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When To Use Vinyl Plank vs Hardwood (Pros/Cons/Cost)

Are you thinking about putting some type of new flooring in your home? One choice could be a decision between vinyl plank and hardwood. Which is the right choice for you?

Vinyl plank tends to be a more economic choice than hardwood, although both tend to be durable and beautiful once they are installed. One area of the home where you would want to use vinyl plank instead of hardwood is any part of the home that is prone to moisture.

Clean wood floor

There are always going to be people who bring up the argument that there is nothing quite like wood. Although I would agree that hardwood floor has a beauty unlike any other, if you haven’t seen any of the new vinyl plank floors recently, you really are missing out on something nice.

Luxury vinyl plank (LVT) can mimic almost any type of hardwood in existence. From a distance, it can even be difficult for a professional to tell the difference between the two.

When To Use Vinyl Plank vs Hardwood (Pros/Cons/Cost)

That doesn’t mean, however, that there aren’t any differences between vinyl plank and hardwood. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Understanding those differences can help you make your choice as to which one you would use.

It’s important to understand the true differences between luxury vinyl plank and hardwood flooring. Those differences have to do with the durability, longevity, design, and feel of the floor.

There is also something else that is important to consider for many families, especially those who have a limited budget. There is going to be a cost involved with both the installation of vinyl plank and hardwood. We will consider that factor in this article as well.

In the end, it is a personal decision as to whether you would want vinyl plank or hardwood in your home. Both can make a very beautiful floor that is easy to live on, but knowing the difference is well worth the time spent learning.

Pros, Cons, And Cost Comparison Between Hardwood vs Vinyl Plank

Man fixing the floor

When it comes to the comparison between hardwood and vinyl plank, there are many factors to consider. Let’s start with one of the more common considerations and work our way down through the list.

1. Cost – Undoubtedly, the price of flooring is going to be of concern to any homeowner that is installing it. There is a difference between the price of vinyl plank and hardwood, but they do meet in the middle, so to speak.

If you’re considering the low end of vinyl plank, you can spend about two dollars per square foot. Sometimes, you can even get it on sale for less but there is an important fact to consider when doing so.

If you purchase vinyl plank on sale, there is probably a limited amount available at the store. If you have to buy more, you will likely get it from another lot and it can have a different look. Over-purchase when you are buying vinyl plank on sale.

As far as the price of the floor in general, you will spend anywhere from two dollars up to $20 per square foot and an additional six dollars per square foot for installation. Hardwood floor installation costs are similar, but you don’t tend to have the options available on the lower end.

2. Maintenance – if you’re comparing the maintenance of hardwood and vinyl, there really is no comparison. Vinyl floor is going to be much easier to maintain and if there are any problems, they can be fixed much easier with vinyl plank as well.

Hardwood floor has to be maintained in a specific way in order to be durable and beautiful. You might even find that you have to refinish it after some years have passed.

Vinyl plank flooring is going to look the same a decade after it is put down with very little maintenance. Generally speaking, you should dust it on a daily basis with a dry mop and wet mop once a week.

If a hardwood floor gets damaged, it is difficult to pull it up and replace the damaged piece. Vinyl floor is much easier to replace and typically only requires a straight edge, a utility knife, and a new piece of floor.

3. Durability – If you take the possibility of damage out of the mix, a hardwood floor is going to last a lot longer than a vinyl floor. That being said, it is less expensive to replace a vinyl floor, so you can get twice as much out of it anyway.

Then again, if you are installing a floor in a part of the home that is prone to moisture, such as the basement or a bathroom, vinyl is going to be a clear winner. It stands up to moisture very nicely whereas a hardwood floor would be damaged almost instantly.

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4. Environmental – If you are looking for a type of flooring that is earth-friendly, then a hardwood floor is the better choice. You need to look beyond the trees when it comes to hardwood because they grow the trees for that very purpose and continue to grow them.

On the other hand, vinyl floor is made from the same type of material that is used for PVC. Typically, a vinyl floor is going to leach VOCs for many years after it is installed. In addition, once it is torn up, it goes right into the garbage dump.

When To Use Vinyl Plank That’s Better Than Hardwood

Clean wood floor

When you need to make the choice as to whether to use vinyl plank or hardwood, it really depends on multiple factors. Let’s consider why you would use vinyl plank as a much better choice than hardwood.

1. Moisture – If you are installing a floor in any area of the home where moisture is potentially an issue, vinyl plank flooring is the choice to make. Moisture will destroy hardwood and it will do it very quickly.

A good example of this is installing flooring in the bathroom. It is impossible not to get the floor wet but you don’t have to worry about it if you have vinyl plank flooring down.

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Of course, you would not want to simply allow puddles to lay on the floor, although it would not likely be a big problem with vinyl.

2. Cost – If you’re looking for low-price flooring that has the appearance of wood, you can choose vinyl plank flooring. Even the inexpensive type of vinyl plank flooring will look good when it is installed properly.

Of course, you get what you pay for and you will have a more durable floor if you spend more but even if you spend less, you’ll be happy with vinyl.

3. Maintenance – When it comes to maintaining the floor, you really can’t beat what vinyl brings to the table. It is practically going to take care of itself, although there are a few things you may need to do to keep it looking its best.

Dry mopping the floor on a daily basis or sweeping it will help to keep it looking good. You can also wet mop the floor on a weekly basis or as needed.

Hardwood floors, on the other hand, are going to be difficult to maintain as easily. You can dry mop or sweep them but you can’t expose them to water. You also may need to finish hardwood floors after some time has passed.

When To Use Hardwood That’s Better Than Vinyl Plank

Man installing wood floor

Although vinyl plank is a choice that many homeowners make, there are also times when hardwood may be a better choice. When would you choose hardwood over vinyl plank?

1. Longevity – If you are looking for a floor that is going to be down for a long time, then hardwood is a good choice to make. If you choose a high-quality hardwood floor, it could even last for generations.

That isn’t to say that vinyl plank floor is not going to last very long, as it could easily last a decade or longer. It is also less expensive, so it is cheaper to replace but if you want to put something down and leave it down, choose hardwood.

2. Resale Value – If you are trying to add some value to your home, then a hardwood floor is going to do a much better job than a vinyl floor. You may not be able to get the entire price of the floor back when it comes to selling the home, but it is going to add some curb appeal.

3. Green – One other reason to choose hardwood floor is that it is more environmentally friendly than vinyl plank flooring. They grow trees for the very purpose of making hardwood floors, and they continue to replant those forests so it is a resource that continues to come back again.

The same can’t be said for vinyl plank floor, which is made from the same material as PVC. It will leach VOCs into your home for years.

When making the decision between vinyl plank and hardwood, cost is often the primary factor. Both of them have beauty and durability but you will spend less for vinyl plank than you will for hardwood.

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ReadyToDIY is the owner of this article. This post was published on December 6, 2022.

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