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Updated March 15, 2023
Stainmaster luxury vinyl: is this low-priced LVP floor any good?
The best vinyl plank flooring brands offer durable, attractive, waterproof floors that can last for decades with minimal upkeep. In this Stainmaster luxury vinyl review, we’ll show you if Stainmaster’s products can do the same!
Below, we’ll give you all the information you need to know about Stainmaster luxury vinyl: what it is, how it’s made, its pros and cons, and most of all, how it stacks up against other LVP brands.
To be honest with you, we have heard a lot of complaints about Stainmaster luxury vinyl ever since Lowe’s bought the brand. Our readers report that the product scratches easily, and is not nearly as durable as the older versions of Stainmaster sold through local flooring stores. We would recommend staying away from Stainmaster luxury vinyl plank and instead looking at similar brands like Proximity Mills, Newton, TruCor or Doma.
With that said, let’s dive deeper into Stainmaster luxury vinyl.
Stainmaster luxury vinyl is a type of PVC flooring (we’ll cover what this is in a second). It’s mostly marketed as a type of fake wood flooring, but it comes in stone and ceramic looks as a substitute for those types of tile, too.
Stainmaster luxury vinyl is also marketed as pet-resistant and waterproof—claims we’ll investigate below.
But First, What is “Luxury Vinyl”?
If you’re not sure about the difference between traditional vinyl (aka sheet vinyl) and luxury vinyl (aka LVP or LVT), we have you covered.
Sheet vinyl is generally composed of a single layer of polyvinyl chloride (ahem) while luxury vinyl is most often made of three distinct layers:
A core layer that provides foundation.
A design layer that gives the flooring its look and texture.
Want the look of cork flooring but don’t want to deal with the disadvantages of cork flooring? Vinyl plank. Comparing hickory vs. oak? Vinyl plank gets you the best of both worlds. We could go on, but we’re sure you get the point.
Luxury Vinyl Is Sold as LVP and LVT. Is There a Difference?
LVP (luxury vinyl plank) and LVT (luxury vinyl tile) are the same thing, with one exception. LVP is cut into “planks” and more often mimics hardwood, while LVT is cut into “tiles” and commonly mimics stone or ceramic looks. Both LVP and LVT can come as flexible or rigid-core (aka EVP flooring) products.
And again, the best vinyl plank flooring products (LVP or LVT) often have rigide cores that are infused with materials like wood flour or stone powder for added benefits. And again, Stainmaster offers flexible-core products (hint hint).
Stainmaster Offers Both LVP and LVT Products
Stainmaster luxury vinyl comes in both LVP and LVT looks.
However, there’s a weird caveat to this: most of these designs are only sold as what they claim is a “loose lay” format—but these products seem to actually be peel-and-stick vinyl tiles, rather than loose-lay tiles. They have a peel-and-stick backing and everything. We don’t get it either.
Their other products are only sold click-together flooring (aka floating floors), which is the norm for most LVP/T.
Also, if you like a specific style but don’t want to install it the prescribed way, you’re out of luck—Stainmaster only offers one installation method per style.
Stainmaster Also Offers “Resilient” Sheet Vinyl
Finally, Stainmaster also sells “resilient” (their words) sheet vinyl. We’re not going to cover it here (because sheet vinyl is, by definition, not luxury vinyl), but keep this in mind if you’re looking through Stainmaster listings. The two types of flooring aren’t always separated on their website, which makes things confusing, to say the least.
Who Actually Makes Stainmaster Luxury Vinyl?
A quick Google search will reveal that Stainmaster carpet is proudly made in Dalton, Georgia. A similar search for Stainmaster luxury vinyl is not so forthcoming with answers.
This isn’t a red flag necessarily, but there’s a decent chance this means that Stainmaster outsources the manufacturing of its vinyl (most likely to China).
Where Can You Buy Stainmaster Luxury Vinyl?
This is where things get a little tricky.
Lowes carries Stainmaster luxury vinyl, but it’s not an in-house brand like SmartCore flooring. The options that Lowes carries also aren’t very extensive, which is especially weird when you peruse Stainmaster’s online vinyl catalog, since it shows a lot more products.
Who Else Sells Stainmaster Vinyl Flooring?
