LVP vs. Hardwood

Which Flooring Option Should You Choose?

Today’s homeowner has considerable options for flooring – hardwood, engineered hardwood, laminate, vinyl, luxury vinyl plank (LVP), ceramic tile, and more. However, for those wanting the rich look of hardwood flooring, the decision often comes down to LVP vs. hardwood.

So, which should you choose?

Understand that luxury vinyl isn’t real wood flooring. Nothing fully captures the look and feel of hardwood flooring. But LVP flooring continues to close this gap thanks to improvements in manufacturing. For example, vinyl flooring manufacturers can now imprint more realistic graining and texture that more precisely mirrors wood flooring.

You might have read about luxury vinyl tile flooring (LVT). LVP and LVT are essentially the same product. However, the former focuses on creating wood-look flooring, while the latter mimics stone or ceramic tiles.

Let’s look at LVP and hardwood options to see which fits your needs better. After all, your flooring selection can make or break your room design. And, of course, budget typically plays a deciding factor.

Scratch Resistance

You want your wood floors to look great, but you also want them to last. After all, clearing a room, tearing up the floor, and installing new flooring are no small matter. So, durability plays a significant role in flooring selection.
If you have high-traffic areas, especially with pets involved, LVP offers a considerable degree of scratch resistance. How much depends on the thickness of its protective coating. However, even high-end LVP flooring will show scratches over time. It can also dent from heavy objects sitting on it.
Typically, manufacturers warrant luxury vinyl anywhere from 15 to 30 years.
Hardwood flooring is susceptible to scratching, especially if you own a larger dog. But you can improve its scratch resistance by selecting a harder wood. For instance, oak, maple, and hickory hardwood floors provide more durability than softer wood floors like pine.
You can also go with an engineered hardwood floor that offers improved durability vs. solid hardwood floors.

You Can Extend the Life of Hardwood Flooring

Unlike LVP flooring, which you’ll potentially have to replace after years of use, you can refinish most hardwood flooring to extend its life. Solid hardwood flooring can be repaired, replaced, and refinished, and several varieties allow you to refinish it multiple times.

You can also refinish many engineered hardwood floors but with less frequency, maybe once or twice, owing to its thinner veneer surface.

Overall, hardwood floors are tough to beat when it comes to durability. Of course, there are costs involved in refinishing hardwoods, but with proper care, hardwood flooring can serve you throughout your lifetime.

Installing LVP vs. Hardwood Flooring

Both LVP and hardwood floors are an excellent fit for DIYers. But if you’re looking for the path of least resistance, it’s tough to beat LVP flooring. After all, you can cut LVP flooring to size using a utility knife, so installing requires much less time.

You can install LVP flooring over a wood or concrete subfloor. For that matter, you can place it over the top of the flooring to avoid the hassle of tearing out your existing floor. The same can be said for some wood flooring, though it’s not common.

In addition, many LVP floors use click installation, so installing them is a snap. Finally, because you can use this float method of installation, you don’t need a perfectly level floor. However, if you elect to fix the flooring in place with glue, you’ll need to pay greater attention to the subfloors leveling.

Typically, hardwood flooring installation involves more work than LVP. To start, you need to pay more attention to your subfloor because you’ll want to fix hardwood flooring in place using glue or nails. Doing so creates a more stable surface, especially if you have high foot traffic or if your flooring has to support heavy loads.

Unlike solid wood flooring, engineered hardwood does allow for floating installation. Even so, you’ll want to take extra time to ensure your subfloor is stable, or it could cause issues.

Engineered Hardwoods are Water Resistant. LVP is Waterproof.

If you’re concerned about moisture, LVP is decidedly your best option. LVP floors are waterproof so that you can use them anywhere throughout your home, including bathrooms, laundry rooms, kitchens, and basements.

Equally important, you can use a wet mop to clean LVP floors. Because they’re waterproof, you’ll have no concerns about buckling or warping floors.

Depending on your finish, hardwood floors, notably engineered hardwood, can include some measure of water resistance. But wood naturally absorbs water – wet mops aren’t recommended for wood flooring. In addition, when exposed to water, you run the risk that your hardwood flooring cup or warp. As a result, you’ll want to be selective about where you install hardwood flooring in your home.

That said, some flooring manufacturers like Bruce have developed waterproof engineered hardwood. For example, Hydropel(TM) offers waterproof performance. It features six water protection dimensions to keep the plank’s surfaces (and the hyper-dense core) safe from water damage. Plus, it’s backed with a 50-year residential warranty.

