Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Hardwood Floors or Vinyl Wood Plank flooring - What are the differences?

What is better hardwood flooring or vinyl planks that look like wood? With the recent upswing in the popularity of vinyl planks, it's a question that is frequently asked. Reviews of the newer luxury vinyl plank and tile floors have been very positive and it's an option may are now considering. There are some distinct advantages that both hardwood flooring and vinyl wood plank floors have over each other. Let's take a look at the 2 choices and their differences.

  1. The Look of the floor - It's hard to beat the real thing! Hardwood is a natural floor. There are no patterns and the wood planks each have their own unique character. Hardwood boards can take the color of the stain applied ever so slightly different than one another. These natural variations create a great look that just can't be simulated with vinyl. However, the luxury vinyl products being manufactured today are light years ahead of the vinyl that was used in your Grandmother's kitchen! With new technology like registered embossing, not only can you see the wood grain look in vinyl planks, you can also feel the grain. It's actually pretty amazing. You will be very surprised when you see a luxury vinyl plank floor down. I have had many instances where a customer was standing on a Karndean vinyl plank floor (Karndean is a high quality vinyl tile and plank manufacturer that we sell at Beckler's Carpet in Dalton, Ga) and actually thought it was real hardwood. In most cases, you may be fooled!

  2. Durability - I can go on and on about this. Hardwood may last almost forever, but vinyl, wood looking planks will hold up better for cleaning, stain resistance, mold resistance, scratches, scuffs, and will need no refinishing. Luxury vinyl planks win this category hands down.

  3. Cost - You will be surprised that there is not much of a price difference. You can get hardwood closeout deals under $2.00 a foot if you look hard enough. Vinyl plank wood like floors start around $1.50 per foot. The better quality planks begin in the $2 per foot range similar to hardwood pricing. Installation cost vary dramatically across the country. Vinyl planks in some areas cost slightly less to install but not enough to make a significant difference between the two.

  4. Adding value to your home - Hardwood floors (as well as other natural floors like ceramic, stone, marble, etc) will add value to your home if you ever try to sell it. Vinyl planks will not. Luxury vinyl is not nearly the drawback that traditional vinyl is but in the minds of consumers it's still not the real thing.

  5. Water issues in kitchens, bathrooms, basements etc. - There is no comparison. Vinyl planks will win this argument 100% of the time. Hardwood floors, even engineered hardwood hate moisture, water leaks spills etc. Luxury vinyl wood planks are not affected by water. The absolute worst case with vinyl plank flooring is the planks adhesive is compromised and the planks have to be installed. With hardwood flooring, if you have a dishwasher leak the entire floor or most of it will have to be replaced.

  6. Large pets - Again, vinyl planks are the winner. Luxury vinyl holds up much better than hardwood with scratches, dents, pet accidents (do not stain or absorb the odor), or ever have to be refinished.

  7. Sound - OK, this is a weird one but some consumers like the sound of walking on hardwood. Luxury vinyl cannot simulate the same sound as walking on a 3/4" solid oak floor.

  8. Warmth to the feet - This is another odd difference some customers mention. A hardwood floor can seem "cold" to bare feet or feet with socks (some say this about ceramic as well). Vinyl will hold warmth better on the surface and will have a much warmer feel, especially on those cold mornings when you get out of bed!

As you can see, it is not clear cut which is the better floor. When comparing hardwood floors to vinyl wood plank flooring, you have to consider what the most important features are that you are looking for and need.

Whether you decide on hardwood or vinyl planks, please give us a call at BecklersCarpet.com, 1-800-232-5537. We carry all major brands of wood flooring including Bruce, Anderson, BR-111, Shaw, Mohawk, Robbins and many others. Beckler's also sell virtually every major brand of luxury vinyl plank including, Nafco, Karndean, Konecto, and Mannington. You can view all of our luxury vinyl plank and tile products on BecklersCarpet.com.

We are based in Dalton, Ga just an hour North of Atlanta, 30 minutes South of Chattanooga, and within 2 hours of Birmingham, Huntsville, Knoxville and Nashville. We will also gladly send you a sample directly to your doorstep of any product we carry. Just give us a call. 1-800-232-5537. We look forward to hearing from you!


  1. I had a question. I understand that it can be difficult to purchase the proper amount of hardwood flooring because grain, knots and texture can interfere with the fit. We've agreed to purchase the wood from an online dealer already (www.floormall.com). My question is, is there any way to better prepare the fit? What advice would you give your long distance customers?

  2. Hello Renee!

    To better prepare the fit for installation your installer should be able to handle this. He will let the wood set in the house or garage for a few days probably to let the wood adjust to the home's temp and humidity levels. As far as sub floor prep, leave that to him.

    If your wondering about making sure you have purchased enough, it depends quite a bit on the grade of wood you purchased and the installer's abilities. If you're putting in a cabin grade or tavern grade wood, buying 15% extra is a good idea (some recommend as low as 10% and others as high as 20%). If you are purchasing a select grade or a blend of #1 and select, 5%-7% or so should cover you and that is only to give your installer extra flexibility on board lengths.

    I'm not sure if this answers the question or not, but if not, just email me at ericdyer@ymail.com and I'll see if I can get you a better answer! Good luck with your floor, I hope it turns out great!

  3. I am having a playhouse built for my daughters. We live in Austin, TX where outside temps are common to be 100 in the summer, plus humidity. Originally I had thought of using vinyl planks so that it was more durable... but now I am concerned about the temperatures and how they will affect the flooring. Is there one type of flooring over another that is favorable. I would prefer to not install any tile. Thanks.