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What is PVC Flooring? Vinyl vs. PVC Flooring Guide

This post may contain references or links to products from one or more partners of our parent company and/or subsidiaries of our parent company. For more information, visit this page.

Updated August, 2nd 2023

Vinyl flooring has been popular since long before 2023, but you are surely still seeing mention of PVC on your vinyl journey. Wondering what the difference is between PVC flooring and plain ol’ vinyl? Confused by all the different acronyms that pop up like LVP, PVC, WPC, and EVP flooring?

We hear you. It’s a lot.

The world of vinyl plank flooring is packed with acronyms that are difficult to understand, especially when it comes to something like PVC flooring. That’s why below, we will cover everything you need to know and all the most frequently asked PVC flooring questions. Let’s jump in!

Table of Contents

What’s the Difference Between PVC Flooring and Vinyl Flooring?

A big question with a simple answer; PVC flooring is just another name for vinyl flooring. The two terms are totally interchangeable! PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride and is the exact same thing as vinyl flooring; polyvinyl chloride is just a long name for it.

We know: it causes a lot of confusion for people shopping for vinyl plank flooring, or trying to learn about the differences between vinyl flooring vs. linoleum vs. laminate

Why the different phrasing? Well, PVC is the third-most-produced plastic polymer in the world. It’s used in many other applications besides flooring—like pipes, siding, insulation, and even health supplies. And since many people are familiar with the material, PVC flooring has become a common synonym for vinyl flooring.And everyone loves vinyl flooring. It’s one of the most popular alternatives for hardwood floors out there! But which brand is right for you?

Top Brands for Vinyl Flooring (PVC)

There are a lot of PVC flooring brands out there, and many of them bring something special to the table. As with most shopping decisions, you should always read reviews before purchasing a product. Example: Pergo Extreme reviews are solid. Reviews for LifeProof flooring (Home Depot’s in-house brand), on the other hand… not so much. That’s why we have curated our favorite top-reviewed vinyl flooring brands for you to choose from.

Proximity Mills

Proximity Mills specializes in high-performance vinyl plank flooring. They don’t offer the widest selection in the world, but what they do sell is excellent. In their vinyl catalog, you’ll find a mix of loose lay, floating, and glue-down options—almost all of which boast an SPC core. Plus, they’re one of the few brands to offer PVC flooring that’s certified as completely VOC-free.


Karndean vinyl plank flooring is a bit pricey, but it’s pricey for a reason—the company makes some truly excellent vinyl floors. Karndean’s vinyl floor catalog is extensive and includes a large number of loose-lay products. In fact, the company was one of the pioneers in the loose-lay vinyl flooring space! They also sell vinyl sheet flooring, so you’ve got your PVC flooring options covered.


Of all the PVC flooring brands around, Doma is hands-down the most beautiful. In fact, the company makes some of the boldest, most fashionable vinyl floors in the entire PVC flooring industry. We’re talking exotic hardwood species look like chestnut and pecan, super wide planks, and things like that. All of their products are SPC core, and when it comes to style, they simply can’t be beat. Fun fact: they also make a number of zero-VOC options.


Shaw is the second-largest flooring brand in the world, and they also make some excellent PVC flooring products. The main collection of Shaw vinyl plank flooring is called Floorté, though the company makes four different types of PVC flooring in total.


Newton is the anti-Karndean: its vinyl catalog is not massive, it’s very reasonably priced, and it only offers vinyl plank (sorry flexible PVC flooring lovers). That said, it is the brand to buy from if you’re looking for excellent products on a budget. So whereas Karndean might strike some as more expensive than it should be, Newton is an absolute steal for the quality.

Frequently Asked PVC Flooring Questions

Like any other type of flooring, PVC floors have advantages and disadvantages. It’s important to get the full picture before moving forward with any decisions. Let’s review the most popular questions surrounding PVC flooring.

Is PVC Flooring Waterproof?

Water Spill on Vinyl Floor

It sure is! All the best types of PVC flooring are 100% waterproof with proper installation. This makes it a great choice for bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements, kitchens, or even mudroom flooring—any damp spaces or places with a chance of wet feet or spills. 

This is the factor that sets it apart from many other surfaces, including nearly all wood flooring types. Even the best engineered wood flooring can’t stand up to water like PVC flooring can. In fact, water issues are some of the only real engineered wood disadvantages out there. 

The biggest differentiator between vinyl plank vs. laminate (the two most common faux-wood options) is the fact that vinyl flooring is water-resistant. 

