LVT versus Engineered Hardwood for Us?

steph2000April 9, 2013

I'm in the process of researching for my first remodel. I live in a small 1950's ranch on a cement slab in Anchorage, AK. The neighborhood is modest, basically a carpet/laminate/vinyl floor area. We live in a very wet climate - with 7-8 months of winter plus a lot of "rainy season" in the non Winter months. We currently have 3 cats, but plan to get another dog down the road and we like our dogs big.

As part of the remodel, we are tearing down the wall that separates the kitchen from the entry/LR area. We also converted from a furnace to a boiler system. The "pipes" for the new boiler system got routed through the old channels for the forced air in the cement slab. We will be flooring over the holes where the old grates were, but cannot plug them up with cement for obvious reasons.

I want the same floor throughout the public spaces of the house, which is basically the LR, den, DR and kitchen. Wood or a wood look is really important to me. The front door will have a tiled entry area but the back door is a slider leading out to the deck and will not have tile.

Everywhere we go, they are recommending LVT. Glued down, as opposed to snap-together. They swear these floors will hold up to everything we can throw at them, that they don't scratch, they wear great, and are impervious to water. They say repair is a breeze with glue down in particular.

However, the prices get competitive with engineered hardwood given the subfloor that will be required for the LVT so it can cover up those holes in the concrete for the old grates. And that makes me pause. I know hardwood., engineered or not, will add value to a home and LVT will not. On the other hand, LVT will apparently require little to no stress related to upkeep and damage. If the prices are equal, does it even make sense to consider LVT? Conversely, does price matter or is the real issue to consider what is going to hold up best in our situation?

Do you agree with these assessments and WWYD (what would you do or recommend) in this kind of situation?

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I would get some test samples of the engineered wood - some people say it is great but we had Shaw engineered wood in our previous condo and although it was beautiful (new build) it was very fragile in our experience. Our cats' claws scratched the floor in some places, we have never had that happen with real wood or with our vinyl plank that we have now. Any little bit of water will cause damage - for example we dropped some ice cubes and one escaped our cleanup, it melted in a corner and caused the seams to warp - fortunately not in a noticeable area but any moisture on the floor easily damages it. Dropping anythng on the floor left large dents - I dropped a jar from the fridge and made a giant dent right in front of the fridge where it was very noticeable :(

So in my experience, engineered wood is not very durable.

For the subfloor issue, why can't you just build inset covers for the holes, make them flush with the rest of the existing floor, and eliminate that expense?

We have vinyl plank - I ton't call it "luxury" as it was 8 cents/sq ft from Lowes (DIY installed) and no underlay required. We are very happy with it, I don't know if I would pay prices equivalent to engineered wood which is $7-10/sq ft installed.

    Bookmark   April 9, 2013 at 11:51PM
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Thanks so much, Tinan. These are great thoughts and exactly the kind of feedback I need. Your experience with the engineered wood made me shiver. The products look beautiful, but we need them to hold up at least reasonably well. As I sit here pondering cats leaving scratches, I'm envisioning dogs and the sand/grit/salt that gets tracked into the house during the long, icy winters... Yikes.

I'm not sure about how inset covers could be built in the holes and if they would be level and strong enough to hold the floors, but I can run that by folks who know more than me.

We've been looking at the higher end vinyl planks, but I'll stop by Lowes and HD and see what they've got.

Hopefully, others will chime in with their experiences and recommendations. I really appreciate you doing so.

    Bookmark   April 10, 2013 at 12:02PM
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I am also agonizing over the same decision, but I think I am leaning towards LVT, having had to deal with the maintenance issues of Eng. HW before.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2013 at 6:39AM
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