Loose Lay Vinyl Plank Flooring – Pros & Cons and Reviews

So we recently saw that Karndean have added some new designs to “an innovative format of luxury vinyl flooring” that requires no adhesive. What’s so innovative about that? I wondered out loud, after all most of the luxury vinyl plank or tile products currently in the market use the ClickLock system than doesn’t have to be glued down… But then I took a closer look and realized that what Karndean (and a few other manufacturers) are offering is an entirely different kind of vinyl tile: one that is so incredibly simple to install that it’s hard to believe it’s true!

So what exactly is Loose Lay Vinyl Tile?

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But it is true! The new Looselay – or sometimes written Loose Lay – tiles do not use glue or staples or any kind of ClickLock system. Instead the backing of each tile is made with materials that use friction to effectively grip the subfloor beneath; furthermore Loose lay vinyl tiles are completely dimensionally stable which means that they will not expand or shrink depending on moisture levels, so when you install them there is no expansion gap between the tiles and the wall, and therefore – as described beautifully by the team at Floors to Your Home – “once you’ve got your floor in place, it just has nowhere to go”; and finally, Loose lay vinyl is also super thick and heavy which adds to its ability to stay put.

Of course, as with all flooring, there are certain provisos when installing these products. You will need to follow the advice from each manufacturer about correctly preparing the subfloor so that it is level and offers the right kind of friction, and also the super-simple installation of Looselay tiles is best suited to smaller spaces.

Larger spaces will likely require the addition of a grid of adhesive tape applied to the subfloor first to ensure that the tiles stay put. Again, follow the advice from the manufacturer to get it right. Either way, the brilliant simplicity of this product means that most proficient DIYers will be able to confidently install a stylish looking floor! Eager to to see some options? Check out the loose lay flooring at BuildDirect and FlooringInc.

Other Benefits of Loose Lay Flooring

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Clearly – even with an adhesive grid – the other major advantage of Looselay vinyl is that it is just as easy to get it off the floor as it is to lay it down: if you move home and would rather like to take your floor with you, you actually can! As most flooring options represent a fairly large investment, what this really means is that you can easily replace any tiles in the unlikely event of serious damage (make sure to keep a few surplus tiles, just in case).

The removability aspect of Looselay is also useful in office or high-tech home environments where you might have power sockets embedded into the subfloor that you don’t necessarily want to always have visible: tiles placed over such power sockets can easily be removed when you need access.

Other benefits include the fact that modern vinyl techniques mean that most Looselay tiles are pretty durable with manufacturers offering guarantees of up to 15 years, and they are also extremely low maintenance; click here for other durable flooring options. New technology also means that the aesthetic design of Looselay tiles is usually just as detailed, textured and authentic-looking as other vinyl such as LVT. Vinyl is both more waterproof and tends to be better at absorbing sound than real flooring products, so it is a great option for pretty much any room in your home. Plus it is warmer underfoot than real stone and softer than real hardwood, and certain manufacturers are offering Looselay tiles that can be used with underfloor heating.

Loose Lay Prices

Comparatively speaking, Loose lay is also pretty affordable, retailing between $3 – $8 per square foot depending on the brand. And when you factor in that you can DIY install it and the low maintenance costs over the years, you really start to see the long-term gains in opting for this innovative flooring.

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Any Loose Lay Flooring Drawbacks?

The main disadvantage of Looselay at this point is that it hasn’t been taken up by all vinyl tile manufacturers yet, so the ranges available are still relatively limited (in comparison to LVT, for example).

The main options are wood and stone looks, and mostly in aesthetics that will broadly appeal to most classic design styles, such as traditional oaks and slates. A few brands do also offer abstract, color block or textile look tiles. Below we have reviewed a few of the manufacturers offering good Looselay collections, and it can only be hoped that as this product gains popularity that more interesting designs will come to the market.

Another possible drawback is that some of the main Looselay manufacturers are actually based outside of the USA, so you may need to track down dealers in your local area.

