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Vinyl Flooring:Tile Vs Plank Vs. Sheet
Vinyl Flooring Guide
With so many Americans becoming more and more financially conscious, and seeking the best bang for their buck now more than ever, vinyl flooring of all types has seen a re-emergence across the nation; especially the "luxury" variety. Manufacturers are simply making a better product, and that shows both in the durability, and huge variety of options now available in vinyl flooring.
Vinyl floors come in three varieties:
- Plank Vinyl
- Vinyl Tile
- Sheet vinyl
Although very different in many ways from one another, there are some universal pros and cons which are present regardless of which type of vinyl flooring you choose.
One of the many advantages to vinyl flooring is that it is one of the very few types of flooring which can be installed directly on the subfloor. Additionally, vinyl flooring is softer due to the padding which is incorporated into all vinyl flooring types. Being softer than its tile or wood counter parts, offers benefits which are two fold; vinyl floors absorb sound which in turn makes them quieter than other types of flooring, and they act as a type of cushion which makes glasses and other fragile materials less likely to shatter if dropped onto them. As an added bonus, vinyl comes in the most color varieties of any type of non-carpet flooring, and new styles, colors and patterns emerge regularly. Lastly, Vinyl flooring is by far the most economic option of all of the possible flooring materials.
With the good comes the bad, and much like every other type of flooring material, vinyl has its own issues. Although less labor intensive to install, removal of vinyl flooring can prove to be incredibly difficult. Vinyl flooring is also susceptible to fading due to prolonged time in the sun. Vinyl is a PVC product, which means that it is not recyclable, or biodegradable, which makes this flooring option less than the poster child for eco-friendliness. Some newer varieties, which are not made with PVC, are easier to recycle, but you will have to make sure of which you purchase if the intention is to use a recyclable product. Lastly: although vinyl flooring is very durable, when the time comes in which the floors become lack luster, refinishing is not an option with vinyl flooring, unlike some other flooring materials.
So how do you know which type of vinyl flooring will suit your needs?
We will take a look at each type of vinyl flooring to see the pros and cons of each variety respectively.
1. Vinyl Planks
One of the most popular varieties of vinyl flooring, vinyl planks have made progress in leaps and bounds as far as their construction, and durability.
In addition to all of the above mentioned pros, if installed correctly, is nearly indistinguishable from its engineered or laminate counterparts by the untrained eye. The installation process is a bit easier than the other two types of vinyl flooring on the market as well. Vinyl planks are most often made to mimic different types of wood, and the high end varieties even include texturing along the grains of the wood design which really add to their realism. When it comes to repairs, replacing a single plank is possible, whereas with vinyl sheeting and tile, replacing one section can prove to be difficult to nearly impossible.
Vinyl planks do have their own drawbacks. Vinyl planks, although very durable, can be time consuming to install, which may lead to higher initial cost than other varieties. In addition to this, although vinyl flooring is more resistant to water than you might think, if water does happen to seep in between the planks, it will make the vinyl bubble and can cause real damage. Also, planks of vinyl tend to be a bit more expensive per unit than tile vinyl.
2. Sheet Vinyl
Sheet vinyl has existed longer than the other two varieties of vinyl flooring. Despite having some obvious disadvantages, there are situations in which sheet vinyl is the best choice.
Sheet vinyl is printed on very large rolls, which means that when installed, the pattern tends to be more universal and consistent across the space on which it is installed. Sheet Vinyl also has far less seems than either plank or tile vinyl, and therefore is less prone to water damage than other types of vinyl (water damage to vinyl occurs when water is able to seep through seams. Since sheet vinyl has less seams than other types of flooring, it is less likely to be water damaged). From an economic standpoint- sheet vinyl is less expensive than other varieties of vinyl as well.
Sheet vinyl is not without problems. Installation can be very tedious, and as such, sheet vinyl is best left to the pros. Unlike other varieties of vinyl flooring in which a section of damage can be replaced; if a section of sheet vinyl is damaged, there is little that can be done to salvage the floor at all. Due to its large size, and manufacturing, there are less customizable options than other types of vinyl flooring as well. This is not to say that sheet vinyl doesn't come in a huge array of colors, textures, and designs - vinyl planks and tiles can be mixed and matched, and one can incorporate separate sections or designs into the floor, unlike vinyl sheets which may limit you to the image printed on the flooring itself. Lastly, sheet vinyl is stored on rolls, which means that it has a memory to curl. This is the most common complaint seen with this type of flooring, and most often comes from poor installation practices. Other vinyl floors, such as tiles and/or planks are stored and kept flat, therefor they are less likely to curl at the edges than sheet vinyl.
3. Vinyl Tile
Vinyl Tiles are arguably the most versatile type of vinyl flooring. Like every other type of flooring, vinyl tiles do have their own set of pros and cons.
Although most often found in designs which mimic different types of stone, vinyl tiles come in almost any color and pattern combination you can imagine. These tiles are the easiest to install of the vinyl family, and due to the huge variety of available patterns, in addition to their small size, your flooring project is completely customizable. As an added bonus, damage to vinyl tiles is the easiest to manage, because individual tiles are simple to replace, unlike sheet vinyl, with which damage of any kind generally means an entire new floor is needed.
Vinyl tiles have many seams, and this makes them more susceptible to water damage than other types of vinyl flooring. Compared to sheet vinyl's $1-2 per square foot, vinyl tile is not the cheapest option in the vinyl flooring family. Vinyl tile floors also tend to be slightly less soft than their vinyl counterparts.
Plank, Sheet, Or Tile; Vinyl Floors Are Affordable, Durable, and Beautiful
Vinyl flooring has been given an undeserved reputation in the past as a cheap, imitation flooring. The truth is, vinyl is a great option for those homeowners who need the most economic option available. With new manufacturing techniques, many types of newly made vinyl flooring is recyclable, as well as coming in a huge variety of designs and colors and being incredibly durable. Despite these great qualities, there are some draw backs to vinyl flooring including limitations concerning repairs, sun damage, and difficult removal. Vinyl flooring has come a long way from what we remember, and continues to push the edge with innovative manufacturing and design techniques. Which vinyl floor is right for you? That depends on your specific needs, budget, and desire. All are viable options, and would be a great choice for your new flooring project.