Luxury Vinyl vs. Hardwood

by ACWG |

New flooring revitalizes a home or business. It can draw attention to a space and create a warm, welcoming atmosphere. Many people want the classic, luxurious look of hardwood floors. However, the cost of hardwood floors has led manufacturers to create affordable hardwood floor alternatives. One such alternative is luxury vinyl.

People often compare luxury vinyl and hardwood because they offer a similar appearance. As with any purchase, luxury vinyl and hardwood have different advantages and disadvantages. It's essential to know these differences, so you can decide which one is best for you.

What Is Luxury Vinyl Flooring?

Luxury vinyl flooring is synthetic flooring that features a realistic photographic layer, replicating the look of hardwood. It comes in realistic planks or tiles. The flooring consists of six separate layers, which are:

  1. Base: Luxury vinyl's base layer supports the other layers and might provide a backing so professionals can attach the flooring to your subfloor. 
  2. Core: The core layer consists of a wood polymer composite (WPC) or stone polymer composite (SPC). WPC retains heat and reduces sound, while SPC creates a more rigid floor.
  3. Cushion: Luxury vinyl features a cushion layer, which makes the flooring softer underfoot.
  4. Photographic: The photographic is what gives vinyl its realistic appearance. Luxury vinyl has various options for numerous wood types, designs and styles.
  5. Wear: One of the best features of luxury vinyl is its wear layer. This layer seals the layers together and makes the flooring resistant to scratches, water damage, scuffs and dents.
  6. Shine: Another fantastic feature of luxury vinyl is its shine layer. The shine layer is a clear top coat that helps vinyl retain its shine without polishing or refinishing.

Key Features of Luxury Vinyl

Some of the key features of luxury vinyl flooring are: 

  • Waterproof: Luxury vinyl flooring is waterproof, so it's an excellent choice for areas or rooms where moisture accumulates.
  • Durable: Thanks to its protective wear layer, luxury vinyl is more durable than other flooring types.
  • Long-lasting: This flooring type is long-lasting with proper maintenance.
  • Low-maintenance: Routine sweeping and mopping are all it takes to clean and maintain luxury vinyl floors.
  • Versatile: Luxury vinyl's photographic layer can feature thousands of styles, making it easy to find one that best suits your space. 

What Is Hardwood Flooring?

Hardwood flooring is wood that manufacturers cut into planks. They are available in countless colors and designs and as either solid or engineered hardwood. Solid hardwood is timber cut into planks, while engineered hardwood has multiple wooden ply layers and a wood veneer top. Both flooring types have a similar look and texture.

Key Features of Hardwood

The key features of hardwood flooring include the following:

  • Elegance: Hardwood floors are timeless and beautiful, making smaller rooms appear larger.
  • Unique: Every hardwood plank, strip or board has unique colors and grain patterns. No two woods are the same, and there are various domestic and rare species.
  • Durable: High-quality hardwood floors can withstand heavy foot traffic and last decades.
  • Increases property value: Investing in hardwood floors increases your property value.
  • Many style options: Hardwood comes in various wood species and finishes to suit any interior style. And, if you ever become tired of the color, you can strip and re-stain your floors for something fresh.

Hardwood Floors vs. Luxury Vinyl

When comparing luxury vinyl flooring vs. wood, there are four primary factors to consider before deciding which one is best for you.

1. Cost

Buyers often ask whether hardwood or luxury vinyl is cheaper. The answer comes down to the materials and maintenance involved. In terms of initial cost and maintenance, luxury vinyl is more affordable. Luxury vinyl planks cost less than solid and engineered hardwood floors, with engineered costing less than solid. Engineered and solid hardwood floors consist of wood, and luxury vinyl consists of WPC.

Luxury vinyl is easier and costs less to maintain than hardwood floors. The protective layer protects the flooring from scratches and scuffs. And, its shine layer keeps it shiny with routine sweeping and mopping. Hardwood floors require regular sweeping and mopping, and may need refinishing or waxing.

2. Durability

Durability is a top consideration for many when buying new flooring. Floors are an investment, and everyone wants their investment to last for years. The good news is that luxury vinyl and hardwood floors are durable. 

Because of its protective layer, luxury vinyl is resistant to chips, scratches and scuffs, though it may dent or tear with heavy use. However, hardwood is prone to chips and scratches but will not dent or tear like luxury vinyl.

Additionally, luxury vinyl is waterproof, but hardwood isn't. If you spill water on hardwood, you must mop it as soon as possible. Otherwise, your floor can develop mold or other signs of water damage, like warping. While it can't compare to luxury vinyl's moisture resistance capabilities, it's important to note that engineered hardwood can resist moisture better than hardwood.

Finally, one of the advantages of real wood over luxury vinyl is its longevity. Luxury vinyl can last many years, but hardwood can last for generations.

3. Installation

Another factor when comparing hardwood vs. luxury vinyl is installation. Some people want flooring with a do-it-yourself installation method. If this is you, luxury vinyl is an excellent choice. Most luxury vinyl planks click together or glue down, making them easy to install. 

On the other hand, hardwood flooring typically requires professional installation. You must cut the planks to size, install a vapor barrier and subfloor and consider how the planks expand and contract at different temperatures.

4. Environmental Impact

Regarding environmental impact, people often wonder if real wood is better than luxury vinyl. Hardwood is a natural product, so it's more environmentally friendly since the floors can be reclaimed and repurposed after use. Additionally, hardwood is a product of solar energy, so it's an energy-efficient and sustainable flooring option.

Luxury vinyl's padding also increases its insulation and energy efficiency. However, some luxury vinyl types emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Look for luxury vinyl flooring options with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) credit for achieving low emissions.

Check Out Luxury Vinyl and Hardwood Flooring at American Carpet Wholesalers

Hardwood floors last longer than luxury vinyl and are more environmentally friendly. Luxury vinyl floors have greater durability, cost less and are easier to install and maintain. You can decide which flooring is right for you by considering which factors are most crucial.

American Carpet Wholesalers is one of the top privately held corporations in America. We offer different flooring types at discount prices, including luxury vinyl and hardwood from name brands. Our staff consists of professionals from the flooring industry, so they can help answer your questions. Browse our selection of hardwood and luxury vinyl flooring today.