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We have been seeing a lot about luxury vinyl plank flooring lately…
However, we’ve also noticed another trend– companies not selling it.
Vinyl flooring has been around in places like offices, restaurants and commercial spaces for a while.
And now we are seeing a big shift of luxury vinyl trending in homes. The champions of luxury vinyl planks say it’s a good alternative to hardwood flooring.
But what they aren’t telling you is that luxury vinyl flooring is not as sustainable or as economical as people think. And even worse, according to a study at Duke University, it can be hazardous to your health. Yep, you read that right (but more on that later).
So what exactly is luxury vinyl flooring and how does it work?
While there are variations of luxury vinyl flooring, depending on the type and brand, the above picture shows you the main layers that go into some luxury vinyl plank flooring.
In short, It’s flooring that’s made up of multiple layers of different materials that can help aid in its design which can look and even feel like hardwood.
There are two types of luxury vinyl plank flooring: Engineered vinyl planks (EVP) & luxury vinyl planks (LVP)
Luxury vinyl planks (LVP) are individual pieces of vinyl that come in different grades, offering varying levels of design options.
Engineered vinyl planks (EVP) are engineered in layers and are a segment of luxury vinyl flooring. From top to bottom the layers go from vinyl, high-density core board and is usually attached to a cork bottom.
So what do both LVP and EVP have in common?
While they offer a realistic look and sometimes feel of real hardwood, they ALL contain a variant of plastic, which is not safe for your home or the environment.
But what exactly constitutes “real” hardwood?
According to the National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA), real wood is a:
“hard fibrous material that forms from the main substance of the trunk or branches and beneath the bark of a tree. [And] a wood floor is any flooring product that contains real wood as the top-most, wearable surface of the floor.”
There are two main types of hardwood floors: Solid wood flooring & engineered wood flooring
Solid wood flooring is a solid piece of wood from top to bottom.
Engineered wood flooring is normally multiple wood veneers or slats of wood glued together, but you can rest assured they are real wood from top to bottom.
So why are luxury vinyl floors trending?
Vinyl plank flooring can be resilient to heavy foot traffic and can achieve a similar look and feel to other styles of flooring like hardwood.
Plus the proponents of vinyl say it’s easy to install and can be resilient against dings and dents.
Classic, never-goes-out-style hardwood offers the same benefits.
And while vinyl is promoted as being resilient, repairs can be a nightmare if you should need them depending on the installation method. Once vinyl flooring is laid, it’s hard to repair and will usually have to be replaced.
Whereas with hardwood, there is always the option to refinish and restain. Here are some endless color possibilities of hardwood for some inspiration!
Plus luxury vinyl floors don’t come close to offering the lifespan of what hardwood offers. We are talking about a lifetime with hardwood compared to the 10-20 years that you might get with vinyl flooring.
So why install luxury vinyl when hardwood could last up to 100 years, is cost effective and eco-friendly?
And those are just a few reasons why hardwood is a better choice, but check out more reasons why hardwood is the way to go here.
Now let’s dive a little deeper and get into the not so eco-friendly and costly truth behind what goes into the production, ingredients, installation, and disposal of vinyl flooring.
First up, the production of vinyl flooring
Dioxins, which are carcinogen bioaccumulative toxins, are created and emitted into the air, affecting the environment during the production process of vinyl flooring.
Furthermore, these toxins not only linger in the air but also travel, infiltrating our air, and affecting our health and the health of animals for hundreds of surrounding miles.
So not only the animals are being affected by this carcinogen, but also the plant life. So in short, your food is also being affected! Just some brain food for you to chew on.
The second thing to consider is the Ingredients of vinyl flooring.
One of the main ingredients in luxury vinyl plank flooring is petroleum! Petroleum is a nonrenewable resource that should be avoided if you are concerned with the impact on the environment.
Moreover, these floors also consist largely of polyvinyl chloride known as (PVC). And unfortunately, this is one of the most environmentally detrimental materials produced and has been classified as a human carcinogen. Plus there isn’t a completely safe way to manufacture or dispose of PVC.
Vinyl can also contain many different types of phthalates which can leach into our water and food supply and many of them are considered cancer-causing materials. We have also seen studies that suggest that luxury vinyl flooring may also contain ethylene dichloride, mercury, and other chemicals that are unsafe and have been banned from children’s products and other consumer goods.
The third is luxury vinyl floor installation.
Are there still health and environmental concerns after installation?
You bet ya!
Due to the chemicals used in the production of these floors. They will often continue to admit Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOC) in the air even after they are installed in your home. Making them not only environmentally harmful but also unsafe for you and your family.
