Are Vinyl Floors the Best Kitchen Flooring Option?
Vinyl is one of the most popular kitchen flooring options and a top choice for most homeowners. Water-resistant or Waterproof vinyl flooring is perfect for the kitchen which is prone to spills and moisture. Its durability is valuable in the high traffic kitchen environment and being easy to clean makes kitchen flooring maintenance a breeze.
This page is about the best vinyl kitchen flooring for your home – and why vinyl is a material worth considering.
The four main types of vinyl flooring for kitchens are discussed – what they are and how much they cost. Information on waterproof options, today’s top vinyl flooring brands and things to think about when choosing vinyl for the kitchen are included.
Kitchen vinyl flooring comes in four main types. From cheap to premium, they are peel and stick ($), sheet vinyl ($-$$), LVP or luxury vinyl plank ($$-$$$) and EVP or engineered vinyl plank ($$$-$$$$).
Why vinyl for the kitchen? Let’s count the ways. It is water resistant or waterproof depending on the type, so it stands up to splashes and spills. The best stuff is tough enough to handle a high volume of traffic. And you have attractive options to fit your budget level.
Attractive? If your vision of vinyl is the plasticky stuff your grandmother had in her kitchen, take another look. Today’s vinyl mimics better than ever the appearance of genuine wood, stone and tile. The best LVP and EVP are hard to distinguish from the real thing.
PROS AND CONS OF KITCHEN VINYL
Here’s a quick take on the advantages and disadvantages of installing vinyl flooring in the kitchen instead of other popular options like engineered hardwood and tile.
- Flooring for every budget
- Water-resistant, waterproof flooring
- Great range of styles
- Choices for durability from 7-20+ years
- LVP/EVP looks almost exactly like real wood or tile
- Costs less than hardwood, ceramic or stone tile
- Easy DIY or pro installation
- Low-maintenance flooring
- Suitable choices for in-floor heating
- Warmer to touch than tile
- Low resale value compared to hardwood and tile
- The least expensive options look cheap and have poor durability
- Must choose FloorScore flooring to avoid VOCs
- Peel and stick and cheap sheet vinyl shows furniture marks
- Not environmentally friendly (oil-based)
HOW MUCH DOES KITCHEN VINYL FLOORING COST?
Here’s a table showing four types of vinyl flooring for the kitchen and how much they cost.
Full details on the materials, cost factors, installation requirements and labor cost are below the table.
|Type||Cost Range/sq. ft.||Average/sq. ft.|
|Peel and Stick||$0.40 – $2.25||$1.25|
|Sheet Vinyl||$0.65 – $5.00||$1.90|
|LVP||$1.50 – $7.00||$3.35|
|EVP||$3.90 – $9.50||$5.50|
DIFFERENT TYPES OF KITCHEN VINYL
This section on vinyl flooring for kitchen installation will assist in choosing one that fits your preferences for cost, durability and features.
PEEL AND STICK VINYL FLOORING: Improved yet budget-friendly for Smaller, Low-traffic Kitchens
Some readers are snickering because we included peel and stick vinyl flooring in a respectable post – and we understand. The perception of this material is terrible – but while this is still affordable kitchen flooring, it has been improved in quality and appearance.
What it is: AKA peel & stick and peel-n-stick vinyl flooring, it is now more like sheet vinyl but cut into planks or tiles with an adhesive backing. This vinyl flooring is worth considering if you’re on a budget and/or want to install it yourself. Home Depot offers a good tip: Buy all flooring for the project from the same lot or run of flooring to ensure consistent color shade. The lot/run should be stamped on each box of tiles.
Installation: The adhesive isn’t super-sticky, it’s really just grippy enough to hold it firmly in place against a clean subfloor, preferably plywood, though it works on a concrete slab too. You can also install it over sheet vinyl in good condition – but beware that imperfections will show through, something called “telegraphing.”
Cost: $0.40 (40 cents) to $2.25 per square foot. The average cost is about $1.00 to $1.50.
Best Use: We like peel and stick for smaller kitchens, like a galley kitchen that isn’t the main “hangout” in the house. It’s a suitable flooring for a quick, DIY makeover that serves the purpose for 5-10 years. If the kitchen gets a lot of traffic, choose another vinyl flooring type.
