Luxury vinyl flooring is trendy right now. Why’s this? Simply put, it combines great looks with great practicality. It can mimic, with some success, wood, ceramic and stone, and it also brings excellent durability, waterproofing and comfort. Consequently, we bring you this rundown of the best vinyl flooring in the UK.
Luxury vinyl can give you the visual appeal of marble (or mahogany, or terracotta), with cushioning for your feet and your pocket. On top of this, it’s super-durable. This is why it’s used in so many shops where heavy footfall can be a killer.
There are many different candidates for best vinyl flooring brands in the UK. We’ve narrowed the choice down to our top 10, with most of them picked for a particular strength, like best wood looks. There are a few at the end that, although belonging to no particular category, deserved inclusion in any case.
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What is Luxury Vinyl?
For those of you thinking that vinyl’s still what it was way back when it was a cheap and cheerful flooring solution, think again. Luxury vinyl looks a lot better for a start, but the really remarkable development is what goes on inside. Construction is based on a multi-layer approach, usually laid out as follows, from top to bottom.
First of all, there’s a clear polyurethane film layer that protects against stains, as well as rips, cuts and tears. Secondly, we have the wear layer. This is invariably made from ultra-tough aluminium oxide and is the layer that bears the brunt of all that stepping and scratching.
Thirdly, there’s the design layer. Whatever kind of vinyl you’ve chosen, be it aged hickory or Welsh slate, it will get its looks from this photo-realistic layer. Fourthly, we have the solid core, which makes up most of the thickness. This is responsible for the LVT or LVP’s rigidity and waterproofing. Quite often, there’s a fifth layer of underlayment, which helps with stability and cushioning.
Right, that’s enough preamble. Let’s look at the best vinyl flooring brands in the UK.
Best Luxury Vinyl Flooring in the UK
- Best Overall – Quick-Step Alpha
- Premium Pick – Coretec Naturals
- Best Value – Almodo
- Wood-Look Pick – Karndean Wood
- Ceramic Tile-Look Pick – Amtico Decor
- Stone-Look Pick – Marble Deluxe
- Eco-Friendly Pick – Forbo Allura
- Another Affordable Option – Londres Mountain Grey
- Parquet-Look Pick – Signature Select
- Most Versatile – Supremo
Above is a quick rundown of our recommendations. Keep reading below for a detailed description of each flooring option and the reasons why we chose it.
1. Quick-Step Alpha (Best Overall)
Alpha gets our vote as best luxury vinyl flooring in the UK. It’s a tough, good-looking collection which uses the Uniclic technology, giving ease of installation and a tight waterproof seal.
Alpha is a decent thickness (5mm), and although no wear layer information was available at the time of writing, it does have a decent warranty (25 years for residential, up to 15 for commercial). It boasts a class 33 rating, which makes it suitable for heavy commercial use. This is good performance for a cost between £35 and £45 per m2.
It looks terrific as well, with a vast range of wood effects, including Botanic Smoked Oak and Vintage Chestnut. Its stone looks include the particularly effective Volcanic Rock. With all Alpha tiles and planks, the edges are micro-bevelled for optimal appearance.
An added bonus with Alpha is that it can cope with moderately uneven floors, so your prep time is significantly reduced. Choose the variety with underlay attached, and you’re really saving yourself some time and hassle.
Environmentally, Quick-Step performs very well. Their flooring conforms to FloorScore regs, scores an A+ on AFFSET (French emissions standard) and rates similarly highly on the Finnish Building Emission scale. It also contains some recycled material.
2. Coretec Naturals (Premium Pick)
This brand started as recently as 2017, but its roots go back a little further, courtesy of US Floors, the much-respected flooring company that set up Coretec. In turn, US Floors is part of the flooring giant Shaw. In short, Coretec has corporate credibility.
One of the distinguishing features of Coretec is its natural feel underfoot. This is achieved with the use of a wood-polymer compound in the vinyl core. Known as WPC, this incorporation of sawdust into the construction was an approach Coretec invented. Comfort is further enhanced by the cork underlayment, which delivers a real bounce when you walk on it.
It looks incredible, particularly the wood-effect varieties in the Naturals+ range – Leaf and Swamp are especially good. They do a nice herringbone range too.