Besides chemicals used in the productions of these floors that continue to be an issue post-installation, some adhesives used to install these floors are also a cause for concern. Vinyl floors can be installed with an adhesive containing asbestos. Asbestos can also lead to the release of Volatile Organic Chemicals into the air of your home long after installation.
And while some luxury vinyl plank floor manufacturers are trying to reduce the amount of harmful chemicals in vinyl, many have not been able to because chemical manufacturers are not required to reveal proprietary ingredients in their products making it almost impossible to determine which products still include hazardous chemicals.
Worth it? Probably not!
After all, can you really put a price on you, your family and the environment’s safety and health?
And lastly, can vinyl plank flooring be recycled or is it biodegradable?
So let’s say you’ve had these luxury vinyl plank floors for a couple of years. And now, seeing that they aren’t exactly what you thought, you are considering new flooring.
And now they must be disposed of. . .
What happens to them? Can they be recycled?
Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to recycle vinyl flooring. Furthermore, these floors are not biodegradable and will end up just sitting in a waste factory oftentimes for many more years than they were actually used as flooring.
So don’t be fooled!
This picture may look like hardwood flooring but it’s not. This is luxury vinyl flooring.
And this so-called “luxury” comes at a huge cost to you and an even greater to the environment!
So think twice before you vinyl.
How to know if your flooring is safe and sustainable?
The Environmental Working Group has a great flooring guide to help get you on the right track. Your personal health and what is best for the environment are of utmost importance.
So now that we know hardwood is a safer, more sustainable and more economical option, what are some good hardwood alternatives to luxury vinyl plank flooring?
Timber is one of the most energy efficient materials available due to it being the product of solar energy, making hardwood one of the most sustainable options for flooring. But if you are looking to go that extra mile for that good-for-the-environment option. You have a few options.
The first is reclaimed hardwood flooring. What is reclaimed hardwood flooring, you ask? Well, it’s just lumber that has been previously used for other things such as old wood that was once a barn. It basically upcycling old lumber into hardwood flooring.
And if something like reclaimed wood doesn’t tickle your fancy, then you can always go for something rustic like hickory. Hickory is a good sustainable option because it’s local to Wisconsin, and it’s also a hard and dense wood that holds up well over time. It’s homey feel and unique grain patterns make it a favorite flooring option.
When it comes to the environment, hardwood is one of the best options out there.
But what about for you and your family?
Are some types of hardwood more “safe” than others?
Most hardwood is going to be safe from a chemical and toxin standpoint, unlike vinyl planks.
But what’s important to note is that you need to pick low-VOC options.
Using coating on your floors such as natural oils and hard waxes are not only safe, but they also offer a variety of benefits, giving you the ultimate safe-flooring without sacrificing style, durability or finishing options.
Pretty cool, huh?
Some of these options include:
Hard wax which offers a transparent, durable, silky gloss finish. It also seals the pores of the wood helping your floors repel water and dirt.
Pure Oil such as tung and linseed oil penetrates deep into the wood and hardens. This gives you well-sealed, water-resistant floors with a low-sheen matte finish that brings out the grain and texture of your hardwood.
And if you still need some info on “safe” flooring, the Environmental Working Group has some great pointers:
-Choose hardwood flooring
-Make sure your hardwood is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)-certified
-Choose low-VOC wood stains, sealants and finishings
-Avoid using any glue or adhesives that are not environmentally friendly
-Look for GreenGuard certified products
All these tips will help keep your home and family happy and healthy.
Most hardwood is going to last for years and would be considered economical compared to something like vinyl floors that have a much shorter lifespan.
However, there are a few things to consider if you are looking to save some money on hardwood.
First, usually domestic and local hardwood is going to be cheaper. The trick is to find something that is local and will hold up, meaning it will probably be a harder wood. You can find more information about the hardness of each type of wood by checking out the Janka hardness scale.
But really, your best option is to talk to your local hardwood flooring expert. They will always be the ones to advise you on the best options for what you’re looking for.
The truth is you can scour the internet for hours, but really it’s just easiest to ask an expert and get a free quote.
At the end of the day, vinyl flooring may seem like the cheaper alternative, and easier to install to create a hardwood-like look. However, vinyl just doesn’t offer the longevity that hardwood does, and it’s definitely not as safe, sustainable or economical as hardwood.
Hardwood flooring is an investment that stands the test of time. And remember, hardwood will add value to your home, is durable and offers the flexibility to alter and refinish your floors over and over again.
So if you’re looking for a cost-effective, long-lasting, safe, and an environmentally friendly flooring option, good old fashioned HARDWOOD is the way to go.
