My own experience of replacing flooring has been quite limited. The most I've had to do was replace a hallway carpet in my old home after toilet training a puppy for 6 months; while I also had a very inexperienced attempt at painting my wooden floor boards white at the start of my DIY journey - I decided to skip the sanding and priming part, so the paint started to chip after 48 hours! However, I've recently been working with a client on replacing all the floors in a flat she has purchased. She mentioned to me in the initial design consultation that she wanted vinyl and I flinched - vinyl? - isn't that just like the cheap lino of the 80's? Turns vinyl flooring technology has massively advanced since then, and there is now something called 'luxury vinyl flooring'.
I went off from this consultation and did some detailed investigation into luxury vinyl. Luxury vinyl floor tiles and planks look like wood, but they aren't actually wood. They are vinyl floor tiles with a wood effect. I know what you are thinking - vinyl can't actually look like real wood - but trust me when I say there are some amazing luxury vinyl floor tiles and planks out there that you would never question were not real wood floors. I was expecting a photographic image of wood imposed onto vinyl, but with luxury vinyl tiles and planks the grain of the wood is so realistic - knots and wood imperfections are accounted for in the design. Apparently, it is all down to the revolutionary 3D print technology, which is used to create the intricate grooves and grains that give a more natural wood 'look'.
So, if you actually want wood floors, why install luxury vinyl over actual wood? Well, for one thing, luxury vinyl is scratch proof, meaning that movements of chair legs and other furniture will not mark your floor. It is also water resistant, durable and anti-slip so it is not a concern to have in the kitchen or the bathroom. The vinyl consists of three highly compressed layers so it is strong and sturdy and is not spongy to the touch as per the traditional form of vinyl, yet it also makes it more sound-proof than wood floors, as it reduces the echo sound that footsteps can make on real wood floors. This is perfect if you live in a flat or apartment block and want wood floors, but have to consider the downstairs neighbours. You can see why it was one of the biggest trends in flooring in 2017.
So what about fitting it? Luxury vinyl is actually incredibly easy to fit - you just click each vinyl tile or plank into place in a repetitive pattern without the need for glue (it acts as a 'floating' floor', rather than being fastened to the subfloor). What you do need to take care with is prepping your floor ready for the installation of luxury vinyl flooring. Old carpet glue or grips need to be removed, cracks need to be filled in with an appropriate filler, and the floor needs to be level and smooth. If this is not the case with your floor, make sure you use a self-leveling compound to create an even surface before you apply luxury vinyl flooring.
So much does it actually cost? Most luxury vinyl tiles will cost between £20 - £40 a square metre, making it vastly cheaper than getting a real wood floor laid. Most luxury vinyl flooring also comes with a 10 year minimum guarantee so it's highly durable and can take quite a beating from kids, pets and everyday wear.
Are you convinced? I know I am. My client is choosing one design throughout the whole of her flat, and the next time that I need to sort out a floor in my own home I'm going to choose luxury vinyl floor planks laid in a parquet style. It just seems such a no-brainer - thanks to advanced flooring technology you can get the beautiful wooden floor look at a fraction of the cost!
Do you have luxury vinyl flooring in your home? What do you think of it? Did you lay it yourself? Let me know in the comments section below!
* This post is a collaboration with Floors Direct