We follow our review of Armstrong’s LUXE plank with our Armstrong PRYZM review, an intriguing new, award winning floor that uses the same rigid core technology as the LUXE plank collection.
WHAT IS ARMSTRONG PRYZM
Armstrong Pryzm falls into the category of rigid core flooring: a kind of composite resilient flooring material, that sits somewhere between luxury vinyl plank and laminate. Armstrong uses a hybrid construction method for its rigid core lines.
It is made of several layers of different material adhered together:
- a highly effective wear layer, similar to what you find on laminates
- a very realistic design layer, complete with texture
- an incredibly dense waterproof core
- an attached cork backing.
As such it is one of the best performing types of resilient flooring on the market.
The Pryzm collection is one of several hybrid rigid core options available at Armstrong, and has been highly praised for its extremely realistic, on-trend designs, for which it won a Platinum Award for Design Excellence form the Design Journal.
OPTIONS, SPECS & STYLES
There are currently 17 different designs in the Armstrong Pryzm flooring collection, and as you would expect from a product that is relatively new to the market, the designs are mostly contemporary in style.
Most of the designs are wood look designs, but there is one rather cool looking concrete look option available in a dark gray.
Some of the designs are available in more than one color, giving you extra choice, with options including grays, white washed, distressed, weathered, rustic and so on. There are also a few classic wood looks, so really there is something for every taste here.
In terms of sizes, all of the Pryzm rigid core planks are 47.56” long and 0.256” (6.55mm) thick; planks are 5”, 5.7” or 6.6” wide, except for the Elements of Heritage design that is sold in mixed width cartons of 4.3”, 5.6” and 7” wide planks.
All of the Pryzm rigid core flooring has a low gloss finish, embossed texture and micro-beveled edges.
PROS & CONS
The advantages of Armstrong Pryzm rigid core flooring are:
- rigid core flooring is the most waterproof type of resilient flooring currently available; it is the closest thing to ceramic tile
- excellent durability, scratch, stain and dent resistance
- because it is waterproof, it can be installed in every room including bathrooms and laundry rooms
- can be installed at, below or above ground level
- can be installed over radiant heating
- usually not necessary to acclimate before installation
- very nice range of on-trend designs and colors, with great detailing and texture
The disadvantages of Armstrong Pryzm rigid core flooring are:
- priced on the high end for resilient flooring
- the planks are thin, and so they don’t have the feel underfoot of real wood
- not that many classic designs, will the on-trend ones stand the test of time?
- supposed to be easy to install as a DIY project, but it is also easy to get wrong (see below)
Armstrong provide very detailed instructions for installation on their website.
In most residential settings, Armstrong Pryzm rigid core flooring is installed using the floating floor method, but it can also be installed in the glue down method (recommended in rooms with lots of direct sunshine).
WHERE CAN I INSTALL ARMSTRONG PRYZM?
Pryzm planks can be installed on all levels of the home, including the basement; and in all rooms, including bathrooms. However, Pryzm flooring should not be installed in extremely humid rooms, such as saunas, wet-rooms or steam rooms.
You can install this flooring on most types of subfloors, except for carpet. You can also install PRYZM flooring over subfloors that have integrated radiant heating, provided it doesn’t exceed 85°F when in use.
HOW DO I PREPARE MY ROOM BEFORE INSTALLING PRZYM?
As with all flooring projects, you need to prepare the subfloor – making sure it is clean, dry and level. Rigid core flooring is known to be more forgiving on uneven subfloors, but a well-prepared subfloor will always get the best result.
Armstrong provide very detailed instructions for preparing every type of subfloor, so it’s worth taking a good look at that and following the recommendations before you start your project.
One thing that sets rigid core apart from other types of composite flooring is that, so long as humidity and temperature is maintained to the required levels, you will not need to acclimate the Pryzm planks before installation.
This makes a big difference to project planning, as other flooring materials sometimes need several days of acclimation before installation. With Pryzm, once your subfloor is ready, you’re good to go with the installation!
