Vinyl Plank Flooring vs Engineered Hardwood: Which is Best?

August 24, 2023
nicole

Hi! I'm Nicole

Fearless DIY. Sharing building project tutorials and interior design tips. Let’s build something beautiful together. For more projects, design tips and behind the scenes, follow me @designtobuild.nicole

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Recently I took on my biggest home improvement project ever. I remodeled my entire kitchen. One of the most important decisions I needed to make was: new flooring. My two options: vinyl plank flooring vs. engineered hardwood. Many people thought I was crazy for even considering ripping out our current solid hardwood floors.

So, what did I end up doing? I’ll share what my final decision was and why, at the end of this post. But first, let’s take a deeper look at these two options.

When it comes to selecting the proper flooring for your home, there are so many types of flooring to choose from:

  • Luxury vinyl plank flooring
  • Engineered hardwood flooring
  • Solid hardwood planks
  • Luxury vinyl tile
  • Laminate flooring
  • Tile
  • And of course, the most popular choice–carpet

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Among the many flooring types, vinyl plank flooring and engineered hardwood are two excellent choices that have gained widespread popularity in recent years.

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However, this wasn’t always the case. Vinyl floors used to have a very bad reputation. Back in the day, there were several factors working against traditional vinyl flooring:

  • They were perceived to be cheap and low quality.
  • While they were meant to look like real wood, they often had more of a plastic-like appearance.
  • Durability was not one of their features. They were very much susceptible to water damage. Wear and tear, scratching, and fading were inevitable over time.
  • Contained high levels of toxins
  • Difficult to install properly

But since then, the flooring industry has come a long way. Today, luxury vinyl flooring is not just regarded as high-quality. It now stands as one of the most favored choices for flooring.

Both LVP and engineered hardwood are well-known for their longevity, simplicity of upkeep, and visual appeal. However, each has distinctive features that make them unique. So, how do you choose between vinyl plank flooring and engineered hardwood?

2 planks of wood different thickness

By the end of this post, you’ll be able to make an informed flooring decision and select the best option for your home.

What is Vinyl Plank Flooring?

Vinyl plank flooring is currently one of the most sought-after flooring options. It is a long-lasting, aesthetically pleasing, and cost-effective alternative to hardwood, stone, or ceramic tile.

A full view of a newly remodeled kitchen with white walls and black cabinetry for vinyl plank flooring vs engineered hardwood post

Vinyl plank flooring is made from four layers of materials that are fused together to create a resilient and long-lasting surface. Let’s break it down:

  • The backing layer provides stability and support
  • The core layer gives the plank its thickness and rigidity
  • The design layer allows for various patterns and colors to be applied
  • The wear layer protects against scratches, dents, and stains.

Vinyl plank flooring is a versatile and practical option for any room in your home. Great for high-traffic areas like the kitchen, bathroom, or hallway. It’s low cost and low maintenance requirements make it a great option for do-it-yourselfers and budget households.

What is Engineered Hardwood?

Another type of flooring that made its debut back in the 60’s, is engineered hardwood. Made by bonding layers of wood together, here’s its breakdown:

  • A top layer of real hardwood
  • Several bottom layers of plywood underneath.

This construction method gives engineered hardwood the appearance of solid hardwood. However, it holds up better to moisture and temperature changes than solid hardwood.

Flooret flooring in a foyer. dark wood floor with lighter wood door

Source: Flooret

The top layer of real hardwood can come in a variety of species and finishes. Making it a customizable option for any home or design preference.

Engineered hardwood is a good choice for individuals who desire the look and feel of hardwood. But they want a more lasting and practical alternative. With its unique construction and high-quality materials, engineered hardwood is a long-lasting investment, It can withstand daily wear and tear while maintaining its beauty and value.

Choosing Between Vinyl Plank Flooring vs Engineered Hardwood

Girl holding planks of wood

Durability

Durability is a critical factor to consider when selecting between vinyl plank flooring vs engineered hardwood. While both flooring types are designed to last for years, durability can differ between them.

Vinyl plank flooring is renowned for its durability and longevity. This is owed to its impressive ability to resist scratches, moisture, and wear and tear.

This flooring type can last an average of 10-25 years.

Sitting area with hardwood floors and a rug

On the other hand, engineered hardwood is known for its greater durability compared to vinyl plank flooring. It can last longer due to its composition of solid hardwood flooring.

Engineered hardwood has a lifespan of at least 30 years. Because of its great durability and authenticity, engineered hardwood is a better choice if you want a flooring solution that will endure for decades.

Maintenance

Another significant factor to consider when deciding between vinyl plank flooring and engineered hardwood is maintenance. Vinyl floors are known for their low maintenance. This makes them ideal for households with high foot traffic or pets.

