Ultimate Guide to Vinyl Flooring 

Ultimate Guide to Vinyl Flooring

Ultimate Guide to Vinyl Flooring 

Are you considering installing vinyl flooring in your residential or commercial space? Vinyl floors have increasingly gained popularity since the mid-20th century. Worldwide, vinyl flooring’s value will reach an estimated $48.5 billion by 2023. It’s a type of synthetic flooring known for its durability, affordability, versatility and waterproof abilities. To help you make an informed decision, read our vinyl flooring guide. 

What Is Vinyl Flooring?

Vinyl flooring is a synthetic floor covering that consists of three primary layers of different materials sandwiched together. The pressed vinyl flooring materials form a waterproof cover, making it an ideal option for residential and commercial applications in wetter areas. In addition, vinyl is one of the most versatile, durable and affordable flooring options available — giving rise to its recent popularity. 

Today, it can be challenging to distinguish between manufactured vinyl and other natural flooring options. Thanks to advanced techniques, vinyl flooring can now resemble hardwood, marble, stone and a vast array of other luxury flooring materials. It creates a luxurious, durable space at a more economical price. So what makes vinyl flooring such a favorable choice? It’s all thanks to the three primary layers — wear, print and core. 

What Is Vinyl Flooring?

Wear Layer

Located at the top, the wear layer plays a crucial role in protecting your floor. This layer consists of a transparent urethane-based wear layer, adding a sheen. The amalgamation of polyvinyl chloride and sometimes other additives, such as nylon, makes vinyl flooring durable, scratch- and stain-resistant. Ultimately, the wear layer protects the vinyl’s print layer, from daily wear and tear to other, more severe damage. The degree of protection the wear layer can offer depends on its thickness — the thicker it is, the more it safeguards your print layer. Thus, the wear layer is your flooring’s “bodyguard.” 

Print Layer 

Underneath the protective wear layer is the print layer. As the name suggests, the print layer consists of a high-resolution printed design, pattern or color that adheres to the vinyl core. The print layer’s design can realistically resemble the colors and patterns of various types of hardwood, stone or marble. Vinyl flooring is a versatile and affordable option if you’re aiming for a luxurious look and feel at a budget-friendly cost. 

Core Layer

Located at the bottom, the core layer is vinyl flooring’s primary component. The core layer’s PVC composition is a flexible and waterproof material. For waterproof, multi-layer flooring, you can either use a wood-plastic core or a solid polymer core. Fiberglas reinforces the core for increased longevity and reduced expansion or shrinkage due to temperature fluctuations. Ultimately, this layer absorbs moisture without causing swelling or compromising the floor’s integrity. 

Types of Vinyl Flooring

One of the many reasons homeowners choose vinyl flooring is the wide range of options available. You can choose between different colors and patterns with a budget-friendly or high-end premium price range. The possibilities are virtually endless when deciding on the perfect vinyl flooring for your home. When shopping for vinyl floors, you can choose between tiles, planks and sheets. Each type of vinyl flooring comes with its unique advantages. 

Vinyl Tile Flooring 

Vinyl tiles allow homeowners to install tile flooring that closely resembles marble, stone and ceramic tiles — offering a significant level of customization. Vinyl tiles are waterproof, meaning they won’t crack, peel or swell when exposed to water. Vinyl tiles can be a perfect match for kitchens, bathrooms or any other room that will experience a lot of moisture. Vinyl tile fits exact dimensions to ensure the finished floor’s consistent appearance. Luxury vinyl tile is a frequent choice in residential spaces, as it offers the most realistic look and feel. In contrast, vinyl composition tile is more prevalent in commercial areas for its extra durability. 

Vinyl Plank Flooring 

Vinyl planks are a perfect choice as an economical, maintainable and durable alternative to hardwood floors. Their design mimics many colors, textures and varieties of wood — also offering a high level of customization. Unlike wood, vinyl plank flooring is waterproof, stain-resistant and easy to maintain. Vinyl planks are available in narrow, medium and wide widths and can range between 3 and 7 inches. Residential and commercial spaces can install vinyl plank flooring in areas prone to high traffic and wear and tear. 

