Not Your Mom’s Vinyl

Long ago, vinyl flooring was thought of as hokey floral patterns from the ’70s or super-industrial, gray floors in a grade-school cafeteria. But not anymore.

Vinyl flooring now comes in an array of colors, styles and designs — all of which can compete with hardwoods, stone and tile for aesthetic appeal and beat all of the above for ease of installation.

And best yet, vinyl flooring is affordable — the experts at HomeAdvisor call vinyl the “cheapest flooring option on the market,” with costs ranging from $1-$5 dollars per square foot for materials ($1-$2 per square foot for installation). Compare this to hardwood floors, which range from $5-$15 dollars per square foot for material ($2-$8 per square foot for installation).  When the hardwood-look is wanted, but cost-savings is important, many homeowners are looking to install vinyl floors that look like hardwood.

If you’re contemplating a vinyl project, you’ll encounter these types of flooring:

Luxury vinyl tile (LVT)

luxury vinyl floor

Luxury vinyl tiles such as
Armstrong’s Alterna (pictured) gracefully mimic slate and other natural stones.

Luxury vinyl tile can easily resemble any variety of stone, marble or ceramic tile. Also popular are tiles in bright hues installed in stripes and checkerboards. According to interior designer Annette Callari, writing for the World Floor Covering Association, the product can transform even high-end spaces. “I have been invited to visit some of the top design firms in metropolitan Los Angeles and Orange County, Calif., and amazingly, what I have seen are beautiful office suites with elegant luxury vinyl ‘wood’ planking or vinyl ‘slate’ adorning those office floors,” she wrote. “These top designers can have any flooring material they want, yet so many of them chose luxury vinyl tile flooring.”


Vinyl plank flooring most commonly mimics the look of hardwood and bamboo. It is long, rectangular tile, cut to resemble a wood plank.

vinyl plank


vinyl sheets

Vinyl sheets are manufactured in 6- and 12-foot widths, which means seaming may be necessary.

Consider vinyl patterns with grout lines to mask seams.

If you’re considering a switch to vinyl flooring, keep these pluses in mind

1 It’s easy to clean, making it a great choice for high-trac areas like kitchens and bathrooms.

2 Vinyl is water resistant and resists fading, stains and dents.

3 It has a bit of give underfoot, which is helpful in rooms where you stand for long periods.

4 Vinyl is warmer to touch than stone or ceramic tiles.

5It’s easy to install: Measure and mark reference lines to ensure tile is laid straight, apply adhesive and get going. Easier still: Some tile and plank flooring is self-adhesive — just peel and stick.

Keep it shining

Cleaning vinyl flooring

Vinyl flooring is also called resilient flooring — and, it turns out, for good reason. Vinyl promises an iron-like durability and an unmatched ease of maintenance.

Most experts agree that you’ll become bored of your flooring before your vinyl gives out. Some estimate that depending on location and traffic, the life of good-quality vinyl can span decades.

But keep a few tips in mind for the ultimate care of vinyl

Tile one on

The main advantage of vinyl tile is that individual tiles are easy to replace. Damaged sheet vinyl can be patched, but not without obvious seams. While tiles occasionally loosen at the edges and curl, these pieces are easily replaced.

Protect and serve

Most manufacturers recommend the application of urethane to vinyl flooring. A protective urethane protects the floor from heavy foot traffic helps prevent scrapes, tears and scratches.

Mop and go

For routine maintenance, simply sweep floors and do an occasional light mopping to pick up the daily dirt and grime that can undermine your flooring.

Get caulky

Vinyl is a popular choice in rooms with heavy water use — like bathrooms and laundry rooms — so manufacturers recommend that you occasionally replace the caulking where the flooring meets the walls or toilet to prevent water from seeping under flooring.

Quick Tip

Vinyl vs. linoleum

Flooring shoppers have confused vinyl and linoleum for decades. And while both materials are resilient, their di€fference is mostly in composition and upkeep.

Vinyl is made with synthetic materials derived from petroleum; linoleum is comprised of all natural ingredients, is colored with natural pigments, and is 100 percent biodegradable. However, linoleum must be waxed, whereas vinyl doesn’t need it.

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