Beware Linguistic Confusion

If you’re interested in researching Looselay further, then be ready for a bit of linguistic detective work because there is a general confusion surrounding the wording of these products. Quite apart from the fact that some write it as Looselay and others as Loose Lay, different manufacturers are using the terms “loose” and “lay” in various ways to describe totally different products.

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For example Gerflor has two product lines that cause serious confusion! What they refer to as their LVT Looselay (Senso Clic, Senso Lock and Senso Lock Plus) is actually a Click-Lock floating floor; whilst what they call LVT Removable (Senso Adjust) is what we would actually call Looselay, as there is no Click-Lock or glue or staples involved. Gerflor also has a line they refer to as Vinyl Rolls Looselay (Home Comfort, HQR, Texline, Solidtex and Primetex), and whilst these floors indeed do not require glue, they are in fact vinyl sheet not tiles or planks!

And that’s another lingo thing to point out – Looselay vinyl can be in tile or plank format depending on whether you’re going for a stone look or a wood look, even though it is mostly referred to as tile!

Loose Lay Reviews

BuildDirect – Established in 1999, BuildDirect has become one of the largest online manufacturer-wholesalers, specializing in quality flooring and building materials. They have a truly competitive edge by offering manufacturer-direct prices, so if you’re looking to get the most from your budget they are a good place to look first. They currently offer a small but perfectly formed range of Loose Lay planks and tiles. Their St. Erhard loose lay vinyl wood planks line features 6 colorways, including two on-trend gray tones and a rather lovely warm honey-brown acacia (below left), with beautiful grain detailing; and their Vesdura vinyl loose lay stone tiles come in 4 colorways, from gray to brown. Currently available from as little as $1.74 per square feet, the BuildDirect offering is worth serious consideration!


Karndean – This UK based company has been making vinyl flooring products for over 40 years and were one of the first to introduce the Looselay concept to their product lines. The quality products have found markets across the world and are readily available at flooring retailers across the USA. There are currently 26 Karndean Looselay products divided into three series featuring a diverse range of wood and stone aesthetics. The wood look Looselay offerings are particularly interesting with a really good range of colorways from the smoky grey toned Hartford planks (below left), through a number of attractive warm brown tones to the coolly whitewashed Ashland. We also like the Karndean Looselay wood planks are available in a decently large size (41.3” x 9.85”) that adds authenticity to the already highly realistic designs.

FreeFit – This innovative vinyl flooring company that specializes solely in Looselay is based in Hong Kong and has already made great expansions into the Australian flooring market, and is set to explode worldwide as more and more people discover their excellent range of extremely attractive Looselay vinyl planks and tiles. They currently have seven different collections, covering an extensive range of aesthetics, from traditional rustic woods to edgy contemporary stones and include the HDCT collection that features textile like abstract designs. For added authenticity you should look at the Intaglio and EIR collections which have 3D printing graphics which means that they have textured surfaces that effectively mimic the real thing.


Polyflor – Another major vinyl flooring manufacturer based in the UK, Polyflor now have two true Looselay collections – the SimpLay Wood and the SImpLay Stone and Textile collections, both featuring 8 designs. Of all the brands we’ve seen, what set the Polyflor offering apart is the fact that all their Looselay tiles/ planks work really well with each other aesthetically-speaking, which makes it really easy to create a patterned floor or delineate different parts of a space using subtly different tile, as beautifully demonstrated in the image above right with the clever combination of the Limed Concrete and Cathedral Limestone tiles. Polyflor also get bonus points by using 20% recycled materials in their products.


Tarkett – The Looselay Square Acoustic and Square Compact collections from giant flooring company Tarkett are probably more suited to a commercial setting than residential, and feature the same 36 designs but in different sizes/spec. There are some fairly standard looking wood and stone designs, but the collections really stand out for their textile and abstract looks in mainly neutral colors, apart from the rather lovely Zen Blue and the not quite so appealing Patine Prune! However, where Tarkett really stands out above the rest of its competitors is with its innovative Tarkolay product. This is a specially designed underlayment that “makes it possible to loose lay nearly all the Tarkett range of resilient floorings” – contact your local Tarkett specialist for more details on how that actually works! It’s pretty cool!


