Just got a suggestion from a friend to install vinyl or hardwood flooring in your home?
Indeed, vinyl and hardwood are two of the most widely chosen flooring materials. But hang on, do you feel choosing either of the two won’t make much difference?
These materials are distinct from each other in many ways, which is why their usability will vary with the needs of homeowners. So, you’ll need to know their differences to choose the ideal material for your home.
We thought of helping you by penning this detailed guide on wood vs vinyl flooring, so without further ado, let’s get started!
Wood Flooring Vs Vinyl Flooring
Table of Contents
To clearly understand how wood and vinyl flooring compare with each other, it’s essential to develop a basic idea about what each type offers. So, let’s start by defining them before we discuss which option would suit your home better.
More popularly known as hardwood flooring, this material is, in effect, a floor surface covering designed with various wood species.
These include oak, maple, mahogany, cherry, walnut, and many more. Interestingly, engineered hardwood is a special variant that’s built by combining several plywood layers beneath a hardwood veneer. But no other types of materials are used for designing such flooring.
Homeowners across the globe have long utilized hardwood flooring, probably owing to its striking visual appeal and great versatility. Additionally, it’s a convenient option for people who prefer natural flooring choices.
Another point worth noting is that it can enhance the value of a property to a great extent. This makes it the go-to option in case you intend to profit from an upcoming property sale.
Coming to this popular artificial flooring choice, it’s created by sandwiching a couple of layers made of different materials, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Thereafter, the vinyl is printed with markings of natural hardwood.
This flooring option is preferred over many other types owing to its affordability, ease of maintenance, and somewhat greater durability. Though many often confuse it with laminate flooring as they come with similar layers, they are actually composed of different materials.
There are various types of vinyl flooring depending upon the diversity of the materials and the manufacturing process. Among these, the most widely used types include vinyl roll and luxury vinyl tiles (LVT).
Though they consist of the same materials, the difference lies in the manufacturing procedure, which is why they come with varying visual effects.
Comparing Wood And Vinyl Flooring For Your Home
If you’re looking to use high-quality flooring for your house, hardwood and vinyl surely deserve the top spots on the list. But since you’ll have to select only one of them, it’s essential to draw a comparison based on various factors:
People proficient in DIY room furnishing methods can install both vinyl and hardwood flooring by themselves, provided they have access to the necessary equipment and tools. But installing hardwood floors can be more challenging than setting up a vinyl floor in your home.
To install the former, you’ll need a foundation, such as a level wooden or cement subfloor. That’s because hardwood doesn’t set well on an uneven structure as wood may bend with time. There should also be a gap around the board perimeter for expansion, allowing the wooden boards to contract or swell with exposure to moisture.
On the other hand, vinyl can be set up more easily, irrespective of the evenness of the surface. Such flooring needs a clean surface to be installed properly, which can set up vinyl on concrete, wood, or any existing flooring layer.
The tiles or planks also come with a sticky backing and are glued to the surface. However, this can make them tough to remove in case you consider remodeling the space later on.
Most homeowners will attest that cleaning and maintaining hardwood flooring is a more complicated affair than vinyl.
You’ll need to dust the hardwood regularly to reduce damage and the chances of scratching. Moreover, it’s essential to use products that can enhance its durability by preventing damage due to moisture.
You should also use a reliable cleaning solution to maintain hardwood, and it’s best to use a spray bottle to apply a controlled amount. We’d suggest applying either a gentle squirt of half a teaspoon every 2 square feet or a light mist as per your needs.
As for vinyl flooring, you’ll only need some commercial cleaners for cleaning the surface effectively. Frequent sweeping and occasional vacuuming will suffice since you can even vacuum the flooring by deactivating the brush feature.
Another benefit of opting for vinyl floors is that you can clean them using rugs, reducing the likelihood of wear and tear while enhancing their longevity. And in case you find that the floor has turned dull, buy some wax-free wood polishes to restore its shine.
3. Composition And Environmental Impact
These two flooring types are also strikingly different in their composition. While hardwood is derived from natural sources, as mentioned earlier, sheet vinyl is composed of different synthetic materials, such as PVC resin. As such, you can recycle hardwood flooring after it’s removed, but that isn’t possible in the case of PVC, meaning vinyl results in greater environmental impact.
It has been shown to emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that may have harmful effects upon inhalation. Meanwhile, hardwood flooring generally has a wear surface of around ¾ to 6 inches, which is much thicker compared to vinyl, that’s about 0.5mm to 5mm thick.
When it’s about installing floors in your home, aesthetics is another crucial factor to consider. So, understanding the aesthetic differences between vinyl and wood floors will help you figure out the option that suits your home better.
In terms of hardwood, its solid wooden composition lends several intriguing natural tones that surpass vinyl flooring in terms of visual appeal. It’s available in a range of colors, including gray, brown, beige, reddish, and black, with the color of the flooring depending on the wood variety used by the manufacturer.
