As a former high school Interior Design teacher, one of my favorite units to teach was flooring! My students weighed the pros and cons of different types of flooring and even calculated the cost for a small fixer upper. They were always surprised at how expensive it was!
After all, flooring is a big investment and a huge contributor to the overall aesthetic and functionality of a home.
Our home has beautiful engineered hardwood throughout the downstairs and carpet upstairs. Except last year we removed the carpet from the stairs and installed a stair runner! Click here for my step-by-step tutorial!
We’re working on our guest bedroom upstairs and decided to install new flooring in there! We plan to continue this flooring throughout the second floor with time.
After shopping both online and in stores, we decided to go with one of these two flooring types; luxury vinyl planks or engineered hardwood.
At the end of this post I’ll share what we decided to go with and why, but let’s start by defining the these two flooring options:
Engineered hardwood consists of multiple layers of building materials with a thin top layer of real hardwood on top.
The bottom layers beneath the real hardwood can vary, but often consist of plywood, particle board, or MDF.
Luxury Vinyl Planks (LVP)
Vinyl floors haven’t always had the best reputation, but we’ve come a long way since sheet vinyl. Now LVP is not only considered high-quality, but it’s one of the most popular flooring options.
Luxury vinyl planks (also referred to as vinyl plank flooring or LVP) are synthetic flooring planks that mimic the look, and sometimes feel, of real wood.
Luxury vinyl tile is essentially the same product, but cut to mimic the look of natural stones or ceramic tile.
5 Things to Consider
Engineered hardwood and vinyl plank flooring are two affordable alternatives to solid hardwood floors.
Like most products, there are varying levels of quality to choose from. A good quality version of luxury vinyl flooring is comparable in price to a mid-range quality engineered hardwood.
On the high end, engineered hardwood costs between $8-$13 a square foot. On the low end, it costs on average of $3-$5 a square foot.
Vinyl Plank Flooring
Luxury vinyl flooring costs on average $2-$7 a square foot, with some high-end versions costing up to $12 a square foot.
You also want to consider the fact that engineered hardwood will add value to your home. Since it is partially real wood, it’s considered the real deal.
This part goes hand in hand with budget. Are you planning to install the flooring yourself or would you hire out? Installation costs can be high so this is important to consider before making your decision!
There’s a few different ways you can install engineered hardwood. Floating floors would be the most DIY friendly.
You also have the option to glue down engineered hardwood to a concrete subfloor or nail/staple the flooring to a plywood subfloor.
If you plan to hire professionals, it could cost an additional $3 to $10 per square foot.
Vinyl Plank Flooring
Vinyl plank flooring is a popular choice due to easy installation! You can get a floating floor or a peel and stick option- both very DIY installation friendly!
To have vinyl plank flooring professionally installed, it can cost an additional $1 to $5 per square foot.
It’s no surprise that aesthetics are important to me, but let’s be real- they’re important to most people and definitely need to be considered when making a flooring decision.
Both engineered hardwood and vinyl plank flooring have lots of options in terms of grains, colors, finishes, and plank widths.
The best part about engineered flooring (in my opinion) is the fact that you’re getting the true look, and feel, of solid hardwood flooring. Natural wood has so much warmth and character and that’s hard to beat!
Vinyl Plank Flooring
A quality vinyl flooring does a great job of closely resembling the look of real wood. Some versions of LVP even have a raised grain texture.
But at the end of the day, vinyl flooring is made of synthetic material so you won’t get the same aesthetic or feel of hardwood like you can with engineered wood flooring.
Why is the sheen important?
When shopping for flooring it’s easy to get caught up looking at the color of the flooring, but you should also pay attention to the sheen.
The sheen refers to the level of glossiness! I have a summary of the different paint finishes in this blog post. I know we’re not talking about paint here, but it’s the same exact idea!
The higher the sheen, the more you’ll notice imperfections and dirt. On the contrary, a higher sheen can have a more elegant, polished look!
A matte finish (low gloss) flooring will hide imperfections and dirt, but some may feel a matte look has too dull of a finish.
Durability is a huge factor to consider before deciding what flooring is the best option for your home. Here’s a few things to ask yourself first:
- Do you have pets or young children?
- Where do you plan to use this flooring?
- What do you use the space for?
- Is it a room where you’re regularly using water?
Since the top layer of engineered hardwood is real wood, it’s prone to scratches and chipping. However, some brands use a protective finish to help prevent this.
Engineered hardwood can also fade due to sun exposure. You’ll want to use rugs or close the blinds in areas that get a lot of sun.
Engineered hardwood has a lifespan of about 20-40 years.
Vinyl Plank Flooring
Most would argue that luxury vinyl plank flooring is a better choice in terms of durability. Vinyl plank flooring is usually both water resistant and scratch resistant. Especially the high quality options.
However, vinyl plank flooring can still dent or tear with heavy weight furniture. Just like engineered hardwood, it can also fade from sun exposure.
Vinyl plank flooring has a lifespan of about 5 to 25 years.
Some flooring options require more maintenance than others due to the flooring materials!
With a natural material like wood, you have to be a little more careful taking care of your floors.
Engineered hardwood is water resistant, but not waterproof! The natural hardwood layer is still susceptible to water damage and can warp. I recommend following your flooring manufacturer’s instructions for care.
If you choose a higher quality engineered hardwood with a top layer greater than 2mm, you can even sand and refinish the floors just like traditional hardwoods. This is a really awesome benefit!
vinyl plank flooring
Since LVP is a synthetic material, it doesn’t require much special care. Just regular maintenance like sweeping or using a wet mop from time to time!
What we chose for our new floors
After considering these 5 things, we decided on this luxury vinyl wide plank flooring. Here’s why:
LVP is more budget friendly for the quality standard we wanted. If we got engineered hardwood, we would have wanted a higher quality option which would ultimately cost more per square foot.
In terms of LVP quality, it’s ideal to get a thickness of 5-8mm and one that has a good warranty.
The flooring we chose has a 7mm thickness and a lifetime residential warranty!
This was our first time installing flooring and we knew LVP was very DIY friendly!
One of the nice things about installing vinyl plank flooring over engineered hardwood is that you can use a utility knife for straight cuts! (for trickier cuts we used a jigsaw)
Honestly, both flooring options had so many beautiful choices!
I love the look of this one because it’s a medium tone “wood” with a beautiful “grain”. It has the perfect amount of warmth to it!
We chose a nice quality LVP in hope that it holds up well! We have two cats so we took that into consideration when making this choice!
This wasn’t a huge factor in our choice, but the easier to take care of, the better! We don’t need waterproof flooring upstairs, but it definitely doesn’t hurt either.
It’s clear that vinyl plank flooring and engineered hardwood floors are both great options for any home.
It’s difficult to say which type of flooring is the better option. They have a lot of similarities, but also some major differences. Not to mention the various quality levels for both.
Before making your final decision, think about your situation and what would be the best choice for you and your family!
Here’s a chart summarizing the main differences:
Here’s the final look of the LVP in our French vintage guest bedroom! Click here for all the details on this space!
I hope this post was helpful! Please let me know if you have any additional questions. I’m happy to help 🙂