Forbo – The Looselay product from Forbo Flooring Systems, Allura Flex, is probably the best contender to Tarkett for commercial Looselay vinyl tiles, but arguably the Forbo collection is more aesthetically versatile making it equally suitable for residential settings. There are three collections in the range: Flex Wood, Flex Stone and Flex Abstract. There are now 14 rather elegant wood look planks, each very realistically rendered, from the gorgeously veined Deep Country Oak (below left) to the delicately distressed Blue Reclaimed Wood. The 12 different stone tiles include a few more edgy design choices such as the Grigio Concrete and the Rusty Oxidized Steel; and the 10 Abstract designs include 4 fantastically bold block colored tiles in Lime, Aqua, Orange and Red that we haven’t seen anywhere else!


Gerflor – As mentioned above, the Gerflor people have rather confused matters in the naming of their products, but if you can get past that it’s worth it because their residential LVT Removable collection called Senso Adjust is small but absolutely perfectly formed in terms of design. Featuring just five wood planks and 3 mineral/ stone tiles, each design is bang on design trend in delicate shades of grays, smoky browns, and blanched blonds. Gerflor also has a super clever skirting board product in white or gray that will beautifully complement any of its Senso Adjust floors, which is a lovely touch. Gerflor also have a fairly extensive range of Looselay type flooring products for commercial use, check out their website for more details.

40 thoughts on “Loose Lay Vinyl Plank Flooring – Pros & Cons and Reviews

  • February 13, 2015 at 1:49 pm
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    I’m afraid my comment is actually a question: We have a large (18×12) main floor bedroom that we’re remodeling to be wheelchair accessible to offer for end of life care-giving. We did the bathroom in tile but are overwhelmed with information to try to decide on LVT or laminate flooring. We live in a beautiful old historic home and want the look and resale value to be considered. Quiet is important as well as scratch, dent, and moisture resistant. What would you advise?

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    • February 16, 2015 at 8:23 am
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      I’d be tempted to lean towards LVT because you can probably find something quiet that matches the look of your existing home more easily. Neither laminate or LVT is going to do much for resale value but it’s easy to take up and replace so isn’t a negative either.

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    • February 26, 2015 at 9:39 pm
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      Hi Kristi,

      One benefit of loose lay LVT is that it can be installed over top of any existing hard surface currently in your home. If you choose to change it to something else later, you can do it without any damage to the floor underneath! LVT is soft, warm and quiet underfoot, and you can do the installation yourself if you are so inclined. While I may be a little biased, FreeFit has been very successful in exactly the type of project you are planning and we would be happy to help you with any questions you may have.

      Best Regards,

      Keith Pocock
      Chief Operations Officer
      GTP International, Ltd

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      • February 27, 2015 at 3:11 am
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        Thank you Keith, that’s some very helpful feedback.

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      • June 12, 2016 at 6:12 am
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        Hi i like to put in my large basement area roughly 2000sf some kind of flooring that is is safe from water and moisture, my basement is tend to flooding once in blue moon .
        for this larger basement flooring this loose lay vinyl will be good? do i have to glue down?
        please reply ASAP , i have to do this project ASAP
        thanks

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        • July 16, 2016 at 2:53 pm
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          its awesome for basements that flood …one of the reasons i bought the flooring and like it.. you can pull it up real quick and dry it out then lay it back down .. and nobody would of know what happened.. and no replacing damaged flooring and such .. or involving insurance companies … great product

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      • July 16, 2017 at 10:02 pm
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        hello,

        please let me know if FreeFit planks are still available in Australia. I have used them in my family room and they are great.

