What is Luxury?
What exactly does luxury mean? According to Merriam-Webster it would be something that provides pleasure, satisfaction or ease – that is sumptuous. According the Urban Dictionary it would be an indulgence, something elegant something expensive that brings great pleasure. According to the flooring industry luxury means vinyl. What just happened?!
Luxury and Vinyl Flooring
We ask just how did those two terms get linked together as they are truly an oxymoron, a complete contradiction. Vinyl has never had the reputation of being luxurious or sought after to make a space sumptuous but somehow over the past several years the oh so clever flooring industry and the Chinese manufacturers have slowly evolved the term “luxury vinyl” into a mainstay phrase that excites many consumers. Even though IT WILL NOT ADD VALUE TO YOUR HOME!
How Vinyl Flooring is Made
Let’s look at how this flooring material is put together… LVT and LVP (luxury vinyl tile and luxury vinyl flooring/planks) are made up of poly vinyl chloride a compound that is hazardous from its making to its disposal.
The LVT and LVP are comprised of several layers
1.) vinyl backing layer
2.) vinyl core
3.) print film layer
4.) polyurethane coating which is the clear protective wear layer
To fuse these layers they must go through multiple processes – starting with the compound made up of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and calcium carbonate. The compound is then heated while rollers roll and squeeze this plastic based material into a sheet. Layers are then fused together with heat and pressure. First the backing layer, vinyl core, print film layer (which is a photo-created image of wood or stone – to resemble real materials) and topping it off is the clear protective “wear layer”. Simply put – manufacturers take some poly vinyl chloride (PVC – a known carcinogen and volatile compound) heat it up (get those fumes active in the air) spread it around, roll it out and heat it up more, then press a pattern in it and add a “photo” of real naturally existing materials such as wood or stone (they do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery) finally wrap it in a nice clear layer of some more good ‘ol PVC.
Regulations Surrounding Vinyl Flooring
But hey there are regulations on the materials right? Is vinyl flooring unhealthy? Vinyl products as they have morphed throughout the decades have always had scrutiny. Facts show that there have been many red flags about the health effects created by these products – in 1949 numerous workers repeatedly exposed to poly vinyl chloride developed liver cancer. In 1970 workers in a PVC plant were linked to a rare type of liver cancer called angiosarcoma – please take the time to refer to the story “The Plastic Coffin of Charlie Arthur” Rolling Stone Magazine published January 15 1976 – it is a compelling informative story that really sheds light on how exposure to poly vinyl chloride is truly detrimental to your health.
You’re probably thinking to yourself “Well now that was decades ago and surely the regulations have been tightened and made much, much more, safe to the health and well being of humans”. That would be correct, but even then, the poly vinyl chloride is still allowed to be used today in LVT and LVP and other widely used, PVC based products. The manufacturing plants today in fact try to spin the LVT as “eco-friendly” – after all they use wind powered turbines, solar power and use recycled materials. The story of “eco-friendly” products does make one feel warm and fuzzy – until you realize all of the eco-saving actions don’t negate the primary player at the heart of making LVP – poly vinyl chloride. Poly vinyl chloride is still used, which is inherently toxic and the chemical sensitivity builds and grows over time – stored in your tissues and fat in the body.
Why is Vinyl and Laminate Flooring So Popular?
If this is the case, why is LVP so popular? The biggest selling point is the “water-proof” aspect. Other positives are easy to repair, scuff resistant, affordable, looks like real wood (stop with the mimicry), easy installation and comfort. Now let’s take a closer look at these selling points…
Plastic is waterproof, however if enough water is present it will make its way down under the flooring from the outside edges. With a direct glue down LVP the water under the flooring and on top of the sub-floor can cause a “washout of the glue” which compromises the adhesion of the flooring. The biggest problem exists from the water sitting under the LVP it is virtually “trapped” there as the vinyl acts as a vapor barrier and does not allow evaporation which is needed to dry out the sub-floor. This means the sub-floor could be mildewed and so damaged it will have to be replaced. So, all the vinyl on top will have to be removed and may get damaged from removal if glued and will not be useable again.
Easy to Repair
Okay another point I will give in too as well. There is a reason however that this option of flooring is easy to repair, because you WILL have to repair portions of it at some time – it is not if, but when this will happen. It is scratch resistant, but not impervious to scuffing, it is also vulnerable to denting from larger objects such as furniture and those indents do not pop back out. It is also susceptible to ripping from sharp objects – a couple of sharp stones in your shoe will show you that in a heartbeat. This type of floor is also not a big fan of direct sunlight not only will it fade eventually, but the heat on this plastic will cause thermal expansion especially at the end joints. When thermal expansion happens over and over eventually it will on a floating floor cause the locking systems to disengage and become unstable and on glue down this effect will produce an issue with the bond of the glue. In fact, thermal expansion in one of the most destructive problems with LVT and LVP.
At first glance yes it appears to be affordable…however take into account that you may have to due extensive prep to your sub-floor if it is not perfectly level as vinyl planks tend to not line up well on un-even surfaces…Having to repair damaged , shrunk or faded planks adds up and eventually you will probably be riding the wave of the next fad flooring option and want to replace it. Remember the bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.
