September '22 Home Insights
==> We’re discussing the most popular flooring product on the market: luxury vinyl plank (LVP).
INVESTING IN LVP
Luxury vinyl plank is the fastest growing flooring product, and for good reason. I personally had it recently installed in 2 rental properties last year and I’m a satisfied customer. Here is everything you need to know about LVP:
What is LVP and why is it so popular? Like the same suggests, LVP is made of vinyl, which is a manufactured composite that is durable, rigid, water-resistant, and beautiful. LVP is cheaper than hardwood, pricier than carpet, and has longevity somewhere in between. Based on what I’ve seen, most high quality LVP that has been properly installed should last for 20 years. LVP comes in every color and texture you can imagine, however, most LVP is made to resemble hardwood.
What does it cost? There are 5 cost centers for LVP:
1) Tear-out/disposal: To remove old flooring (unless you can install over it). You can hire someone to tear-out or you can do it yourself to save on costs.
2) Prep Work: Prep work consists of ensuring you have a level surface to install your new LVP. It requires you to remove floor staples from old carpet (if applicable) and to level uneven floors by using a self-leveling compound (like this). **Note – LVP is usually not a great option for concrete floor basements because they often require a lot of leveling and because LVP can be very cool to the touch, especially if a well-insulated underlayment is not used.
3) Materials: Selecting the best LVP product is paramount to its long-term performance. Generally, the thicker the wear layer, the better the overall quality and longevity. Wear layers range from thickness levels of 4-40 mil. I think you should aim for a 12+ mil wear layer for your own home and 20 mil for investment properties.
** Note I purchased LVP with 12 mil for my investment properties and I wish now that I had gone thicker.
Further, I recommend finding LVP that is waterproof (not simply water-resistant) and that you buy LVP that is scratch-resistant. The best way to test how scratch resistant LVP is, is by seeing how easy it is to scratch it using your car key. Don’t worry, you can do this at the store on a sample plank – store employees see this “scratch test” frequently so don’t feel like you’ll get yelled at ; ).
Once you’ve obtained your 12-20 mil LVP that is waterproof and scratch resistant, then you need to look at price. Pricing typically ranges from $2-$4.50+/sq ft. I recommend paying around $3.50-$4/sq ft. You won’t be sorry!
Many LVP products come with built-in underlayment. If yours doesn’t, make sure you buy the proper underlayment per the manufacturer’s install instructions.
4) Labor: Great LVP installed poorly looks terrible, so don’t skimp here. You probably shouldn’t be paying more than 50% of the total project cost on labor, so try to find a happy medium here! Reference my “What Did I Learn?” section below regarding install regrets.
5) (Re)Install baseboards: When you install LVP, you can: a) remove baseboards and reinstall later b) remove baseboards and replace with new baseboards c) leave existing baseboards in place and install quarter-round after install (reference photo below). Your call. Installing new baseboards is the cleaner, highest aesthetic option, but it’s your call.
As mentioned, last summer, I hired contractors to install LVP in two of my rental properties. Below is cost detail and final photos. As always, I’m happy to share my contractor contacts – just reach out!
Final Project Costs
Final Project Aesthetic
What Did I Learn & What Would I Do Over Again?
-The LVP product I selected was 12 mil – good for my own home, but poor for my rentals; for now, the flooring looks great, however I’m not sure this flooring will last the 20 years I desired when I installed it; we will see!
-The LVP product I selected is just okay at resisting scratches. Recently I’ve discovered LVP products that are nearly scratch-proof! I wish I had known about these sooner! I like Home Depot’s Lifeproof product at $3.30/sf (link) for residential purposes and I like Lowe’s Shaw Farrier Product even more at $3.60/sft (link) for both residential or commercial purposes. Shaw is also available via Costco and I think you can get it for even cheaper there!
-My subcontractor did an okay job installing, however there were numerous places he was less than accurate with his rubber mallet/tapper and broke off parts of the tongue/locking piece that fits into the groove. Aesthetically it doesn’t look good in places where this happened and I do have concerns over the durability of those particular planks. I know epoxy resin exists where I can fill these areas in, but had I inspected my contractor’s work more often, I could have asked him to swap out these planks before the entire room had been complete and perhaps prevented it from happening.
*Note, the above links are for your convenience. We do not earn any money off orders placed through the links.