When it comes to flooring, the top-selling kind is vinyl. But is vinyl the best choice for your home? The experts at Consumer Reports conducted extensive tests on all kinds of floors.
Vinyl flooring comes in all kinds of colors and textures. Some even look like stone or wood. Consumer Reports included vinyl in its tests of flooring.
"The most important test is how well the flooring will hold up through years of foot traffic," said Bob Markovich of Consumer Reports.
To simulate this, a machine scrubbed the flooring up to 500 times. The flooring was coated with an abrasive substance. Testers also evaluate how well the flooring resists stains and whether sharp objects will scratch it.
And you don't want the sun to fade your floor, so testers place flooring in this machine and expose it to ultraviolet rays.
The Wicanders Corkcomfort ran into trouble.
When the battery of tests was done, the best vinyl beat all the other flooring, including wood and laminate.
Consumer Reports says a good choice is Armstrong's Alterna Mesa Canyon Stone Sun at around $5.50 per square foot.
"This vinyl mimics the color and texture of real stone," Markovich said.
But there are some safety concerns about vinyl flooring.
"Vinyl flooring, especially when newly installed, can emit volatile organic compounds, also called VOCs, substances linked to health problems and pollution," said Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., director of safety at Consumer Reports.
Consumer Reports says vinyl flooring that has the industry's "floorscore certification" indicates it emits relatively low levels of VOCs. The recommended Armstrong vinyl has the floorscore certification.
No matter what type of flooring you decide to go with, make sure you don't overbuy. Determine the room's square footage and add about 10 percent to cover the unexpected.
Consumer Reports recommends that you see a sample in your home - even if you have to buy that sample - rather than relying on a picture in a catalog or online. you're going to be living with this decision for years.