Welcome to another HomeFlooring Pros flooring review, this week we bring you our review, and other consumer reviews, of LifeProof rigid core luxury vinyl flooring. There’s a lot to get through, including how to install LifeProof and price comparison tables, so feel free to use the quick links below to zip back and forth.
What is LifeProof Vinyl Flooring
LifeProof is a rigid luxury vinyl flooring made by Halstead New England Industries, sold exclusively at Home Depot and competes head to head with top rigid-core brands.
Rigid Core Construction:
An attached underlayment absorbs impact for walking/standing comfort. It reduces noise and provides insulation too.
This LifeProof vinyl plank flooring has a closed-cell PVC foam core it calls ISOCORE. The core makes it both lighter and stronger than sheet vinyl floor material.
The wear layer is new vinyl (it’s not recycled). It is embossed with woodgrain texture or stone texture. Ceramic beads are infused into the wear layer for durability and resistance to scratches. Top and bottom layers are treated with an antimicrobial to prevent mold.
Interlocking tabs hold the pieces together but can be damaged when taking them apart.
LifeProof Product Specs
LifeProof luxury vinyl plank flooring comes in three thicknesses, each with several style options:
- 6.5mm: 8 styles, each in a variety of colors. Multi-width Seasoned Wood and Walton Oak, 7” Shadow Hickory, Tekoa Oak, Seaside Oak and Essential Oak are all.6”. Breezy Stone and Starry Light 16”x32”.
- 7 mm: 5 styles in multiple colors. 8.7” Trail Oak, Sterling Oak, Fresh Oak and Scratch Stone all 47.6” long. Biscayne Oak is 4.72”x28.35” with herringbone look.
- 8 mm: 3 styles in several colors. Ocala Oak is 8.7” x 59.4”. Alys Oak is 8.7”x72”. The Alys Oak is distinguished by its length and higher cost. Longer planks cut installation time.
LifeProof Luxury Vinyl Flooring Pros and Cons
There is much to like about this resilient flooring, but we want to mention a few disadvantages too.
LifeProof Vinyl Advantages:
The style and color options detailed above are good, if not great. As you browse your choices at a Home Depot store or online at homedepot.com, you’ll likely find several options for the look you want. For example, Seasoned Wood has a weathered look. Walton Oak is grainy and rustic. Ocala Oak is clean and contemporary. Then you’ve got the stone and herringbone styles mentioned above. Lights, mediums and darks are offered in most lines.
The LifeProof Rigid Core multilayer approach with a wear layer enhanced with ceramic beads should produce excellent long-term stability and wear.
Thin and lightweight yet strong
The ISOCORE foam core gives the material rigidity and strength normally found in thicker, heavier materials. It is easy to work with, and slight imperfections or tile grout beneath won’t show through the flooring.
Easy installation for most
While pro installation is the best route to ensuring a proper fit and long-lasting results, experienced DIY homeowners do find this material easy to install. See the Review section below for installation problems experienced by some.
It covers “anything”
As long as the floor beneath it is in decent shape without rises and low spots, this luxury vinyl material will transform your floors with little preparation required.
Works with radiant heated floors
LifeProof is ideal for installation over radiant heat flooring. There are a few simple guidelines to follow in the Installation Guide to ensure success.
We expect this flooring will require replacing in 6-10 years in commercial settings and in 15-20 years in residential settings. Traffic and maintenance will significantly affect durability. The Lifetime and 5-year warranties cover material defects
LifeProof vinyl planks and tiles are FloorScore certified to be low-VOC products without phthalates or formaldehyde.
Resistance to moisture and mold
LifeProof planks are waterproof and treated to prevent mold and mildew when installed in basements, kitchens, baths, entryways and laundry rooms.
The Lifetime warranty for residential use is significantly better than most. It is not prorated and does not have excessive qualifications that make it easy for the manufacturer to deny warranty claims.
This is low-maintenance flooring. Details are below.
LifeProof Vinyl Disadvantages:
This is easily the top con. A significant percentage of DIY installers report that the interlocking tabs can break during installation or if pieces must be separated after installation.
Commercial warranty length
The 5-year commercial warranty is shorter than those offered by some competing products. For example, CoreTec Plus luxury vinyl flooring has a 10-year commercial warranty to go with the Lifetime residential coverage.
