Home > Flooring > Best Vinyl Plank Flooring Guide: Types, Pros, Cons (2022)

Best Vinyl Plank Flooring Guide: Types, Pros, Cons (2022)

Updated Nov 9, 2022

Updated Nov 9, 2022

Home > Flooring > Best Vinyl Plank Flooring Guide: Types, Pros, Cons (2022)

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Vinyl plank flooring is becoming an increasingly popular option among homeowners. While you can’t expect a high return on your investment when you opt for vinyl planking, some high-quality options have an excellent appearance and underfoot feel. Luxury vinyl tile and planks can mimic the appearance of real wood and stone at a more agreeable price point. Here, we’ve listed the top brands and varieties of vinyl plank flooring, which are ideal to suit almost any homeowner’s need. In addition, you’ll find a buyer’s guide with some helpful information on to choose the best product possible.

Types of Vinyl Plank Flooring

Simply put, there are three main categories of vinyl plank flooring. Each will have somewhat different costs per square foot, along with different ideal uses. Read about the key differences between them here.

Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring

Luxury vinyl planking is a far thicker variety of flooring than basic vinyl tiles. This type of flooring is comprised of — distinct layers, including:

  • A urethane layer or similar coating
  • A 20-mil wear layer to prevent scratching
  • A printed film layer (to mimic stone, tile, or hardwood)
  • A base vinyl or composite layer
  • An underlayment or backing

Luxury vinyl is often between six and eight millimeters thick.

Rigid Core Vinyl Plank Flooring

Rigid core vinyl planking comes in two main varieties: wood plastic composite (WPC) and stone plastic composite (SPC). These types are made with a hardened core comprised of wood or stone byproduct with a synthetic composite. As the name implies, these vinyl types will not flex as many basic vinyl peel-and-stick tiles will.

Installation for this flooring type is “click-lock,” with no adhesive required. This means that precise cutting of each board and leveling of your subfloor before installation are key. Rigid core vinyl is often, but not always, also considered luxury vinyl planking.

Basic Vinyl Plank Flooring

All of the products listed would classify as waterproof vinyl plank flooring. This synthetic material is totally waterproof. If any issues with this arise, it is likely due to the installation of subpar underlayments or poor workmanship around the seams between planks or tiles. Basic vinyl is typically between two and four millimeters thick and has an adhesive backing. This makes it a more suitable choice for out-of-the-way rooms or hallways.

Best Vinyl Plank Flooring

We’ve done extensive research into vinyl plank flooring to find you the best options available today. Each of the options below will have varied tolerances, costs per square foot, and FloorScore ratings. We’ve also tried to choose products that have wide availability from liquidators and hardware outlets for the sake of accessibility.

  • CoreLuxe Ultra: Most Style Options
  • Luxury Vinyl Planking from Empire Today: Most Transparent Pricing
  • Coretec Advanced Plus: Best for Homes with Pets
  • Shaw Titan HD Plus: Best for High-Traffic Areas
  • Mannington Adura Rigid Vinyl Planking: Best for Withstanding Temperature Fluctuations
  • Armstrong Vivero Planks: Best for DIY Installation
  • LifeProof Luxury Vinyl Planking by Home Depot: Best for High-Moisture Areas
  • SmartCore Pro: Best for Noise Reduction
ProductFor InstallationSuperlativeCost per Square FootProduct Warranty
CoreLuxe Ultra from LL FlooringContact LL Flooring TodayMost Style Options Available$3.50 – $4.00Lifetime
Luxury Vinyl Planking from Empire TodayContact your Nearest Empire Today BranchMost Transparent PricingContact Empire for a Free ConsultationLifetime limited warranty
Coretec from Floor Coverings InternationalContact Floor Coverings International TodayBest for Homes with Pets$4.00 – $6.25Lifetime limited warranty
Shaw Titan HD PlusView Shaw’s Products OnlineBest for High-Traffic Areas$7.00 – $7.50Contact Shaw
Mannington Adura Rigid Vinyl PlankingView Mannington’s Store Locator to Learn MoreBest for Withstanding Temperature Fluctuations$4.00 – $5.00Lifetime limited warranty
Armstrong Vivero PlanksContact your Local Home Depot TodayBest for DIY Installation$2.00 – $6.0015-year, 30-year, or lifetime warranty
LifeProof Luxury Vinyl PlankingContact your Local Home Depot TodayBest for High-Moisture Areas$3.00 – $4.00Lifetime non-transferrable warranty
SmartCore ProContact your Local Lowe’s TodayBest for Noise Reduction$3.50 – $4.50Lifetime limited warranty

CoreLuxe Ultra: Most Available Style Options

CoreLuxe Ultra LVP could be an option for you if you want a more realistic underfoot feel at an affordable price point. With online ordering available through LL Flooring, you can be assured of availability in your area. They provide numerous designer wood options, including walnut, oak, hickory, maple, and far more to ensure that your existing decor is matched during installation.

