Does Vinyl Plank Flooring Expand and Contract

Does Vinyl Plank Flooring Expand and Contract?

If you are remodeling any room in your home, you have several choices for what type of flooring to pick.  Some like the feel and coziness of carpet, while others want to have shiny wooden floors.  Some homeowners insist on having tile, otherswood.  One flooring that is growing immensely popular is vinyl plank flooring.  Both residential and commercial applications can be used for this.  

One thing that many homeowners will ask is if the vinyl plank flooring expands and contracts.  Simply put, yes vinyl plank flooring does expand and contract when the weather gets hot or cold.  Each plank will only change by a fraction of an inch but multiplied across several planks it can cause gaps to occur in extreme circumstances. 

Why does vinyl plank flooring expand and contract?

Vinyl plank flooring is considered an amazing floor choice.  It should be allowed to expand and contract.  This is normal anytime the weather changes, such as dropping several degrees or rising many degrees.  Many individuals will refer to vinyl plank flooring as LVP.  This simply stands for luxury vinyl plank.

 LVP is a more flexible flooring than some of the other vinyl products on the market, but its durability is supported because it is a glue-down flooring.  This simply means it is permanently attached to the subfloor with an adhesive. These planks will not interlock with each other or float.

LVP is a composite material composed of many layers, each operating together to produce resilient, low-maintenance floors. The bottom layer is referred to as a “backer board”.  This flexible base is constructed of PVC for durability. The center core is what makes most LVP “water-resistant” rather than “waterproof”. 

The inner core layer is not fully waterproof, but it will offer strength for the flooring. On top of the core is the “vinyl layer”.  This is printed with the pattern and color. Many are traditionally mimicking wood or stone. On top of it all, the most critical layer, known as the wear layer is installed.  

The wear layer is a thin, clear protective coating that gives the flooring a scratch and stain-resistant top.  The wear layer thickness generally commands how it is used.  The thinner is for residential and the thicker wear layer planks are used for commercial floors. 

LVP will need to be acclimated for at least 48 hours.  There should be an expansion gap of ¼ inch around the perimeter of the room.  It may be installed over ceramic tiles or existing vinyl flooring.  An expansion gap can be hidden by a piece of trim molding, like a quarter-round or a transition. Against metal door frames and areas where you cannot install a molding, color-coordinated silicone caulk can be utilized to fill the gap and allow the floor to expand into the gap if necessary.

Most people will think of gaps as being bad.  But they are needed when installing vinyl plank flooring.  The pressure from heat expansion can be released so buckling does not occur. 

Heavy furniture damages vinyl planks.  You should never use anything rubber to protect your flooring, as rubber may stain the vinyl flooring. For heavy furniture and appliances, apply a non-staining large surface floor protector. You can likewise put most vinyl flooring under kitchen cabinets and appliances, but you may wish to glue down those sections.

What are the pros and cons of vinyl plank flooring?

There are many pros and cons of vinyl plank flooring.  

Pros

  • Vinyl plank flooring is fairly inexpensive.
  • There are a variety of styles that one can pick from.  These may include a wood look or one that resembles stone. 
  • Can be installed over another flooring. 
  • Vinyl plank flooring is very durable. 
  • Vinyl plank flooring is very easy to take care of. 

Cons

  • Vinyl plank flooring that is very inexpensive will tend to not have much UV resistance.  This can mean that your floors can yellow if the sun shines in. 

Tips for maintaining vinyl plank flooring

As stated above, vinyl plank flooring is very easy to maintain.  As it is waterproof, you can wet mop it as often as need be.  However, it may be a good idea not to drench them with water.  

It is also recommended that you use a doormat.  This will keep dirt and chemicals at bay so your vinyl plank floor lasts longer.  If you do not use a doormat, you will track in dirt and grit, which will wear down your flooring over time.  And this will also lead to more sweeping on your part.  

And what about if you have vinyl plank flooring in your bathroom?  If you have ladies in your home. And even some guys that use hairspray, you will want to make sure you are getting that off your floors when you clean.  Mix a squirt of shampoo with a gallon of warm water to mop your floors with.  Then simply use a damp mop to clean off the shampoo residue. 

Other cleaners that work well for vinyl plank flooring are ones that are PH-neutral.  Ammonia or any other harsh scrubbers should never be used on this type of flooring.  

You will also want to be cautious about what you move over the vinyl plank flooring.  Casters could damage the flooring, so take extra care when moving anything over the flooring.  

Conclusion

Vinyl plank flooring is a great choice to pick for any home.  It can be installed in many rooms, from the kitchen to the bathroom to even basement floors.  It comes in a  wide variety of styles and colors, so there is something for everyone to pick from.  

The flooring will expand and contract, but if you do not wish for this to do that, ask a flooring pro which brands will only do this under extreme conditions.