Good Looking Durable Floors – At About $2/sq ft

If you need a durable, low cost water resistant flooring product for any area of your fixer upper house consider vinyl plank flooring.  Its super easy to install and far more realistic looking than you might imagine.  After I put an oak vinyl floor in my basement office, my neighbor asked “aren’t you worried about having a wood floor in the basement?”  When I suggested he take a closer look, he couldn’t believe it was vinyl.  Both wood and ceramic tile look options are available and include texturing that makes it hard to immediately identify as vinyl.

IMG_0397I’ve seen vinyl plank flooring advertised as low as $.59/sq ft, but I’ve only ever used TrafficMASTER Allure – a premium product which retails right around $2/sq ft.  I’ve always had great feedback on its appearance and its held up well year after year for me.  The picture at the left is a front door foyer that I just did during a recent home renovation of one of my rentals.  Adding this floor cost only about $200 including labor and made a dramatic difference in the appearance of the front door foyer.

Installation steps and tips:

  • Since the Allure TrafficMASTER product that I’ve used has a rubber backing and “floats” (meaning its not attached or glued to the subfloor), it can installed over any type of subfloor.  The key is to assure that the floor its being installed over doesn’t have any dips or rises and that its very clean – the smallest piece of debris will show through.  Because of this, if the floor currently has any kind of tile installed you’ll definitely want to remove it before installing the vinyl plank flooring.  You’ll also almost always need to smooth out the subfloor with a good self-leveling underlayment as a first step.
  • Allure Oak FlorSynthetic, water resistant baseboards and shoe moulding are also available.  I haven’t been as impressed with the look of those products, but they are very easy to work with and so far have held up good for me – including surviving a basement flood without any warping or mold growth.  Trim/transition pieces match the floor better and again have held up well for me so far, even in heavy traffic areas.

My floors actually looked a little better after they were scuffed up a bit.  I think this is what the product is designed to do, but even if it isn’t don’t be afraid to put these floors in heavy traffic areas.  They’ll actually look more like real wood floors with more use.

  • Leave an 1/8″ or so gap between walls and the edge of the flooring.  This floor needs a little room to move.
  • Stagger the planks just as you would if you were installing hardwood or laminate.  I also focus on making sure that I push the edges and joints together as tightly as I can.  Have a roller handy so that you can roll all the edges to make sure that the pieces adhere to each other.

Vinyl plank flooring is one of the easiest home renovation products to install.  Use it to keep your construction costs down without sacrificing appearance.  It’s definitely a project most Do It Yourselfers can handle, but even if you choose to have a contractor do the work, the cost (roughly $1.50/sq ft) is a fraction of the cost of installing laminate, hardwood or ceramic tile floors………and your new floor will be ready in only a few hours.

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