Why We Chose Vinyl Flooring vs Wood or Laminate for our Kitchen
There are several different options for flooring in a kitchen: tile, wood, laminate, vinyl, and even some less common options like cement or bamboo. When you hear vinyl, you may be like me and think of that crap you see in new construction homes. And that is what you would have seen before we redid our floor.
There are really two types of vinyl flooring: normal vinyl flooring and luxury vinyl flooring. The normal stuff is the stuff you see in big rolls like carpeting and everyone suggests having it installed by a professional. That is what we had before. Now we have luxury vinyl. If you saw luxury vinyl in the store you would assume it is laminate. They stick it on pieces of wood so it feels like it will when you put it down on the floor, but if you saw a "raw" piece you would see how "flimsy" and flexible it really is. The flooring we went with is only 3mm thick.
The flooring we ended up going with is very light colored and looks like wood panels (see photos). Each panel is 4 ft. long and 6 inches wide. With luxury, there are three installation types: glue down, click, and quick (which is similar to click). We chose the glue down only because the color we wanted was only available in that installation type. Life would have been easier (or at least cleaner) with one of the other types. However, the price for the product increases based on product thickness and how easy it is to install.
Why did we end up going with vinyl versus all the other options?
1. Tile flooring does not really work because of how cold it gets in Nebraska. Also, installation would have been a pain in the butt (little did I know we'd basically be doing the same thing with the vinyl)
2. Out of all options, the vinyl is the easiest to take care of.
3. The guy at the local warehouse store (he was a friend of a friend so I knew I could trust him) said that he would go with wood first, but his second choice would be the vinyl and that the vinyl would hold up nicer in 5 years than laminate.
4. I wanted something that looked like wood without the work that is required to keep wood looking good.
In the end, cost was not really a big factor because after doing all my research I discovered that the price for the various flooring, after materials and other costs, would have ended up being very similar.
Our Installation Experience
If you count the time between deciding we were definitely putting in new flooring and when we actually did, it would have been months. I want to know all the information before I buy, so I did a lot of research, went back and forth on the material I wanted and in what color, and whether or not we should have someone install it or do it ourselves.
After searching at the big box home stores and some local places, etc. we actually went with a a local warehouse which apparently is just for contractors or big businesses. Fortunately, I work for one of these big businesses so I got to take advantage of the deal. I will go over all the costs in the next capsule.
Because our house is relatively new construction, the kitchen was done in the crappy vinyl and the attached dining room was carpeted. Talk about annoying. So when we decided to redo the floor we of course planned to take the carpet out too. Little did we know what we were in for.
So of course, anyone who knows anything about houses would know that carpet has to have padding underneath and that this padding would make that layer a lot thicker than a 1mm cheap vinyl floor. So what to do? Well, build up a sub floor under the vinyl flooring of course! So when we ripped out the carpet what did we find? The flooring under the carpet was lower than the vinyl floor. And then, of course, the sub floor under the vinyl was also under the cabinets and the vinyl flooring had been glued down. So... off to the store we went to build up the floor that had been under the carpet so it would be the same height.
Luckily, they had just the right height of flooring that we needed! Except that it didn't count in the extra height of the vinyl flooring. So we decided to go ahead and install the sub floor under the kitchen and then use some kind of self-leveling cement to finish the job. The sub floor went in surprisingly easy. You make sure it is cut right, you glue it down, and then you finish it off with the nail gun. We were all impressed with our work. The self-leveling cement was an entirely different story.
The mixing of the cement was pretty easy, although I would advise that you get it more liquid like that you think it should be, because it needs to be ubber thin to spread. As long as you follow the directions the mixing should be easy, and actually applying it wasn't that hard. Honestly, I'm not sure what we really did wrong. We spread it out a foot on each side of the level difference. I guess our flooring was more uneven in places we didn't predict. If I had to do it all over again, I would have paid someone $100 (or $200) to do the job for us (or maybe even not have done it at all).
So after we were done it looked and felt pretty fine so we went ahead with the job. Did I mention how they recommend that once the flooring is delivered to your house (no matter what type of flooring you go with) that you let it sit in the desired room for 3 days to acclimate to the environment? So after awhile of waiting we finally got started.
Putting down the flooring took a lot of annoying cuts. It says on the package that you can cut the flooring with a box cutter but that is a BIG FAT LIE. I mean, you can, if you can bench press your own weight or you have a $300 box cutter that also cuts diamonds. Eventually we just took out the jigsaw instead. The gluing and placing was not too bad, just a big messy. We had three people working on the job so teamwork helped considerably. They recommend that you don't walk on it for 24 hours, so you have to plan accordingly. We also used the 100 lbs. roller that they recommended and I think that was crucial. Not a lot of home stores rent them.
So in the end, we have a beautiful new "wood looking" floor that has some bumps due to our uneven laying of the self-leveling cement. The glue is coming up a few spots but after a few weeks it seems to have settled. I am liking it more and more as I get used to the bumps. I was told by a friend that the bumps would not have been so obvious had we chosen a luxury vinyl that was installed using the click or quick system since gluing the vinyl down revealed every little imperfection in the sub floor, so if you find yourself in a similar situation you might want to keep that in mind.
Change Your Mind About Vinyl?
Has this article changed your mind at all about vinyl flooring?
Luxury Vinyl Flooring: $2.43/sq. ft.
Subflooring materials: $50
Floor roller rental: $26
Cement leveling: $50
Labor: $0 :)