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Vinyl flooring installation - Cost, variations, pros, and cons

Installing new floors is one of the most important and, at the same time, expensive home improvement projects you will undertake. That is why weighing up all the available flooring options by comparing their costs and features is vital before hiring a local crew of installers. Consider your home's interior and the role your new flooring might have in it. Then evaluate the average foot traffic in this or that room to ensure you won't need to replace your new flooring sooner than expected. And finally, base your choice on the available budget. Please note that floors should not be pricey to meet their purpose. Today's market offers good alternatives to all luxury flooring options. For instance, natural stone can be substituted with polished concrete, while hardwood is commonly replaced by vinyl. If you're looking for a resilient and affordable material with relatively long service life, choose vinyl floors. Modern variations of vinyl have the look and feel of natural floors like stone, hardwood, and ceramic. They have good water resistance and can be fitted in virtually any room in the house, from living rooms to kitchens and bathrooms. Vinyl tiles ensure ultimate flexibility in appearance, as they come in a vast range of shades and patterns. Versatility, hassle-free fitting, low maintenance, and affordable vinyl flooring cost make this material one of the best in the middle segment. Check out this buying guide to throw away all doubts about vinyl floors and ensure you get it right every step of the way, from selecting to installing and maintaining. We'll explain the difference between types of vinyl floors and update you on the average costs for material and installation. At the end of the day, you will be able to select the best flooring option for your home.

Vinyl flooring installation - Cost, variations, pros, and cons

Things to learn before vinyl flooring installation

Polyvinyl chloride plastic is a synthetic material that forms the basis of vinyl flooring. PVC is heated and pressed before turning into vinyl tiles. Every tile is manufactured to exact dimensions to ensure a uniform appearance of the finished floor. The photorealistic layer of vinyl tiles usually mimics high-end floors like stone, solid wood, and ceramic. On top of that, tiles may have a textured surface similar to wood planks.

Vinyl flooring is durable, wear- and moisture-resistant material that can be installed in rooms affected by humidity and heavy foot traffic. Floors made of vinyl are often confused with laminate and linoleum surfaces. And while LVT (luxury vinyl tile) resembles laminate, these flooring options have multiple properties that set them apart. 

Keep reading to learn about the types and finishes of vinyl flooring as well as its service life, upkeep, and the best rooms to install.

Vinyl flooring: The expected service life

The average service life of vinyl flooring is 15-20 years with proper upkeep. This flooring material features a wear layer that helps it to resist moisture, stains, and scratches. That is why vinyl can be installed in homes with pets and little kids. 

Some vinyl flooring manufacturers even offer up to 15 years of warranty on the wear layer. The lifespan of top-quality luxury vinyl floors is 10 - 15 years longer than regular vinyl floors. They can serve for more than 30 years if properly installed and maintained. 

Vinyl flooring: The process of installation

Vinyl flooring installation is a DIY-friendly process that does not require as many skills and tools as other flooring options. Due to the lightweight and floating feature, vinyl sheets are fitted on the prepared subfloor without glue or nails. They can also be installed over plywood, hardwood, concrete, or even the existing vinyl coverage. 

Fitting vinyl flooring in an average-sized home takes less than 36 hours. No special conditions are required to do that. Unlike other popular flooring types, vinyl does not need to acclimate to the room before installation. 

Nevertheless, not every subfloor surface is even and undamaged. If you doubt the condition of your subfloor, it might be better to apply to a professional flooring contractor to examine the existing subfloor and prepare it for vinyl plank flooring installation. Big projects that involve installing a vinyl coverage on more than 2.000 sq. ft. area are also better to entrust to expert crews. If you seek one in your region, leave your request on HomeQuote. It will take you less than five minutes to discover local flooring professionals through our platform. 

Vinyl flooring: upkeep requirements

Vinyl is considered to be a robust flooring. Nevertheless, proper and regular maintenance can extend its service life and preserve its aesthetic appearance. Follow these tried-and-true upkeep approaches to ensure your vinyl flooring will stay in its best condition for as long as possible: 

  • Immediate cleaning of spills. Every time you spill something on your vinyl floor, it should be wiped dry immediately. By doing that, you won't have to deal with stubborn stains later. Discoloration and stains are the main culprits of premature vinyl flooring deterioration, especially if it's installed in the kitchen, where grease can seep into the seams. 
  • Mopping several times a week. The best way to get rid of dirt and dust from vinyl floors is to perform light cleaning with a soft broom and a damp mop. This will help you to keep your floors in mint condition and prevent the formation of scratches. 
  • Cleaning without abrasive detergents. Avoid using abrasive cleaners and bleaches when cleaning vinyl flooring, as they will likely blemish its shiny finish. The best cleaning means are apple cider vinegar, dish soap, and detergents made specifically for synthetic floors. 
  • Avoiding floor flooding. Vinyl floors are moisture-resistant, yet they are not designed to bear the extensive water amount on their surface. Clean your floors with a bit of wet mop, as an overly wet one can cause irreparable harm to the vinyl flooring's surface, finding its way into the cracks and seams.
  • Putting doormats in high-traffic areas. With the door mats in front of the entrance and the areas exposed to high foot traffic, you will avoid flooring surface scratching and minimize brooming activities. 