Most of the other fake wood flooring choices available are not waterproof. For example, one of the disadvantages of cork flooring is that it can absorb water. This is a huge perk when it comes to choosing vinyl flooring.

Also, remember that waterproof and water-resistant are different. You can find some water-resistant wood flooring options, but none of them will be completely waterproof. Teak flooring, for example, is water-resistant thanks to its natural resins and oils. But it definitely isn’t waterproof. So: if you’re looking for the best kitchen flooring or the best flooring for basements, PVC is going to top the list.

Is PVC Flooring Better Than Laminate?

While these two flooring types have a lot in common, like ease of installation, affordability, and durability, there are factors that make PVC flooring better than laminate. PVC is heat-resistant and can be entirely waterproof, as we’ve covered.

Many of the same arguments made in favor of laminate in the tile vs. laminate and carpet vs. laminate debates also apply to vinyl flooring. But its benefits can be attributed to vinyl being entirely synthetic, whereas laminate contains some natural materials. This may be extremely important for you, depending on where you’re installing your new floors in your home.

If you’ve been shopping for the best laminate flooring, it would be a great idea to include PVC flooring in your search as well. Along with wood-look tile, it’s one of the best faux wood options for high-traffic areas. Not to mention, you can find PVC options that resemble everything from wide-plank wood flooring to thin-strip parquet. 

How Much Does PVC Flooring Cost?

PVC Flooring materials average between $1 and $9 per square foot, but costs will vary depending on your location, materials, labor, and more. Here are some of the current averages for material prices to help you make a more informed decision.

PVC Flooring Rolls (aka Sheet Vinyl)

You can expect to pay between $1 and $3 per square foot for sheet vinyl products. This material cost is cheaper than the other options, but the installation is more difficult, building upon that price.

PVC Flooring Tiles (aka LVT)

LVT flooring cost can differ depending on thickness and construction, but you can expect to pay between $1.50 and $9 per square foot for materials. While installation costs will vary, vinyl tiles are still cheaper to install than nearly all types of tile made from natural materials—even porcelain snap-together tile flooring.

PVC Flooring Planks (aka LVP)

LVP is effectively the same product as LVT, averaging in the $1.50 to $9 range as well. This is still a more affordable choice compared to hardwood flooring, making vinyl planks a great option if you want wood-look flooring without paying the price.

How Long Does PVC Flooring Last?

PVC flooring generally has a lifespan of 12 to 15-ish years. It can last much longer if it’s cleaned and well-maintained, though. But if you go with lower-quality flooring, it may not have that long of a lifespan. 

The best vinyl plank flooring brands offer tons of benefits, but they’ll only last as long as the warranty guarantees—so that’s definitely something to consider when making your decision. That said, some companies offer lifetime warranties, so it all depends on the product.

If you’re looking for durability, PVC flooring is a great choice. Luxury vinyl planks and tiles are some of the most scratch-resistant flooring options around. 

So whether you have kids running through your home, dogs wrestling on your floors, or just high traffic areas, vinyl flooring is definitely worth considering. Even the most durable wood flooring options don’t hold a candle to PVC in terms of durability, so if you’re looking for the best flooring for dogs and other pets, this is it. 

How Do You Clean PVC Flooring?

Floor cleaning materials

To best clean PVC flooring, use water and a mop weekly and use vinegar or gentle cleaners for any stubborn stains. Make sure to use furniture pads, especially with anything that moves around, to protect that top layer of the vinyl. And when you vacuum, do not use a beater bar. 

As you can see, PVC is much less maintenance-heavy than some other floors (including nearly all types of wood flooring), but there are still some best practices.

Is PVC Flooring Easy to Install?

PVC flooring is relatively easy to install. Both vinyl plank (LVP) and luxury vinyl tile (LVT) can be installed as a floating floor, an installation style that uses snap-together pieces—so the surface doesn’t have to be attached to a smooth subfloor with glue or nails.

That said, if you aren’t keen on the disadvantages of floating floors, you can always buy glue-down or loose-lay PVC flooring products instead.

Many DIYers are able to install PVC flooring themselves without issues. Even if you have to hire a professional, it’s a relatively affordable installation compared to the cost to replace carpet with hardwood flooring, for instance.

Professional Installation vs. DIY

As with any type of flooring, there are tons of professionals that can install your floor for you. So if you find yourself questioning “what is subflooring” or Googling how to install peel-and-stick carpet tiles… well, we’d recommend finding a top-rated flooring store near you to discuss your options.