The wear layer is good – 20 mil (0.55mm) up to 30 mil (0.75mm) by request – as is the overall thickness, coming in at 8mm. This means that a lifetime residential warranty is delivered without the usual list of exceptions that often accompany them. Commercial usage is guaranteed for 15 years.
Of course, all this comes at a price. Up to £70.99 per m2, in fact. So, not in everyone’s budget, but if you can afford it, you’ll have one nice-looking floor.
3. Almodo (Best Value)
So, one for the less Midas-like. But that’s not to say that a drop in price equals a plummet in quality. No sir. Almodo has made a good name for itself as the go-to brand for good-value flooring that will deliver.
It includes within its range some attractive-looking choices, such as the Boathouse Oak, which features attractive waves of light and dark grey running up its length. But it’s not just about looks. Its durability is good. It has a wear layer of 20 mil, meaning that a 25-year residential and 12-year commercial warranty is supplied.
The best bit is the price. The aforementioned Boathouse Oak is in the region of £16 per m2. Be warned, though, a number of Almodo products require glueing down rather than clicking together. This may put you off if you don’t fancy the extra complication that glue can bring to the table.
4. Karndean Wood (Wood-Look Pick)
We looked long and hard for a good wood simulation, and this one was the one that did it for us. Some wood looks are anything but. They may claim to be a decent facsimile of the real thing, but they fall way short on close (or even distant) inspection.
Karndean’s another story. It’s a strong contender for the title of best vinyl plank flooring in the UK. A full spectrum of wood colours is available, from the pale beauty of White Painted Oak to the dark grey wash of Grano, so there should be a stunning wood look to sit beautifully amid your decor. Bevelled edge, so it looks the part.
While some of its wood-inspired range is for glueing down, Karndean offers a choice of rigid core vinyl too, that clicks together in the usual way. It also comes complete with step-muffling underlay, which can give a 21dB cut in noise. Very handy in a shared house. Karndean claims that its click-together flooring can be laid on a variety of less-than-perfect subfloors, which is always good to know.
The overall thickness is 5.5mm, with a wear layer of .55mm. Resultingly, Karndean Wood has a lifetime residential guarantee. At the time of writing, no commercial guarantee information could be sourced. Price? Around £25-£35 per m2.
5. Amtico Decor (Ceramic Tile-Look Pick)
Ceramic tiles can look exquisite, but they come at a cost, and not just financially. They are infamously hard and cold to walk on, and they require an impeccably even subfloor before you can even think about laying them. What’s needed is something with the striking visual appeal of ceramic tiles without the attendant negatives. Step up, Amtico.
Amtico makes a justifiably famous range of tiles, having been in the premium flooring business for 60 years. Still based in and working out of its Coventry factory, Amtico is a bonafide British success story, albeit part of an American one (Amtico was acquired by Mannington in 2012).
Taking inspiration from classic Victorian tile patterns, the Decor range delivers elegance galore. Its geometric patterns are extremely easy on the eye, so like ceramic, it’s possible to forget that you’re looking at LVT. Not the cheapest though, at £50-£60 per m2.
Decor is extremely hardwearing, with a 1mm wear layer, which is pretty extraordinary. As you’d expect with this kind of construction, there’s a lifetime residential warranty. No information regarding commercial warranty was available at the time of writing.
6. Marble Deluxe (Stone-Look Pick)
Stone floors can be awesome, but just like ceramic, they have drawbacks. This is why it’s great that there’s such a good alternative as Marble Deluxe from Tile Mountain.
Boasting a grey marble appearance, with beveling and hyper-realistic veining, this really does look like the real deal for a much lower price (around £35 per m2). OK, a geologist is probably not going to be fooled. But it’s a pretty close replica for our money.
Reasonably thick (6mm) and with all the waterproofing you’d expect, this is great for bathrooms, bringing practicality and a cool sophistication to the room. Also good for a statement hallway if you want a touch of Versaille in your entrance (and who doesn’t?).
It comes with an underlay attached, while, on top, it has the requisite 0.55mm wear layer. A lifetime residential warranty is supplied.
7. Forbo Allura (Eco-Friendly Pick)
An increasing number of shoppers are looking for a flooring material that has the durability of vinyl but with better environmental credentials. If only there was such a brand. There is – it’s called Forbo Allura.
