So you’ve always wanted a hardwood floor – the low maintenance, durability and timeless beauty of wood has always been a dream. Then, you hear about luxury vinyl.
It provides the same look as wood and it’s more affordable. Now you’re torn. Which one is the better choice? We understand. We see this a lot. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both options to help you make the best choice for you.
First it helps to look at the purpose of your hardwood floors. There are many different situations that may make you lean in one direction or the other. Here are some common reasons people choose to add wood flooring:
Building your dream home
Remodeling/updating your existing home
Preparing a your home for sale
Investment property for renters
Refinishing the lower level to create more living space
Choosing flooring for a vacation home
Qualities of Hardwood and Luxury Vinyl
Once you know your purpose – what you are trying to achieve with your wood floors, we can break it down into quantifiable qualities to illustrate some of the differences. This will give you a nice snapshot of the pros and cons of each type of flooring.
Luxury Vinyl Plank
- Lower Price
- Easier to install
- Low maintenance
- Moisture resistant
- Can be used with radiant heat
- Not Waterproof
- Cannot be repaired/refinished
- Shorter lifespan
- No resale value
- Longer lifespan
- Higher resale value
- More attractive appearance
- Can be repaired and refinished
- Good insulator
- Renewable resource
- More expensive
- More difficult to install
- Susceptible to moisture damage
- May be damaged by radiant heat
Finally, let’s take a closer look at three other factors that will influence your decision – installation, appearance, and maintenance.
When it comes to installation, vinyl flooring is faster and easier to install. While professional installation will give you the best results with either type of flooring, the quality of the subfloor is more important with real wood. Hardwood flooring must be installed on a level wooden subfloor or cement foundation. Hardwood does not forgive an uneven subfloor structure as well as vinyl. The real wood will bend over time. Vinyl will be more forgiving of an uneven base.
You can install vinyl over wood, concrete or layers of flooring, however, vinyl planks or tiles have a peel-and-stick backing which makes it difficult to remove when remodeling.
You must also keep in mind that hardwood flooring will naturally expand and contract with changing humidity levels in the home. You must provide an expansion gap around the perimeter of the floor to give the planks space to move.
Hardwood flooring gives a more natural look to your floor than vinyl planks. Hardwood flooring offers the most beautiful and attractive appearance with unique tones, colors, and wood grains created by nature. The vinyl planks get dyed and textured on the outer layer to mimic many wood species. You may notice a repeating faux pattern in some planks.
When it comes to maintenance, it’s a tie if we’re talking day-to-day maintenance. They both need to be cleaned regularly and damp-mopped with recommended cleaners. But you do have to be more careful of moisture with hardwood floors. But if the floors get damaged, hardwood can be sanded and repaired to remove scratches, gouges or wear over time. Vinyl cannot be repaired.
Hardwood flooring and vinyl planks each have their benefits and drawbacks. But the biggest differences come down to price and longevity. Both provide an attractive look and are relatively equal when it comes to the day-to-day maintenance. We’ll give luxury vinyl the edge when it comes to ease of installation. So the bottom line questions to ask are:
How much are you willing to spend?
How long do you want it to last?
If you have a tighter budget and want the look of hardwood without the price, go with vinyl.
If you want resale value down the road, go with hardwood.
If you want to attract a higher-end buyer, go with hardwood.
If you want to be able to refinish it in 10-20 years, go with hardwood.
Hardwood is more upscale and more permanent, hence the higher price. Another way to look at it is: If you want value now, choose luxury vinyl. If you want value later, go with hardwood.
We hope this helps you make the right decision for your situation. At SVB Wood Floors, we offer both luxury vinyl and hardwood. Visit our showroom to see them in person. We’ll be happy to walk you through your options and help you decide.