A question that has repeatedly come during live coaching calls with my BYF members is whether other members plan to use LVT flooring vs engineered wood flooring in their new home.
In full disclosure, LVT flooring wasn’t even a consideration when I built my home in 2013 because it wasn’t a popular option that people talked about. So when my members started discussing LVT flooring, my first thought was … uh, what the heck does LVT stand for?
Being the little researcher that I am, I dove right into learning all I could about LVT flooring and, of course, I’m sharing everything I learned with you.
After reading this blog post, you’ll have the knowledge you need when you walk into the flooring store and are asked, ‘Are you more interested in LVT flooring or engineered wood flooring?’
We’ll start with an overview of both LVT flooring and engineered wood and then we’ll compare the two options.
WHAT IS LVT FLOORING?
LVT stands for Luxury Vinyl Tile. It is manufactured to look and feel like real wood or stone while providing the benefit of being much more durable and practical than natural products.
Luxury Vinyl Tile is available in a wide variety of shapes and sizes so you are sure to find a product that resembles the natural flooring look that you are seeking.
LVT products are generally made of highly moisture-resistant PVC which results in an extremely durable product that is easy to install, clean, and maintain. Also, it is less susceptible to the negative effects of moisture and humidity and the surface is far more robust than real wood flooring so it typically won’t dent, chip, or scratch.
While LVT has the benefit of durability due to manufacturing with PVC, there is a definite drawback … PVC releases toxins that are hazardous to both humans and the environment. Keep this in mind as you make your flooring selections. There are some LVT products that are lower in toxins.
If installed and maintained correctly, LVT can last upwards of 10-20 years.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LVT & LVP FLOORING?
LVP stands for Luxury Vinyl Plank. Vinyl planks are created to mimic wood plank flooring.
There is no difference between LVT & LVP other than the way the product is cut. LVT is cut to mimic stone tile and LVP is cut to mimic wood planks. Both are luxury vinyl flooring and both have the same level of durability and variety of options.
PROS + CONS OF LVT FLOORING
PROS OF LVT FLOORING
- Nearly indistinguishable from the look of real hardwood and real stone flooring
- Much more affordable than natural products
- Much more durable than natural products
- Does well in rooms with high humidity and moisture
- Easy to install, clean, and maintain
- Less susceptible to denting, scratching, or chipping like natural products
CONS OF LVT FLOORING
- Not eco-friendly and releases toxins (look for a low toxin brand and product)
- Made with PVC which is hazardous to humans and the environment
- Shorter lifespan than real wood or stone floors
- Cannot be easily repaired
- Can be difficult to remove
WHAT IS ENGINEERED WOOD FLOORING?
Engineered wood flooring is partially made with real wood. It is constructed in layers, as opposed to a solid piece of wood.
It is slightly thinner (3/8” – ½”) than solid hardwood and is made up of layers. The top and bottom layers are 100% natural wood and can come from a variety of species (just like solid wood). The middle is constructed from several layers of plywood.
The thickness of the top layer varies depending on the product’s quality. A higher-quality engineered wood product has a thicker top layer; cheaper products have a thinner top layer.
The layered construction provides stability against environmental changes, so it isn’t as affected by humidity as solid wood is. It’s less likely to expand, contract, or shift when exposed to moisture, humidity, and temperature. Therefore, it’s a good option in rooms with high moisture (such as your basement or bathroom).
The one drawback to engineered wood is that it typically can’t be sanded and refinished. Some of the premium products can be refinished once or twice, but you have to be very careful.
Engineered wood flooring is typically less expensive than solid wood … unless you choose a premium product. Premium engineered wood products are similar in price to solid wood. It is much more expensive than LVT (luxury vinyl tile).
PROS + CONS OF ENGINEERED WOOD FLOORING
PROS OF ENGINEERED WOOD
- Top and bottom layers are made with real wood
- Looks and feels like real wood because the top layer is real wood
- More durable than solid wood flooring
- Comes in a variety of products, styles, and quality levels
- Not as affected by humidity and moisture as solid wood
- Can be far less expensive than real wood (depending on the quality level)
CONS OF ENGINEERED WOOD
- Can be as expensive as solid wood if you choose a premium product
- Typically can’t be refinished (unless a premium product)
- Not solid wood (but includes real wood layers)
- More expensive than LVT
You may also enjoy: Solid Wood vs. Engineered Wood Flooring
LVT FLOORING VS ENGINEERED WOOD
Both LVT and engineered wood flooring look and feel like real wood. However, only engineered wood is actually made with a top (and bottom) layer of real wood. Due to this layer of wood, engineered wood flooring is more susceptible to scratching, denting, and chipping than the more durable LVT flooring.
Engineered wood flooring fares better than solid wood in high moisture rooms (e.g. bathroom) BUT LVT is completely water-resistant so it is a better choice in rooms that are high in humidity and moisture.
LVT is far less expensive than engineered wood for both the product and installation. Some premium engineered wood flooring products cost as much as solid wood products. Even the lower-priced engineered wood products cost significantly more than LVT products.
LVT is typically less expensive (pro!) and more durable (pro!) than engineered wood but it poses a serious health and environmental risk (con!) due to manufacturing with PVC. You need to really do your research when it comes to selecting an LVT or LVP product to make sure the toxicity levels are very low.
The bottom line … both options are beautiful, look authentic, and come in a wide variety of styles. Choosing one over the other comes down to your budget, your durability needs, and your comfort level with the toxins that can be released from LVT.
I personally have (mid-level) engineered wood flooring in my home and love it. I would certainly consider (low toxin) LVT in a future home but at this point, I’m very happy with my engineered wood flooring and would probably choose it again over LVT as long as my budget allowed this.
I hope this post has helped you to better understand the differences between LVT flooring vs engineered wood. If you want to dive a little deeper and follow my guided approach to making design decisions for your home, be sure to download my *FREE* Design Decision worksheet!