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If you enjoy how hardwood flooring looks but you don’t want to deal with all the potential problems that can arise, then there are two good alternatives to look into: porcelain tile, and luxury vinyl plank flooring (LVT and LVP). Both of these types of flooring are similar to hardwood.
But when it comes to vinyl plank flooring vs porcelain tile, which one is the best? That’s what we’ll aim to answer in this article. Every type of flooring has limitations and these two are no exception to that. We will go over everything that you need to know in order to make an informed decision.
Vinyl Plank Flooring vs Porcelain Tile Flooring
In the durability category, luxury vinyl plank flooring has some unique benefits which include being fairly pet friendly and child friendly. It’s also more resistant to scratching from pets, kids or other everyday scuff marks.
Just because vinyl plank flooring resists wear from everyday foot traffic, doesn’t mean that it can’t be damaged. The material is softer than tile and can be dented or damaged if a sharp object is dropped on it, or furniture is dragged across it.
Vinyl plank is also vulnerable to sun damage, so you’ll want to use curtains or blinds to limit the amount of sun exposure it receives.
Porcelain and ceramic tile flooring is very durable. Tile is naturally harder than wood and vinyl plank. Because of this it is more resistant to scratches, fading, tears and other damage.
However, just like vinyl plank flooring, it isn’t indestructible. It can definitely crack if something is dropped on it. If this happens, the tile will need to be taken out and replaced.
Winner: Porcelain tile Flooring. Overall porcelain tile flooring is more durable than vinyl plank flooring. Everyday use shouldn’t result in much damage, sunlight shouldn’t fade it much, and it’s one of the more tough types of flooring available today.
One of the biggest downsides to hardwood is that fact that it isn’t very water resistant. Water has the potential to completely destroy some types of flooring.
Luckily, vinyl plank flooring is quite water resistant if it’s installed properly. If it isn’t installed properly and there are gaps in between planks, then moisture will get in there and lead to mold or mildew growth.
Vinyl plank flooring can be installed in rooms like the bathroom, kitchen and basement without fear of water damage. It can take a bit of moisture without warping or buckling.
Porcelain tile is also water resistant. Just like vinyl plank, it can be installed in the bathroom, basement, and kitchen. As long as it’s installed with proper grouting, the moisture won’t get to the subfloor on the bottom.
Winner: Porcelain tile flooring. Although this is a close one and they are both water resistant, porcelain tile flooring doesn’t suffer from the gaping problem that vinyl plank has.
One thing that people complain about regarding many types of flooring is that it can be hard to take care of. Oftentimes you’ll have to buy products specifically to clean a certain type of flooring. This is not the case with both vinyl plank and porcelain tile flooring.
Luxury vinyl plank flooring has to be one of the easiest types of flooring to clean. It doesn’t require any special products or cleaning techniquest to make it look great.
For day to day cleaning a basic broom and dust mop is all that’s necessary. A vacuum made for hard surfaces is another option. When it comes to more thorough cleaning, a floor cleaner made for hardwood can be used.
If you need to clean marks that won’t come off with regular cleaners, then nail polish remover or acetone can be used to take it off without damaging the flooring.
Note: if the vinyl plank flooring fades, don’t use wax because it will build up and need to be stripped off.
Wood look, porcelain tile flooring is just as easy to clean as vinyl plank. You can take on daily spills using a broom, mop, or vacuum. For the bigger messes you can use a sponge, warm water, a cloth, and a mild cleaning solution.
The grout lines in porcelain tile can get pretty dirty and sometimes a mop isn’t good enough to get the job done. If this is the case, a tile cleaner that’s PH neutral might be necessary.
It’s normal for grout to become stained and discolored over the years. There are products that can help to restore the original color. Grout pens are also good for this purpose.
Winner: Vinyl plank flooring. Even though both of these flooring types are relatively easy to clean, luxury vinyl plank is the winner because of the time needed to maintain dirty grout.
Styles Patterns and Colors
Obviously, flooring plays a major part in the overall look of your home. Because of this, it pays to have many different options to choose from.
Luxury vinyl plank comes in a wide range of different colors that look comparable to popular hardwood brands. Some of these colors include: Hickory, Koa, Wood Oak, and more.
Related: Top vinyl plank flooring brands
When it comes to size, LVT comes in widths or about 6 inches, all the way up to 9 inches. The length will range from about 36 inches up to 72+ inches.
You have the choice of different thicknesses that range from 4mm all the way to 7mm. The planks will usually have a realistic look to them that feels similar to real hardwood.
Porcelain tile flooring also comes in a bunch of different styles/colors. You can get different types of wood represented in the tile such as: walnut, Brazilian Pecan, Oak, and more. These styles range from rustic, to modern and contemporary.
The size of wood look tile flooring ranges from about 4 inches all the way to 12 inches. The lengths range from about 28 inches all the way to 48 inches. Similar to vinyl plank, wood look tile has a 3D print that is similar to real wood.
Winner: Vinyl plank flooring. IT’s a close one, but overall LVT wins because there are more options that are becoming available
Another important thing to keep in mind in the debate of vinyl plank vs porcelain tile is the installation process/cost.
The first thing to go over is that there are two types of vinyl plank flooring.
The floating floor. This type has a “tongue and groove” locking system which helps click the planks together. These floating floors require less prep to hide any irregularities in the sub floor.
The direct glue down type is when planks are set down using an adhesive. For these you will need to deal with any irregularities in the sub floor beforehand.
You can use a utility knife to cut either of these types of flooring. Besides measuring and locking the planks in position, there are a couple other things you have to do when using a floating floor.
Porcelain tile on the other hand, can be quite hard to install for the average person. To start off, the subfloor needs to be installed correctly or else the there is risk of the tile cracking from the floor being uneven.
When the subfloor is all ready, you can then set the tile in the thin set mortar. Use spacers between the tiles that help hold the tiles in place for applying grout. Once this is done you can clean off the grout which can be messy sometimes.
The tile needs to be cut throughout the job, usually with a wet saw. If you don’t know how to cut it properly there is risk of breaking or cracking the tile which means that more tiles would be necessary to finish.
Winner: Vinyl plank flooring. Overall, porcelain tile is way more time consuming and complicated to install than vinyl plank, making LVT the clear winner in this category.
Vinyl plank flooring will not usually show much wear from typical use. This doesn’t mean it can’t be damaged though, just that foot traffic is unlikely to affect it much.
Porcelain tile is also pretty much immune to typical foot traffic, while being more durable than vinyl plank flooring.
Winner: Tie. Both types are durable enough for normal foot traffic.
Overall, both vinyl plank flooring and porcelain tile flooring are a good choice for many rooms. For the average household we would have to give the edge to vinyl plank flooring, due to the fact that it’s much easier to install. If you’re looking for something more durable though, porcelain tile flooring might be the better choice for you. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.