Which is Better, Wood Flooring or PVC?

Choosing between PVC & wood flooring depends on durability, looks, cost, & eco-impact. PVC is durable, moisture-resistant, and budget-friendly but lacks wood’s natural look & poses environmental concerns due to its synthetic nature.

Wood flooring offers an authentic, warm aesthetic, adds value to homes, and can last for decades, though it demands more maintenance and can be vulnerable to scratches and wear. The choice boils down to priorities: PVC suits those seeking durability and cost-effectiveness, while wood appeals to those valuing natural beauty and long-term value. Considering room specifics, seeking expert advice, and weighing preferences will lead to a well-informed decision.

Is PVC Flooring Safe?

PVC flooring is made of plastics, meaning chemicals are heavily involved in the manufacturing process, resulting in VOCs. The good news is that there are low-VOC vinyl flooring options available if you know where to look! Brands like Proximity Mills, for instance, only sell low- and zero-VOC floors.In addition to vinyl, there are non-toxic laminate flooring choices, and even low-VOC carpet options on the market. Your best bet is to stick to natural materials instead of man-made. Shop for different hardwood species or natural stone for the least amount of chemicals.

Different Types of Vinyl Flooring

Now that your questions are answered, let’s talk more about the three main types of flooring that fall within the vinyl flooring (or PVC) category.

#1. Vinyl Plank (aka Luxury Vinyl Plank or LVP)

Vinyl Plank PVC

Luxury vinyl plank (aka LVP) is the most popular faux wood flooring option on the market. It’s waterproof, you can use it to create all sorts of classic wood floor designs, and the cost to install vinyl plank flooring is way cheaper than the cost to buy and install hardwood flooring. 

Vinyl plank flooring can come with a rigid or a flexible core, depending on the product. If you opt for a rigid-core product, you have a few additional options:

  • WPC (wood-plastic composite) cores use a mix of plastic and wood flour to create a bouncy, natural-feeling floor.
  • SPC (stone-plastic composite) cores use a mix of plastic and limestone powder to create an ultra-durable floor.
  • EVP (engineered vinyl plank) floors often mix different types of plastic for added benefits. 

And again: all of these options are types of PVC flooring!

The point is, you have tons of choices. And while there are some disadvantages of vinyl plank flooring, the pros easily outweigh the cons. 

#2. Vinyl Tile (aka Luxury Vinyl Tile or LVT)

Installing LVT Vinyl Tile

Vinyl tile has the exact same properties as vinyl plank. It can come as a rigid or a flexible product, you can get WPC, SPC, or EVP cores, it’s waterproof, etc. And, on the flip side, the problems with luxury vinyl tile are exactly the same as the problems with luxury vinyl plank.

So what’s the difference between vinyl tile and vinyl plank?

Vinyl planks are made to look like wood. Vinyl tiles are made to look like—you guessed it—different types of floor tiles! We’re talking ceramic slate, granite, marble, you name it.

And that means they usually come in square pieces instead of rectangular vinyl planks. Again: all of these products—LVP, LVT, WPC, SPC, EVP—are just different types of PVC flooring (aka vinyl flooring).

Additionally: all of these types can be installed as click-together flooring, loose-lay flooring, or glue-down vinyl flooring. It just depends on the product. 

#3. Sheet Vinyl

Sheet vinyl roll

The third type of vinyl flooring is sheet vinyl. This is the old-fashioned, patterned vinyl flooring you probably remember from the kitchens and bathrooms of your childhood.

It comes in large sheets that are cut to fit your space, and then glued down. It isn’t among the easiest types of flooring to install, but it’s inexpensive and super durable. And yes, it’s also a type of PVC flooring.

PVC Flooring is a Great Choice—So Here’s What to Do Next

Make a plan to get to your local flooring store to talk to an expert. They can answer your questions, cover different brands, and help you decide if PVC flooring is the right choice for you.

You can ask about cool new products like magnetic flooring for a super easy DIY install, or have them install some classic floors for you. Either way, it’s always good to have an expert to chat with. And as always, we’re happy to answer any other questions you have! After all, the best flooring for your needs is the one you like best!

And for more info on all things flooring, check out:

About The Author

Steph Gregerson Auther

Steph is a book nerd, rule follower, and pizza lover who can't get enough of playing outside. She was raised on the ice rinks of MN and currently resides in sunny San Diego. As a freelance writer, she loves research, producing content, and organizing information for a wide variety of clients. She currently has at least 10 browser windows open at all times

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