LVT – Luxury Vinyl Tile

This is a different post for me because it is not about tech or gadgets, but I want to share my experience. I did a lot of research before committing to luxury vinyl tile, also known as LVT, and I liked reading about the experiences of others. This made me want to share my experience. I am going to write this post for people that like a quick read and for people that like wordiness.

The Quick (Pros)

  • Don’t let the word vinyl in LVT bother you. That caused me too much concern at first, but now I have no regrets.
  • It looks great and more like real wood than wood look tile. I am happier with it than I thought I would be.
  • Feels better than tile. There is actually a little cushioning from a rubber layer beneath it.
  • No grout lines to try and keep clean.
  • Easy to clean. I use a dust mop regularly and a water mop as needed. No need to buy floor cleaners. You can just use water, occasionally with a little vinegar for extra cleaning.
  • Durable. There is a clear wear layer over the printed pattern that is over the plastic plank. I have not scratched or damaged my flooring (yet). It can be damaged by dropping a heavy or sharp object on it (a friend dropped various tools from three feet and they did dent the material). I have been exposing scraps to different common household chemicals and nothing has damaged the surface. I used a cleaner with bleach and a chemical to remove caulking. I plan on exposing the edges to these chemicals to see if it will soak in and damage the printed material. This is to mimic a spill that soaks into the seems after sitting too long. I am also going to try harsher chemicals, such as paint thinner and pure bleach.
  • My particular flooring is not shiny. This makes dust and footprints less obvious.
  • The total cost is much lower than other solid flooring. The flooring material itself is not too much cheaper than porcelain tile, but the install expense is much less.
  • Waterproof. You can install this in a kitchen or bathrooms with no problems whatsoever. I know a few people that had water damage to their wood floors.
  • Less dust (and people say this may help with my allergies). I just need to use the dust mop more often than I would vacuum (which was less than I should have). It is much more obvious when you need to clean. I am actually grossed out when I think how much dust and stuff my carpet was hiding.

The Quick (Cons)

  • It’s not as easy to keep clean as I expected. This is no real fault of the material, just my misconception. It is amazing how much dirt and grime my carpet was hiding. Though I need to sweep more often, it is quicker than vacuuming. It is also easier to get a dust mop under furniture.
  • It’s not real wood (a con for some, but not me). If you have the money for real wood and an environment gentle enough for it, go for it. I would have, but I know it would have been in bad shape after a year. I know a few people with real wood that is very expensive and it looks much better than LVT, but I don’t have the money they do nor would it stay nice in my house.
  • It’s not shiny (again, a con for some, but not me). Some people like a surface as smooth as glass, but all of the LVT I saw had a matte surface. There may be a smooth surface LVT with wood look, but I didn’t see it.
  • The word “vinyl.” Some people may just not be able to deal with technically having vinyl flooring (but this is not rolled out linoleum).
  • You will need to buy a lot of furniture pads so moving your furniture does not scratch the flooring. I spent about $40 and have a decent amount of pads leftover, even after putting them on almost everything that touches the floor. I bought stick-on types that were in different shapes, large and thick pads that needed to be cut to shape, and ones that were heavy duty for the washer and dryer. At least my furniture is now easy to move around.

The Long Story

I had needed flooring for years, but I was having issues finding a good flooring installer and even deciding on what type of flooring. I wanted real wood, but everything I liked was far too expensive and I know my dog would damage it. I decided on porcelain tile that looks like wood. I next found an installer that seemed promising. His contractor’s license was in good standing and there were no civil claims against him. I scrutinized his Facebook page and I even spoke to one his previous customers in person.

I was speaking with the installer and asked about this “LVT” flooring, which was in most of his Facebook posts. The installer basically said it was vinyl planks that look like wood, are very durable, waterproof, had a lifetime residential warranty (the brand he used), and installation was much cheaper than tile (about 1/4 the price with this installer). He said this was because the planks are just snapped together and the installation was much quicker than tile. He said they would move the furniture out of the way, install a room, and put the furniture back. There would be no need to be displaced from a room for a couple days waiting for thinset and grout to dry as with tile. I also have uneven cement floors, but this was not going to be an issue with LVT flooring. It would have been for tile or wood and cost me more money.

