If you go to a flooring store to buy luxury vinyl, one of the options that will probably be recommended for you is rigid core, and the first question you will likely ask the sales staff is, “Is rigid core luxury vinyl flooring good?”
To help you find an informed answer to this question, we have explored rigid core luxury vinyl flooring and prepared this article that highlights both its positives and negatives. But before we get to the nitty gritty, let’s first tell you what rigid core vinyl is and what it’s made of.
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What Is Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring?
Rigid core vinyl is a resilient, dimensionally stable flooring product that was invented to replace the more flexible luxury vinyl planks and tiles. It is essentially a much improved version of luxury vinyl.
Rigid core floors use vinyl as one of the key materials because, unlike hardwood, vinyl can stand up against water damage, spills, and indoor humidity with little to no adverse effects. It is, therefore, perfect for homeowners looking for flooring that mimics hardwood and has the ability to withstand the most common indoor moisture issues.
However, because the traditional vinyl floors are mainly made of PVC core, they lack strength and support, which makes them more flexible and easy to dent or scratch.
Creating vinyl flooring with a rigid core increases its overall stability and strength, and makes it harder to dent. It also allows for the production of thinner planks without sacrificing resilience and durability. Rigid core vinyl flooring offers more underfoot support too.
What is Inside Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring?
Rigid core luxury vinyl flooring consists of five layers, namely:
- Sun protection layer: This is the topmost layer of rigid core flooring, designed to protect the floor against the harmful ultraviolet rays that can cause discoloration.
- Wear and tear layer: With this layer, the flooring is able to avoid stains, scratches, and general wear and tear resulting from household traffic. The thicker the wear layer, the longer your flooring will last.
- Printed vinyl layer: The vinyl layer is what determines how your floor will look like. It contains prints of different colors and patterns, mimicking the design of natural hardwood.
- Stone polymer composite Core: This is the layer that gives the rigid core luxury vinyl flooring its name. It is usually made of limestone, polymer, and stabilizers to make it denser and more supportive than the traditional polyvinyl chloride (PVC) core.
- Base layer: Also known as the underlayment, the purpose of the base layer is to provide padding so that the planks sit properly on the subfloor. It also acts as a sound and moisture barrier.
Pros of Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring
Easy to Install
Because most rigid core luxury vinyl planks come with an inbuilt underlayment, they are very easy to install. Also, you don’t need any adhesive or fasteners to lay the flooring in place; the planks have a tongue and groove that enables them to click and interlock seamlessly together to form one flat, smooth surface.
And here is the best part; you don’t need to get rid of the existing floor to install the new flooring. Rigid core luxury vinyl planks can effortlessly float on top of another floor. All you need to do is make sure the surface is clean, smooth, level, and moisture-free.
This video shows you just how easy it is to install rigid core vinyl planks. Check it out.
One of the features every homeowner looks for when buying floating floors is water resistance. Water damage, whether from spilled drinks or leaking pipes can be expensive to fix.
Rigid core luxury vinyl flooring is not only water-resistant but also 100% waterproof. However, as with all click and lock floors, don’t leave pools of water on the floor unattended or the water will seep through the plank joints and get trapped underneath the floor where it will create a breeding ground for mold.
If you are revamping your floor on a budget but still want flooring that is high-quality and durable, rigid core vinyl would be a great choice.
Whereas solid hardwood flooring will cost between $4 and $10 per square foot, rigid core luxury vinyl flooring will cost only $2 to $4 per square foot. Also, keep in mind that you can do the entire installation by yourself, meaning you will not have to incur any installation costs.
Little Expansion and Contraction
Because of the solid composite material used to make rigid core floors, the planks are less prone to expansion and contraction caused by changes in the indoor humidity levels. As such, you won’t have to worry about gapping, buckling, or shrinking like you would with hardwood floors.
It would feel good to go years without worrying about your flooring, wouldn’t it? Well, owing to the floor’s durability and resilience, manufacturers of rigid core luxury vinyl planks often provide warranties that run for decades, sometimes even a lifetime. Just make sure to read the terms of your warranty carefully.
Cons of Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring
With these many advantages, it is difficult to find flaws in rigid core luxury vinyl flooring. Perhaps the only downside is that despite the floor having a wear and tear layer, it can still get damaged if abused.
As a homeowner, therefore, you will still need to take proper care of your flooring to help it live longer and serve the purpose it is created for.
So, Is Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring Good?
Yes, rigid core luxury vinyl flooring is a good investment for anyone looking for affordable floors that will serve them for many years.
Because it is easy to maintain and does not scratch easily, it is perfect for people with kids and pets. And thanks to its strong core, you can install the flooring in high-traffic areas without worrying about it getting damaged.
Just make sure to keep it clean and dry to avoid water and dirt from getting trapped between the tongues and grooves, as this can put the flooring at risk of molding.
Tips for Buying Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring
With so many floor manufacturers producing rigid core luxury vinyl planks, choosing the right flooring can be an uphill task especially if you don’t know exactly what to look for. Here are some pointers to help you.
Find Out What Is Included in the Outer and Wear Layer
The exterior layer and the wear layer are some of the most important parts of your vinyl planks. Without these, your flooring will not be able to survive UV rays or scratches from pets and kids’ toys.
To make sure your floor lasts longer, consider brands that include these layers. This is especially important if you are going to install the flooring in a sunny room or if your kids love to play with sharp toys. Be careful when buying cheaper brands, as some may not have their flooring coated with UV or scratch protection.
Check the Underlayment
However, this is really not a problem, as you can buy the underlayment separately. The only downside to this is that you may end up spending more than you initially planned for.
But, honestly, the amount you spend buying an underlayment would be much less than what you would have to spend to repair damages resulting from installing the flooring without an underlayment.
You see, the work of the underlay is not just to provide padding and proof sound; it also prevents the flooring from getting wet especially if it is installed on a concrete subfloor, which helps keep mold at bay.
Consider Narrower Planks
Unless the surface on which you will be laying your flooring is perfectly even, avoid wide planks. Most planks will be between 4 in. and 6 in. wide, but some can go up to 11 in. wide.
The problem with wider planks is that they will not sit properly on a subfloor if it is not completely smooth. If you are working with a hardwood subfloor or any other uneven surface, the narrower planks would be a much better option.
Rigid core luxury vinyl is an excellent choice for any homeowner looking for affordable, waterproof, and durable, easy-to-install flooring options. With a quality wear layer and strong stone polymer composite core, these floors will withstand dents and scratches and serve you for many years.
To make sure your rigid core vinyl flooring sits properly on the subfloor, ensure the subfloor itself is as flat and smooth as possible. It would also help to go for narrower planks, as these fit better on uneven floors. Just make sure the planks come with underlayment and if not, buy it separately.