Stainmaster really doesn’t make it easy for you to find their products. Like we said, their online store has a lot of product listings but the only place that seems to sell Stainmaster vinyl in abundance is Lowes.
Someone else must sell the other products, so it seems likely that independent flooring stores must offer them. But, there’s no infrastructure on Stainmaster’s website that says where you can buy specific designs, and it seems unlikely that a top-rated local flooring store would sell a product like Stainmaster (spoiler alert).
If you dig deep enough, you can sometimes find older styles at discount floor stores but this still doesn’t solve the I-want-a-specific-style problem. On the other hand, it’s possible that Stainmaster simply cycles through designs quickly and doesn’t update their product listings as often.
What Designs Does Stainmaster Luxury Vinyl Offer?
Stainmaster doesn’t separate itself too much from other luxury vinyl brands in the style department. They offer a decent selection of common looks.
Stainmaster Sells Both Stone and Wood Looks
Most Stainmaster luxury vinyl mimics various types of wood flooring, but there are also a decent amount of stone and tile looks available.
We should note that their wood floor designs are relatively limited compared to other brands, with only about a dozen options.
But There Aren’t That Many Options to Choose From
The best vinyl plank flooring brands offer the look of tons of hardwood species in many different patterns. As we’ve noted, Stainmaster’s catalog is fairly limited.
In general, luxury vinyl is some of the easiest flooring to install. Stainmaster luxury vinyl reviews, however, suggest that the brand might’ve forgotten this.
Installation Depends on the Collection You Choose
We mentioned earlier that Stainmaster luxury vinyl comes in two different installation styles:
“Loose lay” tiles (that are actually peel-and-stick tiles, not loose lay)
The peel-and-stick vinyl tiles (not to be confused with peel-and-stick carpet tiles) might sound easy to install—but as the kindergarten rule says: don’t judge a book by its cover.
We’ll explain the process in a moment, but if you’re looking for something easier, we’d actually recommend the click-together option.
First: All Stainmaster Vinyl Needs Time to Acclimate (About 48 Hours)
Stainmaster’s warranty and installation guidelines are very adamant about storing all floors, primers, adhesives (if necessary), and so on in their intended destinations for 48 hours.
Most luxury vinyl doesn’t need to acclimate, though it’s not unheard of (our Pergo Extreme reviews cover another brand that needs some prep time). The “unheard of” part is the length of time. Most LVP that needs acclimation only requires about 24 hours.
Anyway, the acclimation period is super important. If you rush into the installation, the floor can warp, lift, and spontaneously combust (okay, maybe not the last one) once it’s in place. Oh, and you’ll void the floor’s warranty too.
“Loose Lay” Peel-and-Stick Stainmaster Luxury Vinyl Tiles May Require Pro Experience
Stainmaster kind of hints that all of its vinyl can be considered do-it-yourself flooring, but here’s the thing: if you don’t hire a pro you’ll void the warranty.
Here’s the other thing: if you’ve never installed peel-and-stick vinyl tiles, it is not easy. Carpet tiles can be cut, shifted, and replaced—vinyl tiles are much more temperamental. If you mess up, you can easily damage surrounding tiles trying to fix the initial error.
It’s a slow, tedious process that will very quickly make you wish you forked out the extra dollars for a pro.
But Its Interlocking (or Click-Together) Luxury Vinyl Line is DIY-Friendly
Stainmaster’s click-together flooring is, thankfully, easier to install. Glue is optional and you can simply lie the interlocking planks or tiles down over your subflooring, which creates a floating floor (learn what a floating floor is here).
Floating floor disadvantages are minimal and the process doesn’t require much experience at all. But remember: you’ll void the warranty if you install it yourself.
Both Types of Stainmaster Luxury Vinyl Need Underlayment (But Only Certain Kinds Will Work)
All Stainmaster luxury vinyl needs underlayment, which isn’t a big deal: most floors do.
That said, Stainmaster is super picky about the kind of underlayment you use. Mostly, anything that’s sort of squishy (like cork) is a no-go. Also, innovative underlayments like those found in magnetic flooring aren’t compatible either.
And when we say “picky”, we mean anything unapproved will void your warranty.
