With a diverse range of flooring options on the market, choosing the right product for your home can be a daunting task. Withstanding the most wear of any material in your home, your flooring choice will depend on a host of factors and a few crucial considerations. Ensuring form follows function, you will want to determine your high traffic areas, humidity and moisture, maintenance, pets and long term satisfaction. A follow-up to Modern Home’s hardwood versus engineered flooring interview with Stefanie Watchman from Island Floor Centre, Watchman takes the conversation further to explore the pros and cons of vinyl plank flooring.
Evoking images of sticky, checkerboard-patterned tiles used in grocery stores in the 1970’s, vinyl flooring has been utilized in commercial spaces since the 1930’s. However, vinyl planks have been reconstructed and are making a significant comeback in the flooring industry. With advancements in photo and print technologies, this durable, waterproof product authentically mimics the look and texture of both wood and tile and is gaining momentum in residential applications.
Simply stated, vinyl planks are made of plastic and include three primary layers. The first layer is a hardwearing, scratch and tear-resistant, layer that is easy to clean. Printed visuals, on the second layer, realistically simulate the look and texture of natural wood or tile. The bottom layer is a heavy-duty tile backing adding to the structural strength. “Adding more depth of colour and a textural effect to an already durable plank creates a quality product in a competitive market.”
So why choose vinyl planks over actual wood or tile? This can strictly be a cost-driven decision, but it is often about durability and long term satisfaction. Watchman frequently sells vinyl planks for basement suites where concrete is the subfloor. It is very difficult to damage a vinyl plank and if you do, it’s as easy as replacing an individual plank.
With a myriad of planks to choose from, Island Floor Centre recommends the type that requires glue. “The planks we sell are not DIY installation; vinyl planks require careful installation for long-term satisfaction. Timing is everything when handling the glues and the process if perfected through multiple installations, it is not something you get the first time.”
One of the main advantages of vinyl flooring is versatility; there really is no limit to its application. From kitchens and high-humidity bathrooms, it is a durable product for most rooms. Condominiums are installing more vinyl planks because they are easily installed on a concrete base and can be used throughout the entire space, from bathrooms to balconies. Vinyl flooring also offers a cohesive and expansive look for small spaces.
According to Watchman, a few factors to review before considering vinyl are: your floor level, is there a lot of direct sunlight, does your floor have a plywood underlay and has the floor been heated yet? Vinyl planks don’t like extreme temperature changes and wouldn’t make a great choice for a cabin at the lake that isn’t heated all winter. They can withstand a significant amount of humidity, but not a lot of direct heat and/or frozen concrete floors. Planks can deal with a slope, but not significant dips in the middle of a room which could cause ridges.
If you have structural plywood for your subfloor, as opposed to concrete, you would have to add a plywood underlay on to your existing plywood, which would be an added cost. However, some Island Floor Centre clients have taken this extra step for the product’s long-term durability. If you have young kids and a dog, between maintenance and durability, vinyl planks ensure a low maintenance, liveable environment for the long term.
Depending on the application and design, the price for vinyl planks vary, but the approximate cost is between $2-$10 per-square-foot for product only.