All About Luxury Vinyl Plank
No flooring material has seen quite the upswing in desire as luxury vinyl plank, or LVP. In the last several years, this material has taken the flooring world by storm. At this point, LVP comprises a large portion of most flooring showrooms and shows no signs of slowing down.
What Makes Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) So Desirable?
First of all, the imitation of other materials is the backbone of LVP design. With enhancements in computer graphics and design, most LVP is indistinguishable from its hardwood and tile counterparts. With vinyl planks, you can achieve the look of hardwood or tile at a fraction of the price. Plus, vinyl planks are waterproof, scratch resistant, and easy to clean.
Traditionally, vinyl planks consist of 4 layers. On top is a durable transparent wear layer, then the design layer, next the base layer, and finally the attached underlayment. Any vinyl planks that are sold as a floating installation will have some sort of underlayment attached on the bottom. This can present a cost savings over traditional vinyl flooring, where a large number of pieces of underlayment can be required.
The Wear Layer
The topmost layer, or wear layer, is crucial to the durability of the plank. Most manufacturers sell plank with 12mil, 20mil, and 30mil wear layers, with 30mil being the best for longevity. The wear layer protects the design layer from wearing.
The Design Layer
The design layer is the bread and butter of the luxury vinyl plank. This layer encompasses the overall look and style of the planks. This commonly resembles hardwood but can also be made to look like tile. On higher end planks the design layer may also have a texture to it, to look and feel even more like natural hardwood or tile.
The Base Layer
The base layer is the support structure of the plank. This is what bears the brunt of the impact. Typically, the base layer is constructed of a Solid Polymer Composite (SPC) or Wood Plastic Composite (WPC). SPC tends to be the more rigid and durable option, whereas WPC tends to be the choice when a softer feel is desired.
Attached Underlayment…or Not?
The final layer of LVP is the underlayment. Any LVP that is intended to be installed in a floating assembly will have the underlayment already attached to the back of each piece. Any LVP that is intended to be glued down will need to be glued to separate underlayment, so no underlayment will be pre-installed.
With attached underlayment, you eliminate the necessity for separate pieces of underlayment entirely. It makes the installation far easier and makes it easier to correct mistakes. This also saves money in the long run, as you don’t have to purchase separate underlayment in addition to what you’ve already spent on your LVP!
However, with all the benefits of ease of installation and replacement of pieces with a floating floor system, there are still many glue down options available. There are some applications where a floating system just will not work. These could include an area that gets excessive moisture or an area with a slope that cannot be rectified.
How is Luxury Vinyl Plank Installed?
The ease of installation is what draws a lot of people towards LVP, especially if they intend to do the installation work themselves. LVP is the most DIY friendly material available! Most manufacturers have a proprietary, but similar, locking mechanism that allows each board to attach together.