Why Is Vinyl Flooring The Fastest Growing Material?
Vinyl Flooring Features Durability, Low Maintenance and Numerous Design Possibilities
Out of all of the different segments in the floor covering industry today, vinyl flooring without a doubt has proven to be the most popular — even among industry standards like ceramic tile, plank wood, engineered wood and laminate flooring.
Last year alone, vinyl brought in $2.2 billion, a sales increase of 8.5% from 2012 and 12% from 2011. It also continues to supplant itself as among the leaders in the overall $18 billion flooring industry, trailing only carpet in terms of market share, according to a report from Floor Covering News.
Also known as resilient flooring, vinyl has earned its reputation as the venerable flooring system for a host of reasons. Here are a few of them:
Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) is Leading the Way
As one of the many subcategories of vinyl flooring (vinyl flooring is available in sheets, tiles and planks), LVT takes up a substantial piece of the overall vinyl flooring pie with $949 million — or 43% of the entire resilient flooring category. This is because LVT is user friendly, meaning it’s easy to install and can be laid on any formation. LVT in particular contains more vinyl, which in turns creates a better-performing flooring system that appears more realistic.
Vinyl Flooring Popularity Heavily Linked to Real Estate Market
Another reason vinyl flooring manufacturers are so busy is because of the continual growth in both the commercial and residential housing markets. The residential markets in particular proved to be a major boon for vinyl flooring. According to the Floor Covering News, replacement flooring in the residential market made up nearly half (47.8%) of the vinyl flooring market. Commercial growth in various industries has also proven to help the vinyl flooring segment grow. More and more companies are turning to the durability and practicality of vinyl flooring products to outfit their headquarters or retail centers.
Vinyl Flooring is Family Friendly
Durable, low maintenance and easy on the budget, vinyl flooring is the perfect flooring solution for multi-family homes, apartments, townhouses or condominiums. This flooring works well with newly constructed homes for families with pets, kids and a tight budget. Durable because they can take a beating and still hold quality. Low maintenance because any spills or scuffs can be easily treated. Easy on the budget because let’s face it, vinyl flooring is not nearly as expensive as other flooring systems. Another reason vinyl flooring works well with multi-family construction is because of the design implications. Vinyl flooring is made to look as realistic as possible. Its design possibilities are endless.
Luxury vinyl flooring is durable, versatile, and easy to install, combining exceptional performance with modern textures. It provides a spectacular finish to the entire home and comes in different types and sizes to fit needs and budgets of everyone! No wonder that luxury vinyl is homeowners preferred option in 2020! There are no signs of its popularity slowing down. And while certainly everyone’s needs are different, there is a strong case to be made for vinyl flooring being the best choice, let`s take a deeper dive into its features.
Kitchen vinyl, image courtesy of Zelta Floor & Design
Durability and Water Resistance
The most important thing to consider when buying floors is their durability. After all, floors are one part of a space that will be in almost constant use. It`s crucial that you find something that will stand up to a little wear and tear. A vinyl floor will fit this bill perfectly. If it is installed properly, it can last as many as 10 or 20 years. In addition, most styles feature a scratch resistant layer, perfect for keeping your floors looking brand new no matter how many years go by.
On a similar note, unlike wood flooring, vinyl stands up well against flooding and water damage. Water can often cause severe damage to any space, particularly flooring, which typically bears the brunt of most water incidents. You can be sure that it won’t be damaged by even substantial amounts of surface water. This makes it great for areas that are exposed to a lot of water, such as bathrooms, basements, and entryways.
Vinyl floor options, image courtesy of Zelta Floor & Design
Low Price and Variety
Easy Installation and Maintenance
Vinyl floor installation, image courtesy of Zelta Floor & Design
Have you ever spilled something on your floor, let out a yell and wished that you’d purchased waterproof flooring instead? If so, then you’re in luck — because whether you’re looking for vinyl flooring, hardwood flooring, carpet flooring or a fantastic buy on discount flooring, today’s market offers a wide range of easy-care choices in attractive waterproof/water-resistant flooring.
For today’s homeowners, the top five waterproof/water-resistant flooring options are:
- 1. Carpet
- 2. Vinyl
- 3. Laminate
- 4. Porcelain tile
- 5. Bathroom flooring (which can comprise several of the above)
How can you tell if these choices are really waterproof? Here’s how to find out exactly what “waterproof” means, and how to find the best type of flooring for your living spaces, as well as your lifestyle.
