Luxury vinyl has gained huge interest as it was introduced over 10 years ago. Its popularity is similar to when Laminates were introduced to the marketplace. Consumers wanted the look of wood floors with a lower price point and easier maintenance. It's not until the product has been in use for a period of time that we see the results of the durability and the strengths and weaknesses of the product. It is now becoming evident that LVP is not as bullet proof as once described. Failures are now coming to light. Some due to failure in the installation process, but some are due to the product not performing as described.
After being in the flooring business for 40 years, I can attest that there is no perfect floor covering. All flooring, including Stone, Porcelain, Wood, Laminate, LVP, Epoxy, Vinyl and Carpet, all have their Pros. & Cons. Like anything else, there is entry level quality and price point as well as good quality, which will always cost more. If the price seems too good to be true, it usually is.
Consumers need to be aware of the issues that are now showing up with LVP (Luxury Vinyl Plank) and SPC (Stone Plastic Composite). First we should know the difference between them. Depending on the manufacturer, some will come with cork on the back and some will have a thin layer of foam padding. There are even some that have no pad or sound barrier. Regardless, none of these meet the minimum standard of the vast majority of condominiums' sound abatement requirements STC and IIC. Additional pad underlayment will be needed.
Secondly, the obvious issue is the thickness of the product. If you are removing an existing tile or wood floor you will find that in most cases the interior door frames and casings in your home have already been cut to accommodate the height of the prior flooring, usually around ½” to ¾”. LVP and SPC will be about a third to half the thickness of what you are removing and there is not a great fix for filling the gaps under each door frame once the new Luxury vinyl is installed.
Thirdly, moisture in the slab which is otherwise known as hydrostatic pressure can be a problem. Even though most of these LVP's are advertised as waterproof floors, the largest manufacturer is now requiring 6 mil. Visqueen to be installed first as a vapor barrier. Excessive moisture in the slab will cause mold under the floor and in extreme cases will open the seams between the planks of the floor. The first sign is cupping of the boards at the end seams.
Fourth, the slab needs to be flat and within 3/16” over 10' span to meet manufacturer specifications. Most slabs are not within tolerance and if they are not prepared properly prior to installation, the seams will open when you step in a low depression. Since the edge locking system is so small, once the lip breaks off, there is no way to get it back together.
Fifth, the SPC core is made from stone composite. The purpose of the SPC was to eliminate the denting of the softer, original, core WPC. The downside is the SPC does not flex and contour to the floor like the original WPC and bridge the low undulations in the concrete slab. The end result is the SPC will sound hollow under foot as if it were a laminate floor. It will be more noticeable with hard shoes and pets' nails walking across the floor.
In conclusion, if you compare a quality luxury vinyl flooring to the cost of an engineered hardwood floor, there is not much savings. Many new home purchasers want the real thing rather than an imitation plastic floor. The wood can also be refinished if you decide you want to change the color years later. Quality wood floors can easily last for the entire life of the home. Real wood floors are natural, warmer, quieter and can be recycled to keep our planet green. Engineered wood floors are suitable for just about any climate and can be installed over concrete or plywood subfloors.
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No matter the size or scope of the project, ProFloors & Cabinets has the know-how, craftsmanship and products to successfully complete every flooring projects. Profloors & Cabinets and their team of experts are ready and equipped to help clients discover the perfect floors to exceed their expectations.
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