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Luxury waterproof flooring
Waterproof Luxury Vinyl Flooring in a kitchen

When it comes time to install new flooring in the home, many homeowners are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of choices they have. From carpeting and hardwood to luxury vinyl tile (LVT) and laminate, it can be difficult to decide which type is the best for you. Luxury vinyl plank flooring (LVP) is an excellent option that comes with a range of benefits that separate it from other flooring types. The biggest advantage is that LVP is naturally waterproof.

However, not every type of vinyl plank flooring is the same and there are several factors to look out for in your purchase. So how do you know what is the best vinyl plank waterproof flooring and how do you know you’re getting the best product available?
Let’s find out.

What is Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring?

Luxury vinyl plank flooring is a general term for premium-grade vinyl plank flooring products. It mostly refers to the superior construction found within the layers that comprise the plank. Vinyl plank floors are often five times thicker than standard vinyl, making them semi-rigid or entirely rigid. And the topmost layer, the wear layer, is much thicker with luxury vinyl tile and LVP. These factors strongly contribute to the durability of luxury vinyl plank flooring.

Source: The Spruce

The core material of the plank is what sets this product apart from others and makes it “luxury” vinyl flooring. Standard vinyl is typically composed of 100% plastic polymers; luxury vinyl comes in a few variations that increase durability, stability and longevity:

  • Stone Polymer Composite Core (SPC): This version is created using a blend of limestone fragments, plastic, and a stabilizer.
  • Wood Polymer Composite Core (WPC): Very similar to stone polymer core, except that wood fragments are used in lieu of limestone.

When selecting the best waterproof vinyl plank flooring, be sure to choose a product that has either one of these core types. Avoid the standard vinyl alternative.

Is Luxury Vinyl Flooring Waterproof?

Water on a Luxury Vinyl Floor

While LVP receives outstanding acclaim for the fact that it is waterproof, many consumers doubt it. After all, can any flooring type truly be 100% waterproof? Most homeowners know that hardwood flooring is extremely susceptible to water damage, and they carry this mentality forward for all types of floorings. But you can rest assured that in nearly every case, luxury vinyl flooring is in fact waterproof.

Still, it’s absolutely crucial that you check with your individual product to see if it’s actually rated as waterproof. While it’s becoming standard for all LVP to be made as waterproof, some inferior products will not boast this impressive benefit. You’ll want to steer completely clear of any luxury vinyl plank that does not advertise that it is waterproof.

Even though LVP is waterproof, it’s important to note that it is not floodproof. If your home gets engulfed by a large quantity of water and your flooring remains submerged for a long period of time, it is highly unlikely that your luxury vinyl flooring will survive. Even if it does, you’ll likely be dealing with severe damage to your plywood subfloor, causing you to rip up your flooring to replace it anyways.

Source: Twenty and Oak

Best Luxury Vinyl Plank Waterproof Flooring: Things to Look For

As stated earlier, not all vinyl plank flooring is created equal, and you’ll want to ensure that you’re getting the best product possible. Any flooring installation, no matter how small, is an expensive project. There’s no point trying to save a few bucks by selecting a severely inferior product. You’ll just end up dealing with another floor installation down the road, much sooner than you would have hoped for, after all, you get what you pay for.

As a consumer, keep a careful eye on the details of your flooring purchase. There are a few key things you’ll want to look out for when selecting the best luxury vinyl plank flooring.

Type of Vinyl Plank Flooring Products: Installation Methods

When it comes to choosing your floor, the first thing you’ll want to decide on is your preferred installation method. Luxury vinyl flooring comes in two main varieties, each with its own respective applications and installation techniques. Both are good products, but it’s important to understand that one is far superior to the other. Glue-down flooring features a plank that needs an adhesive to secure it to the subfloor, or it may come with a peel-and-stick backing already attached.

The “peel-and-stick” type of LVP is much easier to install and the glue down is more difficult and could get messy. These types of floors may be less expensive, but they don’t come with the same authentic feel as the other installation type - interlocking panels. They are also less durable and can feel somewhat “cheap” in nature. However, if a budget-friendly option is what you’re after, this could be a good choice.

The other LVP installation method, interlocking, features rigid planks that fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. These planks are never adhered to the subfloor and function entirely as a “floating floor” above. The rigidity of these planks makes them much more durable, and the feeling under the feet feels much more akin to true hardwood flooring. The top-quality click-down flooring has very tight joints that help keep water from seeping between boards and causing damage.

Color/Texture Patterns

LVT Plank colors

At the end of the day, the best vinyl plank floors are the ones that catch your eye and inspire you the most. On your purchasing journey, you’ll want to select a product that has exceptional color and a realistic texture. Waterproof vinyl plank flooring receives its aesthetic from a screen-printed, and sometimes registered embossed, graphical layer that sits below the top sheet. This is where the unique patterns and wood resemblance are added.

The clearest marker of a cheap, inferior product is a low-resolution print layer without any physical texture. This can be hard to discern online, but most flooring manufacturers are happy to provide a sample. This is highly recommended to take advantage of, as it will allow you to visually inspect the print quality firsthand, as well as see how the plank looks in the rest of your home.

Wear Layer Thickness

Structurally, the wear layer thickness is the single most important factor when determining the quality of your waterproof vinyl plank flooring. This is what protects the flooring from wear and tear, keeping your product in new condition for as long as possible. It’s especially important to consider the wear layer thickness when laying down flooring in high-traffic areas. These portions of the home receive much more use than others and require durable products to be used.

When purchasing LVP for high-traffic areas, be sure to select a product that has at least a 20 mil wear layer thickness. The higher the number the better, as it will ensure your flooring will reach its maximum lifespan.

Underlayment Backing

On top of wear layers, choose waterproof vinyl plank flooring with an attached pad, an underlayment, on the back.

An underlayment comes with a few benefits. It has sound-dampening properties, meaning you’ll produce much less annoying squeaking when walking around during humidity changes, and it also softens your steps, making it much more comfortable to walk around the home.

How to Maximize Your Waterproof Vinyl Plank Flooring

Once you’ve selected the best product and made your significant investment, you’ll want to maximize your waterproof vinyl plank flooring’s lifespan. Luckily, there are a few proven actions that you can take to ensure you’re flooring will last years ahead. These include:

  • Frequent Cleaning: The quickest way for your floors to deteriorate is by leaving dirt and grime to build up on them. When left to sit, this can slowly start to erode at the protective wear layer on your flooring, greatly reducing its durability. Keep on frequent cleaning by sweeping and mopping regularly, as well as using a vinyl floor cleaning solution for any stains that might occur.
  • Cleaning Up Spills: While your flooring is waterproof, it’s best practice to immediately clean up any liquid spills that occur so that the water-resistant nature of your flooring isn’t tested.

Summary: Choosing the Best Waterproof LVP Flooring

Choosing the correct type of waterproof flooring isn’t as cut and dry as one might think. There are many different factors that contribute to a quality flooring product, and the key to selecting the best is to be aware of them and choose a floor that fits your needs. While it may be difficult to find a luxury vinyl plank flooring option that checks every box, however, if it features the key attributes that fit your installation needs, you can feel confident in your purchase.

Overall, the best waterproof luxury vinyl plank flooring is one that has a high wear layer thickness and a quality, printed color/texture pattern that’ll look amazing in your home. Start browsing for your premium, waterproof luxury vinyl plank flooring today.