Luxury Vinyl Tile

For years, sheet vinyl flooring was regarded as the very best choice for locations where moisture- and stain-resistance was an issue, such as bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements, and kitchens. But standard vinyl is made from a very thin layer of vinyl printed with a design layer and covered with protective coating; it is prone to gouging and tearing, and it can feel quite hard underfoot, especially if it is installed over concrete.

In response to this, manufacturers created a new form of vinyl, known as luxury vinyl flooring, or LVF. Luxury vinyl flooring is sold in semi-rigid planks (LVP) or tiles (LVT) and is installed using the same click-lock interlocking edges that are found in laminate flooring. Although luxury vinyl was introduced in the 1970s, it was not until the 1980s that it really took off as a flooring material. Today, it is challenging laminate flooring as the best second-tier choice after hardwood and ceramic or stone tiles.

Standard vinyl flooring is sold either in flexible sheets or in square tiles. Standard vinyl consists of a thin backing layer of felt or fiberglass, to which a thin layer of solid vinyl is bonded. This vinyl layer is printed with a design, then covered with a transparent protective coating. Standard vinyl is flexible and quite thin, with a wear layer of only 10 to 15 mil (10/1000 to 15/1000 of an inch).

Luxury vinyl is a much different type of flooring, though it contains the same PVC vinyl as standard vinyl flooring. Luxury vinyl is sold in multi-ply planks or tiles with wear layers that range from 2 to 8 mm in thickness (roughly 8/100 to 3/10 of an inch thick). This makes luxury vinyl planks considerably thicker than standard vinyl, giving it a semi-rigid nature.

Luxury vinyl is made with six to eight layers of material, including a clear top-coat layer to add shine, a clear wear layer to protect the design, a design layer with the printed image, a cushion layer of foam to make the floor comfortable to walk on, a fiberglass backing layer, and solid PVC backing layer to add strength and rigidity. Stone-look luxury vinyl sometimes includes ground mineral content in its composition, usually pulverized limestone.
Luxury vinyl planks (LVP) are usually designed to simulate the look of wood, as is most laminate flooring, while luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) are usually designed to simulate stone or ceramic tiles. The newest forms of luxury vinyl are quite convincing, giving laminates a good challenge as the most successful at mimicking the look of wood. Hundreds of colors and styles are now available.
Luxury vinyl planks or tiles are more realistic when it comes to mimicking the look of ceramic or stone tile, or wood.
Luxury vinyl is a completely synthetic material that it impervious to water damage, but the many seams between tiles or planks make it possible for water to seep down to the underlayment.
Luxury vinyl is somewhat more durable since its wear layer is usually thicker. Moreover, when a plank becomes damaged, the flooring can be disassembled in order to replace the damaged plank. Luxury vinyl can fade over time if it gets too much direct sunlight, so manufacturers often recommend shading windows to prevent this.
Luxury vinyl planks or tiles are generally installed with a click-clock system by which the edges of the planks or tiles interlock. These floors float over the subfloor, which no glue-down bond necessary. Some forms of luxury vinyl also offer a glue-down option for certain circumstances.
Luxury vinyl purchased from the same outlets generally runs $2 to $4 per square foot. Designer styles of luxury vinyl purchased at specialty flooring stores can cost as much as $7 per square foot or even more. Many homeowners choose to install luxury vinyl themselves, as DIY installation is fairly easy.
Luxury vinyl is more durable, generally lasting 20 to 25 years if it is well cared for.
Luxury vinyl flooring usually comes in either plank or tile form. Typical plank size is 48 in. x 4 1/2 inches. Typical tile size is 16 x 16 inches, though smaller and larger sizes are also available.

Luxury vinyl gets the nod over standard vinyl when it comes to real estate value.

Luxury vinyl planks or tiles do not have the cachet of solid hardwood or of ceramic or stone tile in most instances, but the latest luxury vinyl offerings are at least comparable—and perhaps better—than laminate flooring.

Because it is a thicker product, luxury vinyl feels somewhat softer underfoot and has better sound-blocking properties than standard vinyl flooring. This is especially true of luxury vinyl with cork or foam underlayment layers built into the product. Top-quality luxury vinyl is often superior to laminate flooring for comfort.