Where to Buy CoreLuxe Ultra

CoreLuxe Ultra is available from LL Flooring at very affordable prices. You can also opt for installation from this provider if you contact them ahead of time.

CoreLuxe Ultra Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Fair pricing
  • FloorScore certified
  • Lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Required add-ons, like padding and a moisture barrier could bump up your price

CoreLuxe Ultra Cost

CoreLuxe Ultra LVP costs between $3.00- $4.00 per square foot.

Luxury Vinyl Planking from Empire Today: Most Transparent Pricing

Empire Today is a long-standing prominent provider of flooring of all kinds. Aside from name recognition within the industry, Empire also markets an incredibly durable and hassle-free line of vinyl flooring. When you contact Empire Today, you’ll be treated to a free all-inclusive estimate within your home. An associate will bring flooring samples to compare to your existing flooring and decor and will assist you throughout the purchase and installation process.

Where to Buy Empire LVP

If Empire services your state, you should contact them today to learn more.

Empire LVP Pros & Cons

Pros

  • All consultations are free
  • Estimates include flooring, removal, and installation costs
  • Numerous vinyl styles and textures to choose from

Cons

  • No sample pricing online

Empire LVP Cost

Contact Empire for a consultation.

Coretec: Best for Homes with Pets

Coretec provides one of the most varied lines of vinyl flooring products on the market today. With textures and looks made to mimic any type of hardwood or stone, alongside reliable and durable construction, this is one of the most popular options around. The 15-year scratch warranty, as well as the rigid core construction, prevents warping and damage, even when your floors are faced with heavy foot traffic, multiple pets, larger gatherings, or consistent moisture exposure.

Where to Buy Coretec Vinyl Flooring

Contact Floor Coverings International to purchase this line of durable vinyl flooring.

Coretec Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Comes with a 15-year scratch warranty
  • Attached cork underlayment provides improved underfoot feel
  • Rigid core adds stability

Cons

  • Layered construction means you may have to sacrifice comfort for appearance, depending on your preferences
  • High price point

Coretec Cost

Coretec costs $4.00 to $6.25 per square foot.

 Shaw Titan HD Plus: Best for High-Traffic Areas

Shaw Titan HD Plus vinyl plank flooring is our choice for the best high-traffic area option. Its Armourbead wear layer provides plenty of added protection to ensure that your planking will remain unscratched regardless of how frequently your floors are exposed to wear and tear. The 30-mil wear layer and overall 12 mm thickness both exceed industry standards for durability, while Shaw provides numerous options to mimic hardwood, tile, and stone textures and appearances.

 Where to Purchase Shaw Titan HD Plus

Look through Shaw’s entire line of luxury vinyl on their website.

Shaw Titan HD Plus Pros & Cons

Pros

  • 30 mil wear layer on these planks is 50% thicker than most luxury tiles
  • Widely available in big-box hardware stores
  • 12 mm thickness gives these planks a realistic real-wood feel

Cons

  • Relatively high-cost

Shaw Titan HD Plus Cost

Between $7.00 and $7.50 per square foot

Mannington Adura Rigid Vinyl Planking: Best for Withstanding Temperature Fluctuations

Mannington Adura Rigid planking is the best option for areas that may experience temperature fluctuations and can be installed over almost any subfloor type except for carpeting. Its temperature tolerance makes it a top pick for clients who have radiant heating in their existing floors. Aside from that, Adura Rigid planking is FloorScore certified to give off minimal VOCs, even in the face of temperature fluctuations and aging. Mannington offers a comprehensive line of products for clients with varying tastes, with stone-textured tiles and wood planking available.

Where to Buy Mannington Adura Rigid Vinyl Planking

Mannington’s store locator can help to find a retailer near you.

Mannington Adura Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Solid polymer core (SPC) base makes for a highly durable product
  • Can be installed over a wide range of subfloor types, making them excellent for finished basements
  • Numerous real wood and cement planking

Cons

  • Harsh underfoot feel relative to other vinyl planking.

