What is LVP flooring? LVP stands for luxury vinyl plank, a type of snap-together floating floor that competes with laminate flooring. It combines the durability of vinyl with the convenience and appearance of laminate. It’s an especially good choice in kitchens and bathrooms where moisture may be present.
Advantages of LVP flooring
LVP isn’t your grandmother’s vinyl. It’s still a plastic floor, so it’s highly water resistant. But instead of coming in rolls or tiles, it comes in planks that resemble other, costlier types of floor. Instead of the dated patterns that vinyl floor had in decades past, LVP resembles wood or stone, including the texture.
I’m not a fan of stone or ceramic tile. When my kids were small, any time we went somewhere with a tile kitchen, one or both of them inevitably fell and hurt themselves. Tile is also a liability if not installed correctly. Without the right subfloor prep, the floor shifts under your weight and eventually the tiles crack, or the grout cracks and comes up, or both. And now your expensive floor looks like a mess.
I have tile in some of my rental properties. Prospective tenants always ooh and ahh over it, but as my tile floors develop problems, I’m replacing them with LVP. The LVP is lower maintenance and much more kid-friendly. Kids are less likely to slip on it, and if they do fall, the impact is much lower.
Another advantage of LVP is that you can make it look like types of floor that are otherwise impractical. Barn wood is super trendy, for example. Good luck getting that look in real wood. But gray, weathered wood is no problem for LVP. So you can easily and inexpensively have that rustic look in any room in your house, including a kitchen or bathroom.
Installing LVP floor
LVP snaps together like a laminate floor does, but since it’s vinyl, it’s even easier. You have to cut laminate floor to length with a saw, but you don’t have to do that with plastic. To cut LVP to length, all you have to do is mark the length on the underside, then place it on a hard surface and place a square over it. Then scribe a line with a utility knife. By scribe, I mean cut a shallow groove into it. Then place your plank with the groove on the edge of your counter or tabletop. Hold then plank flush to the table with one hand, then apply pressure with your other hand on the other side of the groove. The plank will snap in two, with a nice clean break right along where you cut your groove.
It’s harder to describe than to do. There’s no need to set up a saw, and no messy sawdust to clean up. So the work goes very quickly.
Dealing with the wall
Vinyl doesn’t expand or contract as much as a laminate floor, but I leave a gap of 1/8 inch between the floor and the wall just in case. You can buy spacers, or you can cut strips of 1/8-inch hardboard to use as spacers. Leaving the gap also gives you some room to play with if your room isn’t perfectly square or one of your measurements is slightly off.
Remove your baseboards if you haven’t already. You’ll find you can pry them with a metal putty knife fairly easily.
Laying your LVP floor
Place your spacers up against the wall, then lay your first plank down in the corner. Snap pieces down lengthwise until you reach the end of the room, then cut the last piece to length. Then take the offcut and start your new row with it. It gets easier once you have a couple of rows down and the floor has some mass to it. I find it helps to have a helper stand on the floor while I’m snapping pieces onto it to help it keep from moving early on.
When you finish, place your baseboards back on the wall. If your baseboards aren’t quite thick enough to cover the gap, you can add some decorative molding to the bottom to thicken them up a bit. Any home improvement store has a good selection of molding. Simple quarter round is often the easiest option, the store will have other options as well.