SHEET VINYL: Popular for Budget and Midrange Remodeling Projects
This tried-and-proven flooring has been upgraded in construction and appearance over the last decade.
What it is: It comes in felt-backed, full glue sheet flooring, vinyl-backed perimeter-glue options and fiberglass-backed loose lay sheet vinyl.
Sheet vinyl now features multiple layers in the core for beefier strength and full waterproof performance.
The core is topped with a digitally produced photograph of genuine wood, stone or ceramic tile – yes, an exact image of the real thing. A durable wear layer covers the flooring. It is resistant to scratches and yellowing to make sheet vinyl longer lasting than ever.
Installation: Pro installation is a good idea, especially if the floor layout is complex. We suggest this because one false cut can ruin a large sheet of material. If you want to tackle the job yourself take a look at how to install vinyl sheet flooring. The best material is now loose-lay vinyl that doesn’t require gluing anywhere, and you’ll still find material that requires perimeter or full gluing.
Cost: Less than $1.00 to about $5.00 per square foot with an average close to $2.00.
Best use: It’s an excellent choice in most kitchens, and it won’t harm resale unless your home is decidedly upscale – and then you are better off choosing LVP or EVP.
LUXURY VINYL PLANK/TILE, aka LVP/LVT: A Great Choice When Appearance and Performance Matter
This is today’s best-selling plank vinyl flooring, and most of it is waterproof. The rest offers excellent water resistance.
What it is: This material is produced in two basic types. Standard vinyl planks have no core or a foam core. Rigid core vinyl has a waterproof core, either stone polymer composite (SPC) or wood polymer composite (WPC). Wear layers of 12 to 20 mils are common, though some premium plank vinyl has a thicker wear layer.
Installation: Plank vinyl flooring is a DIY-friendly material. It cuts easily, and most fits together with locking edges or is loose lay flooring – the planks have a fiberglass mat back that “hug” the floor and requires no adhesive.
Cost: Cheap vinyl plank flooring starts at about $1.50 per square foot and ranges to $7.00 or more for a few super-premium options. Most homeowners pay an average $2.75 to $4.00 per square foot for the material.
Best use: It is an ideal choice for any kitchen except those in which hardwood or premium ceramic and stone tile are the only materials consistent with the value of the home.
ENGINEERED VINYL PLANK, aka EVP: Today’s Premium Kitchen Vinyl Flooring
EVP flooring is a newer designation for some rigid core plank vinyl flooring, both WPC and SPC types. Both offer waterproof performance – though you shouldn’t expect them to survive undamaged if your kitchen floods and the water remains on it for days. But go ahead and wet-mop the floor, and a glass of spilled water or even a tipped bucket won’t cause a problem.
What it is: EVP is premium SPC or WPC rigid core vinyl plank flooring that offers good dimensional stability. Above the core, the design layer features a photo-realistic image of whatever the floor is designed to look like – wood, stone or tile.
The image is covered with clear vinyl and a scratch-resistant wear layer. Most EVP has attached pad for sound-dampening and a softer feel under foot.
Installation: Like standard vinyl planks, engineered vinyl plank flooring comes in click-together and loose-lay options.
Cost: About $4 to $10 per square foot with an average around $5 or $6. Keep in mind that these prices are comparable to engineered hardwood, which is another very good kitchen flooring choice.
Best use: If vinyl is consistent with homes in your area, then this is your premium choice in kitchen vinyl flooring.
HOW MUCH DOES INSTALLATION COST
Well, for starters, peel and stick is almost always DIY.
Sheet vinyl installation costs $1.50 to $2.50 per square foot based on the complexity of the work.
The average cost to install vinyl plank flooring is $2.00 to $4.50, again based on how much trimming and working around obstacles is required in your kitchen. Most homeowners pay between $2.00 and $3.50 per square foot.
HOW TO FIND THE BEST VINYL FLOORING FOR YOUR KITCHEN
Here are a few tips that will help you make an informed buying decision you’ll be happy with for years to come.
- Keep up with the neighborhood: You’ll protect your home’s value by choosing kitchen flooring consistent with what is commonly used where you live. Don’t know what fits your street? Ask a realtor – they’ve been through hundreds of homes near you and can advise you.