And here’s the nuclear bombshell: Stainmaster luxury vinyl claims to be 100% waterproof, but this is misleading at best—and outright false at worst.
The flooring itself is waterproof. According to Stainmaster luxury vinyl reviews, the problem is that the product’s seams don’t secure very well—which allows water to penetrate beneath the floor where it can do all sorts of fun, gross things (mold, mildew, etc.).
Too much liquid on Stainmaster Luxury Vinyl Flooring Invites Disaster
For this reason, we don’t recommend using Stainmaster vinyl as your bathroom or mudroom flooring. Now, it’s not going to wither away if you spill some water on it—but, according to Stainmaster’s own instructions and warranty, you need to clean it up quickly.
And if you ask us, what’s the point of getting a “resilient” floor that’s… not actually that resilient?
Stainmaster Luxury Vinyl Has Lots of Special Care Requirements
If you’re waiting for things to get better in this Stainmaster luxury vinyl review, you’re going to have to keep waiting. There’s no way around it: you have to be careful with how you treat this product.
For Context: Most LVP/LVT Doesn’t Have Special Care Instructions
Stainmaster’s touchiness is in direct contrast to most LVP/LVT, which doesn’t have big requirements. In fact, most people buy luxury vinyl instead of buying hardwood floorsbecause they don’t want the special care requirements you get with hardwood.
Stainmaster Can Only Be Cleaned with pH-Neutral Products
You have to clean Stainmaster luxury vinyl with pH-neutral products. At first, that doesn’t sound bad: no acids, no problem (they’re not super common anyway).
But: you also can’t use anything with a pH above 7. Why’s that bad? It means no soaps, bleaches, detergents, and so on.
The only thing you can use to clean this product is water or pH-neutral cleaners (which are way more expensive). Doing otherwise can damage the wear layer and void the warranty.
Stainmaster Vinyl Reviews Suggest it Isn’t as Stain-Resistant as it Claims
Stainmaster luxury vinyl reviews also call the floor’s stain resistance into question, especially in one particular area.
Stainmaster Advertises That It’s Super-Resistant to Pet Stains, But Pet Stains Aren’t pH-Neutral
Stainmaster isn’t shy about saying its products are pet-resistant. While they do mention that pet messes should be cleaned promptly (obviously), there’s a problem with these claims.
In the last section, we said you have to use pH-neutral cleaners on this floor because anything else can damage the floor. Well, it turns out that healthy pet urine is not pH-neutral. In fact, it’s almost a full point lower (which is a lot on the pH scale).
Stainmaster is still decent against pet stains, but it’s weird that what’s supposed to be a big feature for the product is actually a bit of a weakness. For a floor that’s supposed to be a good hardwood substitute, Stainmaster doesn’t do more than the best wood flooring for dogs or cats.
Stainmaster Luxury Vinyl Reviews Agree: It’s Incredibly Sensitive to Temperature Changes
And here’s where things go from bad to really bad. One thing that’s mentioned over and over in Stainmaster luxury vinyl reviews is that it’s incredibly sensitive to temperature changes.
We already mentioned that you have to acclimate the product first, which isn’t that big of a deal. but Stainmaster says that you shouldn’t let the floor’s temperature rise above 85℉, below 55℉, or even change quickly—because this can break the floor.
That is not good.
There Are So Many Complaints of Popped Seams
So what happens if the temperature changes too quickly or it gets too hot or cold? The floor warps and the seams lift or pop.
Admittedly, lifting seams isn’t unheard of for vinyl. But it’s still one of the rarer disadvantages of vinyl flooring. Some Stainmaster luxury vinyl reviews say the floor began lifting after only two months.
So Be Careful Leaving It Alone on Vacations
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t have to consider your floor’s comfort while you’re on vacation. But the 30 degrees of wiggle room that Stainmaster gives you really isn’t a lot.
Say you live in a place like Southern California. In “winter”, it’s not uncommon for nighttime temperatures to dip into the 40s while daytime temperatures can still hit the upper 70s. If you’re at home monitoring your A/C, great: no problem.
If you’re on vacation and you turn your climate control off, guess who might come home to a broken floor?