LVP Looks Like Real Wood

With improved printing technologies and digital photography capabilities, LVP offers wood-look flooring that sometimes makes it challenging to distinguish vinyl from natural wood floors.

That printing process also allows LVP to capture the appearance of almost any wood species, even replicating texture to a point. Color selections are numerous but limited by the manufacturer.

LVP typically comes in six-inch widths up to nine-inch widths. Lengths vary from 36 inches to 60 inches, and thickness ranges from 2 millimeters to 4 millimeters.

Hardwood Flooring Comes in Countless Styles

Hardwood flooring offers similar versatility with various species, grades, cuts, finishes, and textures to suit any décor style. You can also select solid or engineered hardwood that’s prefinished or unfinished.

Unfinished wood flooring gives you a blank canvas to create whatever color floor you like. It also allows you to match flooring to existing wood floors. Those traits make hardwoods more versatile for styling purposes.

Hardwood planks are generally ¾” thick, with some newer floors measuring 5/16″ thick. You can purchase narrow planks that are only two inches wide, and much wider planks of ten inches – five to eight-inch plank widths are generally the most popular. Plank lengths range from one foot to seven feet.

Care and Maintenance of LVP vs. Hardwood

As you might expect, LVP floors require less upkeep than hardwood floors. You can keep them clean using a broom, dust mop, or vacuum cleaner. And a wet mop works fine for deep cleaning.

LVP flooring does dull and fade. You can use specialty polishes to restore their shine.

Use throw rugs in areas where LVP is exposed to excessive sunlight or where you have exceedingly high traffic. They’ll help protect the LVP from damage and avoid the risk of color fading.

Compared to LVP flooring, you should never use a wet mop on hardwood flooring. Moreover, with spills, it’s important to wipe them quickly. You can clean your wood floors by sweeping, dust mopping, and vacuuming to remove dust and debris that could cause scratching.

For more thorough cleaning, you’ll want to use a hardwood flooring cleaner like Bruce® Hardwood & Laminate Cleaner.

Keep in mind that wood floors, like LVP, fade with time. So it’s wise to use throw rugs in sunny locations to reduce the impact of UV rays. And remember, if things get to a point where your hardwood floors look beaten, you can refinish them, something you can’t do with LVP flooring.

LVP vs. Hardwood Costs

As mentioned, LVP flooring is easy to install, making it perfect for DIY folks. So, you can save money on installation costs right out of the gate. In addition, luxury vinyl planks range between $2 per square foot and $7 per square foot, which makes them affordable if you’re concerned about budget.
Hardwood flooring is one of your more costly options, ranging from $8 per square foot to $15 per square foot for standard hardwood like oak or maple. More exotic species like teak can climb to $25 per square foot.
You’ll have to factor in costs if you purchase unfinished wood flooring. But prefinished hardwood flooring makes things more manageable, and today’s finishes offer superior resilience to wear.
Unless you’re going the DIY wood flooring route, you’ll also have to factor in installation costs for hardwood flooring. Installation can cost $5 per square foot to $8 per square foot.
On the surface, LVP offers lower costs and maintenance. Although hardwood flooring costs more, with proper care, you’ll never have to replace it. Remember, LVP flooring typically comes with a 20-year warranty. So hardwoods can last a lifetime.

Environmental Impact

LVP is manufactured and uses petroleum in the manufacturing process. In addition, that process requires energy consumption while sometimes producing toxic byproducts.

Depending on the manufacturer, you might experience the release of volatile organic compounds in your home. So, you’ll want to purchase from a manufacturer with a LEED credit for low emissions.

Wood floors come from nature, so they are renewable. Still, you’ll want to purchase hardwood flooring from an environmentally responsible manufacturer. Equally important, wood flooring can be recycled. And unlike LVP, they’re biodegradable.

So Which Flooring Should You Choose – LVP or Hardwood?

LVP costs less and is easier to maintain. It also offers scratch-resistant, waterproof flooring for families with pets. And it does an incredible job of capturing wood-look flooring using vinyl. The only giveaways are when you touch the floor or walk on it, as LVP flooring is soft underfoot.
On the other hand, hardwood flooring is durable, eco-friendly, and offers an endless variety of looks and textures. Plus, when LVP has seen its better days, you can refinish your hardwood and make it new. And let’s face it, hardwood floors have an unrivaled panache.
So we’ll let you decide whether LVP or hardwood floors do the trick.