Armstrong Luxury Vinyl Plank: Basics and Recommendations

Armstrong Luxe Vinyl Plank Flooring
Armstrong Luxe Vinyl Plank Flooring. © Armstrong

Armstrong whittles down what could potentially be a huge, confusing collection of luxury vinyl plank floors to just one.  They call it Luxe Plank.  Yet within Luxe Plank are a few confusing variations.  This guide helps you understand the totality of Armstrong vinyl plank flooring and suggests which type you should purchase.

Armstrong is an established company that's not going anywhere soon.

Much vinyl plank seems to come from questionable, even disreputable, companies.

 Armstrong has been one of the top names in flooring for over a century, especially with resilient, or vinyl, flooring.  While name alone does not guarantee quality, this means that its products are represented transparently and that the company is accountable should you run into problems with the flooring later on.  Unfortunately, this also means that Armstrong will never be the cheapest plank vinyl you can buy.

Its plank is priced in three tiers:  Good, Better, and Best.

Like the old Sears products, Armstrong Luxe Plank is broken up into three levels:  Good, Better, Best.  This pricing structure is interesting because, as detailed in sections below, I find only minor differences between the levels.  These differences are:  thickness, simulated wood species, edge treatment, and board size.

Thickness makes the plank.

Of all of the qualities that define vinyl plank flooring, thickness is one of the most important.

 Vinyl plank in general is inherently thin; so, the thicker, the better.  A thicker plank means better embossing, which leads to a more realistic look.  Best category planks are over a third thicker than the lowest-end Good category planks.

 Total ThicknessThickness Difference
Good0.11" or 2.79 mmN/A
Better0.13" or 3.3 mm17% thicker than Good.
Best0.16" or 4.06 mm37% thicker than Good.  21% thicker than Better.

You pay more for exotic woods, even though these are fake exotic woods.

Armstrong's pricing structure regarding wood species highlights the difference between reality and perception.  Keep in mind that whenever we say "wood species," we are discussing simulated or fake woods; there is no actual wood in vinyl plank flooring.

In the Good category are the more pedestrian species you would expect to pay less for if you were purchasing real wood:  pine, oak, and maple.  Moving up to the Best category, we find all of those super-exotic and -expensive woods you would pay dearly for if they were real wood:  walnut, amendoim, fruitwoods.

Square edges only in the lowest-end category; beveled edges in all others.

Plank edge treatment also contributes to the sense of depth and texture.  Real solid hardwood or engineered wood can have either square edges (90-degree angle) or beveled edges (roughly a 45 degree angle).  Fake wood, whether laminate or plank vinyl, mirrors this milling treatment.

I believe it is important to go in the direction of beveled edges with vinyl plank, as this gives this thin product the illusion of being thicker.  As such, the Good category of Luxe Plank gets the square-edge treatment, while the other two categories get beveled edges.

What's the reason for cutting boards shorter than 48"?

Higher end planks are a more traditional 48" long, making installation faster (less boards to lay) and a better look.  The lowest end plank, Good, is a miserly 36" long.  I see no reason for this, other than to establish an artificial difference between the two higher categories and the lowest category.

Adhesive joining system. No difference between Lynx and FasTak?

Vinyl plank flooring can attach in either of two ways:  floating (board-to-board, not to the sub-floor) or adhered to the sub-floor.  Board-to-board attachment can be either click/lock (a kind of adhesive-free tongue and groove) or with pre-applied adhesive.  

All Armstrong vinyl plank uses adhesive.  To complicate matters, they have two joining systems:  Lynx and FasTak.  When I spoke to an Armstrong representative, they said that there is no difference between the two, as they both use adhesive.

 This is only partially correct.  Lynx uses adhesive on interlocking edges.  FasTak attaches "to the subfloor with repositionable self-adhesive for a bond that holds fast and bonds tight," according to company documentation.  

Prices

Prices listed are approximate, based on Armstrong's cost estimator.  Prices change all the time, so look at these as factors more than actual dollar figures.  

The Good-to-Better jump is not worth your while, as you end up paying more money for a thinner difference in product. If you are flirting with the Better area, going up to the Best products offers the thickest difference in product at the lowest price difference.

 Price For 10'x10 DIY - AveragePrice Difference
Good$461N/A
Better$59726% more expensive than Good.
Best$68237% more expensive than Good.  13% more expensive than Better.

All Luxe planks share the same flooring warranty.

The only difference is the length of the warranties.  Good planks are 15 years; Better planks are 30 years; Best planks are lifetime.  This universal warranty is roughly along the lines of flooring warranties offered by other companies.  The main downside is that the warranty is not transferrable to the next homeowner.  This means that you cannot offer a flooring warranty as part of the sales pitch when putting your house up for sale.

Not widely available:  none in home improvement stores.

Another downside for do-it-yourselfers is that Armstrong vinyl plank is only found in a few retail outlets.  In my large metropolitan area, Seattle, only six outlets within 30 miles offer Armstrong plank.