The warranty applies to the first owner only, whether residential or commercial. That takes some of the shine off the Lifetime warranty.
Not so green
This flooring is not made with any recycled material, though many building products are. While it is recyclable, the limited number of vinyl recycling facilities cannot accommodate the volume. Most vinyl flooring is sent to landfills.
It’s not wood
Maybe this doesn’t need to be said. But if you want the benefits of genuine wood and don’t mind the TLC it requires, you can have solid hardwood or engineered hardwood flooring for about twice the cost.
LifeProof Vinyl Flooring Installation
Hiring an experienced installer is essential. The manufacturer of LifeProof flooring, Halstead New England makes it clear that it, “will decline responsibility for damages associated with improper installation or poor site conditions.” Apparently, the manufacturer is aware of the complaints about damaging the interlocking tabs while installing or removing planks and tiles.
The information in this section should be discussed with installers you interview when getting estimates for the work.
How LifeProof installs
LifeProof luxury vinyl flooring has interlocking “drop and lock” end joints for floating installation. The manufacturer specifically prohibits gluing because it would not allow the flooring to expand and contract with normal changes in environmental conditions.
An expansion gap of ¼” is required around the perimeter of the floor to allow for normal expansion and contraction. Do not install baseboard tight enough to the flooring to prevent this expansion/contraction.
Where to Install
LifeProof flooring can be installed over standard OSB and plywood underlayment and many existing floor types.
It can be installed above, at and below grade in residential and commercial settings. The space must be indoors and/or climate controlled.
In sub-grade installations, consult your flooring installer about using a moisture barrier to prevent moisture migration upwards that might affect the performance of LifeProof luxury vinyl plank and tile. The barrier should be a minimum of 6 mil thick. Overlap seams 6” and tape them.
Where not to install
Unsuitable locations include outdoors, sunrooms, saunas, covered porches and other locations with extreme variations. If campers, RVs, boats and vehicles will be stored in the space, use another flooring type.
If there are imperfections beneath, they can often be sanded or patched at little cost to prepare the floor for LifeProof. Note that grout lines larger than ¼” wide must be filled to create a level foundation.
While acclimation for humidity is not necessary, the material should be stored indoors and installed at temperatures above 50F and not greater than 100F.
It’s acceptable to open 4 boxes of material prior to installation to inspect for color variation and defects and decide whether to return the flooring. Each box should be inspected as it is opened, since per the literature, “Installing defective planks implies acceptance.”
You should not install this flooring on stairs or over carpet, other floating floors including laminate, rubber, cork, foam underlayment or cushioned vinyl. Those floor types don’t provide the stability required and might void the warranty.
LifeProof and Radiant floor heating
Radiant tubing must be ½” beneath the concrete surface. In new installations, run the radiant system for two weeks prior to installation to eliminate the chance for the concrete to contract after installation. The manufacturer also requires that the HVAC system in new construction be operational to maintain consistent temperature and humidity conditions.
There is additional technical information and installation tips in the LifeProof Installation Instructions your installer should be familiar with.
Cleaning and Maintenance
LifeProof vinyl flooring is an easy floor to keep clean and maintain with just a few tips:
Cleaning Loose dirt
Use a dust mop or vacuum to remove loose dirt and debris. If your vacuum has a rotating brush/beater bar, turn it off. Better yet, purchase a hard-floor vacuum without a beater bar to protect your investment.
We recommend sweeping or vacuuming one time per week for each member or your household including pets.
Cleaning Spills and pet accidents
Sop up spills immediately, and then wash the area with a mild detergent. This is vital for acidic spills like wine, juice and soda. Rinse the area to remove detergent residue that might cloud the surface.
Cleaning Sticky stuff
Spray stuck-on dirt with warm water or wet a cloth and let it sit on the area for 3-5 minutes. Wipe and rinse the area.
When to Protect the floor
Use paint, dyes and harsh chemicals somewhere else. If that’s not possible, cover the floor in your work area with a plastic drop cloth.
Mopping schedule and tips
Mop the floor as needed (at least monthly) with a pH-neutral vinyl floor cleaning solution. Change mop water and change or rinse cleaning cloths as they become visibly soiled. Going over the floor with a clean mop and water for a final rinse will remove residue and streaking.
Mats Do: Place shoe mats outside/off the vinyl flooring. Dirt beneath mats acts like sandpaper on any flooring when walked upon. It will scratch and mar the surface. The mats should be labeled “colorfast” if they will be placed on the flooring.