The best rooms in the house to install vinyl flooring

Vinyl is a universal flooring material that brings warmth and comfort to the home while featuring wear-resistant properties. It matches with water-based underfloor heating and gives a feeling of softness underfoot. 

Plank and tile vinyl flooring makes an ultimate choice for kitchens, dining rooms, living rooms, bathrooms, and basements. See the list below to discover what rooms in your home can get the most out of installing vinyl flooring: 

  • Bathroom. Vinyl flooring is known for its water-resistant and anti-slip properties that make it suitable for humid-prone home areas like bathrooms, laundries, and en-suites. If you're planning to install a vinyl floor in one of these rooms, make sure to seal it with a waterproof silicone sealant to ensure a watertight finish. 
  • Kitchen. Water and scratch resistance make vinyl a suitable flooring option for kitchens. Any spills from a vinyl surface can be wiped away without fear of staining quickly, meaning your floors will preserve their fresh look for years. Consider putting protective pads on the legs of your kitchen furniture to minimize the risk of scratching. 
  • Living room. Vinyl floors are hard-wearing, resilient, and comfortable to walk on, which makes them popular for living rooms. The variety of colors and patterns, including those mimicking wood and natural stone, helps to integrate these floors into almost any home's interior.

What are the types of vinyl flooring, and how do they differ?

A type of flooring determines its longevity, visual appeal, and performance. As there are three variations of vinyl flooring, you should learn about each to ensure you make the best pick. Read on to compare types of vinyl floors side-by-side.

There are a variety of textures to choose from, such as slate, travertine, and marble effect, making it easy to replicate this style in an affordable way.

  • Vinyl tile flooring

This type of vinyl flooring serves as a good alternative to real ceramic and stone, helping homeowners save a great deal of money on installation and maintenance. Vinyl tile floors don't feature grout lines. This feature helps to prevent dirt and grease from getting trapped between tiles and makes them suitable for homes with pets and kids. Besides, floors made of this synthetic material don't crack, swell, or peel, even in case of regular exposure to moisture. 

There are three variations of vinyl tile flooring, including luxury vinyl tile (LVT), groutable vinyl tile, and vinyl composition tile. 

  • Vinyl plank flooring

This type of vinyl flooring best mimics natural solid wood by color and texture. It is made of a series of the narrow, medium, and wide planks that range from 3 to 7 inches in width. They are clicked together to create a realistic look of hardwood. Vinyl planks often come with an underlay already attached to them, allowing you to lay them over any existing flooring. While planks are moisture-resistant, the gaps between them are still recommended to be sealed to prevent water penetration. 

Those who seek a more realistic vinyl flooring option should set their sights on luxury vinyl plank flooring. They are more robust and durable than regular vinyl planks and are almost impossible to differentiate from solid wood.

  • Sheet vinyl flooring

Sheet vinyl flooring is manufactured in sheets of 6- or 12-foot width that come in prepared rolls or cut to the needed size. This vinyl variation closely resembles tile, natural stone, and real wood, with a much lower price for material and installation. Sheet vinyl is moisture-resistant and suits areas with a high level of humidity, like bathrooms and laundries. Its layered construction ensures ultimate stability and long service life.

How do vinyl planks and tiles differ?

Luxury vinyl plank flooring (LVP) and luxury vinyl tile (LVT) are one of the most sought-after variations of vinyl floors. These materials resemble natural wood and stone and have a lot of common properties. Nevertheless, their distinctions are worth considering before installation. 

LVT is manufactured in tile squares that look like concrete and stone and can be installed with grout. LVP, in their turn, comes in planks and has a look of solid wood with realistic embossing. Except for manufacturing approaches, these two materials differ in installation methods. They come in glue-down flooring or floating-click flooring, where the planks or tiles click together and float over the subfloor. The floating-click products are waterproof, while glue-down ones are prone to moisture as the adhesive used for their installation is often not waterproof. 

How much does vinyl flooring cost?

Vinyl flooring is available to homeowners of different prosperity as it costs as low as $2 per square foot for vinyl sheets and $3.5 per square foot for vinyl planks. The cost to install vinyl flooring is also quite affordable as the process does not require much effort or specific skills. You can expect to spend around $2 per square foot for professional vinyl installation or less than $1 for a DIY installation. 

Luxury vinyl planks and tiles cost slightly higher than ordinary vinyl floors, compensating for the price by better durability and wear resistance. The cost to install vinyl plank flooring ranges from $4 to $8 per square foot and can rise even higher depending on the installation method and the subfloor. Please note that luxury vinyl plank floors are more expensive than sheet ones. The cost of the latter ones starts as little as $0.50 per square foot and can run up to $2 per square foot. 

Other factors that can affect the labor cost of installing vinyl flooring include: 

  • Tile/plank thickness. Luxury vinyl tiles and planks are thicker and denser, which allows them to withstand more years of regular wear and tear. The level of material thickness determines its longevity and price. Please note that floors under 3 millimeters should be installed in areas with low foot traffic, like bedrooms. If you want to get the most out of your new vinyl floors, invest in planks of 8-millimeters thickness.
  • Installation method. The overall project cost will be affected by the type of floor installation. There are three ways to install vinyl flooring - glue-down, peel-and-stick, and floating. The glue-down approach is the most expensive one, as it takes quite an effort and skill to be performed. Consider a floating approach if you want to skimp on vinyl plank flooring installation costs.  
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