At Flack’s Flooring, we’re constantly working to bring our customers the best and most advanced products the flooring market has to offer. We’re often asked by customers what the best type of flooring is for homes with kids or pets, and we always steer them toward one thing: Waterproof flooring.
Waterproof flooring is quickly becoming a very popular alternative to hardwood and laminate flooring for many people, chosen specifically for its resilience in parts of the house that see more wear, tear, and spills than others.
It’s a preferred flooring material in the South, where residents often have persistent moisture in their homes and basements. Less expensive in most cases than hardwood and less intrusive to install and remove than ceramic tile, waterproof vinyl flooring is flying off the shelves at Flack’s Flooring, and for good reason.
Here’s everything you need to know before you buy.
What is Waterproof Flooring?
The most confusing thing about the concept of waterproof flooring is the various names the industry uses to refer to the same type of product. For this blog, we’ll be focusing on waterproof vinyl flooring, which is also known as luxury vinyl flooring, vinyl plank flooring, LVP, or LVT.
Waterproof vinyl flooring is characterized by a few key features. This isn’t the rolls of patterned vinyl flooring your grandmother had in her kitchen when you were growing up: Waterproof vinyl flooring is different in that it comes in hard planks or tiles that are engineered to look like real wood or tile, but are actually completely synthetic.
Luxury vinyl is often referred to as snap-together vinyl flooring or vinyl click flooring because there are tongues and grooves on the sides of the planks that allow you to “click” the flooring together. Unlike hardwood that needs to be glued down, the luxury vinyl flooring we sell at Flack’s is a floating floor, which means it rests on top of the surface of your subfloor.
If you’re wondering what makes this snap-together flooring waterproof, it’s because luxury vinyl flooring has a waterproof core that keeps liquid from penetrating the surface.
What are the Different Types of Waterproof Vinyl Flooring?
Luxury vinyl flooring could be considered the most popular type of flooring being installed in homes today. Because it looks so much like wood or tile but is much more resistant to wear, tear, and superficial water damage, many families with children and pets look to this low-maintenance flooring when they’re making home renovation decisions.
There are two main kinds of luxury vinyl flooring, which we’ll break down here. Those are luxury vinyl plank flooring (or LVP) and luxury vinyl tile flooring (or LVT).
Waterproof Vinyl Plank Flooring
Waterproof vinyl plank flooring, often simply referred to as LVP flooring, has the look of traditional wood flooring. Made of engineered planks that mimic hardwood, LVP comes in a variety of sizes, textures, finishes, and colors, so there is an option for every home and design theme. Some of the best vinyl plank flooring can only be distinguished from real hardwood by a trained eye.
Waterproof Vinyl Tile Flooring
Waterproof vinyl tile flooring, also called waterproof LVT flooring or luxury vinyl tile, is also exactly what it sounds like: vinyl flooring that looks like tile. Instead of tiles that are made of ceramic or porcelain, these vinyl floor tiles are made to look like tiles you would find in any kitchen or bathroom space, minus the pesky grout. LVT also clicks into place and doesn’t require any glue or drying time, which is not the case with traditional tile products.
What are the Different Layers of Waterproof Vinyl Flooring?
Understanding how LVT and LVP are engineered is crucial to appreciating the unique qualities of this flooring product. To get the truest sense of how this product looks and feels, a visit to our flooring store and showroom on Ga. 400 will answer all of your questions, but we’ll do our best here!
Waterproof vinyl flooring is typically composed of four layers that all play a vital role in quality and function. These layers include a bottommost cork or foam layer to add padding and sound absorption. A waterproof core comes next, which not only protects the plank from moisture but also gives it a rigid quality that allows it to snap into place so easily. Then, a layer of vinyl gives the plank its unique look and finish, and a wear layer seals the top with scuff and scratch resistant material.
Thickness of Vinyl Flooring
The two most vital measurements that indicate quality in LVT or LVP are the thickness of vinyl flooring and the thickness of the wear layer.
LVP is typically available in thicknesses between 5 and 8 mm, while LVT can be between 3.2 and 7 mm. Thicker planks generally feel better when walked on and are stronger, but no matter what you choose, luxury vinyl flooring will feel substantial and stand the test of time.
Wear Layer for Vinyl Flooring
The wear layer for vinyl flooring is the top surface that acts like a “bodyguard” for your vinyl flooring. Generally, the thicker the wear layer, the better and more high-quality the product is.
Luxury vinyl flooring for residential use is available with wear layers measuring between 6 mil and 25 mil (a mil is one-thousandth of an inch). At Flack’s Flooring, we don’t sell anything with a wear layer less than 12 mil. Our standards for flooring products are high, and we only want to sell our customers the best product. That’s why you’ll see LVT and LVP in our showroom that has a 20 mil wear layer, something you wouldn’t find at a box store.
Benefits of Waterproof Flooring
This won’t come as a shock to anyone who’s read this far, but the biggest benefit of luxury vinyl flooring is that it is waterproof. The best example we like to give customers to describe how the waterproof feature works is that of a dog’s water bowl.