Looks like “real” wood – But it is not! Even the untrained eye can tell an imposter…just the sound of the vinyl rings false, the feel of the flooring is not as comfortable to walk on as true hardwoods, it cannot be re-finished like solid wood floors. There is a reason though for the impersonation of “real” wood and that is because it is truly luxurious and sought after – used for centuries in homes living on for generations gracing many homes all over the world.
In the end all the selling points for this material are moot – why invest in one of the largest parts of your home (the flooring) to have it be unhealthy, unsafe when wet, and IT WILL NOT ADD VALUE TO YOUR HOME!
Flooring Trends Over the Years
Many flooring trends have swept the world decade after decade – 40’s – Linoleum was king, 50’s – wall to wall carpeting was introduced, 60’s – textured flooring and colorful area rugs ruled, 70’s – grab your rake time to “groom” your avocado green shag carpet, 80’s – patterned carpet is in, 90’s – the arrival of laminate floors (also said to be indestructible and affordable), 2000’s – tile gains popularity…
With life’s trends sometimes you learn important lessons about how to wait and watch to see how glorious these new improved products really are…Not long ago there was a great scandal involving Lumber Liquidator’s and laminate flooring not made in this country, but still being labeled as compliant in the US…What we found out about this material was first of all it was not truly indestructible…a drop of a set of keys marred the paper thin laminella of faux wood immediately showing the ugly cardboard cores. Also, the biggest concern came to fruition – these mis-labeled products were truly not good for the consumers health with the amount of formaldehyde used in the construction of the floor. Not to mention all the off gassing of poisonous fumes permeating people’s homes and causing episodes of sickness in many people.
Sometimes it is just best to go back to your roots and embrace things that are tried and true – materials used for hundreds of years – material that give back to you and your family. Real Solid Hardwood Floors. Dating back until at least the early 1600’s wood floors were used in homes in many countries after all lumber from trees was readily available.
Benefits of Real Reclaimed Flooring
Solid Wide Plank Hardwood Flooring is a stunning, elegant and timeless choice for the flooring in your home. It is one of the oldest choices of flooring options, lasts a lifetime, easy to care for and maintain, affordable, added value to your home and the best part is it is a truly green eco-friendly choice.
When choosing carpet or vinyl you will find the necessity to change your flooring cover regularly – stains, tearing, wear all diminishes the lifetime of those materials. With unfinished or pre-finished hardwood flooring the life expectancy is more than 100 years with proper care and maintenance.
CARE AND MAINTENANCE
Solid Hardwood flooring is impervious to spills, simply wipe up the offending liquid and you are back to its original beauty unlike carpet which may or may not be able to be returned to its previous condition. Wood will not tear like vinyl. Carpet and vinyl both wear through, whereas if you notice in a high traffic area on your floor that the finish is wearing simply prep and recoat your floor.
It is a proven fact that in the real estate market homes with hardwood floors not only always appraise higher to comparable home with carpet and vinyl, but they also maintain higher re-sale values. Home buyers prefer the upgraded wood flooring and homes with the solid wood flooring sell faster.
Timber is one of earths most abundant and renewable materials. Gone are the days when forests are clear cut – many families own hardwood tree farms and the new trees planted are double what are harvested. There are also organizations who actively promote worldwide sustainable forest management that makes it possible to harvest timber without inflicting any serious damage to the planet’s ecosystem.
Real Hardwood is the Smarter Choice for Your Home
Hardwood Flooring is the superior choice for educated, earth conscious consumers. Another bonus on top of all the exceptional qualities of wood flooring is the health benefits, improved air quality in your home can be yours. It is next to impossible for dust mites, mold or mildew to take hold of hardwood flooring creating a much healthier indoor environment in your home especially if you suffer from allergies – a wood floor is not just a choice it is a necessity.
The pinnacle of solid wide plank hardwood flooring would be antique/reclaimed wide plank flooring – it is a class all by itself!
Coming from magnificent barns, factories, mines, bridges and long-ago abandoned buildings originates the souvenirs of our past written in wood. This wood reflects the battle scars of a previous life – nail holes, knots, insect borings, splits, checks and saw marks all come together in a dramatic fashion to create truly unique flooring weathered to a warm, aged, mellow tones speaking of the past.
Antique is the ultimate “green” choice and most reclaimed wood is of higher quality than anything on the market today. Recycling wood helps reduce material destined for waste disposal, it also renews the age-old beauty of the wood reclaimed from buildings that have outlived their usefulness, and recycling (salvaging) these buried treasures giving another generation a chance to enjoy these gifts from the past.
Antique and reclaimed hardwood flooring is not only a physical link to our past, but an heirloom to live on for many generations to come.
What more can be said about hardwood flooring? It is green, extremely low maintenance, distinct and dazzling varieties; durable beyond question, highly cost effective and it promotes a healthier lifestyle.
The choice is ultimately yours – gambling and riding the trends wave after wave (sounds exhausting to me) or staying with tested and proven real wood, the real true luxury….
Contact Us with Your Flooring Questions
We are passionate about flooring and are happy to answer any flooring questions you may have. Whether you are trying to figure out the best flooring option for your space, need a quote, or need flooring advice, we are here to help.