Luxury Vinyl (LVP/LVT) Flooring has become one of the largest category launches in the flooring industry, and with good reason. LVP can be a great product and certainly serves a purpose. It is easy to install, looks like real wood or ceramic flooring, and is an affordable option for homeowners and builders. But – at what cost to our environment?
For Larissa Herbert, Flooring Specialist at House of Broadloom in Sudbury, the long-term impacts of LVP products are generally overlooked and need to be addressed. “Something I feel is missed in entirety when consumers are researching, is the environmental impact that this product category carries. And it’s huge.”
It is a contentious topic for a flooring supplier. Indeed, House of Broadloom offers a selection of LVP/LVT products that have certain benefits to the customer. Luxury vinyl can seem like an excellent choice today, but buyers must consider the environmental implications and consider choosing more responsible flooring options.
“In recent years, the entire world has been working together to make the environment a much safer place by eliminating many unauthentic products from within our homes”, says Herbert. “Vinyl flooring companies need to work on making these products more environmentally friendly.”
LVP flooring is composed primarily of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), a substance considered to be one of the leading emitters of toxins into our homes and subsequently, our broader environment. Despite the risks, PVC is a heavy-duty plastic that is used in various materials within the home, including plumbing, doors and trims, siding and LVP/LVT flooring. Once these products reach landfill, the toxins are leached into the soil and water. Compounding the environment impact further is the fact that the main ingredient in PVC plastics is petroleum, a non-renewable resource.
There are pros and cons to LVP flooring. On the one hand, it is softer and warmer underfoot than its ceramic counterparts. However, it scratches easily and has a shorter lifespan. Even with regular maintenance and precautionary use, LVP flooring will last about ten years. After that, the materials go straight to landfill.
According to this March 2022 article posted by The Spruce, LVP flooring is virtually impossible to recycle, because the recycling process requires a degree of consistency throughout the material makeup of the product. LVP flooring is created with a variety of chemical components that, when combined, are incompatible for the recycling process. The use of adhesives, which typically remains stuck to old flooring and underlay, only compounds the problem.
So, what are the options?
“Porcelain tile and engineered wood,” Larissa suggests. “Engineered wood has more than double LVP’s lifespan. And when installed properly, porcelain tile should last a lifetime. Plus with porcelain tile’s use of recycled materials, long life cycle and ability to be recycled, there is a reduction or elimination of landfill waste.”
Flooring is an investment that should be well-researched. By taking the time to learn about the short-term benefits and long-term effects of each product, the consumer will be well-educated and poised to make the best choice.
“With all this talk of banning plastic straws and bags, reducing waste and reusing materials, there is this massive product category that everyone is looking at putting in their homes. And it is a far larger polluter of the environment,” Herbert says. “Although they have many excellent qualities, you must ask yourself if it is really worth the long-term cost.”
Speak with a House of Broadloom flooring specialist to learn more about sustainable flooring options. They are open weekdays 9 to 5:30, with evening appointments available by request.
House of Broadloom is located at 68 Lorne Street in Sudbury. You can call them at 705-674-4444 or visit them online here.