With their minimal upkeep, they are easy to maintain. Unlike hardwood floors, which require frequent polishing and refinishing.

dustpan and hand broom for Vinyl Plank Flooring vs Engineered Hardwood post

Vinyl flooring is made from man-made materials, while engineered hardwood is built from thin layers of actual wood. Because of this, engineered hardwood floors are more prone to scratches, dents, and moisture damage. As a result, they need special care and attention.

Installation

Installation is another important aspect to take into account when deciding between vinyl plank flooring and engineered hardwood. Both flooring materials have their pros and cons when it comes to ease of installation.

Vinyl plank flooring is typically considered easier to install due to its interlocking system and lightweight design. Requiring minimal preparation work, it can often be installed directly over existing flooring. This makes it a great do-it-yourself project! Which, of course, saves on the cost of installation.

New flooring being laid in a kitchen going through room renovations

In contrast, engineered hardwood can be more challenging to install. A skilled professional may be required due to its precise installation technique. Additionally, the subfloor must be carefully prepared and in good condition for the best results.

So, if you prioritize ease of installation, you may find vinyl plank flooring to be the better choice.

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Cost

When choosing between vinyl plank flooring vs engineered hardwood, cost is an important factor. When considering material expenses, vinyl plank flooring is generally more budget-friendly.

However, premium options can significantly increase in cost. They can approach a price point that is comparable to an engineered wood floor.

Installation costs are significantly lower for vinyl plank flooring. It can easily be installed as a floating floor with minimal preparation work required.

LVP flooring samples on a boucle chair

Engineered hardwood, on the other hand, might be more expensive in terms of both material and installation expenses. However, the strong and lasting nature of engineered hardwood can balance out these starting costs in the long run.

Additionally, higher-end engineered hardwood can be refinished multiple times. This feature enhances its value as a more economical long-term investment.

Check out this post for more benefits of Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring

Aesthetics

Luxury vinyl plank flooring and engineered hardwood flooring have different looks that can transform a room’s appearance. Luxury vinyl planks (LVP) come in a variety of designs. These can imitate materials like wood, stone, and tile.

LVP can replicate intricate details and textures. This makes it hard to tell apart from real materials. It’s a great choice if you want a realistic look without the high cost.

On the other hand, engineered hardwood flooring combines real wood’s beauty with practical advantages. It has a top layer of genuine wood, giving it an authentic texture and look. The natural wood grain, knots, and color variations give it a special character.

There’s a wide range of wood types, finishes, and stains to choose from. This allows you to customize the floor’s appearance.

Engineered hardwood creates a warm and inviting atmosphere, adding timeless appeal to any space. This makes it a popular choice for those who appreciate the genuine feel of wood.

Sitting space with a cactus and small plant on a side table for Vinyl Plank Flooring vs Engineered Hardwood post

When choosing the right flooring for your home, both vinyl plank flooring and engineered hardwood have their own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Vinyl plank flooring offers versatility, affordability, and easy maintenance. It’s a great option for busy areas and households with pets or young children. If you love DIY, installation is a breeze.

On the other hand, engineered hardwood provides the authentic appeal of real wood. The added stability and moisture resistance, makes it a lasting investment. This can enhance your home’s appeal and value. However, it does demand more upkeep and professional installation.

When deciding, remember to factor in aspects like:

  • durability
  • maintenance
  • installation
  • and cost.

If you’re after durability and authenticity, engineered hardwood might be the better fit.

If hassle-free maintenance, cost-effectiveness, and self-installation are your priorities, then vinyl plank flooring may be the more suitable choice.

Ultimately, the decision rests with you. Take the time to weigh the pros and cons of each option. Select the flooring that aligns best with your lifestyle and enhances your home’s aesthetic vibe.

What Did We Choose for Our Flooring?

After much consideration, I decided to rip out my solid wood flooring. While I could have sanded it down and re-stained it, I was no longer a fan of the thin boards the flooring comprised of. I wanted a more modern wide plank look. After looking at several options, we landed on Palka by Flooret. With a 40 mil wear-layer, Flooret LVP is considered to be one of the best in the industry. (You can read more about how to decide on the right LVP flooring, in this post).

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LVP flooring in a kitchen for Vinyl Plank Flooring vs Engineered Hardwood post

Considering the 5 factors we just covered, here’s what led to our decision…

How will they hold up?

​The fact that these floors were going in the kitchen was a huge influence in our decision. I knew I wanted something that would hold up to the wear and tear of:

  • lots of foot-traffic
  • water spills
  • and a biggie: our 3 dogs!

Are they easy to take care of?

