5 Differences in LVP You Should Know About

Luxury vinyl plank flooring (LVP) is a type of flooring that is made to replicate the look of natural hardwoods, but it costs a fraction of the price. What many people don’t know is that not all LVP is created equal. It comes in different styles, sizes, compositions, and qualities. It includes vinyl (obviously), it has a core, it has some kind of system for keeping the floor together, and many require padding or underlayment. However, there are a lot of variations of LVP.

Here I will provide an overview of the differences you’ll find as you look at various vinyl plank floors. Hopefully this will help as you decide what would best suit your home, rental property, flip, or commercial space.

Different Cores

The core is like the main body of luxury vinyl planks; it provides the structure that gives the planks durability. There are 3 different types of cores:

SPC Core – stone-polymer composite core. This is durable, requires no time to acclimate, will not expand and contract and is 100% waterproof. It is also the core we have in our LVP.

WPC Core – wood-polymer composite core. This is still strong, but it needs time to acclimate to your home, will expand and contract with the seasons, and it is water resistant, not waterproof.

Rigid Core – hardened vinyl that is waterproof.

The type of core you have will determine durability, whether or not you can use it in areas prone to moisture, and can be indicative of the way your flooring will be installed.

Different Installation Systems

All luxury vinyl plank flooring does not get installed the same way. There is loose lay, glue down, click-plank, and peel and stick. Loose lay, as the name indicates, simply lays on floor. It has a rubber backing and the pieces fit tightly together to keep it in place. Glue down is typically a thinner, more permanent flooring that holds up well and needs glue to be applied to the backs of the planks. Peel and stick comes with an adhesive affixed to the bottoms of the planks and – you guessed it – it sticks to the floor. Click-plank requires no adhesives or fasteners as the planks are constructed with a click-lock system where each plank locks in place with the other planks around it.

Different Wear Layers

The wear layer on luxury vinyl is a thin coating typically made of a PVC film which ads protection over the image on the vinyl plank. What does not change between different kinds of LVP is the fact that this wear layer is meant to protect the vinyl image from wearing out or being damaged. What does change is this layer’s thickness. Wear layer thickness is measured in a unit called a “mil,” which is 1/40 of a millimeter. You can find them as low as 4 mils and upwards of 28+ mils (note that you’re getting into commercial grade flooring once you’re up in the 20s). As you may have guessed, with this change in thickness also comes a change in price – the thicker the wear layer, the higher the price per square foot. I have seen 8 mil wear layer LVP with heavy foot traffic and animals still look great years later. For luxury vinyl plank used in a residential space a 12 to 20 mil wear layer will serve you just fine.

Different Plank Widths

How wide of a plank do you want to see when you look at your floor? Do you want many thin planks? Do you want wide, robust planks? Would a plank width that is varied suit your aesthetic preferences better? Another question to consider is how much time do you want to spend installing? (Thinner planks = more time on installation) This is not a big deal, but it is something worth considering as you make your LVP purchase. Plank widths differ from product to product and it is part of the look of your floor, so it’s worth taking into account as you select your vinyl plank floor.

Difference in Padding

Simply put, some planks are padded, some are not. Note that glue down, and peel and stick to not need padding. Most click-lock LVP does. Ours, for example, is padded. This means each plank has the padding it needs already affixed to the bottom of the flooring which means you don’t need to add .40 cents per square foot to your budget purchasing rolls of padding. Some LVP is lower in price because it does not have the padding attached. Obviously find the vinyl flooring that will fit your lifestyle and budget, but it’s not always cost effective to go with unpadded vinyl planks as you will make up the difference in what you would’ve spent for padded LVP when you buy the requisite rolls of padding. Unpadded is also a bit more of a pain to deal with when it’s being installed, but maybe your installer, not you, will be the one dealing with that.

At this point you should have a good idea of what things to consider when you go to purchase your vinyl plank flooring. It is important to think through what you’re looking for, where you’ll be years down the road, and how much bandwidth you have to do this work yourself. The information above will help you as you consider these things. There are pros and cons to each type of luxury vinyl plank floor so do a bit of reading, check prices and specifications, consider your lifestyle and budget, and go from there with your decision.

Happy shopping!

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Kevin Lowe