Luxury vinyl flooring? Really?
Yes but these products definitely are not the shiny orange sheet that covered your moms kitchen floor, or the old peel-and-stick school hall tiles your dad plopped down in the foyer. Modern luxury vinyl is a broad category that includes wood- and stone-look products with colors and textures good enough to fool the eye.
Its a category thats growing rapidly. Earlier this year, the industry website Floor Daily called it the most dynamic category. Sales of luxury vinyl hit $500 million last year up 13 percent, Floor Daily reported.
For those who dont choose carpet, hardwood or hard tile, luxury vinyl instead of laminate is likely to be the favorite option.
Local flooring pros say theyve seen the trend in their showrooms.
In the past year, its like its a hot item, said Jennifer Fallon, owner of the Floor Gallery of Lake Norman in Mooresville. She sells slightly more of the tile-look luxury vinyl, but wood styles are not far behind.
At Hughes Flooring in Charlotte, Rodney Hughes reports the same. Its taking off, he said. (Floor companies) are putting a lot of marketing money into it and were starting to see that.
If you visit your favorite home center or floor website, youll find lots of options. Online youll find discussions of the best products and techniques.
Theres even a shorthand: LVT for luxury vinyl tile and LVP for luxury vinyl plank.
These are products you can install yourself if youre reasonably handy. Some products click together for ease of installation.
If you have the top products installed by a pro, though, you can pay about as much for luxury vinyl as for some standard hardwood or ceramic tile. Say, $8 to $10 a square foot installed, Fallon estimated. Hughes said simply: This is not a price-point product.
So, if not for price, why choose luxury vinyl?
Again, the appearance is one reason. The tile-look products can be grouted to make them look more like ceramic or stone. The wood-look planks feature rich colors and textures.
Hughes said the technology responsible for such looks is helping to drive the popularity.
Its softer underfoot than tile, and stands up to spills and large pets better than hardwood, Fallon said. Hughes said one huge advantage for luxury vinyl is that it isnt damaged by moisture. You can soak it in the bathtub and it wont swell or buckle, he said. Theres no wood inside.
Hughes still likes the high-end laminates, but manufacturers have never been able to fully eliminate that distinctive and sometimes objectionable clicking sound when its walked on.
Luxury vinyl has a couple of advantages for remodeling projects.
These floors can be glued down or they can be floated. Individual tiles and planks can be clicked together and then installed without glue to float on special underlayment. Floating floors can cover up minor imperfections in the subfloor during a renovation.
Luxury vinyl is thinner than hardwood and thinner than stone or ceramic tile installed on the required underlayment.
When remodeling, its easier to match a thinner product to the level of the surrounding existing floors.
Which leads to the one complaint Fallon and Hughes share about luxury vinyl.
There are few good-looking options for the edge, or transition, where luxury vinyl abuts another type of flooring or a floor thats a slightly different level.
They dont make a transition, Fallon said. I sometimes have to use wood and stain it to match. They make metal, like youd use on an old vinyl floor. But it doesnt look good.
They definitely need to make better trim pieces, Hughes agreed. Its just less attractive with metal.
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