Happy (hardwood) flooring!
WHY HARDWOOD FLOORING MATTERS!
Think about it, flooring is important. It is what you will walk on, clean, and dance across for years to come. It’s one of the first impressions of your home. If you are on the journey of deciding what kind of options would be the best for your space, I’m sure you have already noticed there is a world of options. Feeling a little overwhelmed by it all? Those feelings are totally justifiable. However, none of the options are quite as versatile or stand the test of time like real wood floors.
After some serious cyber legwork, we have gathered all the information you need to know about everything hardwood.
And we know researching is daunting and can be overwhelming, which is why we have put together our comprehensive guide to hardwood flooring.
So here are the top 10 reasons why real hardwood is the way to go!
Environmentally speaking, hardwood is your best option. The minimal usage of raw materials, natural resources, and energy used in the production of hardwood makes it one of the most earth-friendly options. Hardwood is also a natural insulator which helps you save on your electric bill. An environmentally conscious act plus saving money? YES, please!
2. Longevity of a Real Wood Floor
“Floors like this are built to last!” Now that’s something you want to hear when making your flooring investment. Built to last is exactly what you will get when you go with real hardwood flooring for your space. Classic hardwood is so durable that it’s most likely to last longer than you will live, as some can last for up to hundreds of years. What about those that don’t last for 100’s of years? Well depending on the thickness and kind of wood, they can last for 20-80 years, giving you decades of warm, beautiful floors. That being said, accidents happen. And if they do, it’s good to know that hardwood floors are quite resilient and the repairs are usually easy and manageable. To keep your floors in mint condition for as long as possible, it is recommended to do a “maintenance coat” every five to seven years (in some cases it may be sooner). This will keep you from having to sand them or mess with them more often than you need to.
Here are some great tips on how to protect your hardwood flooring.
3. The Strength and Durability of Hardwood Floors
Let’s face it, we all can’t be as delicate as a flower or move as gracefully as a ballerina. But not to worry because this isn’t an issue when you have quality wood flooring. These floors can handle your heavy footed steps, your kid’s stomping tantrums and the, not-so-carefully moved furniture when you get into rearranging mode. Other floors do not have the same high-density level of hardwoods. This naturally durable material allows you to rid yourself of worrying about dings and dents. Some of the hardest wood flooring options include: Hickory, Brazilian, and Kempas wood. Check this out for more on different kind of wood and hardness ratings.
4. Keep it clean! Go with hardwood for easy maintenance.
With hardwood floors, keeping it clean is a breeze. The last thing you want is complicated and laborious chores added to your to-do list. And these days there’s a whole world of mops and cleaning products out there to keep your wood floors in tip-top shape. To keep your hardwood floors clean all you need is a daily sweep to get all the dirt and grit off, and then a deep cleaning with a good wood cleaner every week or so. Or perhaps you are more of a vacuum person, in which case check out these options. Just be prepared for unforeseen messes and spills that you may have to clean up more often.
Also, maintenance for hardwood is pretty simple as well. Over time the floors may begin to look a bit dulled out. But not to worry. It’s nothing a fresh coat of wood floor finish can’t fix. Easy peasy!
5. Hardwood Flooring is Stylish and Versatile
Hardwood flooring can be classic, but they are also stylish and versatile. And there are so many options out there for you to express yourself through the many styles and options of flooring. I say “many styles”, but really that is an understatement. There are literally hundreds of options to choose from whether you are putting in fresh floors, or refinishing old ones. And now there are more color options than ever before. You can completely change the style of your home just by slapping a new stain on old floors for an affordable facelift to any room in the house. Colors aside, there are a slew of options when it comes to types of wood, densities, and cuts as well. There are even options for the eco-conscious consumer with the ability to use reclaimed hardwood. Pretty cool, huh? There are so many options to choose from.
6. Hardwood Flooring is Classic and Ageless
You know that warm, homey feeling you get when you walk into a space with hardwood flooring? Yeah, that feeling does not expire. Imagine beautiful hardwood flooring with a nice rug right in front of the fireplace. How much more cozy can you get?
Plus hardwood floors add a notable and classic feel to any home or space. You just don’t get the same level of class and longevity with carpet, laminate flooring, vinyl planks or other flooring options. Think about it, carpet that has been worn out and needs to be torn up, or vinyl flooring that has been dented and battered and needs to be replaced. Dings and dents in hardwood flooring tend to simply add a welcoming and homey feel. However, if that isn’t your style, those blemishes can be sanded and refinished time and time again. No need to tear up a carpet or install a whole new floor. Check out this beautiful classic home and see for yourself the timeless appeal of hardwood floors.