Mannington Adura Cost

Between $4 and $5 per square foot

Armstrong Vivero Planks: Best for DIY Installation

Unlike the adjacent Armstrong Luxe line, Vivero vinyl planking comes in varying degrees of thickness, which range between 2.8 and 4 mm. Armstrong comes in a range of looks and textures, with distressed, traditional, and hand-scraped options readily available. Each option — even Vivero’s “best” line is fairly affordable and is equipped with a competitive warranty.

Where to Buy Armstrong Vivero Planks

Armstrong Vivero planking can be purchased at your local Home Depot location.

Armstrong Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Varying grades available within Armstrong's Vivero line of vinyl
  • Warranties range between 15 years and lifetime
  • Floating or adhesive flooring options available

Cons

  • Warranties are non-transferable

Armstrong Cost

Between $2 and $6 per square foot.

LifeProof Luxury Vinyl Planking by Home Depot: Best for High-Moisture Areas

LifeProof vinyl flooring is exclusively a Home Depot product, which offers quality and easy installation. The drawback is that this is marketed as a DIY flooring solution. This means that, regardless of your own experience or comfort level with home renovations or related maintenance tasks, you’ll be on your own during installation. However, given the recommended installation areas, LifeProof may be a good option for you. Its moisture and wear tolerances make it perfect for utility closets, laundry rooms, and similar spaces.

 Where to Buy LifeProof LVP

LifeProof LVP is exclusively available for purchase at Home Depot.

LifeProof Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Highly affordable
  • Easy to install
  • No underlayment is needed for installation

Cons

  • Warranties are non-transferable
  • Interlocking tabs aren't durable

LifeProof Cost

LifeProof Luxury Vinyl is generally cheap, at $3 to $4 per square foot.

SmartCore Ultra: Best for Noise Reduction

SmartCore vinyl flooring is a worthwhile choice if you’re looking to cut down on general noise within your home but don’t want to switch over to wall-to-wall carpeting. SmartCore Ultra vinyl flooring includes a thick underlayment layer, which is padded to improve the underfoot feel and decrease noise from foot traffic. It visually works in all rooms and areas of your home and can be installed via adhesive or via the interlocking mechanism on the long edges of each plank.

Where to Buy SmartCore

SmartCore is a Lowe’s store brand, and is therefore only available at Lowe’s locations.

SmartCore Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Widely available at all Lowe's locations
  • The thicker wear layer and underlayment pad make it a quieter flooring option
  • 14 different appearance and pattern options in the Ultra line alone

Cons

  • Negative reviews report fairly easy scratching.

SmartCore Cost:

SmartCore LVP costs between $3.50 to $4.50 per square foot

Many types of vinyl flooring can be easily installed by homeowners, without hiring a contractor.
Halfpoint/ DepositPhotos

Factors to Consider When Buying Vinyl Plank Flooring

Before deciding on a vinyl plank flooring brand, you’ll want to shop around. Many lumber retailers and larger hardware stores have showrooms that will allow you to thoroughly examine any type of flooring before making a purchase. Here, we’ve listed several aspects that you should be aware of when doing so.

Thickness

If your flooring is going to be installed in an area with higher foot traffic or primary in a primary living area, then installing luxury vinyl planking is probably the way to go. Dining rooms, living rooms, bedrooms, and the like will be better covered with the five to eight-millimeter luxury planks than the two to four-millimeter basic paneling.

Scratch Resistance

High-traffic areas of your home will have to have a sturdier material lining the floors for the sake of long-term protection. For more frequently-used areas in your home, a 20-mil wear layer will be needed to maintain your floor’s appearance long-term.

Type of Room

All vinyl flooring is fairly water-resistant. This makes all vinyl plank or tile flooring a good option for mudrooms, laundry rooms, basements, and entryways. However, if you’re laying down vinyl flooring on a tighter budget, you may want to go with thinner, more basic vinyl for more out-of-the-way rooms.

Plank Size

This is more of an aesthetic factor, but plank and tile size should influence your choice of flooring material as well. A qualified flooring contractor would be able to tell you which tile or plank size would work best for your home and your precise needs. Worth noting is that smaller plank sizes could lead to slightly increased labor costs. That said, the difference in your final bill will be fairly negligible.

Adhesive Type

Most basic vinyl flooring will be fairly thin and will come with some kind of built-in adhesive. For the thinnest vinyl types, this amounts to a peel-and-stick backing. Still, others will be glued to your subfloor or underlayment with a spreadable adhesive.

If you’ve opted for a floating floor, which installs with click-lock fastening between each panel, your installation will take a bit longer but will likely be of slightly higher quality.

