BUYING GUIDE: VINYL
Vinyl tiles and sheet goods are called resilient flooring — they’re flexible and slightly soft underfoot. They’re tough, durable and virtually maintenance-free. Vinyl comes in an array of colors and patterns at relatively modest cost. Although you’ll pay as little as $1 per square foot, there are fewer style options among the less-expensive types.
Vinyl products are backed with a layer of felt. Cushioned vinyl is backed with a thin layer of foam that offers an extra measure of comfort and safety. In general, a thicker vinyl surface means better quality and higher price. Thicker vinyl can have a textured surface that looks like real stone and wood.
Vinyl flooring has a wear layer on its upper surface that helps resist stains and scratches. The best vinyl products provide warranties on the wear layer of as much as 15 years, and you can expect good-quality vinyl to last 20 years.
Pros: Especially good at fending off wear, dents, scratches, discoloration from sunlight, and stains. Easy installation, particularly for tiles or planks, and more color and design choices are available these days.
Cons: While the premium brands can mimic the look of stone, tile, and even oak, even the best products still look like vinyl up close. Top-of-the-line vinyl can cost as much or more than the best solid hardwood and laminate floors.