Green Products

Deciding Between LVP Flooring and Hardwood?

by Jason Brubaker

Vinyl flooring has been an option for designers and builders for years now, but that doesn’t mean it’s in your best interest to put it in your commercial space. In fact, there are a few considerations to make if you’re planning a flooring project and are looking at a product like Luxury Vinyl Planks (LVP) or Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVT).

On paper, vinyl flooring sounds like a good option. It’s water-resistant, easy to clean and affordable. It’s easy to see why contractors and designers might select this flooring.

But thinking big picture, vinyl isn’t always the best choice in your space.

Customer Perception

While the most popular vinyl flooring options are called “luxury,” they’re far from high end. Truthfully, there is a noticeable difference in the look, feel and sound of vinyl flooring versus traditional hardwoods. Luxury and high design in commercial spaces has become standard and, in those cases, vinyl flooring simply doesn’t deliver.

Manufacturing Considerations

Some vinyl flooring is manufactured with phthalates. In fact, 58% of vinyl flooring tested by researchers contained these harmful chemicals that have been banned from children’s products.

With hardwood flooring, the only chemicals to worry about are those used in the finishing process. And most polyurethanes and varnishes used to finish hardwood floors have been proven safe for indoor surfaces.

Safety Considerations

Like any other flooring material, vinyl is a flammable product. While the planks themselves may be flame-resistant, the adhesives or VOC’s may be highly flammable. The substance’s flammability will vary depending on the brand and adhesives used, but you won’t find these flammable adhesives in hardwood flooring.

If vinyl flooring catches fire, it can break down the chemicals used in manufacturing—which can harmful—so consumers should take care to avoid placing vinyl flooring in areas with a higher risk of fire, like a kitchen.

Consider Sustainability

Unfortunately, there’s no mainstream way to recycle vinyl flooring, so it often ends up in landfills for years before it starts to degrade.

Alternatively, hardwood floors can be reused and repurposed. This makes hardwood flooring’s life cycle longer and gives it an edge in terms of environmental responsibility. On the sourcing side with hardwood flooring, there are several sustainable options, like purchasing responsibly-sourced or FSC-certified hardwoods.

Maintenance and Investment

Vinyl flooring is easy to clean, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to repair.

Repairing any flooring can be annoying, whether it’s vinyl or hardwood. But hardwood flooring can usually be fixed by filling gaps and securing boards. With vinyl, replacing planks and tiles typically takes more time and money.

While vinyl flooring is often viewed as a more cost-effective choice for commercial spaces, the maintenance and replacement costs need to be considered. Vinyl simply doesn’t stand up to heavily wear and tear as well as solid wood, meaning its lifespan is overall shorter that a traditional or engineered hardwood floor.

On vinyl plank flooring, scratches spring up more quickly after installation, and once a gouge or gap forms, your only option is to replace whole planks.

Hardwoods, on the other hand, can be sanded down and refinished to look like new once everyday wear and tear becomes noticeable. This is part of the reason why hardwood floors consistently increase the resale value of a commercial space, they simply look better for longer and are more in demand than LVP. The importance of this higher resell value can’t be overstated—hardwood flooring truly is an investment, and well worth the benefits that far outweigh the perceived advantages of luxury vinyl plank flooring.