Most major resilient flooring manufacturers produce luxury vinyl plank flooring. To meet the needs of the widest possible array of consumers, these companies offer a vast, often bewildering, overlapping number of product lines. Major flooring manufacturer Armstrong takes a different approach. They whittle down what could potentially be a massive collection of luxury vinyl plank floors to just a couple: Luxe Plank and Vivero Plank. Within these brands are a few variations that give consumers several solid choices, but not too many choices as to be confusing or redundant.
Armstrong: Mainline, Multi-Faceted Flooring Company
Armstrong stands out as one of the top names in flooring for over a century, especially in resilient flooring. While the name alone does not guarantee the quality, its products are represented transparently and fairly. Should you run into problems with the flooring later, the company most likely will still be in business so that you can call in the warranty.
At the same time, this means that Armstrong will rarely be the cheapest plank vinyl you can buy. Nothing in Armstrong's catalog can ever be classed as rock-bottom cheap (though its .11-inch thick line is its most economical product). Also, few (if any) of its products are found on the shelves of your local home center for do-it-yourself installation. To purchase Armstrong luxury vinyl plank, you usually need to go through a qualified retailer, such as a full-service floor coverings store or a home design firm.
Three Quality Tiers: Good, Better, and Best
Armstrong Luxury Vinyl Plank is divided into two brands: Luxe and Vivero. Vivero itself is divided into three tiers of quality: Good, Better, Best. Within this pricing structure are differences in thickness, simulated wood species, edge treatments, and board sizes.
Of all of the qualities that define vinyl plank flooring, the thickness is one of the most important. Vinyl plank, in general, is inherently thin; so, the thicker, the better. A thicker plank means deeper embossing, and deeper usually translates to better. This means the plank has a more realistic look. Best category planks are over one-third thicker than the lowest-end Good category planks.
|Total Thickness||Thickness Difference|
|Good||0.11 inches or 2.79 mm||N/A|
|Better||0.13 inches or 3.3 mm||17 percent thicker than Good|
|Best||0.16 inches or 4.06 mm||37 percent thicker than Good and 21 percent thicker than Better|
Simulated Rare Woods
Similar to that of other plank vinyl manufacturers, Armstrong's wood species pricing structure highlights the difference between reality and perception. The term "wood species" refers to the type of tree it is: oak, birch, pine, and the like. Some species are rarer or uncommon, and thus are more expensive than others. Species such as red oak and pine are inexpensive.
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-rare and expensive woods you would pay dearly for if they were real wood: walnut, amendoim, and fruitwoods.
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). Simulated wood, whether laminate or plank vinyl, mirrors this milling treatment.
It is important to go in the direction of beveled edges with a vinyl plank, as this gives this thin product the illusion of being thicker. As such, the Good category gets the square-edge treatment, while the other two categories get beveled edges.
Length of Planks
Higher-end planks are a more traditional 48 inches long, making installation faster (fewer boards to lay) and a better look. The lowest end Armstrong is a shorter 36 inches long.
5G, FasTak, and Full Spread Joining Systems
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 a kind of adhesive-free tongue and groove generically called click/lock or with pre-applied adhesive.
FasTak and Full Spread are Armstrong's lower-end joining systems. FasTak attaches "to the subfloor with repositionable self-adhesive for a bond that holds fast and bonds tight," according to company documentation. Full Spread is the traditional method of installing resilient tile, where the entire back of the product is covered with adhesive.
Armstrong has jettisoned its Lynx click/lock system in favor of a vastly superior system called 5G. With the vinyl plank, one issue that has long stymied developers is side locking. Once the long side has been locked into place, the side needs to be locked, too. But it is difficult to know if the sides are firmly in place before proceeding to the next board. Licensed from the Norwegian company Valiange, the 5G system provides both a positive lock (meaning that it is either locked or it is not) and an audible "click" when the sides are fully engaged.
With improvements in quality come higher prices. Naturally, Armstrong's tiers increase in price as you move from Good to Best.
Setting Good as a base price, the Better tier is roughly 25 percent more expensive than Good.
Best is roughly between 35 and 40 percent more expensive than Good and between 10 to 15 percent more expensive than Better.
Prices are based on a homeowner-installed 10-foot by 10-foot floor.
Armstrong Luxe and Vivero planks have a universal warranty. This universal warranty coincides with flooring warranties offered by other companies.
The main difference between the product lines is the length of the warranties. Good planks are 15 years; Better planks are 30 years; and Best planks last a lifetime.
The main downside is that the warranty cannot be transferred from one homeowner to the next. This means that you cannot offer a flooring warranty as part of the sales pitch when putting your house up for sale.