7. Hardwood is here to stay
Hardwood never goes out of style. But do you know what kind of flooring did? Almost every other kind! Let’s get real, that shag carpeting was groovy, but it’s time passed.
Hardwood flooring became an option in 1885 with the invention of the side matcher. But it has been a flooring staple since the early 1900s when it first became popular. So I think it is safe to say that hardwood floors are not just a fad, but they are here to stay. Click here, to see the styles that are trending now in the world of hardwood.
8. You will never be bored with your flooring again
It’s not tile, it’s better! Unlike other kinds of flooring, hardwood floors do not have to be a one and done scenario. You can lay down fresh floors, take them for a spin for a couple years and then start over on a blank canvas by sanding the floors down. This allows you to start fresh, redesign and customize as often as you want. And now there are infinite color palette options, meaning you can have a whole new floor without having to pull up or reinstall anything. It’s one of the easiest and most affordable ways to get the look of a new flooring– without actually having to get new flooring.
9. Hardwood Flooring is a Practical Investment
Hardwood flooring is a great choice for more than these reasons. According to the (NWFA), the National Wood Flooring Association, U.S. real estate agents agree that hardwood floors are the way to go. Stating that 99% of agents say a home with hardwood floors is easier to sell.
As a Realtor, I love wood floors! Especially refinished old or reclaimed hardwood. In my opinion, there is no other flooring choice more beautiful. Hardwood floors not only add a touch of elegance to your home, but a great deal of warmth and character. They also add value to your home. It is a great investment and can actually become a strong resale argument, exceeding the initial installation cost of the floors. It also enables a faster sale and brings higher prices at the time of resale. When it comes time for you to sell your home, buyers will pay more for a house with hardwood. Many home buyers don’t want somebody else’s carpet. They see used carpet as a petri dish that is going to provoke their allergy symptoms or have bad smells associated with pets. Most buyers would plan on replacing carpets, which is why they will pay more for a house that already has hardwood floors. Because it’s a feature sought out, wood flooring may even help sell your house faster. Also, one of the primary benefits of wood flooring is its versatility to adapt to almost every interior design theme in your home. No matter how often you are inspired to change the decor, the floors will always look great and fit your desired theme. It’s hard to go wrong with this flooring choice.–Daniel Wessel Coldwell Banker
“Most of the buyers I work with in today’s market are looking to see if there are wood floors under carpets in older homes and are willing to pay more for a home that has wood floors, unless they’re in poor condition. My advice to Seller’s when listing, regardless of the age of their home, is that in order to maximize their net proceeds on a sale, they have to tackle buyer objections and provide the WOW factor up front. You only get one chance at making a first impression, so offering flooring allowances or putting your home on the market without addressing wood floors needing a little love will most certainly mean several thousand dollars less in your pocket at closing. The return on investment for this type of updating prior to listing is one of the highest for sellers. Refinished or replacing worn carpet with new hardwoods is as profitable in the end as replacing appliances, refreshing rooms with paint, and tweaking kitchens and bathrooms with some modern updates.” – Lora Bladow, REALTOR®, RE/MAX Excel
Also, one of the primary benefits of wood flooring is its versatility to adapt to almost every interior design theme in your home. No matter how often you are inspired to change the decor, the floors will always look great and fit your desired theme. It’s hard to go wrong with this flooring choice.
But if you are looking for your forever home, hardwood is still a great investment. Inevitably your floors will need to be serviced. But repairs aren’t really an option with flooring such as carpet, laminate, linoleum, tile or vinyl. They will usually need to be ripped up and more often than not, end up in the trash. But you can fix hardwood floors quite easily with some minor repairs and stain, making hardwood a much more sustainable and affordable investment.
10. Installing Hardwood Flooring Promotes Healthier Living
Your floors make up the largest surface area of your home. That’s a lot of space to accumulate dust, germs and other harmful allergens. Unlike carpeting that traps those harmful pollutants, having hardwood floors help keep the air in your home clean and clear of dust, dirt, pet dander and allergens. Unfortunately, carpeting is problematic if you have pets or suffer from allergies or asthma. In fact, some doctors recommend hardwood for those with allergies or asthma. And let’s get real, you should listen to your doctor!
OK! Now that you are convinced that hardwood floors are the way to go, I bet you are wondering…
WHAT COMES NEXT?
Now you get to dive into the world of options.