Best Water-Resistant Flooring — Or Is It Waterproof?
In today’s marketing, “water-resistant flooring” and “waterproof flooring” are often used interchangeably to mean the same thing. Theoretically, water-resistant means that the item in question — in this case, flooring — is able to resist water so that it’s not easily penetrated, while waterproof means that it’s completely, 100 percent impervious to water.
In other words, a water-resistant floor might have some component — such as a fiber base — that can be damaged and warped by water or other liquids, especially if the floor is left wet. Conversely, a waterproof floor is made entirely of waterproof components, such as plastic, that can’t be damaged by water or other liquids.
Waterproof/water-resistant flooring is made from a material that repels, rather than absorbs, water and moisture. When you pour water on waterproof or water-resistant porcelain tile flooring or laminate flooring, the material will repel the moisture, so that it will bead into drops that you can quickly wipe away. If the material is completely waterproof, then no damage is done, even if the floor stays wet. If the flooring is water-resistant, however, the floor (or the base of the floor) might warp or rot if it isn’t dried in a timely manner — or if it’s exposed to large amounts of water on a regular basis.
Likewise, waterproof and water-resistant carpet is made from synthetic materials that repel rather than absorb moisture. This means that spilled liquids will remain sitting on the top layer of the carpet. To remove them, nothing’s easier — all you have to do is a dab at them with a dry towel.
The best types of water-resistant flooring are the ones that actually advertise their water-resistant qualities. If you’re not sure whether a flooring brand is water-resistant/waterproof or not, chances are that it’s not — because if it is, it will be specially marketed and advertised as being so.
As you keep reading, I’ll discuss some specific types of waterproof/water-resistant porcelain, laminate, hardwood, and carpet flooring that you might want to consider for your home.
Waterproof Vinyl Flooring
Vinyl flooring has come a long way since it was first introduced at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933. In recent years, vinyl has been transformed into a super flooring product that can stand up to all kinds of duress — which is why vinyl flooring is now second only to carpet flooring in sales.
What are the best brands of waterproof or water-resistant vinyl flooring on the market? One is Mohawk SolidTech, which is 100 percent waterproof, making it the perfect choice for kitchens, bathrooms and basements. In addition, it’s specially treated to be stain-resistant, scuff- resistant and dent-resistant, so it stands up to high traffic. It also comes in a huge variety of designer colors and patterns, as well as luxury wood-look veneers.
Another popular choice is Armstrong’s PRYZM rigid core flooring, a vinyl-like alternative that’s also 100 percent waterproof, scratch/stain/dent-resistant and comes in an amazing variety of colors, patterns and topcoat veneers.
Pros And Cons Of Waterproof Vinyl Flooring
- A high-quality waterproof vinyl flooring is also low maintenance, and resistant to dents, scratches and stains.
- Vinyl provides an inherent comfort underfoot, because of its cushion-like “give” which other hard floors don’t have.
- Vinyl comes in a stunning array of colors and patterns, including faux wood and stone veneers.
- Vinyl gives a room the warm coziness of natural stone or hardwood, at a fraction of the price.
- Vinyl can be applied on a wide variety of subfloors, including cement, granite, tile and laminate.
- Vinyl looks good in every room in the house.
- Vinyl can be susceptible to cuts, tears and dents (especially when knives or cans are dropped).
- Vinyl will fade or get discolored if left outside.
- Vinyl isn’t biodegradable.
- Vinyl can be difficult to remove if it’s glued down.
Waterproof Ceramic And Porcelain Tile Flooring
A classic choice for bathrooms (and old-fashioned kitchens), waterproof ceramic and porcelain tile flooring has a durable glaze that won’t allow liquids to seep through the tile. That’s why your bathroom doesn’t get flooded every time your dog jumps in the tub. As you’ve probably already noticed, it’s also terrifically easy to clean.
You can choose a ceramic tile that will compliment your walls, countertops, and cabinets. And here’s a tip — a darker grout shade will hide stains better.
Pros And Cons Of Waterproof Ceramic Tile Flooring
- It’s easy to clean, easy to repair, and easy to remove.