Forbo intends that all their materials be recyclable. To this end, only gentle dyes and lacquers are used, and harmful content is reduced to zero where possible. All materials must go through three environmental assessments before they go into production.
But, you may be thinking, that’s great for the planet. What about my floor? Relax – Forbo Allura comes in a range of convincing natural looks, from the rustic Natural Seagrass to the luxurious Black Marble.
The click-together variety features a 0.55mm wear layer and a total thickness of 5mm. With this kind of construction, perhaps the guarantee is a little disappointing: 10 years is not exactly market-leading. It might be worth checking back with them over the next little while to see if they’ve managed to improve this.
On the plus side, it’s about averagely priced at around £30-£40 per m2, which is a nice surprise for an environmentally friendly product.
8. Londres Tile Mountain (Another Affordable Option)
This is a good-looking wood substitute at a pretty reasonable price. At only £22.95 per m2, you might expect we’d be looking at something a little substandard, but this one’s actually OK. Thickness is 4mm, and the wear layer is 0.3mm, so not the most amazing construction, but you do get 25 years residential warranty, which isn’t to be sniffed at.
It comes in five colour variants, including a pine-like Alpine and an Ash-like Mountain Grey. It clicks together easily and comes with an underlay already attached, so it’s a great choice for those who want a reasonably cheap floor that can go down without much fuss.
9. Signature Select (Parquet-Look Pick)
For those who want something a little bit special, we had to include this parquet look from Signature. OK, it’s glue-down, so maybe it will not be the easiest to install, but it looks the business. And, at around £25 per m2, it’s not too expensive either.
Totally waterproof, as one would expect, and comes complete with a 25-year residential and 10-year commercial guarantee (courtesy of its 0.55mm wear layer).
It’s available in a wide selection of styles, including the appealing Meadow Oak and the unusual and lively Seafoam. Consequently, there are styles to suit most interiors, and all varieties feature attractive beveling around the edges.
Overall, this US company (based in Georgia) has some high-quality visually-pleasing output which is well worth considering, in our opinion.
10. Supremo (Most Versatile)
Supremo’s clay tile effect flooring delivers pricey looks at a reasonable cost (from approx £25 per m2). It’s a style that is suitable for use throughout the house, and its neutral shade will be sure to go with any colour scheme, so it’s got versatility to spare.
Durability-wise, it’s 100% waterproof and is built to last. Consequently, it gives a 25-year residential warranty, as well as a 5-year light commercial guarantee. Attractively bevelled around the edge, the tiles are 5mm thick with a 0.55mm wear layer.
It’s as practical as you’d expect with LVT, being flame-retardant, anti-bacterial, and supremely easy to clean. Incidentally, Supremo makes a range of wood-effect tiles too, which, while not having amazing warranties (12 years residential, 5 years commercial), do look really good, and, like the clay tiles, they’re reasonably priced.
The Different Types of Luxury Vinyl Flooring
Luxury vinyl flooring comes in two main forms: tile (LVT) and plank (LVP). They’re both pretty much the same thing in that they both feature multi-layer construction and solid cores, but they have different dimensions.
As you’ll probably be expecting, the tile is more ‘stubby’ in shape, with sizes varying from 16” x 16” to 18” x 36”. The plank is longer and thinner, from 4” x 48” to 9” x 72”. Ceramic and stone reproductions tend to come in LVT shape, while the wood effect is usually LVP.
What to Consider When Choosing Luxury Vinyl Flooring
You don’t want a thin and potentially flimsy tile or plank in heavy-traffic areas. Needs to be 5mm, at least, unless it’s a glue-down tile, which can be thinner. However, probably even more important is the next point.
Wear Layer Thickness
This being the business end, you need a decent wear layer, or it’s hardly worth laying the things down in the first place. 20 mil (or 0.55mm) is the industry standard for a good, hardwearing floor.
It’s got to look good. It’s your house – you want it to look its best, naturally. This is where it’s often a good idea to visit a showroom to get your hands on the things. That way, you can give the embossing a feel as well as seeing the design up close. Some online sellers will send you samples, so it’s worth asking.
Cleaning and Maintenance
Most luxury vinyl is dead easy to care for. Cleaning vinyl’s a breeze: a damp mop now and again will see it looking its best. There shouldn’t be any further maintenance needed. If the instructions ask you to rub olive oil lovingly into its nooks and crannies, you should probably look elsewhere. I certainly would – it sounds like some privacy might be required.
