Flooring for a kitchen or bath remodel needs to be durable and stylish. They are both high-traffic areas and moisture-prone so, therefore, need to be able to tolerate a certain amount of water. There are many choices for flooring materials, but hardwood and luxury vinyl are two of the top options for today’s hard-working and stylish homes. Hardwood flooring is undoubtedly stylish but has some disadvantages. Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) and Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) used to be more obvious as an imitation material, but technological advancements have made these two competitors relatively comparable when it comes to their look and feel.

There are several factors to consider before you make your final choice for flooring in your home design. Which is more durable? Which is more sustainable? What is the price difference? Can you use both and lay them beside each other? Are you prepared for high maintenance? Do you want underfloor heating? Do you have pets walking around your kitchen design? Are you interested in having a wet room-style bath design?

There is a flooring choice to suit your style and specific needs. Here is our rundown of the pros and cons of luxury vinyl and hardwood flooring to help you decide which one best meets your needs.

Luxury Vinyl or Hardwood Flooring for Kitchen and Bath Design 2023

What is Luxury Vinyl?

Why is luxury vinyl a good choice for bath or kitchen designs? It’s a durable option that wears well in areas with a lot of traffic. It is composed of a few layers of PVC vinyl and other materials, which influence how stiff the final product will be. These layers are compressed, rolled out, left hanging in liquid, and then heated up to a temperature that ensures durability. The product is then coated with a photographic image in vinyl that gives it the final look and urethane as a protective layer to achieve high durability.

kitchen with vinyl flooring

What is Hardwood Flooring?

Natural hardwood flooring is made from solid wood planks. It can be cut into shorter planks for parquet or chevron formation or long, wide planks, which are very on trend this year. Because it’s a natural product it needs time to acclimatize to the room in which it will be laid to avoid it warping. Engineered hardwood is slightly cheaper as just the top layer is natural hardwood. The rest is made up of layers of wood by-products, meaning it doesn’t need to acclimatize to the room as it won’t warp.

kitchen with wood flooring

Installing Luxury Vinyl Flooring

Luxury Vinyl is compressed into a thin, but durable, product so it is relatively easy to cut around existing floor fixtures. The floor underneath should be well prepared though as any irregularities may show through the vinyl. Both luxury vinyl tile and planks can be clicked or glued into place. Most luxury vinyl is waterproof and there is no problem laying it on top of underfloor heating.

Installing Hardwood Flooring

After acclimatization, solid hardwood planks must be nailed or glued to the prepared subfloor. Engineered hardwood looks and feels the same as solid hardwood but the planks can just click together, so nailing or gluing isn’t required. You don’t have to keep to one uniform color of solid or engineered hardwood.  Several shades of hardwood planks can be laid together for an on-trend, modern, multi-tonal look.

Which Is the Most Stylish?

Durability is important for functionality, but the aesthetics of your flooring is equally as important. You’ll have to live with your flooring so it should be something you really like and that suits the style of your kitchen or bath design, plus complements adjacent areas like your master bedroom or living room.

kitchen with vinyl flooring

Here are a few tips for choosing between LVP and hardwood when creating a look for your home design:

  • Hardwood planks are naturally longer than LVP if that’s what you’re looking for.
  • Modern LVP techniques replicate the knots and grains of wood quite well but because it’s printed you can easily wind up repeating a pattern. This works well if you don’t mind a more uniform look, but not if you are hoping for the one-of-a-kind look of natural hardwood.
  • Parquet flooring is a classic look that can be updated by using wood that has a distressed surface.
  • The surface of hardwood can be changed again in the future by sanding and refinishing it, but LVP’s surface cannot so whatever you buy now is what you will have for the lifetime of the flooring.
  • If you want the look of solid wood in an area where it might get damaged, why not replicate it in luxury vinyl in this particular area?
  • Natural stone looks are also available in vinyl, which could be used for particularly high-traffic areas and paired with hardwood flooring in the rest of your home.
  • If you think that lighter wood would suit your remodel but will be high maintenance, then go for this look in Luxury Vinyl.
kitchen with luxury vinyl flooring

Maintaining Your New Floor

Luxury Vinyl can be scrubbed with floor cleaner so any surface can be easily maintained. It is also no problem to sweep or vacuum vinyl flooring. The polyurethane protective layer protects the print layer and those underneath also. Although luxury vinyl has minimal upkeep, it doesn’t last as long as hardwood since hardwood can be refinished multiple times.