        I hope to hear from you.

        regards
        Kaz – 17/07/2017

        Reply
  • April 28, 2015 at 3:20 pm
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    I have a question, as well. We need flooring that meets the minimum rating for sound absorption of STC 58 and IIC 52. We want to do loose lay, but it’s my understanding that it can’t be used with most underlayments (cork, or foam). So, we need one with built-in underlayment or at least specs that qualify. So far, in looking at the ones listed in the above article the acoustic ratings are not included. in the technical information. Do you know of any loose lay that would meet the requirements I listed? –

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  • May 7, 2015 at 4:29 pm
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    Would the vinyl planks work on holiday trailers? Due to change in temperatures, would it cause it to separate? Thanks in advance

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  • June 6, 2015 at 10:29 am
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    I was happy to happen across your excellent article since it is hard to find much about loose lay vinyl tile. I replaced my carpet in my finished basement with a wood look vinyl plank from Floors to Your Home about two years ago (when there were few options).. I noticed that Floors to Your Home is mentioned in the article, but their product is not one of the ones reviewed.

    When I purchased mine, my options were Kardean and Shaw which looked very nice but were too expensive. Home depot had an affordable option with adhesive tabs (so not true loose lay), which looked nice, but easily damaged (according to an acquaintance who had in their home). Then I found Floors to Your Home who ships nationally for free, but also happens to be located 1 and 1/2 hours drive from me so I was able to look at their displays.

    I have the Elite Supreme, $2.59 per square foot, which comes in click or loose lay. It is very durable, the wear layer is hard to scratch with a knife (I tried). The only vulnerability I found was that the wear layer can be chipped at the edge of the plank, but that is unlikely to happen once the floor is laid.

    My basement is large, the whole length of the house, but I opted not to use any glue strip as I consider one of the main advantages of loose lay to be that you can easily take up any plank and replace it. Now that the floor has been down almost two years, I do not regret my choice. The floor was super fast and easy to lay. Our concrete floor was smooth and no special preparation or underlayment was needed. The texture of the grain does match the print pattern, which is a sign of quality.

    This was a great option for my basement, because there are no worries about water or moisture damage or swelling–as was proven later when our furnace drain hose backed up and flooded the floor. The discerning eye might not choose it for the main part of a custom home, as it is not quite as natural looking as engineered hard woods or some high end laminates–but it is pretty close and perfect for a basement.

    For safety reasons, I would put it in any bathroom.Not as slippery and not as hard if someone does fall and I have seen marble and stone looks that look as nice as ceramic. However, since not grouted like tile, I would suggest a waterproof membrane underneath, since the vinyl is waterproof, but the un-grouted seams are not.. As for installation, we have a large stone fireplace in our basement, with uneven and jagged outlines. My husband made patterns and used a box knife to meticulously cut the shapes up against the fireplace. My small hands would not have been strong enough to do that much cutting, so I was glad for his help on that part. I laid most of the rest of the floor myself, using the type of vinyl tile cutter that looks like a paper cutter I highly recommend getting one of those as it will be a great time saver.

    My biggest tip would be to lay the flooring very, very tightly (unlike laminate). I found that a small, cut off piece of a plank is a great tool as a tamper. As I laid each row, starting tight up against a wall, I tapped each piece on the side with my “tamper”. to push it tightly into place. I found it to be very important to also tamp it again as you lay the next row. So, tamp each piece in the row as you lay it, then tamp it again before you lay a piece next to it when you lay the next row.

    After I finished the floor, I was able to stand back and look at it with a critical eye. Some places I felt I had laid some pieces with a repeating pattern too close together. I simply turned on my shop vac and suctioned up a piece and dropped another one in. That easy to replace a plank! I bought two extra boxes but so far have had no reason to repair the floor. Very durable. I am now considering installing it in a rental property, hence my Internet search to find out what is new since I installed mine.

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    • June 12, 2016 at 6:34 am
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      Hi Pam,
      Thanks for you article i had 2000 sf of basement and once in blue moon it tend to flood , whats your advise can i put this loose lay vinyl flooring? i had concrete floor, it was carpet before but i took out all carpet. do i need to do anything or i just clean and put loose lay vinyl without using glue strip, please advise thanks
      Amit

      Reply
  • June 16, 2015 at 2:42 pm
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    I’m looking at doing a pattern of.2-12 X24 tiles made into a 24X 24 square with wood strips surrounding each square.This would mean I would have to cut some of the wood strips on the ends to fit..Can this be done or does each seam need to be only factory edges? Please if anyone knows or has done this let me know.Thanks

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  • June 28, 2015 at 9:38 pm
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    I worry that loose lay will come up if furniture is dragged across it. Any feedback?

