Hardwood vs vinyl flooring

Hardwood vs vinyl flooring

Hardwood and vinyl are both attractive options when choosing flooring. However, each has its advantages and disadvantages that make it more or less suitable for different applications.

Lifespan and durability

Hardwood is the top contender when looking for flooring with a long lifespan. When properly maintained, the boards can last anywhere between 30 and 100 years. They can also be sanded and refinished multiple times to remove scratches, scuffs, or dents and restore their original appearance.

Vinyl flooring has a shorter lifespan. Vinyl sheets last roughly 10-20 years, whereas luxury vinyl plank (LVP) or tile (LVT) can last around 15-20 years with the right upkeep. Vinyl flooring products are 100% synthetic and composed of multiple sheets of plastic pressed together. The uppermost layer, known as the wear layer, is resistant to scratches, scuffs, and dents. However, if vinyl flooring is damaged, the affected area cannot be restored and must be replaced.


Hardwood flooring is made of solid wood, and its natural composition makes the boards very susceptible to moisture and other atmospheric conditions. Extreme fluctuations in temperature or prolonged exposure to liquids can cause the boards to expand, contract, or warp.

The top layer of vinyl flooring acts as a moisture barrier, protecting the material against water damage. Some vinyl flooring products are even entirely waterproof. Although the flooring is protected against liquid, exposure to moisture for extended periods can damage the adhesive underneath.

Sound reduction

Hardwood tends to absorb reverberation well, distributing sound evenly throughout the room. For increased sound reduction properties, opt for boards thicker than 15mm. Other types of hard flooring, such as engineered wood, can have underlays installed beneath the boards to improve sound reduction further, however, hardwood must be installed directly onto the subfloor. Thus, any desired underlay must be installed underneath the subfloor, which is much more costly.

Vinyl generally offers the best sound reduction of any hard flooring material, and some vinyl flooring products are engineered with specific acoustic properties designed to reduce sound. Similarly to hardwood, thicker vinyl products usually have enhanced sound reduction properties, and installing sound-dampening underlay will further increase its effectiveness.


As mentioned above, hardwood has to be installed directly on the subfloor and nailed into place. Hardwood flooring should be installed by a professional to ensure it is fitted correctly, enhancing safety and extending the lifespan of the boards.

Conversely, vinyl can be laid directly on top of existing flooring, requiring minimal tools. Vinyl is one of the simplest flooring materials to install yourself, but professional installation should still be considered for a safe and durable result.


Hardwood flooring ranges in price from around $6 – $24 per square foot. It’s important to consider the installation price with this too, which can become costly for larger areas. Although hardwood flooring tends to be more expensive than other materials, hardwood boasts an impressive expected lifespan, so the initial investment is often worthwhile.

Vinyl flooring ranges in price, with lower-range products starting at around $1 per square foot. As the quality of the products increases, so does the price, with some LVT and LVP products costing closer to $10 per square foot. Professional vinyl flooring installation is often very reasonably priced compared to other flooring materials.

Which is better, hardwood or vinyl plank flooring?

Hardwood flooring tends to have superior durability and a longer lifespan compared to vinyl flooring products. Vinyl can be purchased and installed at a lower cost and has better soundproofing and water resistance properties than hardwood. Remember that these are generalizations for each material, and different products will offer varying features and benefits. Hence, shopping around to find the right products for your needs is important.

Applications for hardwood flooring

Hardwood is durable, with good sound-dampening qualities, while maintaining a smart and presentable look. These features make it a desirable material for various rooms around the home, including:

  • Living rooms
  • Bedrooms
  • Home offices
  • Hallways, entryways, and stairs

Its properties also lend themselves to various commercial applications for businesses such as:

  • Retail stores
  • Hotels
  • Libraries
  • Event venues

Applications for vinyl flooring

Vinyl flooring is very versatile, with plenty of designs, patterns, and finishes across varying prices. Its water-resistant properties in particular, make it a suitable choice for applications around the home, such as:

  • Bathrooms
  • Kitchens
  • Basements
  • Laundry rooms

Since vinyl flooring is cost-effective, water-resistant, and easy to maintain, it’s desirable for a variety of commercial applications, too, such as:

  • Commercial bathrooms
  • Healthcare settings
  • Education centers
  • Foodservice industry

To decide on the best type of flooring for your project, consider all of your wants, needs and preferences and compare these against the features of each flooring material. Whichever flooring you choose, have it installed by a professional to ensure maximum safety and longevity.