This Might Have to Do With Improper Installation… But We Doubt It
There may be an argument that people who have busted floors installed them improperly. Sure, if there were one or two reviews calling out the temperature sensitivity we’d probably let it slide.
But like we said, this is a super common trend in Stainmaster reviews. There are simply too many complaints to put it down to poor installation or lemon floors.
Stainmaster Doesn’t Seem to Sell a Low-VOC Option
Volatile organic compounds (or VOCs) are harmful chemicals emitted by many types of plastics and adhesives, both of which can be present in different types of flooring.
After scouring Stainmaster luxury vinyl reviews as well as the brand’s website and product listings, we found nothing that says the products do anything to limit VOCs.
The only hint we found that they’ve even considered the issue is a mention of a FloorScore certification on a Lowes’ Stainmaster listing… but the listing doesn’t say what it’s certified for. It just says “FloorScore-certified”. And again: there’s nothing about it on Stainmaster’s website.
…Even Though Low-VOC LVP Is Becoming a Norm
That wouldn’t be a problem if low-VOC vinyl flooring wasn’t becoming the norm. Virtually all the best vinyl plank flooring is low-VOC-certified these days.
The best bamboo flooring is another good option because it’s generally sustainably sourced. You can also refinish bamboo flooring, whereas LVP can’t be repaired once the layers inevitably deteriorate (though quality LVP can last decades).
Stainmaster has a thicker-than-usual design layer, which may be why it still looks decent after sitting in direct sunlight. However, that doesn’t mean the wear layer isn’t breaking down.
And Again, It’s Dangerously Temperature-Sensitive
Suffice to say, we’d still recommend caution if you’re thinking of putting Stainmaster luxury vinyl in sunrooms—because any temperature changes could really mess the floor up. That goes double if only part of the floor is exposed to sunlight (and its heat).
If the wear layer breaks down, you can also say buh-bye to Stainmaster calling itself scratch-resistant flooring (because the wear layer provides all the protection, remember?).
Stainmaster Luxury Vinyl Does Sell at an Affordable Price…
Ah, we made it to another bright spot! The one thing that Stainmaster luxury vinyl really has going for it is a very modest price. In most cases, you can buy planks or tiles for about $1.50 to $3.00 per square foot.
Most high-quality LVP/LVT starts at about $4 per square foot. So, if it wasn’t obvious, you can safely consider Stainmaster a budget luxury vinyl option.
How does it compare to the cost of wood flooring (which Stainmaster is supposed to substitute for)? Well, quality wood flooring starts at around $5 per square foot, but the most durable wood flooring can easily reach $10 (or higher) per square foot.
…But Having to Hire a Contractor Bumps the Price Up
But there’s another catch: since the warranty is voided if you don’t hire a pro to install Stainmaster flooring, you’ll have to add labor to the total cost of the flooring.
The cost to install vinyl plank flooring isn’t astronomical, but it can get pricey. It usually ranges between $1.50 and $6 per square foot, usually depending on difficulty, the total amount of flooring, and so on.
We’re not going to sugarcoat it: Stainmaster’s warranty policy isn’t great. In fact, it’s not even good. There are a couple of bright spots—but they’re loaded with exceptions.
But First, the Good: Stainmaster Actually Covers Labor Costs (for the First Few Years)
Surprisingly, Stainmaster is one of the few brands with a warranty that covers labor costs, at least to a point.
For the first two years, Stainmaster will pay for 100% of the labor and material costs associated with damaged flooring provided that the warranty isn’t violated in some way. From there, the percentage for covered labor costs drops until it hits 0% at the beginning of the seventh year.
Material costs are covered by a limited lifetime warranty for residential applications and then 10 years for commercial property (which is actually pretty decent).
Also, Stainmaster luxury vinyl will cover manufacturer defects if they’re reported within the first 30 days of discovery (with sufficient proof).
The Bad: There Are Tons of Exceptions in the Warranty (That Question the Product’s Quality)
So, what’s bad about the warranty? Just about everything else.
Isn’t transferable (only the initial buyer can make a claim).
Won’t cover damages if the floor is installed over unapproved underlayments (like cork) or in an environment with excessive moisture.
Is voided if you use anything but pH-neutral cleaners.
Won’t fix cracking, warping, or similar damage caused by excessive heat (remember its sensitivity to temperature changes?).