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    • June 29, 2015 at 2:22 am
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      Never drag furniture across any flooring, it will either come up or scratch or worse.

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    • July 16, 2016 at 2:55 pm
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      it doesnt move when sliding large items across the floor

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  • July 4, 2015 at 4:45 pm
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    I have a portable dish washer that I wheel across my kitchen floor to hook up to the faucet. Would the little wheels on the dishwasher damage the loose lay vinyl flooring?

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  • November 19, 2015 at 8:16 pm
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    Can I use this in my school cafeteria that has heavy mobile folding cafeteria tables and will have heavy traffic daily on the floors. The tables will be folded up and rolled out daily to clean the floors. Do you think this application will work?

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    • November 20, 2015 at 3:41 am
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      Hi Greg, I would say that for a school cafeteria you will need a commercial flooring product rather than a domestic one. Karndean sell a commercial loose lay product. I would still recommend that you contact any manufacturer direct to discuss your plans and find out about guarantees/warranties etc.

      Reply
  • December 16, 2015 at 10:08 am
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    I would like to install vinyl plank flooring in my basement. I have removed carpet from the concrete floor, and there is a thin layer of carpet adhesive remaining. The surface is level, but there is a thin pattern of troweled carpet adhesive remaining. I’m wondering if I can install the loose lay vinyl planking right over the adhesive if the floor is level ?

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    • December 17, 2015 at 10:33 am
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      Hi Dan, if its just a thin layer and isn’t going to affect the level of your existing floor then there shouldn’t be a problem. If the adhesive is making the floor bumpy and uneven in place then you might have a problem.

      I would have thought though that in a worst case scenario you could remove the adhesive from the concrete floor?

      Reply
  • February 10, 2016 at 7:23 am
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    Hello all, and thank you for your contributions, all so helpful.

    But I still have questions!

    I have at least made my decision – I am definately going with luxury vinyl timber look planks in my kitchen / family / hallway (this has only taken me close on 8 years to get to the point where I can make it a reality)

    Seems tho that decision was the easy part!

    There are now so many products on the market, with so many confusing names, that I have no idea of the actual manufacturer nor the genuine product specifications. Sales people will be Sales people, the world over for the most part. (I am in sales – shocking at boosting my GP as I am far too honest)

    I need a quality product. This will be a major investment for me and I cannot afford to get it wrong.

    It has to be soft and warm under foot, totally resilient to the pets and grandchildren, toys and shoes etc. Sunlight, droppage and water spillage tolerant.

    I thought Amtico & Kardean were the best, however have become confused by the pitches. “They are too thin; too expensive to prepare & lay; should go for Korean products; better technology; …bla bla ”

    I would so appreciate your advice and feedback please.

    Reply
  • February 10, 2016 at 11:19 am
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    How do you move heavy furniture across this loose lay flooring? We have heavy wooden dining room chairs for example. Would felt pads be best? Thanks.

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  • April 6, 2016 at 9:50 am
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    Am wondering anyone with this flooring how you move around with kitchen table chairs???

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  • May 22, 2016 at 7:42 pm
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    I am looking at Looselay vinyl for my living room, dining room, kitchen, nook, family room and laundry room. I just ordered samples to help me decidexplain the color. I like to add a medallion to my foyer entry and was wondering if any available options. Thank you.

    Reply
  • May 27, 2016 at 3:01 am
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    Hi,

    Can you install Looselay vinyl over a existing glued down vinyl tile kitchen & hall floor which is sound and flat ?

    Reply
  • June 4, 2016 at 5:40 pm
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    Is Kardean looselay impervious to cat urine?

