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What Is Luxury Vinyl? Comparison With Linoleum and Laminate
Vinyl flooring can offer unique benefits to any home. They provide a slightly softer surface than hardwood with a good variety of colours and designs and can resemble both stone tiles or wood planks. They are durable, resistant to dirt, completely waterproof and very easy to clean. On the other hand, vinyl floors are synthetic products which alone is enough to make them look inferior to hardwood in the eyes of many clients.
One of the big advantages vinyl has over hardwood is the price. It is simply a cheaper product. At the same time, we begin to encounter a new term in the flooring industry - “luxury vinyl”. Can those two words be used together in the same sentence when we talk about the type of flooring usually purchased by people with tighter budgets?
What is Luxury Vinyl?
First of all, luxury vinyl floors or (LVF) are not a revolution, they are more like an evolution. The first types of vinyl sheets did not make a very believable likeness of real hardwood, especially compared to laminates. Nearly ten years ago, at 2006, manufacturers introduced a type of vinyl benefiting quite a lot from the new printing and photographic techniques available which resulted in a product who could look very much like real wood or stone while being much cheaper. This became what we know today as luxury vinyl.
- Shape: LVF comes in tiles and planks. Planks imitate wood while tiles replicate the look of stone. Luxury vinyl planks resemble real hardwood not only through the image but also through the shape. They are, however, thinner than a natural plank.
- Structure: The structure of a vinyl plank is rather simple.
- Wear Layer: In addition to excellent protection, it often comes with antibacterial and slip resistant properties.
- Design Layer: The high-quality image of hardwood can be found here.
- Stability Layer: Usually made from a fibreglass.
- Backing Layer: Often with sound absorbing qualities, it grants the plank solidity and stability.
There is a difference between tiles and planks. While we focus primarily on luxury planks, we will also cover the structure of a luxury tiles, just so we can avoid confusion. Traditional and luxury vinyl tiles share the absolutely same structure with the only real difference being the thickness. The layers themselves are four:
- The top is made from Aluminium oxide, an extremely durable coating which can only be found on prefinished floors. Protects from scratching.
- Second is the Film. It can protect from ripping and tearing.
- Third is the design layer. This is where the image of stone is printed.
- Fourth is the backing or base layer which makes the majority of the surface.
Luxury Vinyl, Laminate or Linoleum Compared
Despite all the advantages luxury vinyl flooring offers, it is still meant to be a cheaper alternative to real, natural material. LVF is a synthetic creation which resembles arguably better but more expensive products. Naturally, if you seek a replacement for the “real thing” you’d like to consider all available options. Just how does luxury vinyl compare to linoleum and laminate in terms of quality and price?
Resistance and durability - Modern luxury vinyl is considered more durable than both laminate, linoleum and hardwood. It will also provide better dent and scratch resistance and easier maintenance than any of the above-mentioned alternatives. However, the biggest asset vinyl has over pretty much any other flooring type is the fact it is waterproof which makes it suitable for pretty much any area of the house. Linoleum is also showing high water-resistance but excessive moisture can still lead to decay and ruin the floor if certain conditions are not met. Laminate is rarely used in bathrooms or kitchens but companies like Quick-Step offer products which are said to work well there.
Cost - Vinyl flooring is cheap. Luxury vinyl is a bit more expensive but still very, very affordable. Unfortunately, nothing can beat laminate in this regard. If you look for the absolutely cheapest solution – laminate is the answer.
Longevity - Vinyl and LVF as an extension have one major flaw. You cannot sand and refinish. They both, however, can be cleaned and polished or wire brushed and sanded by hand to remove scratches. Laminate can never be refinished.