Luxury Vinyl vs. Standard Vinyl Flooring

Sheet vinyl flooring has long been the preferred option for moisture and stain-prone spaces, such as bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements, and kitchens. While traditional vinyl features a printed design with a thin vinyl layer and protective coating, it is vulnerable to scratches and tearing, and can feel quite firm to walk on, particularly on concrete surfaces.

Luxury vinyl flooring, also known as LVF, was developed by manufacturers in response to market demands. It is available in semi-rigid luxury vinyl planks (LVP) or luxury vinyl tiles (LVT), and features click-lock interlocking edges that are similar to those used in laminate flooring. Many consumers consider LVF and laminate flooring as viable second-tier options when choosing flooring, after hardwood, ceramic, or stone tiles, due to their affordability.

Vinyl versus luxury vinyl is a decision requiring careful consideration. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages. Although they share similar materials, there are significant disparities between vinyl and luxury vinyl. Here’s what you need to know to make an informed selection.

Vinyl flooring is commonly available in either flexible sheets or square tiles. It typically consists of a backing layer made of felt or fiberglass, fused with a layer of solid vinyl that is imprinted with a design and finished off with a transparent protective coating. Being highly adaptable, the material is relatively thin, with a wear layer of 10-15 mil (10/1000 to 15/1000 of an inch).

Luxury vinyl flooring is a distinct type of flooring that is made from PVC vinyl, just like standard vinyl flooring. Luxury vinyl comes in multi-ply planks or tiles with wear layers that range from 2 to 8 mm in thickness, which is approximately 8/100 to 3/10 of an inch thick. This thicker construction provides luxury vinyl planks with a semi-rigid quality, setting them apart from standard vinyl.

Luxury vinyl flooring is composed of six to eight layers, including a clear top-coat layer for shine, a clear wear layer for design protection, a printed design layer, a cushion layer for comfort, a fiberglass backing layer, and a solid PVC backing layer for strength and rigidity. Some stone-look luxury vinyl may contain pulverized limestone.

Standard Vinyl FlooringLuxury Vinyl Flooring
Cost$0.50 to $2 per square foot$2 to $7 per square foot
ThicknessVery thin Thicker, more rigid construction
Dimensions6- or 12-foot rolls; 6- to 18-inch square tiles4.5 by 48-inch planks; 12- to 18-inch square tiles
Installation MethodUsually uses full-glue-down bondUsually uses click-lock edge joints; floating installation
DurabilityProne to scratchesFairly scratch-resistant
Real Estate ValueSeen as “bargain” flooringConsidered more prestigious 
Water ResistanceGood waterproofing, especially vinyl sheetsGood waterproofing
SeamsSheets have fewer seamsPlanks/tiles have many seams
LifespanLasts 10 to 15 yearsCan last up to 25 years

Difference For Appearance

Standard Vinyl

Vinyl sheet flooring and tiles are often designed to replicate the look of ceramic or stone tile. Although wood-like patterns are also available in various designs, patterns, and colors, the simulated cracks between planks may not be very convincing due to the smooth, solid surface and minimal seams of standard vinyl flooring.

Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl planks (LVP) are expertly crafted to imitate the look of wood, much like laminate flooring, whereas luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) are designed to replicate the appearance of stone or ceramic tiles. The most recent innovations in luxury vinyl are remarkably realistic, presenting a challenge when deciding between luxury vinyl versus laminate if you’re looking to emulate the natural beauty of wood. An extensive assortment of colors and styles are at your disposal.

Difference For Water and Heat Resistance

Standard Vinyl

Vinyl sheeting presents a high level of water resistance, with limited seams that successfully nullify the possibility of water penetrating through to the subfloor.

Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl confidently resists water damage with its synthetic material. Keep in mind that underlayment may be at risk of water permeation through tile or plank seams.

Difference For Durability and Maintenance

Standard Vinyl

Vinyl flooring is a surface that can be prone to damage, such as dents, scratches, and tears. Repairing these damages can be challenging, and often times, it is more convenient to replace or cover the floor once wear and tear become visible.

Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl plank is a notably superior flooring option due to its increased thickness and rigidity, resulting in added durability. Furthermore, if any damage were to occur to a plank, the flooring is easily disassembled, allowing for efficient replacement of the affected panel.

Difference For Installation

Standard Vinyl

Standard sheet vinyl is typically installed with a complete glue-down bond to firmly secure the flooring to the underlayment. Certain varieties may be installed using a perimeter glue bond, which secures the flooring around the edges and along the seams. Standard vinyl tile is always fastened using a glue-down bond.

Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl planks or tiles can be effortlessly and professionally installed with a click-clock system. Adhesive or sticky predicaments are not required, although certain types of luxury vinyl may provide a glue-down alternative for specific circumstances.

Difference For Cost

Standard Vinyl

Vinyl flooring offers a cost-effective solution for your needs. When purchased at big-box home improvement centers, material costs range from $0.50 to $2 per square foot. Additionally, professional installation costs are relatively affordable because the job can typically be completed quickly. Expect to pay an additional $1 to $2 per square foot for professional installation services.

Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl typically ranges from $2 to $4 per square foot when purchased from the same outlets. However, designer styles of luxury vinyl available at specialty flooring stores can cost $7 per square foot or even more. Many homeowners find luxury vinyl easy to install and choose to do the installation themselves.

Difference For Lifespan

Standard Vinyl

Typically, vinyl flooring can last for 10 to 15 years, subject to the quality of the product and the level of maintenance it receives. However, it is important to note that the lifespan of vinyl flooring can vary depending on a variety of factors such as foot traffic, exposure to moisture and sunlight, and the overall wear and tear it experiences over time. With proper care and maintenance, vinyl flooring can last even longer than its expected lifespan. 

Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl flooring is a fantastic choice for homeowners who are looking for a flooring option that not only offers exceptional durability, but also boasts an impressive lifespan of up to 20 to 25 years. With proper maintenance and care, luxury vinyl flooring can withstand the test of time, enduring years of wear and tear without showing any signs of damage or wear.

Difference For Sizes

Standard Vinyl

Standard sheet vinyl is typically available in rolls that are either six or twelve feet in width while tiles generally come in squares ranging from nine to eighteen inches.

Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl flooring is commonly available in plank or tile form, with standard sizes of 48 inches by 4 1/2 inches for planks and 16 x 16 inches for tiles. Other sizes may also be available.

Difference For Comfort and Sound

Standard Vinyl

Sheet vinyl is super thin and can feel pretty hard and cold, especially over concrete floors.

Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl flooring offers enhanced comfort and sound-proofing properties compared to traditional vinyl flooring due to its thicker construction. This is especially evident in luxury vinyl flooring featuring cork or foam underlayment layers. In fact, top-quality luxury vinyl can provide superior comfort when compared to laminate flooring.

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