Consumer Reports: Vinyl Flooring

June 1, 2012 5:26:19 AM PDT
When it comes to flooring, the top-selling kind is vinyl. But is vinyl the best choice for your home? Consumer Reports has the results from its 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.

To simulate this, a machine scrubs the flooring up to 500 times. The flooring is 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. This Wicanders Corkcomfort ran into trouble.

"Here's how the flooring looked before the test. And here's how it looked after," adds Markovich.

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," says Markovich.

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.

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.

If you prefer a wood floor, Consumer Reports recommends the prefinished solid oak floor Bruce Dundee Plank, model number C-B-1210. It did an excellent job resisting foot traffic and costs a little less than six dollars per square foot.

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