I decided to get a couple quotes from this installer. The tile quote was about $14,000 for about 1,600 square feet (this was just part of the house – and I would still need carpet). LVT was about $18,000 for about 2,950 square feet (the entire house). This was an easy decision for me – I went for LVT in the entire house! I had quotes from other installers, and this installer was in the middle, but he was much more professional. Other installers wanted me to do things, such as order and pick up materials. Uh, no.

The install process was great and did not interfere with our lives too badly. The installers would often move furniture to one side of a room, install flooring, move the furniture to the completed side, and then finish the other side. A bedroom would be done in a day and someone would be back in that room that same night. This would not have been the case with tile.

It took a month to do our house. I had every square inch covered and this included the stairs and the closets. I love the way it flows and it even makes the house look bigger. I was worried about doing upstairs since I have never seen a house around me with solid flooring on the second floor. I am so glad I did – I love the way it looks! I also like that there will not be matted paths in carpet in the high traffic area to the laundry room. The stairs also look great – just don’t fall because it would be much worse than with carpet!

escargot

The flooring itself looks great. I selected a medium colored wood texture with a lot of patterns and shading. It’s a rough cut wood look that is in planks seven inches wide by five feet long. My LVT even has wood texture on the surface you can see and feel. A couple people that did not know what it was thought it was real wood.

LVT also feels a lot nicer than tile because it is placed over a rubber membrane (they call it floating). There is a little cushioning compared to tile and it is not as cold (you will still want slippers).

 

Another major factor for me choosing LVT was the durability. I have a big dog and she would scratch wood floors with her sandpaper-like paws and dripping water all over after drinking (she must keep a mouth full and let it just dribble out as she walks away). Note even tile would would not be immune from her path of destruction since she would make a mess of the grout. Her paws have not been an issue on the surface of the LVT and there are no grout lines to get dirty. She even had a big accident and there was no need to bring out the carpet shampooer. I soaked it up with paper towels and then mopped with some disinfectant. This was much quicker than using the shampooer on carpet and I know it was truly clean.

You need to decide what to do about the baseboards when having solid floors installed. They can be left in place and you can have a small piece of trim attached that covers where the flooring meets the baseboard (something needs to hide this). I don’t like that small trim so that was not an option for me. I had upgraded baseboards installed when this house was built so I was going to have them removed, cleaned up, painted, and reinstalled. However, it was about $600 more just to have new baseboard installed since a large part of the cost was the labor (and it was very labor intensive). I also had rounded corner pieces installed since I have rounded drywall corners. This looks so much better than the baseboard having the 45 degree angle cuts as it did before.

On a side note, buy a lot of furniture pads and see if the installer will put them on as they go. I bought a variety. I got pre-cut shapes and large, thick pads, all of which were stick-on. I also purchased heavy-duty furniture caster cups for the washer and dryer. These are closer to the type used to move furniture. My installer put them on everything and I am glad he did. My heavy dresser had plastic pads that were worn down to the nails. This would have certainly gouged my floors the first time I slid the dresser.

I am so happy with this flooring. I’m glad I considered it after initially being put off with the word vinyl. If you are considering new flooring, take a good look at LVT.

UPDATE 3/25/2018

It’s been three months and the floors look like the day they were installed. My big dog runs on it and slides around. I can hear her claws scratching along, but there are no marks.

I have learned it is not as easy to keep clean as I imagined. I had no idea what really to expect, so I was being unreasonable. The dog tends to track in dirt and dust. Her fur also shows more than I thought it would. We just dust mop often, do touch up mopping in high traffic areas, and then do a complete mopping and drying every two weeks. I occasionally use the blower on a Shop Vac to get beneath and behind furniture. This way I know I have most of the dust and fur. All this cleaning is not as easy as vacuuming, but much cleaner and it looks so much better.

I still plan on buying area rugs because of noise and we need some contrast. We have dark furniture and dark floors. Dark all around. I tan or gray rug will add the much needed contrast. I’m sure the dog will like it since she often naps on doormats. I just don’t see how these rugs cost so much!

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