Vinyl Plank Flooring Pros And Cons: The Complete Guide

Vinyl plank flooring has become something of the go-to option when it comes to floor installation. Durable and slip-resistant, vinyl certainly has its benefits, especially at the cost, it’s available at.

At the same time, there’s a host of flooring options out there. The enterprising homeowner would do well to know some vinyl plank flooring pros and cons before making a choice. Lucky for you, you’ve come to the flooring professionals!

Advantage: Affordability

Vinyl plank flooring tends to run about $5 a square foot, which is certainly competitive with other types of flooring. 

That $5 estimate for vinyl planking is for luxury vinyl planking too; that’s essentially the vinyl ideal. If you are willing to lose out on thickness, you can still get good quality vinyl plank flooring for even cheaper.

To put that price in perspective, here’s a list of the price ranges some other common types of flooring might cost you:

  • Cork: $4 to $8
  • Laminate Flooring: $2 to $5
  • Real Hardwood Floors: $4 to $8
  • Pre-finished Bamboo: $3.50 to $6
  • Unfinished Bamboo: $2 to $3.50
  • Travertine: $10 to $25
  • Sandstone: $5 to $18

Notably, this is just the cost of materials. Installation costs extra, with pricier materials often translating into a pricier installation if you’re going to go professional. This is actually where one of the bigger benefits of vinyl floor plank flooring comes into play.

Advantage: Ease of Installation

Installing vinyl plank flooring can be a DIY project, helping a homeowner on a budget save some major cash. This stands in contrast to installing vinyl sheets, which is usually a job you should only save for professionals.

The ease of installation seems to be one of the design goals when it comes to vinyl planks. That said, installation is still a process that will require time, precision, and the right tools. If you’ve never installed a floor before, or lack the tools to do so, you’re going to want to call the professionals.

For those still interested in saving on the cost of installation, you can expect a full day project ahead of you. You’ll need a belt sander and nail gun, and you’re probably going to want an air compressor too, alongside the more common carpenter’s array of a hammer, chisel, putty knife, and the like.

Despite the comparative ease of installation to other types of flooring, you still can’t forget the mantra, “Measure twice, cut once!” Be sure to look over some common mistakes people during the installation process; one of the most common is simply forgetting to level your floor before placing any tiles (which is obviously what the belt sander is for)!

Sound like too much? Just get professionals to do the installation instead! We even have a tool to help you get a free estimate, so you don’t feel blindsided by any hidden costs.

Advantage: Warranties & Lifespan

Vinyl tends to be quite durable, especially if you decide on one of the higher-end types of planks. You can commonly expect warranties of upwards of 10+ years and it’s quite possible you won’t have any sort of problem the entire time.

We’ve spoken before about how it is one of the best choices for flooring if you’re a pet owner. It is resistant to scratches and stains and all but immune to dust mites.

Even better, the occasional dink or scratch tends not to ruin the aesthetic of vinyl planking (unless you’ve decided to smash your floor with an ax). This is because vinyl flooring tends to be homogenous, meaning the color runs through every layer of the material.

This all means that a scratch won’t be all that noticeable; where a chipped porcelain tile tends to show white underneath, your vinyl will just show whatever color it already was. Often only a very close inspection will even let you see there is even a scratch to begin with!

Advantage: Comfort

Perhaps surprising for some, vinyl flooring tends to be quite soft of the foot despite what are often aesthetic similarities to harder flooring. It’s also often padded underneath (something Empire Flooring can certainly help with) to add extra comfort.

Despite looking like wood it also doesn’t carry the disadvantages of that material. Wood flooring can be beautiful but has one of the worst downsides of any flooring type: the potential for splinters. Vinyl planks simply don’t have this issue. 

If you frequently walk around in socks or bare feet, vinyl plank flooring might be the choice for you. Pets will appreciate it too, even if they don’t know how to communicate it. We often don’t realize but harder floors can be tough on pet paws, especially if their claws are clacking against the material. 

Advantage: Clean

Vinyl flooring doesn’t hold onto mess or stains; it’s very easy to clean and some manufacturers even use antimicrobial materials in their flooring products so your floor can help kill germs without you even needing to think about it.

Cleaning doesn’t require much special either. Even if you do manage to stain your vinyl, the stains should be able to come out with some baking soda and water. 

Advantage: Looks Great

Vinyl plank flooring can look like essentially any type of wood you want; it comes in all sorts of faux wood designs so you can match the rest of your home’s stylings. You don’t have to choose between pricey options and something that looks nice.

While physically touching the material might break the illusion it’s real wood, most homeowners will be perfectly satisfied with flooring that looks nice, is inexpensive, and carries all the other advantages listed above. 

Whether you’re looking for a light shade or quite a dark one, there’s an option for you. It doesn’t have to look like wood either if you want to come for something more modern. 