- Ceramic is 100 percent naturally waterproof.
- It’s aesthetically pleasing and comes in a wonderful variety of patterns and colors that can mimic expensive flooring.
- Ceramic is eco-friendly and recyclable.
- Like vinyl, tile looks good everywhere.
- It’s often cheaper than vinyl.
- This one is personal — but to me, ceramic tile has a light, airy feel that can open up a room and make it seem larger.
- Ceramic/porcelain tile is harder, slippery and colder on the feet, as you probably already know (think of all those cold mornings in the bathroom). However, the good news is that you can lay heated tile underneath.
- Installing ceramic tile is not a DIY project — but if you do it the right way by getting a flooring/installation deal, this won’t be a worry for you.
- It’s ceramic — it can break. However, today’s styles are more durable than those from the past.
Waterproof Laminate Flooring
Today’s laminate flooring is nothing like the old, cracked linoleum you might have seen in your grandma’s kitchen. Instead, it’s vibrant and luxurious and made in designer colors, as well as luxury stone and wood veneers. Best of all, it doesn’t yellow and cracks anymore as the old stuff did.
Here’s where it’s important to understand the difference between water-resistant and waterproof. In the US market, laminate flooring is made of a resin compound placed on a woodchip base, then glazed for durability. Because of this, technically laminate flooring is water-resistant, not 100 percent waterproof. This means that if water is left for a long time on the floor, it can seep into and warp the fiberboard base. Some European brands are now being made that are 100 percent plastic (including the base), but for the most part these aren’t available in the US yet.
However, unless you’re concerned about flooding, water-resistant is completely sufficient for most home flooring, as it will repel normal, everyday spills and leaks — just make sure to dry them as soon as possible, and try to keep the floor dry on a regular basis.
One leading brand of water-resistant laminate flooring is Kronotex — popular because it’s not only durable, it also comes in beautiful veneers that mimic expensive hardwood flooring.
Pros And Cons Of Waterproof Laminate Flooring
- Laminate is water-resistant, extremely easy-care and durable.
- Laminate is easy to install on just about any type of subfloor.
- It’s often cheaper than vinyl flooring.
- It’s typically not 100 percent waterproof; but its water-resistant qualities are sufficient for most scenarios as long as you keep it dry.
- Laminate doesn’t cushion the feet like vinyl does.
Waterproof Carpet Flooring
There’s nothing like the feel of carpet flooring under your feet. It cushions and caresses them, and provides incomparable warmth to a room (both physically and visually).
It wasn’t until fairly recently that carpeting became a viable waterproof option. However, thanks to modern technology, many styles are made of synthetic fibers that not only completely repel water, but stains as well.
Case in point: Shaw’s LifeGuard carpet flooring is made of a patented technology called RX2 that completely protects the entire carpet fiber — including the base of the carpet — from moisture, spills, soil and stains. If anything is spilled, it can magically be blotted up. Plus, the LifeGuard backing is made of 100 percent, commercial-grade thermoplastic that is absolutely impervious to liquids, making this product a true waterproof flooring. To demonstrate this, Shaw has even made an amazing video of a swimming pool with a floor constructed entirely of LifeGuard carpeting.
Pros And Cons Of Waterproof Carpet Flooring
- It’s waterproof, stain-resistant and mildew-resistant.
- It’s easy-care and low maintenance.
- It’s easy on the feet, and can actually make a room physically warmer.
- It’s carpeting — it’s beautiful. And it comes in every conceivable color and pattern.
- If you want waterproof carpeting, be sure you’re getting it instead of water-resistant carpeting (see above for differences).
- Be prepared to pay more for quality waterproof carpeting.
- If you have allergies, carpeting can collect dust, so be sure to invest in a vacuum cleaner.
Waterproof Bathroom Flooring
Surprise — waterproof bathroom flooring doesn’t have to be porcelain. Thanks to today’s versatile materials, it can also be laminate, vinyl or other waterproof styles.
Pros And Cons Of Waterproof Bathroom Flooring
- Ceramic and vinyl both come in 100 percent waterproof styles.
- Vinyl is warmer than ceramic and more comfortable to walk/stand on, because it cushions your feet better.
- Both vinyl and ceramic come in a wide variety of colors and patterns.