Don’t Use Rubber Mats
Do not use rubber-backed mats on the flooring, because they might react chemically and darken the vinyl.
Other things to avoid
Do not use these items on your LifeProof LVT flooring – A steam cleaner, vacuum with a rotating brush, wax, oil, polish, steel wool, scouring pad or furniture cleaner.
LifeProof Damage Prevention
Avoid damaging your floor with these precautions:
- Use nylon or felt protective pads beneath furniture legs and clean them as needed.
- Lift and move furniture instead of dragging it.
- Use hard-surface non-studded chair mats for office chairs. Broad-surface casters are also recommended.
- Keep pet nails trimmed.
- Avoid walking on the flooring with golf spikes, stiletto heels and similar footwear.
Prices and Options
LifeProof vinyl flooring prices are competitively priced with its major competitors. The first table shows LifeProof flooring costs.
LifeProof Luxury Vinyl Plank and Tile Price Comparison Table
|Seasoned Wood||6.5mm||Breezy Stone||6.5mm||Biscayne Oak||7mm||Amherst Oak||8mm|
|Essential Oak||6.5mm||Starry Light||6.5mm||Brookland Oak||8mm|
|Walton Oak||6.5mm||Fresh Oak||7mm||Alys Oak||8mm|
|Shadow Hickory||6.5mm||Trail Oack||7mm|
|Seaside Oak||6.5mm||Scratch Stone||7mm|
|Tekoa Oak||6.5mm||Burnt Oak||7mm|
|Sterling Oak||7mm||Lighthouse Oak||7mm|
The wear layer for LifeProof flooring is 6 mils with these exceptions:
Ocala Oak: 12 mils
Amerst Oak: 22 mils
Brookland Oak: 22 mils
Alys Oak: 22 mils
This table shows costs for other top luxury vinyl plank and tile that has a rigid core.
Other Rigid Luxury Vinyl Flooring Options and Prices
|TrafficMaster Allure Ultra||5.0mm||$2.99/sq. ft.|
|SmartCore Ultra||7.5mm||$3.29/sq. ft.|
|Congoleum Structure||7.25mm||$4.15/sq. ft.|
|Armstrong Luxe Rigid Core||8mm||$3.79/sq. ft.|
|CoreTec One||6.3mm||$2.99/sq. ft.|
|CoreTec Plus||8.0mm||$3.99/sq. ft.|
|CoreTec Plus XL||8.3mm||$4.99/sq. ft.|
|Envee Rigid Core||6mm||$3.69/sq. ft.|
What do home and business owners think of LifeProof flooring? Here’s a sampling from across the ratings spectrum. On Home Depot, most LifeProof products have ratings between 4 and 5 Stars.
“We used 6.5mm LifeProof in our master suite because it is waterproof. The wood-look is spot-on, and the flooring is much warmer to the feet than the ceramic tile we replaced in the bath. Our contractor installed 435 square feet in less than a day.” 5 Stars –Rochelle
“Our installer laid this in our 1,250+/- basement right over the concrete. He patched a couple cracks first, however, so they wouldn’t show through. It’s been almost a year. The flooring is holding up well. The patches are not showing/wearing through. It’s 8mm and very comfortable to walk on in without shoes.” 5 Stars – Windy City Michele
“DIY installation went OK, but when I had to pull up a few planks to reset them properly, the tongue/groove connection was damaged. Happy with the look/feel of the flooring, but don’t recommend DIY unless you’re experienced and willing to take the risk of having to use a few extra planks.” 4 Stars – Gene77
“The Ocala Oak is gorgeous, but snapping the pieces together was a major pain. #DesignFlaw” 3 Stars – Brill
“Scratches beneath our dining chairs showed up within a month. We haven’t put sliders or pads on the chairs yet, but it scratched too quickly, in our view.” 2 Stars – Mizzou 92
“Attractive vinyl, but bad design. Used 40% more than necessary due to breaking tabs off pieces. Then, the butts wouldn’t stay down.” 1 Star Jose T
These reviews make clear that the flooring is gorgeous, warm and comfortable, but there is one potential problem – the interlocking design.
In our opinion, the problematic installation some experience isn’t sufficient reason to avoid LifeProof. But we do recommend having the flooring professionally installed.