Vinyl Sheet Flooring 

Unlike vinyl tiles and planks, vinyl sheets are a roll of flooring that can measure up to 12 feet wide. With a single fell swoop, you can cover quite a bit of flooring, making installation straightforward. Like vinyl tiles and planks, sheets are also highly customizable. You can choose to have the vinyl sheet look like wood, stone or marble or even design its unique patterns. Vinyl sheet flooring is also waterproof, durable, easy to clean and install and budget-friendly. Commercial areas highly favor vinyl sheet flooring. 

Installing Vinyl Flooring 

Regardless of the vinyl flooring option you choose, rest assured that it will be easy to install. It does not require any complex tools, making it an enjoyable DIY experience even for beginners. With proper surface preparation, you can install vinyl flooring over most existing flooring, eliminating the need to rip up your current floors or risk causing damage to your home. There are three standard installation methods. 

  • Glue-down installation: As the name suggests, this method involves gluing the vinyl flooring directly onto the subfloor. In other words, the glue will completely cover the prepared subfloor before you lay down the vinyl flooring. This installation method is the most expensive of the three, but it’s also the most stable and durable. It’s ideal for commercial and high-traffic flooring
  • Loose-lay installation: This method is easier to install than glue-down flooring because it doesn’t require full adhesive coverage. Instead, only the perimeter of the space you’re installing the vinyl flooring requires adhesive. Each plank’s backing grips the subfloor, preventing movement. This approach may not be the best option for commercial spaces. 
  • Floating installation: The last method may be the most affordable and uncomplicated of the three. No adhesive is necessary for the floating installation method. Instead, planks interlock with each other to form a floating floor over the subfloor. As a result, this method is a little more forgiving regarding subfloor preparation. 

What You Need to Know About Vinyl 

Before buying vinyl flooring, you need to understand a few essential aspects. The type of vinyl flooring you invest in and the installation method you choose can affect its longevity, durability and costs. Though vinyl flooring is resilient and waterproof, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to clean and maintain it. 

Longevity and Durability

Longevity and Durability 

Longevity is one of the advantages of vinyl flooring. The thicker the vinyl, the more durable the product, with 25-year warranties becoming more common for higher-end brands. Thinner vinyl flooring may only last about 10 years, particularly in high-traffic areas or from supporting overly heavy furniture. Your vinyl flooring’s longevity significantly depends on the initial installation process and method, flooring quality, wear layer thickness and general maintenance.

If you notice more wear and tear, it’s better to replace the vinyl flooring than refinish it completely. In addition, depending on the extent of the damage and the type of vinyl you installed, this could mean replacing the entire flooring — like with sheet vinyl — or only the affected tile or plank. 

Cleaning and Preservation

Vinyl flooring, especially high-quality vinyl flooring, is simple to care for. Depending on the wear layer, your floor most likely has a manufacturer-specific surface treatment that aids in scratch and stain resistance. Do not varnish, wax or steam-clean vinyl floors due to the wear layer. Avoid abrasive products that are oily or acidic. Never apply direct heat, as this may result in discoloration and even melting. 

Here’s how to clean vinyl floors. It’s best to mop spills immediately using a combination of water and a pH-neutral cleaning solution. You can sweep and mop your vinyl floors weekly to clean up any accumulated dust or dirt. Try to avoid anything that might scratch your flooring, such as vacuuming.

Costs and Installation 

Vinyl flooring is one of the most cost-effective options available compared to other options — like wood, stone or ceramic. Vinyl flooring prices vary depending on the thickness, quality and type of vinyl flooring you choose. On average, vinyl flooring can cost between $0.50 and $5 per square foot. Some luxury brands may cost more per square foot but provide additional benefits such as durability and higher-end or environmentally friendly materials. 

Vinyl flooring typically costs between $36 and $45 per hour to install, with vinyl sheeting installation costs averaging $3 per square foot and vinyl plank and tile installation costs averaging $7 per square foot. However, if you’re handy, you can save money by installing vinyl flooring yourself. Still, professional installers will typically include details such as adding trim and leveling the subfloor — and for more complicated projects, the additional money you spend may be well worth the time and energy you save. 