Vinyl plank flooring may be affordable but it doesn’t look cheap or shoddy. After all, not everything that looks nice has to magically also be expensive. 

Disadvantage: Lower Resale Value…Maybe

Vinyl plank flooring, including luxury vinyl (the upper end of vinyl flooring), is often viewed as a mild negative by prospective homebuyers. Despite its advantages, it can often be seen as a cost-saving measure. While it certainly won’t tank your home value, it’s a fact worth considering.

At the same time, it needs to be noted that there is some evidence this trend is changing. Its reputation as cheap flooring seems to be changing, with luxury vinyl steadily increasing in popularity each year.

Consumers seem to be getting savvy to the fact it carries some big advantages while still managing to look just as good as the wooden floors it often mimics.

This would all seem to suggest that if you’re pulling up carpet, you may not need to worry too much about hurting resale value so long as you’re flooring with luxury vinyl planks (LVP). The upper ends of vinyl are apparently starting to compete with pricier flooring!

Disadvantage: Mold & Mildew Risk

Vinyl flooring options are often at risk of trapping liquids underneath, which can put your floors at risk of developing mold and mildew problems.

Left unresolved, these problems can sink into your floorboards, causing big (and quite expensive) problems over time. If you have a major spill, including a pet accident, you are going to want to make sure mold isn’t going to develop.

In order to do this, you are going to have to pull up some of the planking in the areas that were most affected by the spill. Check underneath, dry everything thoroughly, and deal with any mold you might find as quickly as possible.

Mold experts suggest you even might have to pull up the planking in several areas, just to be thorough. This sounds like a huge job but it also isn’t likely to happen very often. If you do end up having to check under your tiles, it also isn’t all that huge of an undertaking so long as you have the right tools.

The cleaning process for most molds is also fairly routine, requiring only some common cleaning chemicals and a scrub brush.

Disadvantage: Non-Biodegradable

As we’ve discussed in a number of our reviews, even quality vinyl flooring options tend not to be biodegradable. It’s also not particularly recyclable; if it comes time to tear up the flooring, there won’t be much that can be done with it.

This point isn’t unique to vinyl plank flooring, but it’s still worth noting for the environmentally conscious. While not all wood flooring is created equal, there are companies that offer environmentally friendly wood options, standing in contrast to vinyl options.

How one feels about this disadvantage is up to taste. It won’t particularly affect the quality of your flooring. Instead, it is about where the flooring goes when it has served its purpose. 

In essence, vinyl plank flooring can last a long time, but once it’s worn through, it basically just becomes long-lasting trash. This isn’t the case with what is vinyl plank flooring’s biggest competitor, hardwood, which we discuss a bit more later.

Disadvantage: Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs)

One concern some homeowners have about vinyl plank flooring is that both the planks and the adhesives used to secure them often contain certain chemicals, particularly VOCs, known to cause a number of health risks.

This leads some to be concerned about what is called off-gassing. This is the period of time after manufacture and installation that vinyl planks and adhesives give up notable amounts of these toxic chemicals.

While this isn’t unique to vinyl flooring, homeowners are right to wonder about any chemicals that might be in their flooring, especially if you have an infant or pet that will sit close to the ground. 

These chemicals are pretty common in the home, with these and other common pollutants averaging 2 to 5 times more times higher in concentration inside than outside. It isn’t a bad idea to be mindful of how much you’re bringing in if you have the budget to avoid them.

Luckily, there are flooring options that don’t use these chemicals if that’s a concern. It’s just worth noting that avoiding VOCs may translate to extra cost elsewhere. 

Disadvantage: The Competition

While the trend seems to be changing, hardwood still remains something of the king when it comes to flooring materials in terms of popularity. We’ve talked about why too; it comes down to hardwood’s long life and high resale value.

Vinyl plank flooring doesn’t exist in a vacuum; you should consider it alongside your other options. Hardwood is commonly the choice it is pitted against because they’re both durable and can have similar looks.

Hardwood isn’t some miracle material; it has its own drawbacks like price and susceptibility to water damage. At the same time, we can’t just pretend it doesn’t exist. Hardwood is worth a look if you have the money to spend on higher-end flooring.

Consider These Vinyl Plank Flooring Pros and Cons

That’s about all there is to say about vinyl plank flooring! The vinyl plank flooring pros and cons, in summary, paint a picture of a flooring material that is worth a look at almost any price point.

Even owners of pricier homes, who in the past might not think twice about vinyl planks, could benefit from a quick review of LVP flooring to see if it fits their needs.

For anyone interested in getting some vinyl plank flooring installed (or any other type of flooring for that matter), Empire Flooring makes getting a free estimate easy! We’d love to hear about your flooring needs.