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Luxury vinyl tiles rival ceramic and hardwood floors

Glenn Haege
Special to The Detroit News

Invented in the 1930s, vinyl flooring soon become the preferred option in kitchens, hallways and bathrooms in the 1950s and ’60s due to its low cost and water resistance. And even if you were updating the floor in a kitchen or hallway 25 years ago, there was a good chance that vinyl flooring was still your choice because of its durability and ease of maintenance for such high-traffic areas. But over the years, vinyl floors lost popularity to ceramic tile, hardwood and natural stone as people looked for more stylish flooring options.

Today, however, vinyl is making a comeback with a luxury vinyl tile (LVT) category that provides improved durability and ease of maintenance over traditional vinyl flooring coupled with dramatic new styles that mimic tile or wood at a lower price point without the extensive installation or maintenance costs.

“Today’s luxury vinyl tile offers more style and design options and is more durable than the old sheet vinyl flooring,” said Steve McNamara, vice president of hard surface products at Riemer Floors, (248) 335-3500, riemerfloors.com.

McNamara said LVT is softer and more comfortable to walk or stand on than hardwood, stone or tile floors, and is basically waterproof, making it a great choice for kitchens or other high-traffic areas. He also said one of the biggest advancements in the LTV category is an added wearlayer with aluminum oxide on top of the vinyl flooring that offers superior resistance to stains, scuffs and scratches and makes it much more durable than the old vinyl product.

“While LVT with the wearlayer is more durable than traditional vinyl floors for normal wear and tear, it still can be susceptible to scratches if you are moving appliances,” McNamara said. “But because it comes in smaller sized tiles versus the old 12-foot version, you can replace individual tiles if they get damaged.”

He said LVT also comes in a variety of shapes and sizes versus the old standard 12 foot wide sheets including plank, square, rectangular and octagon shapes to mimic hardwood, stone and ceramic tile. McNamara added that it is easier to install than ceramic or stone and there is even an option to have groutable luxury vinyl tiles to give them a more authentic ceramic tile look.

“A big part of our business in the past five years has been in the luxury vinyl tile category, “he said. “It really replicates the look of hardwood or ceramic tile well but it can be 35 percent to 40 percent cheaper when installed versus ceramic tile and closer to 50 percent cheaper if you choose the LVT without the groutable option.”

Some manufacturers of luxury vinyl tile flooring include Armstrong, armstongflooring.com, Mannington, mannington.com, and Mohawk, mohawkflooring.com.

Armstrong offers its Alterna line of luxury vinyl tile that looks like ceramic tile or stone, along with a Luxe Plank line that looks like hardwood. Mannington’s Luxury Vinyl Sheet line also offers options for ceramic, hardwood and stone looks along with more traditional looking vinyl flooring available in 23 unique designs. And Mohawk offers 17 different styles that mimic tile, stone or wood floors.

Updating your flooring can make a huge statement in any room in your house, but especially in areas like the kitchen or hallway. And with luxury vinyl tile becoming a more durable and cost effective option, you may want to visit a showroom to see it up close and compare it to ceramic tile, hardwood or stone.

For more home improvement advice, call “The Handyman Show With Glenn Haege" on WJR-AM (760) at (866) ASK GLENN, (866) 275-4536 between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sunday. “The Handyman Show” can also be heard on more than 135 radio stations nationwide.