Luxury Vinyl Tile vs. Hardwood Flooring

When Emulation Beats the Original: Luxury Vinyl Tile vs. Hardwood

Hardwood flooring has been around long enough that it used to hold the distinction as the standard in flooring material. However, luxury vinyl tile has come a long way, and when you explore the dividing factors between today’s luxury vinyl tile versus hardwood, it becomes clear that vinyl can rival hardwood flooring in many areas. Luxury wood design vinyl planks are now a modern, beautiful, effective and affordable flooring solution — even (and in some cases, especially) compared to hardwood.

To best illustrate the comparable characteristics of luxury vinyl tile vs. hardwood flooring, let’s break flooring down into five quantifiable qualities:

  • Look & Style,
  • Durability & Stability,
  • Environmental Impact,
  • Application and
  • Cost.

Side by side, you may be surprised to find that luxury vinyl tile is not only a suitable solution, but a preferable one — the best flooring solution.

Look & Style 

Luxury Vinyl Tile vs. Hardwood Flooring

Let’s start with what would seem to be the obvious: hardwood floors are timelessly beautiful. Even a vinyl flooring manufacturer would agree. However, hardwood’s look and style is limited by several factors including but not limited to availability of wood species and ease and possibility of customization and design.

It should be noted that all of these factors, at their root, are driven by other factors (which will be discussed shortly). Simply put, the customer pays for every individual aspect of look and style — aspects that are innately characteristic of luxury vinyl tile.

Hardwood flooring is inarguably beautiful. It comes in many colors, qualities and styles. However, these styles are 2-3 times more expensive than luxury vinyl wood planks which already include the additional looks and styles that must be purchased for hardwood.

Luxury vinyl, on the other hand, sidesteps each of these price factors by its nature. The look of vinyl is essentially a photographic image layer between the backing and the clear wear layer. With constant and exponential developments in digital photography and image editing/manipulation, luxury vinyl tile designers need only photograph the desired wood species (or any other subject) to create a nature-realistic product. The uniformity of the luxury vinyl production process also translates to a lower cost.

There is the notion, of course, that anyone can tell the difference between real hardwood and wood vinyl planks. This is becoming less and less the case as the technologies behind photography and manufacturing evolve. Along with the aforementioned nature-realistic imaging now possible through modern photographic and editing techniques, some luxury vinyl tile producers have employed advanced printing techniques that create wear layer texturization. This means that your wood vinyl planks not only look like real hardwood — they feel like it too. So, unless your clients are inspecting it up close on their hands and knees, luxury vinyl tile will not be discernible from real hardwood.

There is a noticeable difference between hardwood and commodity wood design vinyl planks. However, modern technology has made those differences extremely difficult to recognize in a luxury vinyl tile flooring, which gives you a near-perfect hardwood look for a fraction of the cost.

Hardwood Flooring

  • Hardwood flooring is timelessly beautiful.
  • Comes in many colors, qualities and styles.
  • Can be 2-3 times more expensive than LVT.

Luxury Vinyl Tile

  • Thanks to technology, differences between hardwood and wood design LVT are extremely difficult to recognize.
  • Near-perfect hardwood look for a fraction of the cost.

Durability & Stability

Luxury Vinyl Tile vs. Hardwood Flooring-03

Before discussing the durability and stability of vinyl vs. hardwood, we should define the terms, as they seem similar.

Durability: Hardness of the flooring — especially its topmost wear layer. The more durable a flooring, the more use it can take.

Stability: Governed by the thickness of the whole and/or makeup of layers and quality of materials. Stable flooring material holds its shape and size against moisture and/or climate changes.

As a natural material, hardwood floors suffer in both durability and stability. A well-kept hardwood floor requires vigilant maintenance. Wood, being a porous material, is susceptible to liquid and climate damage and is therefore not suitable for bathrooms or other rooms where spills and moisture is common. In addition, the only provision for durability of hardwood is in a polyurethane coating. This makes it very unsuitable for commercial or high-traffic applications, as the coating needs regular removal and reapplication.

Hardwood can be durable and stable, with constant upkeep. It is however, because of its porous nature and requirement for protective coating, limited in application to non-moisture-prone, low traffic areas.

As a synthetic material, luxury vinyl floors are, by nature, resistant to moisture and climate. Parterre’s luxury vinyl, for example, is made with high quality vinyl — manufactured with multi-directional base layers under a flat, hot press method. This gives the flooring a memory for straightness that holds up under reasonable moisture and temperature changes. Luxury wood vinyl planks also, unlike hardwood, have an extremely hard, durable wear layer. Due to its durability, warranties last up to 20 years (and Parterre products often outlast their warranties). Created under great heat and pressure, the many layers of luxury vinyl tile make it extremely durable and stable.

