Alternatives to Wood and Stone Flooring


The newest styles of vinyl flooring have become intensely popular. They’re affordable, durable, waterproof, and easy to install. But they’re also easy to get wrong if you don’t understand the basics. One of the reasons this flooring is so popular is its affordability. As a general rule the more affordable a material is the more of it you will tend to use. The more you use of any one material the more important it is to use it correctly—both in terms of its design and installation.

The category all these products belong to is referred to as Resilient Flooring. The first definition of resilient in the dictionary is “able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions” but in the case of resilient flooring we’re looking for the second, more technical definition—an object or substance able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed. By contrast, carpeting is “soft flooring” and ceramic tile, porcelain, stone and wood are all non-resilient “hard” flooring.

So, a resilient floor is firm but with a soft touch and some give to it. Like Grandpa.

Vinyl Flooring Options

  • Vinyl Sheet goods - Not very popular these days but still available and in use.

Honorable mention …

  • Linoleum - Not vinyl. Manufactured since the late 1800’s. By the 60’s consumers were turning toward newer cheaper vinyls and linoleum was left to commercial applications like hospitals. It’s made from wood flour, cork dust, linseed oil, pine tree resin, minerals, pigments, and jute fibers—all naturally occurring, decomposable, and renewable materials. It's technically edible. Unlike vinyl, linoleum color is throughout, not just on the surface. It’s durable, fire-resistant, biodegradable, recyclable, good air quality, antistatic, easy to clean, hypoallergenic, no harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds).
  • Vinyl Composite Tile - VCT - Mostly limestone dust. Dense but porous, color throughout, needs waxing, commercial grade. If you think a designer wouldn’t use linoleum or VCT these days, think again. In fact it’s pretty much only designers using it in both practical and avant-garde ways.

The stars of the show …

  • Luxury Vinyl Plank - LVP - The most popular choice. “Today’s carpet.”
  • Luxury Vinyl Tile - LVT - Tile shaped versions of LVP.

LVP/T Costs

  • Material costs:$1.50 - $6 sf
  • Installation:$2 - $6 sf

Same styles, different cores

  • Solid Polymer Core - SPC - has a rigid core made from 80% powdered limestone, polyvinyl chloride and stabilizers. Sometimes, you might see it referred to as “stone polymer composite flooring.” It’s dense.
  • Wood Polymer Core - WPC - Wood plastic composite flooring is made from either recycled wood pulp and plastic or polymer composites that are “foamed” with air.  The foaming makes it soft under foot.

11 Things everyone needs to know about LVP floors

  1. They really are waterproof.
  2. Click-lock edges makes a DIY install easy.
  3. Always add 10-15% for waste.
  4. Showroom samples aren’t large enough.
  5. Floating floors expand and contract. Leave room for it at the walls.
  6. How to decide on the correct plank direction.
  7. How to space end seams.
  8. Transitions are tricky.
  9. Some floors can be glued. That gives you options.
  10. You can install a floating floor over glue down vinyl, but not over another floating floor.
  11. Never place a simulated material next to the real thing. Don’t use stain grade baseboards on top of LVP or real stone next to LVT.

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images