If you set your dog’s water bowl down on hardwood, laminate, or carpet, any spilled water would eventually permeate the surface or fabric and lead to buckling, warping, and even mold or mildew.
With waterproof vinyl flooring, pet accidents are a worry no longer. Water will not permeate the surface of luxury vinyl, giving you peace of mind about everyday spills. In fact, 50% of our customers choose vinyl flooring with pets in mind.
Being pet-friendly flooring is of course not the only benefit of waterproof vinyl flooring. Because of the way it is manufactured, installing this type of flooring is not dependent on having a perfect subfloor. The planks can even be laid down over existing flooring, saving on the labor and time spent on installation. And because there is no glue or grout involved, the process to install this flooring is easier and cleaner, making it less of a hassle for you.
Most of the Flack’s Flooring customers who choose waterproof vinyl flooring choose it as an alternative to hardwood, tile, laminate, and even carpet because of its practicality. If you want the look of hardwood or tile with the benefits of a waterproof surface, luxury vinyl is ideal. Below, we break down the pros and cons of each type of hard surface flooring:
Laminate vs Vinyl Flooring
One of the biggest differences many people note when comparing laminate vs vinyl flooring is that laminate flooring tends to have deeper and more realistic embossing on its surface than most vinyl. Because of the material that is used to make laminate, it’s easier to achieve a realistic wood or stone imitation. But, depending on the type and thickness of the luxury vinyl flooring you get, similar embossing is possible.
The installation process for both is similar, and each uses a click-and-lock installation method. Both floors are also easy to clean, but wet mopping is discouraged in order to keep vinyl floors looking brand new. And as far as price, both laminate and vinyl flooring cost around the same, though the price will fluctuate depending on the brand and quality you choose.
While there are a lot of comparisons that can be drawn between these two types of flooring, we think the difference between vinyl and laminate flooring that’s the most important is that vinyl flooring is waterproof, while laminate is not. Because vinyl flooring is entirely synthetic, there is no room we would say it’s not a good fit for. But laminate flooring typically has a wood core, which will swell and soften when exposed to water and lose its original shape. This makes it less suitable for areas of the home where water is often left standing for longer periods of time, such as bathrooms, mudrooms, kitchens, and basements. While neither is flood-proof, vinyl flooring will hold up better to spills and pooled water than its laminate counterparts, and look just as good if not better doing it.
Hardwood vs Vinyl Flooring
Many people consider luxury vinyl flooring to be the best alternative to hardwood flooring due to its durability and waterproof qualities. Wood look vinyl flooring can be convincing and provide benefits that hardwood flooring cannot. Vinyl flooring is much cheaper and much easier to install because it does not require nails or glue, and it’s easier to replace a part of the floor or even the entire flooring due to the floating floor installation method.
And because hardwood flooring is made from natural instead of synthetic materials, it tends to warp and buckle after prolonged water exposure, whereas luxury vinyl planks won’t. This is again where the waterproof feature of vinyl flooring makes it a very attractive choice compared to other flooring types.
One of the cons of vinyl is that it can’t be refinished like hardwood once it is old or damaged, and is generally ready to be replaced much sooner than hardwood. For many people, the look and feel of hardwood isn’t something that can be duplicated, and we’ll always have our hardcore wood fans. And if you’re planning to sell your home, hardwood will likely be valued higher than vinyl. But vinyl is quickly becoming a more and more popular choice for families who don’t want their kids or pets scratching up or otherwise damaging expensive hardwood flooring.
Tile vs Vinyl Flooring
Ceramic tiles have long been considered a go-to for bathroom and kitchen flooring due to their water resistance, durability, and overall attractive appearance. Tiles are glazed and fired in ovens to become hard pieces that are then glued to the floor, while the gaps between the tiles are filled with grout and later sealed. This makes installation very labor-intensive and costly, whereas with luxury vinyl tile, there is no glue, drying time, or sealing required. The labor costs with LVT are much less than with ceramic tile, allowing you to save money that can go toward the quality of the flooring material or stay in your wallet.
Ceramic tiles themselves can also get very pricey, with prestige and designer options available. Generally, the more intricate a tile pattern you pick out, the more expensive installation and materials will be. While LVT can range in pricing, it is generally much less expensive than ceramic tiles.
Vinyl floor tiles are a great option for families because they are easy to clean, with no grout lines or cracks to worry about keeping clean. But ceramic flooring can last up to three times as long, just as long as the grout is regularly resealed and any broken tiles replaced.
When choosing between LVT and ceramic tiles, the decision comes down to personal preference for most of our customers. While ceramic tile will likely be a much more expensive investment up front, the material will likely outlast any luxury vinyl tile product, while LVT is lower maintenance and is easier on the wallet in the short term. If you’d like a more in-depth look at the pros and cons of each, stop by our showroom! We’ll be happy to show you our products and assist you with the decision to invest in a new kitchen or bathroom floor.
The Best Waterproof Flooring for Your Home
We’re big proponents of waterproof flooring in any room of the house, and our flooring installation experts are laying down luxury vinyl flooring on main levels for customers on a nearly daily basis.
