When you look at luxury vinyl plank flooring from a distance, brands and types may seem to blend together. Even the lowest quality luxury vinyl plank floor can put on a good show when you don't examine it too carefully. But when you install the flooring, see it up close, touch it, and walk on it, the best types of vinyl plank flooring quickly rises to the top.
The main points that differentiate the better vinyl plank flooring from adequate, inexpensive vinyl plank flooring hinge on factors such as thickness, core, wear layer, quality of register embossing, and the quality of the visual layer. Other qualities that help boost a brand or type of vinyl plank flooring include the size of the selection, the company's reputation and its longevity, and the flooring warranty. Reviewing such criteria, six vinyl plank floors or series of floors are considered the best you can purchase and install in your home.
Watch Now: 7 Things To Consider Before You Get Vinyl Flooring
Home Depot LifeProof Vinyl Plank Flooring
Home Depot tends to be at the forefront of economically priced home products, including floor coverings. Often, what Home Depot lacks in depth of selection, it makes up for with in-stock accessibility.
Home Depot's vinyl plank flooring it is worthy of notice: LifeProof. Like the popular Behr paint or Glacier Bay bath accessories, LifeProof is a Home Depot brand that can be found in no store other than Home Depot. Connecticut-based Halstead International is responsible for producing luxury vinyl flooring labeled under LifeProof.
Thin vinyl plank flooring can be difficult to seam. LifeProof, though, is a full 7 mm thick, so boards drop and lock with ease and manage to stay seamed without the distinctive parting that is found with many vinyl plank floors.
LifeProof's thickness means that this is a vinyl plank floor that looks and feels like laminate flooring. Its thickness provides a soft footfall and some insulation against cold subfloors. Unlike laminate flooring, it will never absorb water and deteriorate since it is made entirely of polymer-based materials. LifeProof has an attached underlayment, a feature found in almost none of the thin vinyl plank flooring products.
Qualities to Avoid in Low-Quality Vinyl Plank
- Too thin: 2 mm thick or less
- Repetitive patterning
- Short warranty
- Inferior fold-and-lock system
If LifeProof board patterns are too repetitive, a comment echoed by some customers, this downside can be mitigated by a patient and inventive dry-fit ahead of the final installation. Open up several boxes at the same time to give yourself a full range of choices between planks.
If anything, the factor that makes LifeProof flooring so attractive is its typically low price point that undercuts most other brick-and-mortar suppliers of vinyl plank flooring except for Lumber Liquidators.
Shaw Resilient Vinyl Flooring
Shaw is serious about luxury vinyl plank flooring. Currently running three different lines: DuraTru, Floorté, and Floorté Pro. Each of these lines, in turn, has between four and twelve color or species variations.
Shaw's offerings encompass the full gamut of the upper-end luxury vinyl plank market. Rather than toeing the line of normal. Shaw likes to push the envelope. In fact, one Shaw offering that is clearly the child of their luxury vinyl planks is an unusual product: a long, narrow carpet plank called Floorigami.
Be prepared for everything from Shaw to cost just a bit more; nothing from this established, respected company can ever be considered to be rock-bottom cheap. So many luxury vinyl quality points pivot on thickness. Shaw's luxury vinyl plank flooring lines are all at least 5 mm thick, usually thicker.
For flooring to top out at a full 1/4-inch thick is impressive, considering that industry-wide, luxury vinyl plank tends to average about half that thickness. Additionally, wear layers are a full 20 mil thick.
Armstrong Luxe Plank, Vivero
Armstrong has long been a top manufacturer of floor coverings. Armstrong's major vinyl plank line is called Luxe Plank.
Along with its large selection of luxury vinyl planks—currently, 108 species replicas—Armstrong makes your purchase decision simple by splintering their products into three quality designations, Good, Better, and Best.
Most of Armstrong's wood-style planks address safe, crowd-pleasing favorites like maple, oak, walnut, and jatoba. In the Best category, Luxe ranges outward with trendy wood treatments like weathered barn wood and exotics like amendoim, a type of Brazilian oak.