    I’m considering using this in rooms where I’ve had problems with a prize winning cat who has had surgery and occasionally has accidents. I think this may be the best option but have heard that vinyl in general can be damaged by the chemicals in cat urine. None of the flooring dealers I have contacted have heard about this problem. I would like to go with this, but not if it is highly susceptble to discoloration from such accidents. Thanks

    Reply
  • June 5, 2016 at 11:33 am
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    I loved the information your article provided but have a question. My new home was built in the early 80’s with particle board mdf as it’s sub-floor. The tenant before I bought it was taming feral cats, and well…I’ve had to paint the floor with a few coats of odor blocking paint from zinsser/kilz and there’s no longer any smell, the surface damage is minor.

    With it being particle board is there a waterproof membrane that is not too expensive that I can put down before the loose lay? Or do I need to re-sheet the floor with 5/8 plywood first? And if I have to re-sheet the floor can I lay it on top of the old sub-floor, and can I use any plywood (spruce/fir)?

    Reply
  • August 20, 2016 at 3:43 pm
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    Want to put in great room and bar area…Does it scratch when bar chairs are used …Is it dog friendly for urine accidents?

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  • September 9, 2016 at 6:25 pm
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    Hello, I’m planning on installing the Luxury Vinyl Floor Planks in my home. I’m looking at the Shaw, Floorte,Classico Antico. I have existing 12 inch tile floor throughout the house and was planning on instaling the vinyl floor planks over the tile (approx.2,700 square feet). The entire existing tile is completely level and was wondering if I can install the vinyl flooring without any underlayment? Other than cost, what would be the difference of installing with or without any underlayment, or is it required with this type of flooring? Thanks

    Reply
  • September 9, 2016 at 6:27 pm
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    I also have two Great Danes and Two kids who are just as destructive. Is the Shaw Luxury Vinyl Floor Plank able to withstand the punishment?

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  • April 11, 2017 at 5:51 pm
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    I am wondering how this will work on stairs?

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    • June 9, 2017 at 1:31 am
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      I don’t think anything other than a fully adhered/fastened product (i.e. not this) would be appropriate for stair treads. This sounds like an amazing choice for normal floor surfaces mostly-surrounded by walls, though.

      Reply
  • May 6, 2017 at 4:09 pm
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    We have 1400 sq ft of Karndean Van Gough wood planks – when the light shines on it – it is hazy looks like a film on it – just so disappointed with this product shows every mark- thinking about taking it out had it 2 weeks 🙁

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  • June 24, 2017 at 10:55 am
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    can this be installed over radiant heat ?

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    • June 26, 2017 at 1:08 pm
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      Always check the manufacturer guidelines on a product by product basis.

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  • October 7, 2017 at 10:22 pm
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    A question about cleaning. We just installed loose lay vinyl planking flooring on our entire main floor and up/down the stairs and hallway. It is a sort of grey color (called Gibraltar Oak). We are a big family of adults and kids that hate wearing socks/slippers and we now have footprints everywhere that I can not seem to wipe off. What type of cleaner should be used on this type of floor? Mr. Clean? Swiffer Wet? Pine sol? I’ve tried spraying a plank with 50/50 water/vinegar and hand scrubbing with a paper towel but even that isn’t lifting the footprints off. Any help/suggestions on how to get this floor to shine would be greatly appreciated.

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  • October 14, 2017 at 1:04 pm
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    Hi All,Seems to be ambiguity with water proof or not? I have spent the last few days in well know flooring companies,and it appears they are unclear on the concept of water/damp/fluid…they use words to infer water proof and then when asked is the glue water proof,out come the 100 mile look in their eyes.
    any feedback welcome

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    • October 16, 2017 at 8:07 am
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      Hi Peter, I understand your frustration…vinyl flooring itself is waterproof meaning that water will not damage the vinyl flooring itself. However, as the name suggests, loose lay vinyl does not install using glue or grout and although it is fitted tightly together there is the possibility of water, if allowed to stand, penetrating the seams of the flooring which of course could problems for your sub-floor. I think it is for this reason that flooring companies are unwilling to claim that any flooring is 100% waterproof.

      Reply
  • October 16, 2017 at 6:33 am
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    Can it be installed over laminate, vinyl sheeting, or ceramic tile?

    Reply

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