- Both are easy-care and low maintenance — a quick wipe of the floor and you’re done.
- Carpeting is a bad idea for bathrooms because even if it’s water-resistant or waterproof, it will take a long time to get dry — and this can lead to nasty mildew buildup.
- Hardwood is a bad idea for bathrooms because it can’t repel water at all, and the boards will rot and warp.
- Laminate isn’t completely waterproof (just water-resistant), so it might not be the best first choice for bathrooms.
Finding The Best Flooring Sale And Installation Deal
When it’s time to choose your flooring, it’s crucial to get a comprehensive flooring sale and installation quote that gives you the total cost of your new flooring. In addition, a flooring sale and installation price should also include an itemized list of the cost of everything, from flooring materials to labor. Otherwise, you might end up not even knowing what you’re paying for — and this can lead to severe sticker shock.
By this time, if you’re asking “Are there flooring stores near me, or carpet stores near me that offer installation?” the answer is yes — just take a quick look online. A good flooring store will offer a huge on-site inventory that you can browse through, as well as a free professional design consultation and a full range of immediate installation services.
One of the biggest advantages of buying from Express Flooring is that it offers free in-home estimates (including a professional design consultation), so the entire store inventory is virtually brought right to your door. With Express Flooring, your flooring sale and installation estimate is included automatically, so you’ll know the exact price for flooring and installation, as well as any additional labor or material costs involved.
In addition, Express Flooring offers next-day installation services, extended warranties, and regular discount prices — including discounts for government and public service workers, seniors, and teachers.
When it comes to finding the best waterproof (or water-resistant) flooring for your home, the best thing to do is educate yourself by examining different materials. Would you prefer the warmth of carpet, the luxury of wood-patterned vinyl, or the easy-care qualities of waterproof porcelain tile?
Whichever you prefer, just be sure to find out whether it’s water-resistant or waterproof. Also, be sure to talk to an expert professional who can help you choose the right flooring for your home and lifestyle. And, if you live in or near Arizona, be sure to visit Express Flooring and schedule your free in-home estimate, so you can take the first step toward finding the perfect flooring for your home.
Areas of the home that are damp, moist, or outright wet pose challenges for flooring, since so many flooring materials are susceptible to mold, rot, or mechanical breakdown of the materials when they are subjected to moisture.
Organic vs. Inorganic Materials
As a general rule, floor coverings made from inorganic materials, such as synthetic plastics, will be better than floorings that contain organic materials. The term organic technically refers to any material that is carbon-based and was once living, but when used to describe flooring materials, it usually refers to plant-based materials, such as solid hardwood, engineered wood, or bamboo, which is actually a grass. When subjected to moisture, organic materials will quickly begin to decompose, and they can soon become a host for a variety of molds and bacteria. Most inorganic materials, on the other hand, are products made from synthetically refined chemicals, and they are largely immune to the effects of moisture.
Not all flooring materials are fully organic or inorganic, of course, and the ratio of organics to inorganics will affect their ability to handle moisture. Plastic laminate flooring has a synthetic surface that is fully 100 percent inorganic, but the thicker base layer on the flooring is usually fiberboard, made from wood fibers. Laminate flooring, therefore, is usually a poor choice for damp locations. Bamboo, on the other hand, is a fully organic material, but because bamboo flooring is made from a large ratio of synthetic resins and glues, it is actually relatively good at handling moisture when compared to “inorganic” plastic laminate flooring.
One exception to the rule is carpeting. Except for relatively rare wool and cotton carpet blends, most carpeting is synthetic and fully inorganic. But because carpeting traps and holds moisture, it is a very poor choice for damp locations.
Good Flooring Coverings for Damp/Wet Locations
All the floor coverings in this category provide excellent protection against moisture. All of the materials themselves are 100 percent waterproof. These flooring coverings can be used with confidence in kitchens, full family bathrooms, and basements.
- Porcelain tile: Porcelain tile is a form of ceramic tile often used in showers, bathtubs, pools, and other pure-water areas. This material is highly resistant to intense water, thanks to the very fine clays and high firing temperatures used in its creation. Porcelain tile has a water absorption rate of 0.5 percent or less, as defined by American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) C373. Porcelain tile is arguably the very best material for chronically damp locations, provided the grouted seams are maintained adequately. Cracked grout seams can provide an avenue for moisture to seep down into the subfloor.