Pros and Cons of Vinyl Flooring 

Vinyl flooring is popular for households, offices, restaurants and other commercial applications. Depending on the type and quality you choose to install, vinyl flooring has many advantages but also a few disadvantages to consider. Evaluate the potential pros and cons of vinyl flooring so you can make an informed decision before buying.

Longevity and Durability

Vinyl Flooring Pros 

Here are a few upsides of vinyl flooring. 

  • Durable: Vinyl flooring is a highly resilient material that can last many years if properly installed and maintained. With a wear layer, your vinyl flooring can endure plenty of traffic.
  • Waterproof: One of the most significant advantages of vinyl flooring is that it’s waterproof. This flooring can handle spills with little to no moisture ingress or swelling. Properly fitted vinyl flooring is waterproof, making it perfect for bathrooms and kitchens. 
  • Affordable: Compared to other traditional flooring materials — like hardwood, stone and marble — vinyl flooring is an economical alternative that can create a luxurious look and feel. 
  • Easy to install: Vinyl flooring has an uncomplicated installation process — choose from glue-down, loose-lay or floating installation methods. 

Vinyl Flooring Cons

Here are a few cons of vinyl flooring. 

  • Short life span: Compared to traditional flooring materials, vinyl generally has a shorter life span, as sanding and polishing it can cause damage. 
  • Difficult to repair: Repairing vinyl floors can be a challenge. The removal process may be complex if you choose to glue your vinyl to the subfloor. In addition, you cannot refinish vinyl flooring because it consists of a single wear layer over a design layer. Thus, damage to the floor means that the affected areas or the entire floor require replacement. 
  • Somewhat easy to damage: Though vinyl flooring is highly durable, it’s still slightly prone to experience some damage, as it is softer than other materials. Dents, punctures and scratches may occur from heavy furniture or sharp objects. 
  • Color fades over time: If exposed to excessive sunlight, vinyl flooring can discolor and wither, as the top layer typically isn’t UV-resistant. 
  • Not eco-friendly: Environmentally conscious people may want to choose an alternative to vinyl. Vinyl flooring isn’t biodegradable, making it difficult to recycle. 

Comparing Vinyl With Other Types of Flooring 

Of course, there are more flooring options, like hardwood, laminate and carpet. These come in various colors, textures and styles, allowing you to achieve your desired aesthetic. However, specific characteristics distinguish them. Below is a simple comparison of vinyl with other flooring types.

  • Vinyl vs. hardwood flooring: Unlike vinyl, hardwood consists of natural materials. As a naturally sourced product, hardwood doesn’t offer the same durability and water resistance level as vinyl flooring. Hardwood flooring may be more expensive, difficult to install and high-maintenance compared to vinyl flooring. It has a longer life span, increases resale value and has a more attractive appearance. 
  • Vinyl vs. laminate flooring: Laminate flooring consists of recycled wood and resin, giving it a more realistic appearance than vinyl flooring. Though vinyl flooring is exceptionally durable, higher-end laminate flooring will always win with its robust aluminum oxide wear layer. However, laminate flooring is only partially water-resistant, not waterproof like vinyl. Both materials have similar installations, costs and life spans. 
  • Vinyl vs. carpet: Maintaining carpet can be challenging, especially with high-traffic areas, spills and stains. Unlike vinyl, it is not waterproof, and it’s far less durable. When comparing installation and maintenance costs, vinyl is more affordable. Vinyl flooring and carpet can come in various varieties and styles, but their applications differ. Vinyl flooring is an excellent choice for any residential and commercial space, but carpet may not be the best for wetter areas. 

Browse Vinyl Flooring at Metro Flooring Contractors

We hope this vinyl flooring guide provides you with the necessary insights. Whether you’re ready to dive into your vinyl flooring project immediately or need more help deciding which flooring option is best, Metro Flooring Contractors is here for you. We offer professional vinyl flooring installation services in Maryland, Washington, D.C., Delaware, northern Virginia and parts of West Virginia and Pennsylvania. 

Our team of professional contractors is ready to provide you with next-day installations at affordable rates. Contact us today and schedule an appointment online today to start your flooring project with us or learn more about all your vinyl flooring options. 

Browse Vinyl Flooring at Metro Flooring Contractors