- Understand wear layer and durability: There are two factors to consider. The first is the thickness of the wear layer. Cheap vinyl has a thin wear layer in the 4 to 8 mils range – a mil is 1/1000th of an inch. If you want the floor to look good for a decade-plus, then choose material with a wear layer of at least 10 or 12 mils especially in a high traffic kitchen; 16-20 or more is better. Secondly, consider what’s in the wear layer. Is it urethane? That’s good, but if it’s treated for enhanced resistance to scratches and stains, that’s a more durable choice.
- Make it healthy: We’re all concerned with indoor air quality (IAQ), and your kitchen flooring material matters. Regardless of which specific material you select, look for brands with a FloorScore or GreenGuard rating for zero or low levels of VOC toxins.
- Protect your investment with care and maintenance: Put pads on chair legs and furniture legs. Lift and move rather than drag heavy objects. Keep your pet’s nails trimmed. Reduce running and rowdy play for kids and adults alike.
A shoes-off policy always helps. Pick up dust and dirt regularly, so it won’t act like an abrasive under your feet – and do the job with a brushless vacuum. Oh, and clean up spills, especially those that might stain, pretty quickly. Quality kitchen vinyl doesn’t need to be pampered, but a little TLC will go a long way toward keeping it looking its best.
What about vinyl flooring in other rooms of your home?
BEST VINYL FLOORING BRANDS FOR THE KITCHEN
From cheap to premium, brands seek to fill one or more cost/quality niches with flooring that will catch your attention.
BUDGET KITCHEN VINYL:
If your budget maxes out at $1.00 or $2.00 per square foot, then consider peel and stick or sheet vinyl. We’d steer clear of the cheapest plank vinyl because it wears quickly and the click-lock joints are weak.
Brands to consider are TrafficMaster at Home Depot, store brands at Lowes and Menards, and the more affordable vinyl options from well-known brands like Shaw, Congoleum, Home Decorators and Armstrong.
You’ve got more choice in the $2.50 to $4.50 per square foot range than either cheaper or pricier tiers. Literally every major manufacturer makes vinyl flooring for kitchens in this range.
PREMIUM VINYL FLOORING FOR KITCHENS:
The best vinyl flooring for kitchens includes a few top of the line sheet vinyl choices, but most of it is rigid core WPC and SPC choices – that is, engineered vinyl plank or EVP.
Brands? Our EVP report recommends COREtec for selection, Mohawk SolidTech for easy DIY, Karndean Korlok for photo-realistic appearance. Pergo Extreme (yes, Pergo now makes LVP) is also worth considering.
FINAL THOUGHTS FROM HOME FLOORING PROS
- Today’s vinyl flooring is better than ever at every level – peel and stick to sheet to LVP/EVP. In other words, don’t automatically overlook kitchen vinyl flooring you’ve long considered cheap. Pleasant surprises might await.
- It’s also true that you get what you pay for – better appearance and durability, less susceptibility to dents and scratches, plus waterproof protection, comes at a higher cost.
- WPC is softer underfoot and thicker than SPC flooring – FWIW.
- There’s no shame in sheet vinyl! Today’s options look great, are 100% waterproof and hold up better than earlier generations of this flooring.
- If you plan radiant floor heating, check with the manufacturer to be sure its flooring is rated for it
- Healthy flooring with a FloorScore certification or GreenGuard rating is easy to find, especially in better sheet vinyl and vinyl plank flooring.
- Interested in green, sustainable flooring? Then you’re better off choosing engineered hardwood or bamboo for the kitchen.
- Wear layer is essential to durability, always opt for kitchen vinyl with the thickest wear layer you can afford.
More Kitchen Flooring Reports:
About the Author:
Jamie Sandford is the Owner and Chief Editor of Home Flooring Pros (find out more). After 12 years’ experience in screen and stage set construction followed by a further 15 years working in the home renovation/remodeling business he now writes and curates online home improvement advice.
“Buying and installing home flooring should be a fairly straightforward process, but often it isn’t. After more than 15 years’ experience in home flooring and remodeling, I started Home Flooring Pros in 2013 to help homeowners navigate the often-over complicated process of choosing, buying and installing a home floor. The aim is to save you time and money by helping you to make better floor buying decisions.”