I loathe house cleaning. So the easier it is to take care of my new flooring, the better. I love that my new LVP flooring has texture and movement in it. This makes dust and dirt less visible. And that makes me happy. 🙂 With just soap and water, my LVP floors are so easy to clean.

Girl's feet in flip flops on a light colored LVP floor for Vinyl Plank Flooring vs Engineered Hardwood post

Can I easily install them myself?

As I mentioned before, this was a DIY project I was tackling completely by myself. Therefore, I wanted something easy and fast to install. With its interlocking system, LVP floors fit that bill. Not to mention, each plank is not heavy. This made my one-man job (me!) much easier!

Which flooring won’t break the bank?

As with any DIY project, I had a budget. While I was willing to make flooring a huge part of my budget, there were several other areas I wanted to focus on too. Luxury vinyl plank proved to be much more cost-effective than engineered hardwood. And I didn’t have to compromise on the look. So, for me, this was a no-brainer.

What looks the best?

I immediately fell in love with the look and feel of Flooret’s Palka LVP. I was sold!

Breaking it down….

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Vinyl Plank Flooring vs Engineered Hardwood: FAQ’s

What are the Installation Options for Engineered Hardwood Flooring?

The most common installation methods are floating, glue-down, and nail-down.

  • Floating installation involves placing the engineered hardwood over an underlayment without any adhesives or nails.
  • Glue-down installation requires adhesive to secure the planks to the subfloor, which is ideal for a concrete slab or plywood surfaces.
  • Nail-down installation involves nailing the planks to a wooden subfloor.

How Do I Maintain Engineered Hardwood Flooring?

  • Run a vacuum cleaner over the floor to remove dirt and debris that could scratch the surface.
  • Wipe up spills immediately to prevent moisture from seeping into the wood.
  • Use a manufacturer-approved hardwood floor cleaner and a damp (not wet) mop to clean the floor periodically.
  • Place doormats at entrances to trap dirt and prevent it from being tracked onto the floor.
  • Use felt pads under furniture legs to avoid scratches and dents.

Can Engineered Hardwood Flooring be Refinished?

Yes, engineered hardwood flooring can typically be refinished, but the number of times depends on the thickness of the top hardwood layer. Thicker top layers can be refinished more times.

Refinishing involves sanding down the top layer to remove scratches and imperfections, then applying a new finish.

However, because the top layer of engineered hardwood is thinner than that of solid hardwood, excessive refinishing could eventually wear down the wood.

White chair with shoes and a blanket on it

What NOT to use on Engineered Hardwood Floors

  • Vinegar
  • Soap-based cleaners
  • Wax

Is there anything that can destroy LVP?

Yes! Sharp objects can damage your flooring. Additionally, sunlight can fade your floors. Therefore, do not install LVP in outdoor spaces.

What is the best underlayment?

IXPE Underlayment. IXPE foam helps absorb sound. While at the same time, it provides a smooth and even base for your flooring. In addition to these great qualities, it helps to maintain a comfortable indoor temperature.This is possible by reducing heat transfer through the floor, which can lead to energy savings.

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What is the difference between LVT and LVP?

LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tile) and LVP (Luxury Vinyl Plank) are two types of flooring materials used in interior design. LVT flooring mimics tile and wood designs, while LVP imitates hardwood flooring.

LVT has layers for durability and comes in tiles or planks that can be glued, floated, or interlocked.

LVP replicates wood grain with similar layers and plank shapes, installed using glue, floating, or click-and-lock systems.

Both options are cost-effective and easy to maintain, fitting various styles for homes and businesses. Choose LVT for tile and wood looks, and LVP for a hardwood appearance.

Entryway with a beautiful LVP flooring...light colored

Flooret 

How long should I wait to place heavy objects on my new floors?

If a flooring adhesive was used, you should allow for 24-48 hours curing time. Allow for this waiting time, before walking on or placing heavy objects on your new floors.

Is LVP flooring safe?

LVP flooring is safe to use indoors. Some people worry about chemicals like VOCs, but you can choose LVP flooring with low-VOC or no phthalates to be on the safe side.

If you have pets and kids at home, LVP is good because it’s sturdy and easy to clean. Just remember to follow the setup instructions and buy from good brands to keep your home safe. Flooret prides itself in having zero VOC emissions. A great choice, for sure!

As usual, I truly value your choice to shop via the links I provide. This enables me to earn a small commission without affecting your purchase cost. By using my affiliate links, you help me generate content for this blog and provide for my family. I sincerely thank you for backing my efforts with utmost gratitude!

Let’s go beyond the design to build something beautiful together!

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More Design Posts to Check Out:

Kitchen Makeover Reveal

Hardwood Stairs vs Carpet: Which is The Best Option?

Best Way to Style Coffee Table Books for Your Home in 2023

 

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