Why Vinyl Flooring Might Be Your Best Option for a Modern Look

Published: January 3, 2024

While carpet is having something of a heyday as people pursue added comfort in their increasingly multi-use homes, hard surface flooring is still the go-to when modern style is the driving factor. Genuine hardwood or stone floors impart a clean look to any room, elevating the home with a decidedly modern aesthetic.

But like many of the most in-demand features in modern design, real tile or hardwood floors can be something of a budget-breaker for many homeowners. Thankfully, the abundance of high-quality alternatives means that it’s still possible to get a modern flooring look while saving some money. One of the best choices for achieving this goal is vinyl flooring. What exactly is vinyl flooring, and what makes it such a popular alternative to the real deals? Keep reading to find out.

Vinyl Flooring Types: Know the Difference

Vinyl flooring is, as its name states, a type of floor product made primarily out of the synthetic material polyvinyl chloride—better known as PVC. An incredibly versatile material, vinyl gives manufacturers the ability to mimic an endless variety of textures and styles in a durable, convenient flooring product. The wider category of vinyl flooring is separated into three subcategories: sheet vinyl, luxury vinyl tile (LVT), and luxury vinyl plank (LVP). Each type has its own unique characteristics and benefits that should be considered when choosing a vinyl floor that will best match your personal style and practical needs.

Sheet Vinyl

The most affordable of the three options, sheet vinyl is crafted in large flexible sheets that feature a repeating design. This gives sheet vinyl the look of a typical tile or hardwood floor, as well as a natural point at which to line up the seams of each vinyl sheet.

While sheet vinyl flooring is prized for its reasonable cost, it still more than holds its own when it comes to durability. Empire Today® offers some sheet vinyl products that are backed by limited lifetime warranties against fading, staining, and wear.

The biggest obstacle to a customer choosing sheet vinyl is often the unkind reputation of its predecessors. Most shoppers over a certain age will remember the linoleum flooring of yesteryear, which was a synthetic floor product known not only for being very inexpensive but also for having poor all-around quality. But thankfully, today’s sheet vinyl floors are leaps and bounds ahead of their ancestors in nearly every aspect.

One practical downside to sheet vinyl is that its large sheets don’t allow for much design customization and can limit installation orientation.

Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT)

As the name suggests, vinyl tile is a luxury option that provides the realistic look and texture of traditional ceramic, porcelain, or stone tiles. Unlike sheet vinyl—which mimics an entire floor’s worth of tiles in a single continuous sheet—each vinyl tile is a separate piece. Some LVT floor products can even be grouted to create a fully authentic tile look.

There are a few common reasons why LVT is often chosen over a traditional tile, with comfort being a popular one. Though beautiful, stone or ceramic tile floors are a very hard surface that will usually feel cold to the touch, a combo that can be uncomfortable for bedrooms or family rooms. A very hard floor can also lead to foot, back, and knee pain in rooms where you might find yourself standing for long periods of time—like the kitchen. LVT reduces both of these issues, offering a floor that feels a bit warmer underfoot while providing just enough compliance to significantly improve comfort while walking or standing.

Luxury vinyl tile floors also require less maintenance than stone or traditional tile and can often be more durable. The ultra-dense vinyl core and robust wear layer are highly resistant to scratches and scuffs, and vinyl tiles are unlikely to chip like some ceramic tiles might do when struck with a hard object. Many natural stone floor products need to be regularly treated with a sealant, as should the grouting in a typical ceramic floor. Most LVT floors are “set it and forget it,” requiring nothing more than regular cleaning for their entire lifespan.

But one of the biggest advantages LVT has over tile is that vinyl will almost always be more affordable than a similar style of porcelain or ceramic tile.

Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP)

Similar in construction to vinyl tile, luxury vinyl plank mimics hardwood flooring in style and shape. At first glance, a piece of LVP can often be indistinguishable from a plank of genuine hardwood. LVP has a realistic wood look and feel, and some models even install with similar tongue-and-groove construction.

As with the other vinyl flooring products, LVP is often chosen for its durability and low maintenance when compared to the real thing. To get even more specific, vinyl plank is prized for its water-resistant or full waterproof construction. That makes it an excellent choice for applications where genuine hardwood floors should not be installed: bathrooms, kitchens, basements, and any other spaces where exposure to water is a regular occurrence. Having LVP installed in those areas means a homeowner can still get the modern look of hardwood flooring without the downsides of wood.

And, like sheet vinyl and luxury vinyl tile, perhaps one of the biggest draws of LVP is that it offers a less expensive option that real wood floors.

How Durable is Vinyl Flooring?

Overall, even the most basic vinyl floor products offered by Empire Today® meet an impressive baseline of durability, with different products offering extra levels of protection against scratching, staining, fading, and overall wear. Many vinyl floor products in the Empire® catalog are covered by limited lifetime warranties against each of those risks.

Of course, no flooring material is totally invulnerable, and if you expect your vinyl floors to see extreme levels of traffic, it’s worth considering what happens after any damage occurs. While sheet vinyl can offer overall durability on par with LVT or LVP, it’s trickier to deal with in the event of a serious scratch or puncture. Because it’s installed as one large, seamless piece, you cannot simply replace the individual tile where the damage occurs. It may be possible to cut a matching patch from a piece of remnant, but in doing so you’d compromise one of sheet vinyl’s greatest assets: its seamless waterproof surface.

Where Vinyl Flooring can Fit In Your Home

Hard-surface floors often have expectations or requirements about where they should and shouldn’t be installed. For instance, genuine hardwood floors are a no-go for bathrooms and kitchens, because of the risk of water damage. And most homeowners will avoid putting ceramic or porcelain tile in bedrooms because it tends to feel too “cold,” and can be uncomfortably hard underfoot.

But because it comes in so many styles and textures, and doesn’t have any inherent material limitations, vinyl flooring is a great match for any room of your home, including the basement. The realistic wood look and texture of LVP can give you that hardwood aesthetic in the kitchen without any worries about exposure to moisture. And LVT is a great option to give your bedroom the look of stone or tile floors, but not the cold feet that often accompany every late-night trip to the bathroom.

Each category of vinyl flooring can be installed over a variety of subfloor types, including concrete slabs. This benefit, combined with its durability, water resistance, and ease of maintenance all make vinyl floors a common choice for laundry rooms and basements as well.

Preparing to Have Vinyl Flooring Installed in Your Home

Vinyl flooring has quickly grown from being a barebones budget material to one of the most popular flooring types being installed today. Advancements in the look, feel, and durability of vinyl have made it a worthy opponent to any other flooring products—even high-end materials. While we hope this primer on vinyl flooring styles has helped you narrow down a product for your modern floor plans, we know that any real decision needs to be based on actually seeing and handling the products. If you’re just about ready to choose your new vinyl floors, we encourage you to schedule a FREE In-Home Estimate to get a closer look at your options, all without ever leaving home.

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