Should I buy luxury vinyl flooring from a big box store or a local flooring store?

Should I buy luxury vinyl flooring from a big box store or a local flooring store?

When you are shopping for luxury vinyl flooring, you will find that where you shop will determine what information you will see on the label. The difference is very interesting. You will see it mainly between the big box stores and the flooring stores. At a big box store, you will see labels like "Smart Core", "Matrix" technology, or "Life proof" flooring. They sound great and make it seem like it is the best thing ever made for your home. When you go to the flooring store, you don't see quite the same marketing. You will see collection names, manufacturers, and a lot of technical information that doesn't make sense. Why would you buy it from the flooring store when the box store sounds so much better?

Let's start with what you learn at a box store. If you are looking at luxury vinyl flooring, the first thing you know is that it's waterproof. It isn't made of anything that absorbs water. This is kind of a given, even though they put it on the label. The installation method does matter some. Most of what you will find at the box store is interlocking unless you may want a peel and stick. (A word of advice, don't get peel and stick from a box store.) The label will even tell you that you can install it above and below grade. This means that you can put it into your basement as well as on the main floor in your home. This may be a given since it is a waterproof product. Leaks and moisture in the basement won't damage the flooring. Many of the products have underlayment or a pad attached to the bottom already and that will be on the label. The other basic information will be that it is scratch resistant and has a Limited Lifetime Warranty.

With all that information, you haven't really learned much. The little bit of technical information may be how thick the product is and it may give you a specific warranty for commercial use. In the end, the box store information is vague and doesn't really help you to understand what the differences are in the flooring. Apart from how thick it is and a commercial warranty, some fancy names may be all you get. The reason just may be that they don't want you to know. The more information that you are given, the more it allows you to compare products and shop around for pricing and quality. Box stores want to sound really fancy and technical with those names to get you to buy what they have.

Now, going into a flooring store may not be as interesting without those fancy names. I will tell you though that you will learn a lot more looking at the samples in the flooring store than those in the box store. First thing you can see is that the warranty information will give a specific time frame for residential and commercial warranties. The reason is that they will tell you how durable the flooring is by giving you the wear layer on the surface. This number may be read as a mil wear layer. It may be any wear from 4, 20, or 40. There are other numbers in between as well. This wear layer is a clear coating that protects the print that you see on the surface. A bread bag is about 1.5 mils thick. The thicker or higher number of mil wear layers, the more durable the surface may be. There will also be information the manufacturer has added any additional protective coatings on top of the wear layers for added protection.

The other information that you will see is how thick in mm the product is. Thicker products usually hold up longer as well. Thicker products, when dealing with interlocking or click installations, are easier to click together. It may also change the type of clicking design used. Manufacturers have different locking systems. That will be listed on many of the samples as well. Thicker products also hide imperfections in the subfloor better than thinner products. You will see the thickness number in box stores, but the flooring store may give you more information. What is at the flooring store may separate the core thickness apart from the underlayment. They don't always put the two together to give you the idea the core is thicker than it really is.

Going to a flooring store will also open you to more options in installation methods and types of luxury vinyl flooring. The different styles of installation will be glue down, click, and loose lay. When dealing with click flooring, you will find that there are two different types of cores. WPC and SPC will specify on the labels what type of core the product has. WPC stands for wood-plastic composite. SPC stands for stone plastic composite. They are both waterproof cores and you may see the name COREtec used many times when referring to WPC. Over the years, COREtec has become a common name for click flooring like Xerox is what people refer to as a copy machine in the office even though other companies use the same technology. When comparing the cores, there are a few differences. SPC is more rigid and impact resistant than WPC. Great for heavier traffic and commercial spaces. WPC is lighter, warmer to the touch, and more sound absorbent. You may find more luxury homes with WPC products in them. When dealing with different companies that make LVP, they will use different names for their core names but you can always find if it is a WPC or SPC reading the labels.

When it is all said and done, the flooring store will be the better option if you are serious about understanding what you are buying and how long it will last. Labels on the samples in flooring stores will always be more specific and technical which allows you to make better choices. The other great thing about flooring stores is that there are sales reps that know a lot about flooring that you can ask questions to. How many times have you asked a question at the box store and the sales clerks leans over and reads the label back to you? Flooring store sales team members do their very best to teach you and explain the differences in the flooring that they carry and try to help you make the best decision when picking out flooring. When shopping for flooring, go to a flooring store like BPS Southeast. Our experts can help you pick out luxury vinyl flooring that works best for your needs.