What is LVT? – Luxury Vinyl Tile 101

What Does LVT Stand For?

LVT is Luxury Vinyl Tile, a beautiful, durable and affordable flooring. It is similar to LVP – some flooring brands do not make a distinction – with multilayer construction to create a rigid flooring that is waterproof. LVT comes in tiles and planks with the look of real stone, ceramic tile and hardwood flooring..

March 30, 2023, by: Jamie Sandford

This Home Flooring Pros guide to LVT provides the details you need to make an informed buying decision. What is LVT? What is the difference between LVT and LVP? Pros and cons of luxury vinyl tile. And relevant FAQs.

Gray LVT in bathroom

WHAT IS LVT MADE OF?

What is LVT flooring? LVT is a plastic composite flooring made primarily from layers of PVC that are heat-fused together for stability and hardness. Today’s LVT is mostly low-VOC flooring made from PVC without phthalates. Look for flooring rated by FloorScore or GreenGuard to be low-VOC.

Some brands also include a backing layer that adds acoustic sound dampening and a slight amount of cushioning.

LUXURY VINYL TILE FLOORING DEFINED

From the top down, here is how LVT is constructed.

1). A tough, transparent wear layer of polyurethane or PVC. A few brands like Tilebar use both a urethane top layer and underlying clear PVC layer.

2). Print layer – the layer made to look like genuine hardwood or tile. Varying techniques are used to get as “real” a look as possible. The surface is often embossed to create wood grain or stone tile texture.

3). Vinyl stability layer – A strong, thin layer providing firmness and flooring stability.

4). Optional foam or cork cushion layer.

*Rigid core LVT is a subgroup of flooring that has a stone plastic core (SPC) layer or wood plastic core (WPC) above the backing layer.

This construction allows the flooring to be clicked and locked together. Standard LVT is either glue down, usually in commercial settings, or loose lay for residential dwellings.

What is the difference between LVT and LVP?

The only difference between LVT and LVP is the shape – longer planks versus shorter, wider tiles. Both are considered luxury vinyl flooring. And LVT and LVP, along with all vinyl flooring, comes under the category of resilient flooring according to the World Flooring Covering Association (WFCA).

Is LVT waterproof?

LVT flooring is waterproof. Those brands made only with PVC cores are considered more waterproof than SPC and WPC flooring.

WHAT IS LVT GOOD FOR?

LVT is a trending flooring choice because of its versatility and use in areas where moisture can be an issue – kitchens, bathrooms, entryways and laundry rooms.

Is LVT any good?

LVT is an excellent flooring and a big improvement on its predecessor VCT (Vinyl Composite Tile). It’s a popular choice as a substitute for real hardwood and tile. It is more affordable, especially if you DIY.

LVT requires less maintenance than real wood flooring. It’s warmer and softer underfoot than natural stone or ceramic tile.

LVT is preferred to laminate because LVT can be fully waterproof. Laminate, due to its fiberboard core, is subject to water damage.

Can LVT be used in the basement?

LVT is a good choice for basement flooring. The best option is a luxury vinyl tile that is 100% PVC and sold as waterproof.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN LVT AND LAMINATE?

There are two main differences.

First, their materials are quite different. Since laminate has a natural core made of wood fibers, it is susceptible to damage from exposure to water. It shouldn’t be mopped or steam cleaned.

LVT is much more resistant to moisture because there are no organic materials in most of it. And those that do have a rigid core have sealed edges all around to allow them to be exposed to water for up to a few days – a spill, not a flood – without damage.

Secondly, LVT is thinner than laminate – 2mm to 6mm, while laminate can be up to 12mm. This generally makes transitions between flooring types, LVT to carpet, for example, easier to manage.

The similarities between LVT and laminate start with appearance – a photographic or digitally produced image layer covered in a scratch-resistant wear layer.

They both offer the potential for DIY installation. However, laminate is harder, so a power saw is usually needed for cutting. Standard LVT can be cut with a utility knife. Learn more about how to cut vinyl and how to cut laminate.

Laminate generally has a backing pad – some LVT comes with attached pad underlay material.

How much do laminate and LVT cost?

Prices start under $2.00 per square foot for the flooring and installation materials.

LVT has a little higher average price of around $4.00-$5.00 per square foot and a top price of about $10. The most expensive laminate flooring is $5.50-$6.50 per square foot.

HOW MUCH DOES LVT COST?

At the prices given above, a 300 square foot room would cost $1,500 to $1,700 for the materials.

If you hire a flooring contractor to install it, add around $4.00 per square foot for a total of $2,700 to $2,900.

Further Reading: Laminate Cost | Vinyl Cost | Cost of LVP Vs Carpet

TYPES OF LVT?

The four types are:

1). Click vinyl LVT: This is the most popular choice for residential use. It’s easy DIY.

2). Rigid core LVT: Also easy to click together. It can be a little thicker and usually comes with a pad underlayment attached.

3). Loose lay LVT: Used in residential and commercial settings, it has a backing that grips the floor to keep it in place without adhesive.

4). Glue down flooring: Mostly used commercially, it is designed to hold up to heavy foot traffic. Of course, installation and replacement are more difficult.

CHOOSING YOUR LVT FLOORING

First, of course, decide whether you prefer a natural stone look (tiles) or real wood appearance (planks).

Planks: Wood-look flooring planks range from 6”x48” to 10”x72”.

Browsing plank flooring, the most common wood species mimicked by them are red and white oak, cherry, acacia, maple and walnut. Each is manufactured in various “stain” colors, just as you find with natural hardwood floors.

Tiles: Most are 12”x24”.

Looks include marble, granite, travertine and concrete – yes, acid stained concrete in a range of colors.

FAQs

Does LVT need to acclimate?

LVT needs to acclimate before installation. Bring all boxes of the flooring into your home for at least 48 hours before flooring installation starts. Opening the boxes will speed up the acclimatization process.

How to calculate LVT?

To calculate how much LVT you will need measure the room length and width, and multiply them. If the room is L-shaped, measure each section separately and add the totals.

Then, add 5% to your order to ensure having enough when trimming and mistakes are accounted for.

Can you put LVT over tile?

It isn’t recommended to lay LVT over tile, because the grout lines will show through click LVT.  If you want to try it, make sure that any cracked or missing grout is replaced. And choose a rigid core LVT for best results.

And if the flooring rises the total height too much, you might have to trim down doors and other components of the room.

About the Author:

Jamie Sandford

Jamie Sandford, Owner and Editor of Home Flooring ProsJamie 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.”