Luxury vinyl tile is extremely durable and stable, with little to no upkeep. Its hard wear layer makes it long-lasting and applicable to nearly any situation. Most warranties grant use under commercial conditions.

Hardwood Flooring

  • Hardwood flooring is both durable and stable.
  • Requires constant upkeep.
  • Limited in application to non-moisture-prone, low traffic areas.

Luxury Vinyl Tile

  • Extremely durable and stable.
  • Little to no upkeep.
  • A hard wear layer makes LVT long-lasting and applicable to nearly any situation.

Environmental Impact

Luxury Vinyl Tile vs. Hardwood Flooring

It would seem that since hardwood is a natural material (a “renewable” resource) and vinyl is made from a synthetic material, that the former would be the most eco-friendly. This is simply not the case. While trees are technically renewable, deforestation rates far outweigh the limited efforts to replant and regrow forests of new trees.

Parterre’s luxury vinyl flooring is 100% recyclable, contains 45% recycled content and is made from a synthetic (PVC) whose main component is an extremely abundant resource — salt. Instead of continually cutting down swaths of sometimes rare and exotic trees, vinyl flooring requires only a photograph of a part of a tree.

Hardwood Flooring

  • While trees are technically renewable, deforestation rates far outweigh the limited efforts to replant and regrow forests of new trees.

Luxury Vinyl Tile

  • Parterre LVT is made from 45% recycled material and is 100% recyclable.

Applications

Luxury Vinyl Tile vs. Hardwood Flooring-03

Wood flooring can be used in commercial settings, but only with constant upkeep. Its thin polyurethane coating is a sub-par wear layer (especially compared to luxury vinyl tile). Constant heavy traffic common to retail, corporate and office settings would require frequent, time consuming and expensive maintenance. And in terms of hospitality and healthcare, wood flooring is not nearly hygienic or durable enough. Hardwood is suitable for sports and residential use but the cost alone is enough to put any potential buyer off.

While wood flooring can be installed in some of these applications, the implications of its use carries far more cons than pros.

Luxury vinyl tile is the perfect flooring solution for your next project, no matter your design. Its resistance to moisture makes it perfect for supermarket’s produce areas or kitchens and bathrooms. The stability and durability with which it is manufactured equips it for commercial use in retail, hospitality, healthcare, educational, residential and sports settings. And due to its limitless customization options and ease of maintenance, each application is hassle-free and exactly what you want — no compromises.

When it comes to luxury vinyl vs. wood flooring, there is no side-by-side competition. Any suitable application for wood flooring is either equaled or surpassed by luxury vinyl at the very least in terms of cost.

Hardwood Flooring

  • Can be used in commercial settings, but requires constant upkeep.
  • Suitable for sports and residential use, but can be costly.

Luxury Vinyl Tile

  • Moisture resistant.
  • Stability and durability suitable for commercial use.
  • Limitless customization.

Cost

Cost is not only a baseline factor, with the average hardwood floor costing between $8–$25/sq. ft. to luxury vinyl’s $2–$5/sq. ft., it is also a factor that increases the price gap between luxury vinyl vs. wood flooring. To properly maintain hardwood, treatment and refinishing, time and money must be spent. In order to procure the most environmentally-conscious woods, cost rises exponentially. And in addition to the material and upkeep, the installation and transportation of hardwood flooring can also add to the cost.

In the simplest terms: the cheapest hardwood is more expensive than top-of-the-line luxury vinyl tile, which has all of the aforementioned benefits included by the very nature of its material.

Hardwood Flooring

  • $8–$25/sq. ft. average cost.
  • Regular maintenance and treatment costs.

Luxury Vinyl Tile

  • $2–$5/sq. ft. average cost.
  • Minimal maintenance costs.

Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) vs. Hardwood: An Overview

OVERVIEW

Look & Style

LVT is more affordably customizable, and is nearly indistinguishable from hardwood looks. It also comes in a wider range of options and with a controllable consistency.

Cost

Hardwood costs 2-3 times more than LVT, making LVT the more affordable option by far.

Durability & Stability

LVT requires far less upkeep and is less susceptible to moisture and climate.

Applications

LVT is effective for far more applications including high-traffic, commercial uses.

If you found this comparison of luxury vinyl tile vs. hardwood flooring helpful, you can find more information on our blog, including a recent post entitled “Why is Vinyl Flooring The Fastest Growing Material?” We at Parterre are not only the leaders in modern, high-quality luxury vinyl tile, we’re artists dedicated to creating stunning luxury vinyl floors. Let us help you fully realize your next project with the perfect flooring choice.

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