If you spill liquid on hardwood floors it should be wiped clean immediately. Regular waxing is also needed to maintain a shiny surface. Moving around chairs and tables on hardwood floors causes scratches and dents. Stains might occur during food prep in a kitchen or spilling an oily product in the bathroom. Pets could leave scratches from claws on your wooden floors. A professional can sand and resurface hardwood flooring when required but this adds to the overall cost. However, it won’t have to be replaced as quickly as vinyl so could work out as a beneficial long-term investment if this is a home you plan to stay in for many years. If such marks are merely character to you, then it’s a win-win situation for hardwood.

kitchen with wood flooring

The Durability Factor

How durable are both types of flooring? This is vital to assess when you are installing it in a high-traffic area. Apart from surface damage, there are other ways in which your floors can suffer. If it’s a warm area, or over underfloor heating, solid hardwood can swell and warp. This can also happen if it gets wet.

Both vinyl and hardwood are durable and stable. Some luxury vinyl has a stone polymer core, which is very durable but harder to walk on than vinyl with cores of wood polymer. Hardwood planks are given a protective coating at the processing stage, enhancing their stability. Vinyl holds its shape in a busy area as it is so compressed and heat treated. Both hardwood and vinyl flooring are tested in the factory to ensure that they are durable enough for a kitchen or bath remodel. Longevity may differ but overall durability is fairly similar when comparing luxury vinyl and hardwood.

kitchen with farmhouse sink

Weighing up Sustainability

Flooring is a serious investment and requires a significant quantity of products depending on how large your home is and what areas you plan to cover.  Therefore, you should really consider how your chosen material is produced along with other factors.

Make sure that your choice of flooring is as sustainably manufactured as possible. Its components should be materials that are recycled, and an extra bonus if the flooring itself can then be recycled in the future. While luxury vinyl isn’t as natural as hardwood, there are some types that are made of PVC produced from salt. This makes it sustainable and not harmful to the environment.

If you are looking at hardwood flooring check that the timber has been harvested from a tree farm. These forests are managed to replace trees that are cut down for this industry. This maintains the cycle of growth and harvest. Engineered hardwood is composed of wood by-products rather than another material, which is natural, but also recycles all parts of the tree. Once your products are ethically sourced and produced you are promoting sustainability with your choice of flooring.

kitchen with vinyl plank flooring

How To Choose the Flooring for Your Project

The flooring you choose depends on your lifestyle and the functional requirements of your remodel. A kitchen will have slightly different requirements from a bath design. Luxury vinyl works in either area and can emulate the appearance of a high-maintenance flooring material. It is marginally more cost-effective than hardwood in a large design. Hardwood is a classic, elegant choice that lasts a long time, but is not ideal for a high-moisture atmosphere.

Deciding on Luxury Vinyl or Hardwood Based on Your Budget

Both luxury vinyl and hardwood flooring are decent investments so are not cheap. Because they are such quality products you get what you pay for, and your kitchen or bath design is instantly upgraded.

Hardwood flooring is slightly pricier than luxury vinyl as there is so much involved in its manufacture and installation. Wood must be grown over years and then sustainably harvested, after which it is taken to be milled and then finished in the factory. Solid wood must be acclimatized in situ for several days. Then it is nailed or glued down to ensure its stability.

open plan kitchen with vinyl plank flooring

Luxury vinyl, on the other hand, is made in one location. It can just click together on delivery without having to acclimatize. Your subfloor should be very well prepped for a smooth result, so this could entail extra cost.  It is a good idea to invest more in luxury vinyl as a higher quality product would release fewer Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and be beneficial to you and your family’s health. Both hardwood and high-end luxury vinyl can be equally as expensive when you take everything into account.

When you are trying to decide which type of floor would suit your kitchen or bath remodel, it’s really down to a few key factors. What kind of lifestyle do you have? What is your budget, and would you stretch it for certain flooring requirements? What is the result that you want in terms of style and functionality? If you choose hardwood flooring, are you willing to keep maintaining it?

There is a lot to think about but being well-informed means that you are going to make the right decision. Contact us today at McDaniels to schedule a consultation with our design experts. We can help you with every aspect of your design, including choosing the ideal flooring for your home.