Is Vinyl Flooring a Good Option for the Living Room?
Vinyl flooring is a good living room option worth considering when you want an attractive floor that is easy to care for and comes at a lower cost than hardwood flooring. The most popular vinyl flooring for a living room is usually vinyl plank flooring, LVP, or vinyl tile flooring, LVT. Engineered vinyl plank flooring, EVP, is also gaining in popularity.
Last Updated: February 27, 2023, by: Jamie Sandford
All the best living room flooring options are considered here with pros and cons, costs, options and more.
Vinyl flooring in the living room, planks and tiles mostly, though sheet vinyl is a budget option, is a common alternative to genuine hardwood flooring. It has a similar look and feel at a lower cost. You have an abundance of colors and styles to consider, so don’t be in a hurry to make your decision. There are a lot of options to look at.
Of course, living room vinyl flooring doesn’t have the same permanence as hardwood – expect 8-20 years of wear from it depending on initial quality and how heavy the traffic is in your home. That’s about the same longevity as carpet. Big dogs and playful kids can also shorten its lifespan.
Related Reading: Living Room Floor Ideas
PROS AND CONS OF LIVING ROOM VINYL FLOORING
Luxury vinyl flooring for the living room is a trending choice – You’ve probably seen it on most lists of the top living room floors for this year.
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of living room vinyl flooring.
- Wood look without the cost – less expensive than hardwood and most natural stone or ceramic tile choices
- Excellent selection of colors and styles
- Handles humidity and temperature changes better than hardwood – won’t warp, swell or separate
- Resistant to damage and stains from spills and pets
- Decent durability – up to 20 years – though not as long-lasting as hardwood (must be replaced rather than refinished)
- Can be a DIY flooring for homeowners with good skills
- Easy to maintain – just sweeping or vacuuming
- Doesn’t harbor allergens like carpet
- Can be used over in-floor electric or hydronic heat
- Softer under your feet and holds warmth better than ceramic and stone tile
- Non-slip surfaces
- Low VOC options, but take care to look for FloorScore and/or GreenGuard labels if this is a concern
- Lower return on investment than wood floors, but again, at a lower upfront cost
- Petroleum based – so not especially friendly to the environment
- Can be recycled – but most ends up in a landfill
HOW MUCH DOES LIVING ROOM VINYL FLOORING COST?
The retail cost of luxury vinyl flooring is $1.50 to $10.00 per square foot with a price range for the most popular options of $3.35 to $5.50 per square foot.
Sheet vinyl flooring costs less, but it’s not a top option for living rooms – it is usually chosen as kitchen flooring or for use in bathrooms, basements and potentially wet areas like foyers and laundry rooms.
If you have good DIY skills, consider installing your LVP/LVP/EVP. Or hire a flooring installer to do the job for around $2.00 to $4.00 per square foot – details and cost factors are found below.
|Type||Average Retail Cost||Average Installed Cost|
|LVP/LVT||$3.35 – $5.00/sq. ft.||$5.35 – $9.00/sq. ft.|
|EVP (WPC/SPC)||$5.00 – $6.00/sq. ft.||$7.00 – $10.00/sq. ft.|
Related Reading: LVP Flooring Cost
DIFFERENT TYPES OF LIVING ROOM VINYL
We’re going to rule out two vinyl flooring choices from the start.
Peel and stick vinyl has its place – but that place isn’t usually the living room.
And again, while sheet vinyl flooring is a low-cost alternative to luxury vinyl planks and tiles, it’s better suited to other rooms of your home.
That leaves two excellent choices for living room vinyl flooring: Luxury vinyl planks/tiles and engineered vinyl planks.
LUXURY VINYL PLANK AND TILE – ALSO KNOWN AS LVP/LVT: Good-looking, Cost-effective Vinyl Flooring
And again, this is DIY friendly flooring if you want to cut costs and enjoy completing your own home improvement projects.
What it is: You have a few choices here. The cheapest vinyl plank and tile flooring is plastic through-and-through. The surface is textured and tinted to give it the look of genuine wood.
