Luxury Vinyl vs. Hardwood Flooring
As an installer of both hardwood flooring and luxury vinyl plank we get a lot of questions about which is the better option. There is no overall winner, each flooring type has its own unique advantages and disadvantages based on your personal needs and wants. Hardwood flooring is a natural material that is harvested from trees while luxury vinyl plank (LVP) is a manufactured product, while the sources of these products could not be more different they are surprisingly similar. There are a lot of similarities between these types of flooring like the design elements and durability but there are also a lot of disadvantages for both flooring types. Choosing between these flooring types can be challenging but there are some key components that often help customers choose the right option for themselves.
There are five key components to consider to help you decide if hardwood or luxury vinyl is the right product for you. These five components are aesthetic, durability, environmental factors, use and cost. Each product meets different standards within these categories and by choosing the categories that matter the most to you the right flooring option can be determined.
Hardwood flooring is a staple flooring type and has a longstanding influence on the flooring industry. While hardwood has been incredibly popular for years LVT is growing in notoriety because of the durability and aesthetic. When you are looking at these products for purely aesthetic reasons you may immediately like the look of one more than the other. Hardwood is a natural product so there are grain patterns and movement that can be unpredictable. Grading of your hardwood does affect the look of the boards, higher grades eliminate some of the less desirable boards. LVP mimics hardwood well and can look very natural but does have a repeating pattern that you may notice in larger spaces. The length of your boards also varies based on the type of product you use. Hardwood planks generally average 6″ but can be longer from some mills. LVP rarely offers planks longer than 4 feet.
The species of wood you are considering may also impact these decisions. Aesthetically some woods may be ideal but the reality of these products is they can be soft. Bamboo is a great example of a flooring type that looks good but is soft and easily dented. LVP may be an ideal way to get the aesthetic of bamboo without the easy denting. LVP utilized a photographic layer that is between the backing and wear layer of the flooring. The photographic layer makes the flooring look very realistic while still maintaining the benefits of LVP.
The durability of the flooring is a huge deciding factor for many homeowners. Stability is one aspect of durability you will also want to consider. Durability is the hardness of the floor, rated off the janka scale, while stability is the ability of the flooring to maintain its shape when the climate and moisture change. LVP and hardwood are both very durable. Hardwood is naturally a durable material and with the right finish coats can be a great flooring type that stands up to the stresses of everyday use. LVP is engineered with durability in mind. The woods overall hardness has a big impact on its durability and woods like hickory and oak are great examples of how strong wood can be while woods like birch or bamboo can be more easily damaged. The finish coats used on your hardwood flooring can also impact durability. If you are using hardwood flooring in a commercial space you will want to consider some aspects like moisture exposure and limit use in wet areas like kitchens, laundry and bathrooms.
LVP is synthetic and has great moisture and climate change resistance. LVP is made out of a high quality vinyl that can withstand moisture and temperature changes with ease. The multidirectional base layer that is utilized in LVP production adds to this durability. LVP is often manufactured with a heat press that uses a lot of heat and pressure and creates a very strong finished product. LVP is hard to wear out and can last a very long time in both residential and commercial applications.
If you are looking for a flooring type that is environmentally conscious your first thought may be to go with the man made product but surprisingly the hardwood flooring industry is a big advocate for protecting our forests. Hardwood for flooring is commonly harvested from tree farms where the logs are cycled with new growth to create a lasting supply of raw wood for flooring. Engineered hardwood utilized a manufacturing process that leaves behind very little scraps.
LVP is not a bad choice either, the vinyl production process may seem like a bad environmental process but companies work hard to protect the environment. Many manufacturers use recycled materials to help create a more green product. They also focus on the manufacturing process to reduce harmful chemicals and pollution.
The uses of hardwood flooring and LVP are almost identical but hardwood does have some limitations. LVP is a more ideal flooring type for wet areas of the home like laundry rooms, mud rooms, bathrooms and kitchens. LVP does have limitations within the home too. Installing LVP directly over a concrete slab can result in a very hard floor that can be painful to walk on. In the commercial setting hardwood and LVP have similar applications to the residential uses.
Cost is obviously a factor for most people when choosing a flooring type. Hardwood flooring is often more expensive but there are times when LVP comes in higher. Hardwood does have a great life expectancy that can outlast nearly any flooring when proper care is applied. This does bring the overall cost of hardwood flooring down if you consider the amount of years it will last not just the initial investment.
Consult a Denver Flooring Contractor
In the end the choice to use luxury vinyl tile or plank versus hardwood flooring will depend on what factors are most important to you. Flooring is not one size fits all and choosing which of these flooring types is the best is impossible. Considering the key factors you will likely find a flooring that fits the bill for your home and household. Still have questions? Ask your trusted Denver flooring contractor, Colorado Hardwood Floors. We will be happy to walk you through your specific application concerns.