As for vinyl floors, they are manufactured in the form of sheets with different finishes, including those resembling natural wood. The finishes are usually created by texturing or dyeing the vinyl after production, and such flooring is available in the form of planks and squares to resemble hardwood or tiles.
A point worth mentioning here is that vinyl possesses a softer and higher sound-absorbing property than wood, owing to a rubberized backing layer. In comparison, natural wood is louder, which you can count as a slight drawback.
The lifespan of the chosen flooring will vary based on several factors, including its finish, the room it’s installed in, and its maintenance.
Carefully maintained hardwood floors last much longer than their vinyl counterparts, although the chances of damage due to dirt particles, pet claws, and high heels are greater for hardwood floors. But vinyl is more suitable in terms of daily use though it’s somewhat susceptible to scratches and cuts.
Note that the primary difference in the durability of the two varieties lies in their moisture resistance.
Hardwood is prone to damage due to moisture, so they’re unfit for use in bathrooms, basements, or kitchens. In fact, continuous exposure to moisture can even damage a newly set up hardwood floor in a small period.
But you’ll be glad to know that vinyl flooring is fully waterproof and there’s no need to worry about water damage if you use this type. You can wash the floor as frequently as you need, which is the greatest perk of opting for vinyl.
In case hardwood flooring gets damaged, you can have it repaired by a professional through sanding and refinishing. This way, wood flooring can be sustained across generations, but in case of severe moisture damage, you’ll need to replace the flooring, and that carries a hefty price tag.
On the other hand, vinyl flooring doesn’t offer you the option of repair. Once it’s worn out or scratched, the only choice is to get it replaced to restore the original look.
7. Radiant Heat Exposure
Radiant heating of floors is a convenient way to ensure your home stays cozy and warm during the chilly winter months. But this heating process has some effect on the floors, so the flooring material must meet a few specifications.
In the case of hardwood flooring, you should use the glue recommended by the manufacturer to stick the wood to a subfloor. This is because all glues aren’t neutral to radiant heat and may suffer substantial damage after prolonged exposure to such a heating system.
But the heat won’t damage vinyl flooring, so it’s an excellent option if you also need waterproof flooring. Its durability is enough to resist stains, scratches, and even gouging to a certain extent. Just take care to maintain the floor temperatures under 80 degrees Fahrenheit, and you’re good to go.
It’s also important to take your budget into account while choosing the flooring type.
Notably, the difference in the nature and properties of the two flooring types gives rise to different costs of purchase and installation. While the per square foot cost of vinyl is around $2-7, hardwood flooring can cost around $5-10.
For vinyl, the exact cost varies with the manufacturer you’re opting for and the size you require. Keep in mind that installing vinyl flooring doesn’t need adhesives, vapor barriers, or nails, and you can install the floor by yourself to reduce the expenditure.
As for hardwood flooring, the cost depends upon the type of wood, the store you’re visiting, and the brand. Also, most homeowners aren’t well-versed in installing hardwood flooring, so they’ll have to rope in an experienced and competent contractor for the job, adding to the cost.
9. Home Reselling
It’s no secret that the choice of flooring material has an impact on the value of a home.
And you’ll be glad to know that the use of hardwood flooring will enhance the value of the property to a considerable extent. This is owing to the greater durability and timeless appeal that it offers. In fact, many homeowners opt for hardwood even after knowing they have to pay much more since they’re aware of the perks they can enjoy.
That said, the value addition will vary based on the type of hardwood floor used for the home. Here’s a great guide to the different types of wood flooring available on the market.
But that’s not the case with vinyl floors; in case you’re selling a home with vinyl flooring, you might not get that much. That’s because such floors aren’t so durable and much simpler to install, while vinyl is also not as attractive as hardwood flooring.
Their Pros And Cons
Based on the comparison we drew between the two types, here’s a summary of the benefits and disadvantages of each type.
A. Wood Flooring
- Durable flooring
- Easy to repair
- Stunning visual appeal
- Enhances the resale value of a home
- Composed of natural materials
- Risk of moisture damage
- Expensive to purchase and install
B. Vinyl Flooring
- Simple to maintain
- Compatible with radiant heat
- Cost-effective option
- Easy installation
- Made of synthetic material
- Less durable
On that note, it’s almost time for us to wrap up. By now, you must’ve understood that the choice of flooring material would depend on lots of factors, including the durability, cost, insulation, and your budget.
Based on these factors, hardwood and vinyl have their own pros and cons, which you should keep in mind before making a decision. So, go ahead and take your pick to build or remodel your home with quality, long-lasting flooring.
Before we call it a day, here’s a last tip for you. In case you plan to install hardwood flooring, don’t rush to choose a contractor for the job. Instead, take your time and choose wisely, as some experts might take advantage of homeowners’ insufficient knowledge on installing hardwood flooring and charge high rates.
It’s time for us to sign off, but we’ll be back soon with more guides.