That being said, there are definite advantages to having waterproof flooring in specific areas of the house where moisture and spills are more likely, such as the basement, bathroom, or kitchen. The best waterproof flooring for your home is the kind that you will love and appreciate for years to come, and we think LVT and LVP are the perfect candidates for that!
Waterproof Basement Flooring
Typically, carpet has been the flooring material of choice for finished basements. But because this area of the home is often perpetually damp, it’s not an ideal option. Thankfully, innovative products like luxury vinyl flooring now exist as comfortable, low-maintenance alternatives to carpet.
Waterproof vinyl flooring is the best flooring for basements because it will stand up easily to the damp. Vinyl planks and tiles do not swell or buckle when wet like laminate or wood flooring, nor do they hold moisture in like carpet can. Vinyl basement flooring is also ideal for people who use the basement as a game room or playroom for kids, or who keep their pets’ kennels in the basement. Luxury vinyl flooring is resistant to the wear and tear, scuffs and scrapes and inevitable spills that come with pets and kids, making it an ideal choice to throw down and go. With easy installation and removal, waterproof basement flooring is a no-brainer.
Waterproof Bathroom Flooring
While hardwood has never been a popular choice for American bathrooms, ceramic, porcelain, and stone tiles as well as vinyl sheet flooring have long been top picks for these moisture-rich rooms. But with time, new products have entered the market as viable alternatives. At Flack’s Flooring, we recommend waterproof vinyl flooring for bathrooms in the form of vinyl plank or vinyl tile as the best flooring for bathrooms.
Regular tile is labor-intensive to lay down, and the grout must be resealed regularly to maintain its barrier against water and mildew. Luxury vinyl tile not only allows for a close imitation of stone or ceramic flooring, but is much easier to clean and maintain, and is much more comfortable underfoot. This is also a great option if you want the look of hardwood floors in the bathroom without having to worry about buckling or swelling planks. Waterproof bathroom flooring is also great for continuity, such as when you want the flooring in the master bedroom to flow into the bathroom.
Waterproof Kitchen Flooring
Most people are not strangers to the concept of vinyl kitchen flooring, but the perception and quality of this material has come a long way in the past decade or so. Vinyl flooring in kitchens is no longer deemed tacky or taboo in the interior design circles; at least, not waterproof vinyl flooring. Because it can so closely mimic real materials while having all of the benefits of being synthetic, waterproof vinyl flooring is ever-increasing in popularity as the best flooring for kitchens.
Another popular flooring material for kitchens across the U.S. is tile. While tile can add a texture and uniqueness to a kitchen and its decor, the stone material can feel cold and unwelcoming underfoot, as well as hard. Dropping a glass or a bowl on a ceramic tile will most certainly end in a shattered item; whereas with luxury vinyl tile, the dinnerware is more likely to survive. Waterproof kitchen flooring is fast becoming one of the most sought-after flooring materials for kitchens, and at Flack’s Flooring, we’re ready to help you pick out your new kitchen vinyl flooring today!
Styles of Waterproof Vinyl Flooring
Once brands caught on to the incredible durability and versatility of waterproof vinyl flooring, style and design options exploded onto the market. Today, you can find luxury vinyl plank and luxury vinyl tile in nearly any style you want. Here are a few ideas for when you’re picking out your own waterproof flooring.
Vinyl Plank Styles
Because vinyl plank is designed to mimic hardwood floors, this versatile flooring material comes in nearly every color, texture, and wood grain imaginable. It comes in a variety of lengths and widths, and is a good option for when a customer wants long or wide planks, which can get very expensive with real hardwood. Wide plank vinyl flooring has become popular with homeowners who want to give a distinctive and artistic look to a room with planks that are wider than traditional wood planks.
Homes with a modern feel and design look great with grey vinyl plank flooring, while darker wood finishes and even black vinyl flooring look elegant in more traditionally decorated homes. LVP can also be installed in different patterns to give sophistication and interest to any room, including herringbone, brick lay, diagonal, chevron, staggered, and many other configurations.
Vinyl Tile Styles
Similarly to vinyl plank, vinyl tile is made to closely resemble stone tiles, which also come in a variety of colors, finishes, and sizes. Stone look vinyl flooring is a good option for customers who want a stone or tile look in a bathroom or kitchen but don’t want cold stone underfoot. Vinyl tiles are synthetic and have a padded layer underneath to allow for a more comfortable temperature and softer impact. Because it doesn’t require grout, vinyl tile is much easier to maintain and makes replacing damaged tiles a much easier process.
Small bathrooms or kitchen areas benefit from this type of flooring because it is easier to cut and handle than traditional tile. For example, with marble vinyl flooring, you can get the look of this expensive, shiny material without having to deal with the inconvenience of hauling heavy slabs or cutting marble to fit the space.
Luxury Vinyl Flooring Installation
Installing vinyl plank flooring is one of the simplest and straightforward processes when it comes to updating the flooring in a home. This is because it snaps together quickly, is very easy to cut, and doesn’t require any glue or bonding to the subfloor. Just a few hours of work can transform a moderately sized room when you’re using vinyl plank flooring.