxury Vinyl Tile

Photo Gallery — Looks Like Wood: Luxury Vinyl Planks

2. Often Plank-Shaped

Another thing that distinguishes luxury vinyl tile (LVT) from other types of vinyl floor is the shape of individual pieces. Traditional sheet vinyl flooring comes in room-widths and -lengths to minimize or even eliminate seams. Normal vinyl tiles are usually square: 12×12 or 16×16 most often.

Because LVT often imitates solid wood flooring. it comes in plank shapes. In this respect, LVT and laminate flooring are the same.

Sizes vary, but the general idea is long and narrow. A typical size is 7 wide by 48 long.

3. Composition

Either 100% vinyl* or a vinyl/limestone mixture. Any wood-look LVF will be made of all vinyl.

Stone-look LVF might have some stone composition. Armstrong’s Alterna, for example, is 75% limestone and 25% vinyl. Note that only the base layer is limestone, with top layer being vinyl. So, you are looking at and walking on vinyl.

Layers

There is no difference in the number of layers between traditional and luxury vinyl tile, only the thickness of these layers.

Both generally have four layers, starting at the top and going down:

  1. Aluminum Oxide. This topmost aluminum oxide-based layer prevents light scratching and shoe scuffs.
  2. Clear Film. This layer protects against harder damage, such as rips and tears.
  3. Design Layer. This is the photo-realistic print of stone or wood.
  4. Backing Layer. The bottom layer is the real meat of the flooring, giving the product structure and solidity. The backing layer comprises 90% of the product’s thickness.

* = All vinyl tile is still composed of the multiple layers listed directly above. This term is used only to distinguish it from tiles which have limestone added into the base.

Manufacturers and Brand Names

Basic information is below. See here for a complete list of luxury vinyl flooring companies and brands.

  • Armstrong Alterna. Stone-look vinyl tiles in 12 x 12 and 16 x 16 sizes. They can be butted against each other for the no-grout look or spaced and with the seams filled with an acrylic grout.
  • Armstrong Luxe Plank. Self-adhesive, floating floor planks that look like wood. Designed for DIY installation.
  • Mannington Adura. Adura is a glue-down LVF in both plank and tile form.
  • Shaw Floors. At this time, about 80 LVF products. Check out this site, as this is a manufacturer who is good enough to list estimated prices.
  • Burke Flooring. Wood plank-look and stone-look LVF, with a super-thick product that is 20mm thick.
  • Mohawk Flooring. A small collection (only 20 right now) of LVF—no stone-look, only wood-look.

Prices

Prices ordinarily range from around $2.00 to $4.00 per square foot. They can range up to $7.00 per square foot (Shaw Floors’ Array Collection).

For ordinary vinyl flooring, prices can be as low as $0.30 to $1.00 per square foot. When you get into the higher prices, almost by definition you are now looking at LVF.

Size and Thickness

Sometimes, as with Mannington Adura, you can find unusual shapes, such as rectangles sized at 12 x 24.

Thicknesses range from 10mm to 12mm, which is about 1/8. Ordinary vinyl flooring can be as much as 10 times thinner, with bargain tiles coming in at 1.2 mm. Burke Flooring offers a product that is 20 mm thick.


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