Warranty

Most vinyl plank for residential use will come with a warranty that covers routine wear and tear. This will usually be a ten or 15-year plan, which could make you eligible for full replacement of damaged flooring. Bear in mind that this is independent of labor warranties from a flooring contractor, which are most commonly for two to five years.

Vinyl flooring ranges in quality, from solid planking to the more flexible, less durable type you see here.
Appleyayee/ Adobe Stock

Pros and Cons of Vinyl Plank Flooring

Pros

  • Highly water-resistant
  • More affordable than many flooring types
  • Many homeowners can conduct DIY flooring installation with vinyl
  • Numerous styles can closely mimic the look of wood flooring
  • Fairly durable and scuff-resistant, even when placed in high-traffic areas

Cons

  • Can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
  • Can be difficult to remove and replace — especially if you've used a glue-down vinyl type
  • Doesn't last as long as hardwood flooring

Tips for Installing Vinyl Plank Flooring

Especially if you’re considering handling your own vinyl flooring installation, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind ahead of this home improvement task.

Sand Down and Level Your Subfloor

An important early step towards a successful vinyl flooring installation is ensuring the uniformity of your existing floor. If you’ve torn up your old flooring, then you should inspect your subfloor and level it. If there are any prominent raised sections, then renting a belt sander from a local hardware store like Home Depot is a good idea.

If your subfloor has any pitting, dips, or other noticeable damage, then leveling it with wood putty will go a long way toward ensuring the long-term appearance and functionality of your flooring.

Leave Expansion Gaps Along Walls

Vinyl or PVC flooring is synthetic, which means that it is far more sensitive to temperature fluctuations than wood, stone, or even laminate flooring. This should amount to a 1/4 to 3/8 of an inch around walls or trim.

Stagger the Seams

To give your new flooring a more textured, layered look, you should stagger your seams. Preventing the short seams from lining up with every row of planking will make your floor stronger and will also help to make it more passable as a real wood alternative.

Be Mindful of Height

Your flooring’s thickness will play a role in how your finished product looks. If you’ve decided to use a more basic vinyl planking, then it may not be as thick as your original flooring. To offset this, you may choose to apply a thicker underlayment layer before installing the planking itself.

Vinyl Plank Flooring FAQs

Should I get embossed vinyl flooring?

This will depend on which room you have in mind for your vinyl plank flooring installation. Embossed vinyl is laser-etched on the surface to mimic a real wood look and feel. While the difference between this and actual hardwood is clear up close, this is still an upgrade that many homeowners and home decorators would consider. This type of vinyl flooring is available from most flooring companies and still comes with affordable pricing per sq. ft.

Is all vinyl considered a floating floor type?

By definition, a floating floor is one that sits on top of the subfloor and underlayment with no direct means of attachment. Thicker, higher-end vinyl will typically be considered floating or loose-lay flooring due to the lack of adhesive on its underside.

Will vinyl flooring help or hurt my home's resale value?

Despite the improvements made to vinyl flooring over the last several years, it is still seen as a cheap alternative to laminate flooring. This is true both in regard to budgeting and quality. While wear layers and attached underlayments on many vinyl plank flooring brands will make them fairly comparable in quality, you shouldn’t expect this to enhance your home’s resale value. That said, many LVP flooring options will not necessarily hurt your resale value.

What is the best cleaning product to use on vinyl plank flooring products?

Vinyl is fairly water and stain-resistant. Given the typical uses of vinyl flooring — in mudrooms, laundry rooms, entryways, and kitchens — you’ll still have to clean it regularly. Wet mopping over a sprayed-on mixture of dish soap and vinegar will get out most stains. Unlike with laminate products, you won’t have to worry about the amount of water you use. If the click-lock joints between your planks or tiles are secure, you won’t have to worry about water damage.

What is the difference between regular vinyl and luxury vinyl flooring?

Standard vinyl is fairly flexible and comes with a thinner wear layer. Luxury vinyl planking or tile flooring (LVT) has a 20 mil wear layer that mimics the appearance and tolerance of real wood. When choosing vinyl flooring for more prominent areas of the home, like living and dining rooms, many homeowners opt for luxury vinyl.

What is FloorScore?

A FloorScore rating for vinyl planking or tiles refers to a California-based set of standards by which flooring is judged. Products are rated based on the amount of VOCs — volatile organic compounds — that a given flooring type will leach into the air in your home over time. These compounds can make their way into your flooring during the manufacturing process. No matter your living situation, you should opt for flooring with minimal VOCs and a solid FloorScore rating.

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