So what does it cover? We’re not sure either.
So, Are Stainmaster Luxury Vinyl Tiles Any Good?
To this point, we’ve found a lot of dirt on Stainmaster luxury vinyl and it really makes you question the floor’s quality. For now, we’ll say this: Stainmaster is clearly targeting budget buyers at the $1–$3 per square foot price point.
What Do Stainmaster Luxury Vinyl Reviews Say?
At best, Stainmaster luxury vinyl reviews are mixed. Buyers seem to be aware that this is a you-get-what-you-pay-for product.
In our research, we hardly found any glowing reviews—and the few that we did find appeared to be written right after installation. So, if you’re considering Stainmaster vinyl, you should be prepared to run into problems at some point in the floor’s lifespan.
Which Is Better: Peel-and-Stick or Interlocking Stainmaster Luxury Vinyl?
We wish we could say that one option was clearly better than the other, but it seems that choosing interlocking or peel-and-stick Stainmaster means picking your set of problems.
The peel-and-stick variety doesn’t appear to have the same water issues that the click-together flooring has, but it has a much more difficult installation process. Otherwise, many of the issues we’ve mentioned before seem to be common for both floors.
Which Brands of Luxury Vinyl Plank Are Best?
So if Stainmaster isn’t one of the best vinyl brands out there, what is? What do the best vinyl plank flooring brands have in common, anyway?
We won’t go into too much detail there, but for starters, the best vinyl brands live up to their promises: 100% waterproof, scratch-resistant, no special care required, and so on.
Below, we’ve collected a few of our favorites.
When it comes to beautiful vinyl floors, Doma is hard to beat. This company offers some of the most attractive and stylish floors in the entire world of LVP. Plus, they’re all certified as low in VOCs, have high-quality wear layers, and boast SPC cores. Check out our Doma review for more info on this brand.
Karndean LooseLay vinyl is actually vinyl that can be, you know, laid loose (as opposed to Stainmaster’s “loose lay” vinyl that’s really a peel-and-stick floor).
Anyway, Karndean is a very respected name in the LVP industry, especially among installers. It’s a little pricey but the quality speaks for itself. Once again, feel free to check out our Karndean LVP review for more info on this brand.
We mentioned Proximity Mills earlier because it has the distinction of being one of the very few LVP brands that’s recyclable and has zero-VOC options. We didn’t mention that Proximity Mills LVP is only about a dollar more than Stainmaster per square foot, and yet, it’s better in virtually every way. Learn more in our Proximity Mills review here.
Shaw is a staple in the flooring industry. Its Floorté line is also pricier than Stainmaster luxury vinyl but it offers more designs, superior durability, and a much better warranty. For the full skinny on more Shaw vinyl plank flooring reviews, click that link.
If you’re looking for budget-friendly LVP, you can’t do much better than Newton. This brand is all about delivering excellent value, and they definitely excel in that when it comes to LVP. All Newton LVP products are certified low-VOC and, for a price that rivals (or beats) Stainmaster’s, you get a clearly superior product.
The Verdict: Stainmaster Luxury Vinyl Isn’t Great, Even For a Budget Brand
Let’s keep it simple: Stainmaster luxury vinyl is a budget brand. The problem, however, is that because of its warranty and quality issues, you’re forced to hire a contractor to install it. And you’ll probably have to replace it before you want to.
So, anything you saved on the material cost simply goes into labor costs—which begs the question: are you really saving money on this product?
After all, most people buy LVP because they want something waterproof that looks like wood—without having to worry about constant maintenance or the cost to refinish hardwood flooring. In both of these aspects, Stainmaster luxury vinyl misses the mark entirely.
Our take: if you want budget vinyl, you’re better off looking at other brands like Newton, or even LifeProof vinyl flooring or NuCore flooring. Newton’s prices rival Stainmaster’s, and the other two are only slightly more expensive—but they all offer better bang for your buck. Or, you could go with a budget wood-look tile made of porcelain.
Christian is a freelance everything-writer, editor, & SEO guy. When he’s not writing about flooring and remodeling, he’s either writing news for the California American Legion or writing fresh content for his camping & EDC blog (or, you know, actually camping).
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