I grew up installing sheet vinyl or, as a lot of people call it, linoleum. It was a great product for its time but its time is gone. The flooring industry has re-packaged and re-marketed these products dozens of times in my 42 years in the trade. Vinyl is vinyl no matter how you dress it up. It fades, it tears, it dents, it discolors and it comes loose if glued direct. The latest incarnation is free floating panels. I am not an engineer but these systems are a joke.

I can look at them and tell they are not going to stay together over the long haul. The other option is to glue them direct. The average floor installer that I meet these days does not know how to prep or smooth out the sub floor for vinyl. It is a skill that requires years of practice to get it right. The process requires many feathered coats of leveler sanded usually more than once to get an acceptable surface for vinyl installation. It is very similar to the process that a body man uses when fixing a dent in a car. Multiple feathered coats to obtain a finish that is as we say in the trade is “as smooth as a baby`s butt”. It is not surprising that this skill has died as the demand for vinyl since laminate flooring was invented has all but disappeared. If this is not done prior to installing a vinyl plank floor you are wasting your money on the flooring. Also even when the sub floor is smoothed out it still has gentle or not so gentle rolls in it. With a vinyl plank floor you see every detail of the sub floor as it is never flat. A laminate floor floats over these imperfections on a pad and you just don`t see them.

The cost of vinyl plank floors is expensive because it is an oil based product and we all know how expensive oil is these day. The adhesives required for installation are also quite expensive. Laminate flooring is mostly wood and there is no adhesive. Installation for the average do it yourselfer is a messy and smelly process as these adhesives off gas as your face is down close to the surface as you work. All of the adhesives have warning labels mostly warning about brain cancer from inhalation. I have noticed that all of the newer vinyl plank products that I have seen look dull. I believe most of them are actually pvc. The older vinyl products had urethane finishes on them to give them more of a shine but I haven`t seen that on the newer products. Urethane yellows over time and the manufacturers may have dropped those products for that reason but the new generation of products look dull. Do yourself a favor and stay away from these costly and I believe inferior flooring products and get yourself a high quality European laminate floor.