Rigid core vinyl is highly water-resistant, even waterproof. The core options are SPC – stone polymer composite, and WPC – wood polymer composite.
All vinyl tile and plank flooring are topped with a clear wear layer that resists scratches. Materials vary, but thicknesses range from 8 mills to 20 mils with 10-12 mils being most common.
Further Reading: What is LVT Flooring?
Installation: If you’re inclined to DIY installation, this is a good flooring to consider. The material is easy to cut for starters. And the most common types have locking edges – they click or snap together and can easily be taken apart if repairs are needed.
Loose lay vinyl flooring is a newer option. The material is a little heavier, and a fiberglass mat backing has a grippy texture that clings to the subfloor without the use of glue.
Cost: The retail cost of most luxury vinyl is $2.50 to $4.00 per square foot. The installed cost for flooring in this price range is $4.50 to $8.00.
Best Use: This flooring looks great in the living room when hardwood isn’t your preferred flooring. Keep it looking great with regular vacuuming – using a vacuum designed for hard floors. Using a damp mop and warm water is appropriate when necessary.
Related Reading: Best Vinyl Plank Flooring
ENGINEERED VINYL PLANK – OR EVP: Top-quality Living Room Vinyl Flooring
EVP is premium rigid core vinyl plank and tile flooring. It is available in both WPC and SPC versions.
The benefit is greater resistance to moisture, though that isn’t a high priority in the living room unless the space has an entry door or sliding glass door.
What it is: EVP is a strong, durable vinyl flooring. A photo-realistic image is applied above the core, and a durable, clear wear layer protects the image.
Most EVP comes with an attached pad which gives a slight bit of cushioning and also reduces the clicky-clack sounds that wood and tile flooring are susceptible to when walked on.
Installation: This is another good DIY choice. Most planks and tiles are designed to snap or click together. Loose-lay flooring that doesn’t lock together is available, though not as common.
Cost: Most EVP runs $5.00 to $6.00 per square foot, but can cost as much as $10.00.
Best Use: This flooring closely mimics hardwood and is a good choice when you want the wood look without the maintenance requirements of wood – or the higher cost of genuine hardwood.
Related Reading: EVP Flooring
HOW MUCH DOES INSTALLATION COST
Labor rates are $2.00 to $4.00 per square foot for flooring installed in a living room. The more trimming needed – around a fireplace hearth for example – the higher the cost per square foot.
HOW TO FIND THE BEST VINYL FLOORING FOR YOUR LIVING ROOM
These tips should help you select luxury vinyl for the living room that you’ll be happy with in the years to come.
Is vinyl common where you live? Luxury vinyl planks and tiles are a good fit in most neighborhoods. If homes are modest where you live, then lower-cost vinyl flooring gives the best return on investment. If homes are upscale, choose premium LVT/LVP or consider genuine hardwood.
Keep your home healthy. First, choose low-VOC vinyl flooring. It will have a FloorScore or GreenGuard label. And then keep the floor swept to remove dust, dirt and other allergens that can easily become airborne.
Get more good years from your floor. You can do this by keeping it swept, but also by putting pads on chair and furniture legs to avoid dents and having a no-shoes policy.
TOP VINYL FLOORING BRANDS FOR THE LIVING ROOM
You’ve got budget options from cheap to luxury. Since the living room is one of the home’s high-traffic areas and it’s where family and guests gather, consider mid-priced to premium options.
However, if you’re looking for a cheap renovation, consider a brand like Home Depot’s TrafficMaster or low-cost alternatives available at local home improvement stores.
MID-PRICED VINYL FLOORING
The most popular options are $2.50 to $4.50 per square foot, and selection is excellent.
Brands to consider in this range are Mohawk, Shaw, Mannington, Armstrong, NuCore, SmartCore, StainMaster, CoreTec, Tarkett and Karndean.
PREMIUM VINYL FLOORING
If you’re in the market for top-quality LVT and LVP, consider CoreTec, Mohawk SolidTech, Pergo Extreme and Karndean Korlok.
About the Author: Jamie Sandford
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.”