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What Is Vinyl Plank Flooring?

Vinyl plank flooring is designed to look like hardwood.
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  • Written By: Anna B. Smith
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2014
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Vinyl plank flooring is a type of synthetic floor covering that is fabricated to resemble real hardwood. This material is both cheaper and easier to install than traditional hardwoods. The finished project area will closely resemble actual wood, and will be easy to clean and scratch resistant against heavy traffic. There are many different styles and colors of planks available for purchase through online distributors.

Choosing to install vinyl plank flooring instead of traditional hardwoods can save a homeowner both time and money. Vinyl is a less expensive material than hardwood, and the planks are designed to mimic the appearance of the more expensive material. The pieces are lightweight and do not require special tools for installation, making them easy enough for any level do-it-yourself homeowner to put into place in the span of a few hours. The surface is also easy to clean, and is safe for use with virtually any type of mopping liquid, unlike hardwoods which must generally be treated with specially formulated wood soap.

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This type of flooring is cut and assembled in long strips, or planks. Most vinyl flooring products differ in that they are sold in sheets or tiles. They may then be rolled in one large piece across the project area or glued into place side by side. Each strip of vinyl plank flooring, however, can be installed similarly to actual hardwood by staggering them across the project area so that plank seams do not line up, and the individual pieces are made to connect via interlocking tabs.

These strips are made from a durable type of urethane and assembled in layers. The bottom layer is typically designed to interact with a type of adhesive, whether glue which the installer must apply by hand, or a pre-made sticky surface which merely requires being pressed into place to attach to the subfloor. The topmost layer is printed with a picture that is identical to hardwood, and is typically scratch and gouge proof for longer wear.

Just as there are many different varieties of wood and colors of stain available for real hardwood floors, there are similarly many shades and designs of vinyl plank flooring. The strips range from light, blonde colors to deep, rich mahogany hues. The printed wood grain may be bold and knotty, or small and virtually unnoticeable. Homeowners will generally find a larger selection of wood colorings and styles online, and can order boxes of vinyl planks directly from the manufacturers.

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