WHAT ABOUT UNDERLAYMENT?
Pryzm planks come with an integrated underlayment layer, so you won’t need anything else. However, for certain types of subfloors you may need to have a vapor barrier, which some argue is a kind of underlayment!
CAN I INSTALL ARMSTRONG PRYZM BY MYSELF?
Armstrong’s rigid core flooring is billed as being easy to install by novice DIYers, but our review of customers’ experiences is that a certain level of expertise may be required.
The worst reviews of this flooring all point to problems that were not taken into account before or during installation, for example not understanding the humidity levels in the home, or not taking care to ensure there are expansion gaps around the perimeter.
Our advice if you still want to DIY it, is to really take your time reading the installation instructions before you purchase this floor, and be sure you are completely clear about everything you need to do before installing.
Also bear in mind, as rigid core is a relatively new type of flooring product, if you prefer to hire a professional installer, then be sure that your installer has sufficient experience of installing this type of flooring.
CLEANING AND MAINTENANCE
Keeping your Pryzm rigid core flooring looking great is pretty straightforward: regular vacuuming and damp mopping, with a suitable floor cleaner, is sufficient. Of course, Armstrong recommend using their in-house cleaning products, but most non-abrasive clears will do.
WHAT NOT TO DO!
Rigid core flooring should never be steam mopped, polished, waxed or sanded. Care should be taken with heavy furniture and movable furniture to avoid scratches; you can use solutions such as felt pads under furniture.
PRICES AND COMPARISONS
Armstrong Pryzm is sold at several flooring retailers, including Wayfair, with prices ranging from $5 to $7 per square foot. This puts it in the upper price bracket for rigid core flooring.
It’s harder to compare Armstrong’s rigid core products against other brands, as their hybrid rigid core construction is slightly different to other brands that use the WPC (wood plastic composite) or SPC (stone plastic composite) rigid core construction.
But in terms of Armstrong products, we can price compare Pryzm with Armstrong’s Rigid Core Essentials collection retails around $3.50 – $4.50, and Armstrong’s Luxe collection retails around $4.00 – $5.50.
PRICE COMPARISON TABLE
Despite the different construction method it’s worth comparing Pryzm vinyl flooring with other rigid core products, as shown in the table below.
|Brand||Price per square foot|
|MSI||$1.60 – $3.50|
|Islander||$1.70 – $3.85|
|Smartcore||$2.00 – $3.70|
|NuCore||$2.35 – $3.80|
|LifeProof||$2.79 – $4.39|
|Armstrong Luxe Rigid Core||$2.79 – $4.39|
|Armstrong Element||$3.30 – $4.60|
|Mohawk SolidTech||$3.50 – $6.25|
|Mannington Adura Rigid||$3.60 – $4.60|
|COREtec Plus||$3.80 – $7.99|
|Armstrong Pryzm||$4.90 – 7.00|
Customers praised the durability of the flooring. Customers are also hugely positive about the aesthetics of the Pryzm collection, with lots of praise for its authenticity and contemporary designs.
Customers were particularly happy with plank designs that were multi-toned, noting that there was a good amount of variation in each carton to create the look they wanted.
On the negative side, some customers did not find it easy to install, and that the planks did not stand up to very humid environments.
“This floor is fantastic! We are delighted and I would buy it again. No two pieces are alike and the colors are very vibrant!” – Apryle
“Good for our pet dogs, you can’t dirty sandy paw prints and it’s very tough. Even our installer was impressed!” – Judy
“Love it! It feels up to date, but still goes with my mid-century modern home. It is easy to keep clean and seems indestructible.” – Susan
“These planks are very tough to cut and the subfloor has to be really level. Not at all easy for a beginner to install.” – MP
“I’m really frustrated since I just found out that the humidity in my home is too much for this flooring! Wish I would have known that before installing it – now it has to all be replaced as it’s warping everywhere!” – Hugh