Armstrong luxury vinyl plank flooring depends on self-stick adhesive that the company calls FasTak to join the boards, whether alone or in conjunction with a click-and-lock function. Unlike flooring adhesives of the past, FasTak is a lower-tack, pressure-sensitive adhesive that can be repositioned a number of times.
Mannington Adura Rigid Plank
Mannington's Adura brand of luxury vinyl plank flooring is an industry mainstay. If you like tradition served up with your luxury vinyl, Adura is the one.
Adura stands out as a cost-effective method of adding quality luxury vinyl plank flooring to your home with 4-inch by 36-inch dimensions and 4 mm or greater thicknesses. Adura's teaks, oaks, and maples are solid, basic replica wood species for your moderately priced kitchen remodel, basement finishing, kids' bedroom, or second bathroom.
Mannington has joined the rigid-core vinyl plank crowd with Adura Rigid, a line that includes full 6-inch by 48-inch sizes, micro-beveled edges, and many dark, soothing colors. Embossing is complex and true-to-life. While the Adura Rigid Plank series is not huge, at 46 different wood species replicas, it should have one for most homeowners' tastes. By virtue of its rigid core, Adura Rigid is 5 1/2 millimeters thick: an adequate though not an overly thick product.
Lumber Liquidators CoreLuxe Ultra
If Shaw, Armstrong, and Mannington represent the flooring industry old guard, Lumber Liquidators is still the disruptive upstart, though an upstart that is about two decades old. Lumber Liquidators always does things a bit differently. It is this rebellious quality that brings customers into their stores, chiefly with its flash sales, fall parking lot sales, grab-bag mystery products that simply go under the name Major Brand, and inexpensive clearance products.
Lumber Liquidators' best house brand for luxury vinyl plank flooring is CoreLuxe Ultra 7mm. Lumber Liquidators calls its rigid core vinyl plank engineered vinyl plank (EVP). Currently, its selection of 7 mm CoreLuxe is limited to only 14 wood species, but some of the species are head-turners, like the heavily striated Timber Wolf Pine EVP and no less than three whitewashed, aged plank products.
As always, Lumber Liquidators carries its major house brand, Tranquility. Tranquility offers 5 mm luxury vinyl plank flooring in 48-inch lengths at 7-inch widths. In fact, half of the Tranquility brand is a decent 5 mm thick. Most notable of all, Tranquility is inexpensive. Even the most expensive Tranquility is still half the price of Shaw and Armstrong luxury vinyl plank products.
If you want ultra-thin luxury vinyl plank flooring, this is the place. Lumber Liquidators carries luxury vinyl plank flooring (not EVP) ranging down to the almost unheard of thickness of 1.3 mm. While you may not want to install ultra-thin luxury vinyl flooring in the most visible rooms of your primary residence, its drastically low price may be tempting for fast installation in an outbuilding, rental, beach vacation house, or even as a temporary floor for an ongoing remodel project.
Karndean Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring
Unlike Shaw, Armstrong, and Mannington, Karndean is not a name that rolls off of most U.S. homeowners' tongues. Well-known to U.K. buyers for over four decades, Karndean has slowly been making inroads into U.S. homes in recent years.
But Karndean wants to make one thing perfectly clear: its products are not mass-market, ultra-cheap, and boring. When you install Karndean flooring, it is assumed that you do not mind paying a bit more for luxury vinyl flooring that looks better and installs a bit differently than most other luxury vinyl plank products.
One unique offering is Karndean's wood parquet-look vinyl flooring that looks amazingly similar to the real wood product. Karndean tends to hew to classic looks like lush oaks and maples, all in planks that are 4 1/2 mm thick or more and have a 20 mil wear layer.
Also unusual is Loose Lay, a method of installation unique to Karndean that does not rely on click-and-lock or adhesive to join the planks. Instead, Loose Lay's planks friction-grip the floor with a heavy, soft backing. Planks butt directly against skirt boards on the perimeter and against each other. This smooth method of laying vinyl plank flooring helps you avoid those inevitable bumps and ridges that develop from planks that refuse to click or fold into place.