I know this part can be overwhelming, but don’t worry because you won’t have to do all the research alone because we have put together a comprehensive, hardwood quick-guide below just for you. Here we are going to give some information on your options including:
Different kinds of wood flooring:
Unfinished Wood: For those who like to start with a blank canvas. Unfinished hardwood lets you start fresh and make it your own.
Pre-finished: On the contrary, this is the pick and install option for those that are looking for something that is ready to go. Choose your already-finished wood, install, and presto!
For environmentalist – recycle, reduce, reuse. This wood comes from old flooring, beams and used lumber.
Solid Wood flooring: One solid strong piece. Each of these boards is made from a piece of lumber.
Acrylic Impregnated: This is a great choice for a commercial space. One of the more impenetrable options. Due to the acrylic injection, this type of flooring is extremely hard and water resistant.
Engineered: Engineered wood flooring is made up of a thin slice of hardwood stacked on top of a high-quality piece of plywood. The thickness of engineered wood ranges from about 3/8’’ – 3/4’’ inch.
Distressed: If you like the old time look, but don’t have the time to put in. This is the floor for you. Distressed floors are intentionally dinged, dented and faded. Made to look older and worn in.
Hand Scraped: Add texture and a worn feel to your floors. These floors are exactly what they sound like. Ridges, lines, and grooves are hand scraped into floors to add a desired effect and feel.
Bleached: These floors are dyed and lightened in order to achieve sought after colors for your floors.
For more on hardwood floor finishes, check this out!
Grades of hardwood:
Above is a photo showing different grades of wood flooring. When referring to the grade of the hardwood, we are referring to the number of natural hardwood characteristics the wood maintains.
Characteristics such as knots, mineral streaks, and wood tone variations. It is simply a matter of preference. If you are partial to a more uniform appearance of the wood you might go with the clear grade, whereas the common grade options offer more character and variation in the panels. For more on grades of hardwood check this out!
Cuts of hardwood:
The most common method for cutting wood is the plain sawn method, giving your wood a timeless look. Using the plain sawn method you yield the most product with as little waste as possible. The quarter sawn is perhaps the most unique method as well as the least common. This method creates a vertical grain pattern that is seldom used in hardwood flooring. In keeping with the rare cuts, rift sawn provides a very minimalistic, modern look to the wood. Lastly, live sawn is one of the oldest methods of sawing lumber. With this method, you see grains from plain, quarter, rift sawn in live sawn techniques.
Choosing the kind of hardwood for your space:
Now it’s time to pick the kind of wood you are going to use. There are the two main categories to consider. On one hand you have your classic domestic hardwoods like Oak hardwood and on the other hand, you have exotic hardwoods like Santos.
Other options for keeping it classic include:
Go exotic with:
Just to name a few…
Now off you go …
You now know your options and the reasons why hardwood is a great way to go. You are ready to go have some fun. Play around with your options.
Do you want solid hardwood floors or engineered hardwood? What about dark brown or light brown? Do you fancy Oak flooring or something more exotic like Ipe?
Start looking at great resources like this one and make some decisions for your own unique space and style.
For more answered questions about hardwood flooring, click here
Let the (flooring) magic begin, and cheers to creating memories on your hardwood floors for years to come!
“Aaron from Signature Custom Flooring did a breath taking job on putting Ash hardwood floors in our kitchen and dining room and 2 hallways. We would highly recommend Aaron for any project one would have concerning hardwood flooring. He is truly Professional! What an amazing man to work with. We are overwhelmingly pleased! Thanks Signature Custom Flooring for a job well done!”
– Anna Stratton, Hartford
“After seeing the bad shape my floors were in I was doubtful they would ever look “amazing”, but Signature Custom Flooring did a fantastic job!!! I would absolutely recommend hiring Aaron. I’ll for sure recommend him to anyone that needs their floors done.”
– Robert Orde, Green Bay
“Aaron did a beautiful job on our floors. After 15 years, they were in need of refinishing. Aaron restored the original beauty of the maple floors and suggested a water-based finish instead of the oil-based. No more gold floors!!! We also appreciate that there was virtually no dust to clean up. Great job Aaron. Thank you for making our floors beautiful again.”
– Lisa Paul, Oshkosh
“Aaron is an incredibly hard worker with incredible expertise on hardwood flooring. I had NO idea the amount of information out there on species of wood, finishes, etc. and Aaron was so helpful in explaining it all and making sure we got the floor we really had cooked up in our imagination. We could not be happier! The price was great, the service was fantastic and we got exactly what we wanted. I would recommend Aaron to anyone!”
– Nicole Waltemath, Oshkosh
Learn how to maintain and protect your hardwood floor, as well as how often it should be refinished.