- Ceramic tile: As with porcelain, ordinary ceramic tile is an excellent choice in areas that see puddling or standing water. The only difference is that non-porcelain ceramic tile has a slightly higher water absorption rate, though this is typically not an issue. As with porcelain, the weak point of ceramic tile is not the tile itself, but the grouted seams between the tiles.
- Sheet vinyl: Sheet vinyl is a 100 percent waterproof solid surface. Usually, it has very few, if any, seams that allow water to penetrate to the substrate.
- Luxury vinyl flooring (LVF) planks: Luxury vinyl flooring (LVF) comes n long plank strips, typically 7 inches wide and 48 inches long. The lock-and-fold style of joinery provides a fairly tight seal against water. The entire layer of flooring is entirely waterproof, including the core, making this a much better flooring for wet areas than plastic laminate flooring. Luxury vinyl ranks slightly behind sheet vinyl and ceramic tile because the seams between planks do sometimes allow water to seep to the subfloor, especially if the installation is less than perfect.
- Vinyl tile: Vinyl tile, like the other resilient floors here, is a 100 percent waterproof material. However, the many seams in a tile installation allow more opportunities for water to seep down into the subfloor.
- Concrete: Properly sealed concrete is excellent against water. Once rare except for utility areas, concrete is gaining in popularity for living areas thanks to new options for colorizing and texturizing it.
Acceptable Flooring Covering for Damp Locations
Floor coverings in this category are not made of 100 percent waterproof materials. However, the top surface is fully waterproof, and when tightly seamed, water can pool on the surface for short periods of time without harm.
- Engineered wood: Engineered wood performs better than laminate flooring because its base is of a sturdier, more water-resistant plywood material. Engineered wood will not stand up to long periods of standing water, but occasional puddling is not a problem. Manufacturers of engineered wood flooring may warranty their products against moisture damage, but usually stipulate that spills and splashes need to be wiped up immediately. Like other floor coverings in this category, engineered wood is not a good choice where standing water is an ongoing likelihood.
- Laminate flooring: This artificial product performs better than solid wood flooring in moisture tests. But laminate flooring uses a fiberboard core that will swell and blister when it comes in contact with water. Any moisture that passes through the seams of a laminate floor can ruin the installation. Even laminate flooring sold as “water-resistant” or “waterproof” usually comes with the caution that spills and splashes need to be wiped up immediately.
- Linoleum sheets or tile: Linoleum is regarded as a water-resistant material, but not waterproof. It is made from organic material including linseed oil, wood and cork flours, and tree resins. Regular sealing improves the water-resistance of linoleum, but tile floors will always be an issue due to the many seams.
- Bamboo flooring: Though bamboo flooring is made of organic material, the bamboo is heavily imbued with chemicals and resins that are water-resistant, though not waterproof.
Poor Flooring Covering for Damp or Wet Locations
The floor coverings in this category should not be used in wet areas at all. If installed, you do so at your own risk.
- Solid hardwood (site-finished): Solid hardwood flooring, particularly of the parquet or tongue-and-groove variety, will not work in below-grade environments such as basements. And it is strongly discouraged for bathrooms, where water is prevalent. Once hardwood floors become water-logged, it is possible to save them, but they will never be as good as new. Site-finished hardwood is slightly better against moisture than pre-finished wood flooring since the sealant fills the seams and provides protection against water seeping to the subfloor.
- Solid hardwood (pre-finished): Pre-finished flooring that is factory stained and finished has all the disadvantages of solid hardwood, and is even more susceptible to moisture penetrating between the boards since there was no liquid layer of finish applied to fill the seams after installation. Further, the edges of pre-finished hardwood often are beveled, which can actually channel water into the seams.
- Carpeting: It is simply a bad idea to install carpeting in bathrooms and other wet places. Once wet, carpet dries out very slowly, promoting mold and mildew growth. Carpeting made from man-made materials such as olefin and polyester is only slightly better than wool in damp areas. Generally, no matter what type of material the carpeting is made from, do not install it in wet or even semi-wet areas. If carpeting in a basement is absolutely needed, it should be elevated off the slab floor by using a raised subfloor of sleepers and plywood, or DRIcore panels.