Luxury Vinyl Flooring: Basics, Benefits, and Misconceptions

Brian Hogan
Feb 13, 2021 8:30:00 AM

When deciding which type of flooring is best for your space, you don’t have to choose between beauty and durability — there are plenty of innovative flooring materials that offer the ultimate combination of stylish appeal and enduring resilience. 

Luxury vinyl is one of those modern, game-changing materials, and it’s quickly becoming one of the most in-demand flooring solutions for a variety of popular home remodeling projects.

Textured Simulated Wood Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring installation

Attractive, hardwearing, and affordable, luxury vinyl flooring is an ideal choice for a revamped laundry room, an updated mudroom, an enclosed porch addition, or a reimagined multipurpose space. It’s also the perfect choice for a newly finished basement.

Forget the vinyl sheet flooring of yesterday; today’s luxury vinyl flooring withstands heavy-duty wear and tear and looks good doing it. Here’s why it’s a top pick for so many homeowners. 

Luxury Vinyl Flooring 101

Like the old-school vinyl flooring that gained popularity in the 1950s, “luxury” vinyl flooring is made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a durable material that’s easy to install and maintain. 

But luxury vinyl flooring is distinct from its predecessor in two major ways: superior engineering and outstanding design that can imitate the appearance of wood, ceramic, marble, stone, and other natural flooring materials to near perfection. 

Luxury vinyl flooring achieves its hyper-realistic look and feel through a photographic image layer combined with a texturized layer that closely resembles the feel of the material it’s aiming to replicate. From surface to subfloor, luxury vinyl flooring is made up of the following layers:

  1. Clear polyurethane coating (durable wear layer)
  2. Designed print film layer (wood, stone, ceramic, etc.)
  3. Vinyl core layer (PVC)  
  4. Backing for added quiet and comfort

There are two main types of luxury vinyl flooring:

Luxury vinyl tile (LVT)

LVT comes in the shape of a traditional square tile. It also comes in a wide range of design options that can replicate the look of natural stone, ceramic, or wood flooring. 

Given its shape, LVT is often used to replicate a natural stone or ceramic tile floor (it can even be installed with grout for a more lifelike look); it can also be used to create intricate patterns.    

Luxury vinyl plank (LVP)

As its name indicates, LVP is shaped like hardwood flooring planks. Just like the real thing, LVP comes in a wide range of colors, patterns (wood grains), and textures. 

Engineered vinyl plank (EVP) is a thicker, more cushioned form of LVP that’s remarkably similar to engineered hardwood and laminate flooring. Unlike these more expensive flooring options, however, both LVP and EVP are waterproof.

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Beautiful, Durable, and Versatile

Luxury vinyl flooring has many invaluable qualities that help it stand shoulder-to-shoulder with some of the most expensive flooring options out there. Attributes that homeowners love most include:


Arguably the most significant advantage of luxury vinyl flooring is that it allows you to attain beautiful hardwood, ceramic, or stone floors that look almost exactly like the real thing, but for a fraction of the cost. 

Although your cost (and savings) varies depending on the look you’re going for and the type of luxury vinyl you choose, understanding that the average hardwood floor costs between $8 and $25 per square foot — while luxury vinyl flooring costs about a $2 to $5 per square foot — can give you a good idea of the general price differences.   

Luxury vinyl flooring is also typically much easier — and therefore usually much cheaper — to install.


Known for its exceptional durability and longevity, luxury vinyl is protected by a well-designed, scruff-and-scratch-resistant “wear layer.” This surface layer is so hardwearing, in fact, that the underlying design layer will never fade or wear away underfoot (a common misconception). 

Elegant basement sitting room with fireplace, stone tile walls, wood ceiling and luxury vinyl plank flooring.Waterproof 

One of the biggest benefits of luxury vinyl flooring is that it’s completely waterproof. This is why it’s an ideal flooring solution for moisture-prone spaces like finished basements, mudrooms and entryways, laundry rooms, bathrooms, and kitchens.

This quality is especially valuable if you want the look of natural wood in a space where some amount of moisture is a given. When finishing a basement, for example, many homeowners opt for waterproof luxury vinyl flooring (LVT, LVP, or EVP) over vulnerable materials like engineered hardwood or laminate.  

Easy upkeep 

Luxury vinyl is one of the most low-maintenance flooring choices available: daily sweeping and regular mopping is all it takes to keep them in good shape. Unlike natural wood, ceramic, and stone floors, most luxury vinyl products don’t require waxing, polishing, or sealing — ever. 

And when it comes to problem-free maintenance, homeowners who choose LVP have an extra benefit — any planks that sustain damage can be easily popped out and replaced. 


No matter what your style, luxury vinyl flooring offers a wide — and ever-expanding — range of options to suit every taste and interior design scheme. And the finest luxury vinyl looks so much like the natural material it’s made to imitate that most people can’t tell it’s engineered.   

Luxury vinyl flooring provides more cushion, insulation, and installation options than old-school vinyl flooring, making it more comfortable and convenient than comparable flooring options.  

Common Misconceptions

Two of the most common misconceptions about luxury vinyl flooring is that it lacks textural depth and that its design pattern wears off over time. Neither are true; luxury vinyl flooring can be hard to distinguish from the real thing, and it can last for decades with little sign of wear. 

Another widespread misconception is that luxury vinyl flooring is always easy to install. A wavy or uneven subfloor may actually require quite a bit of preparation, particularly if you’re working with LVP or EVP, which must lie flat and line up perfectly before they can snap into place.    

A final misconception that warrants consideration is long-term investment value. Despite its name, luxury vinyl flooring won’t increase the value of your home in the same way that wood, stone, or ceramic flooring does. 

If return on investment (ROI) is a major driver of your home renovation project, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons of all your flooring options during the planning phase.

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