Luxury Vinyl Buyer’s Guide

Looking for inexpensive, easy-to-install flooring? Look no further than Luxury Vinyl.  This flooring has come a long way, with surprisingly realistic tile or wood looks.  It’s extremely durable and especially good at fending off wear, dents, scratches, and stains.  Plus it’s water-resistant – or even waterproof – without any special installation.

Another advantage to vinyl – it can often install over old floors – with the exception of carpet – as long as the surface is smooth.  Major inconsistencies in underlying floors will show through, but vinyl is more forgiving than many floors.  If changes in the floor vary less than an 1/8” over a six inch stretch, you don’t need to worry about it.  To prepare a subfloor for installation, see our Flooring Prep Guide.


How much should I expect to spend?

Vinyl has come a long way and with advancement comes an advancing of price tags.  Luckily, vinyl still offers options for any budget.  Prices can be as low as $1 per square foot or up to $10 per square foot for top-of-the-line products.  Most modern vinyl is simple to install yourself, so no need to worry about installation costs.  However installation professionals usually only charge $1-2 per square foot.

How long will vinyl last?

Most vinyl warranties are 10-15 years and the floors should easily last that long.  One downside to vinyl, if it gets damaged there is no way to refinish it.  It has to be replaced.  Fortunately, with floating or peel-and-stick floors it is easy to remove a damaged piece for replacement.  This can be a huge savings in replacement cost.  We recommend keeping an extra box of your flooring on hand in case this circumstance arises.



Plank, Tile, or Sheet?

This depends on the look you are going for and how you want to install it.  Many plank options are a click-together floating style.  They often look like hardwood with the traditional long plank shape.  Tiles are popular for kitchens, bathrooms, and entryways.  Manufacturers have made many vinyl tiles waterproof for use in these spaces.  Thin, standard vinyl usually comes in sheets and needs to be glued to the floor.  It is usually water resistant.  Some sheet vinyl can now be installed as a floating floor making installation much easier.

Glue, Floating, or Peel-and-Stick?

For the DIYer, glue can get really messy, really fast.  With such cheap and easy options available on the market today, it just doesn’t make sense to go this route.  Glue is helpful if your floor will be underneath very heavy items or shouldn’t move at all.

Peel-and-stick vinyl is thinner and often less expensive. If you are installing in an area that has a lot of moisture, such as a bathroom, many peel-and-stick options are waterproof. It’s extremely easy to put down, you just peel off the back and stick it to an appropriate subfloor. If your room has windows with direct sunlight it can cause hot-spot bubbles in peel-and-stick vinyl, so floating vinyl may be a better option.

Installing Laminate Flooring

Floating vinyl flooring, which has tongue and groove edges that click together, is usually water resistant or waterproof.  Thicker and more durable, the floating floor is softer and more comfortable to walk on. Click-together installation is quick and easy with professional looking results. In areas with drastic temperature changes, a floating floor easily compensates for expansion without bubbling.

One word of caution: extremely heavy items – such as two fully loaded bookshelves on either side of the room – can cause floors to buckle by limiting expansion space.  For best results, try to keep furniture to one very heavy item per room (think pool tables, etc.). Vinyl can be used in a kitchen if you install around counters and most appliances.

How much should I buy?

Laminate flooring is typically sold in boxes containing a couple dozen square feet of flooring. This varies by manufacturer, so check your labels. To decide how much to purchase, measure the area of the room or rooms in which you plan to install.  Then add 10% for waste and replacement. Similarly, get enough transition strip to cover all doorways and any seams between your new vinyl and other types of flooring.  Here’s a handy guide to get the exact square-footage you’ll need:

Option 1: Use a free app like magicPlan available for androidicon or  iosicon

Option 2: Get out your measuring tape.  You can track measurements in Photo Measures on  androidicon or  iosicon

Then use our Material Calculator or fill in the blanks below:

  • Measure the longest wall of the room in inches. Write this number down as Length = ____
  • Measure the longest wall in the other direction in inches. Write this number down as Width = ____
  • Multiply Length x Width to give you the room’s Area in square inches. Write this down as Area = ____
  • Repeat for other rooms and add to find total area.  Room 1 Area + Room 2 Area = Total Area
  • Find total area in square feet (SqFt). Total Area ÷  144 = Total SqFt
  • Add 10% to cover those extra spaces. Total SqFt x 1.1 = Total You Should Purchase

You can take this total with you when you pick out your flooring.  If you are buying online:

  • Look at the online description of your laminate flooring to find the area each box will cover. This can vary from 10sqft to 30sqft
  • Find the number of boxes you need. SqFt in each box ÷ Total You Should Purchase (from above) = ____
  • Take that magic number and round up to the nearest whole number. (Example 5.5 → 6) You now have the number of boxes you need.

You may need plastic sheeting for installing over concrete.  For some types of vinyl, manufacturers recommend underlayment.  You can use the same Total You Should Purchase when buying these. In most rooms, you’ll need transition strips for doorways or areas where your laminate meets with another floor (carpet, tile, vinyl, etc.). Measure the lengths of these transition spots plus the widths of all doors (keep track of these somewhere such as Photo Measures.) Add all your measurements together and add 10% so you’ll know how much to buy.  Transition 1 + Transition 2 + Transition 3 = ____ x 1.1 = Total Transition Strip to Buy

You’re done! Go buy your floor!!

And make sure you have the proper tools with our Tool Guide.