If you’re looking at a luxury vinyl product that has only partial waterproofing, you’re looking at the wrong luxury vinyl product. Waterproofing is what luxury vinyl does best, so if it’s not able to deliver, it’s a poor example indeed.
How is the company regarded? How long’s it been operating? Has it made a decent name for itself in that time? Crucially, what do previous customers think of its products? Reviews are super-important, and you shouldn’t dismiss them all as fake. Most customer reviews are real and honest and can tell you some information that’s good to know before you commit.
How Easy Is It To Install?
The installation’s within the ambit of most practically-oriented people. There’s lots of help available online, such as this YouTube video, giving great tips on luxury vinyl installation. You should be sure of three things. Firstly, what tools and prep are required? Secondly, how long is it likely to take? Is it an afternoon, or should a whole weekend be blocked off? Thirdly, is there a helpline for when (sorry, if) it all goes skewiff?
What Does It Cost?
If money’s tight for you right now, you’re not alone by any means. With prices rising, you need to be sure that the vinyl of your dreams is affordable. If not, you might be better off looking at a slightly lower price point. As we’ve seen, there’s some good stuff out there at a reasonable price.
Last but not least, once that flooring’s down, you’d like it to be in place for a decent amount of time. Consequently, look for a brand that gives you confidence that you’re not going to have to replace it any time soon. 15 years is a good minimum.
The Pros & Cons of Luxury Vinyl Flooring
Just like pretty much any flooring, there are pros and cons to luxury vinyl. It’s well worth having a think about whether the pros outweigh the cons for you before you dive into a big luxury vinyl blowout.
- Installing’s Usually Pretty Easy – not necessarily everyone will be able to do it, but those with at least a little practical skill should be able to manage it. Mind you, the difficulty can be compounded by an irregular or awkward space.
- Great Waterproofing – this is where vinyl really shines. Its watertight core (plus, usually, some anti-splash technology in the top layers) will mean that you can have water sloshing about for a sustained period, and LVT will just laugh in its face.
- Hardwearing – LVT and LVP have great strength. They have rock-solid cores that lifelong pilates masters can only weep with envy at.
- Acoustic Control – this is especially the case with luxury vinyl that has an underlayment. Get that stuff in there, and the noise of great clodhopping steps will be rendered as soft as a fairy’s feather.
- Extensive Range of Looks – you can explore a universe of wood, stone or ceramic looks without any of the drawbacks associated with those admittedly lovely natural products.
- It’s Not the Cheapest – although there are cheaper varieties of luxury vinyl, if your budget is inordinately tight, it might be more sensible to look at vinyl sheet. It’s not as hard-wearing, but it can look great. And it’s cheap.
- Environmental Issues – make no mistake, vinyl comes with a chequered environmental profile. However, recyclability is becoming more and more common with vinyl. Companies like Recofloor will take commercial vinyl away, and individuals can recycle their vinyl through local recycling services.
- It’s Not the Real Deal – luxury vinyl looks incredible at its best. At its worst, it can look like a cheap copy of the real thing. For instance, a hugely unconvincing stab at wood will offend the eye for as long as it’s down there.
Alternative Flooring Options
Luxury vinyl is, as we’ve seen, a terrific option. It’s hardwearing, it’s waterproof, it’s easy to lay, and it can look amazing. However, it might not be for everyone. For some, they might not be able to get past the environmental issues. Others might simply not be able to afford it. And then there are some for whom only real natural materials will do.
- Ceramic Tiles. These have stood the test of time. They’re beautiful, hardwearing and can be economical if you shop around. Installation can be a little tricky – you really have to know what you’re doing, or you can go seriously awry. Some people dislike the somewhat hard and cold experience they turn walking into.
- Solid Wood. It is much warmer underfoot than ceramic tiles, and the right wood and treatment can give good waterproofing performance. Installation-wise, this one’s best left to the pros. Unless you’re exceptionally good with wood.
- Engineered wood. This is real wood that’s been layered with another material to deliver waterproofing and durability on top of the feel of natural wood. Increasingly popular.
- Carpet. In the right setting, you can’t beat a nice bit of carpet. Yes, of course, it fails completely in the waterproofing stakes, and some have misgivings about the dust that carpet traps, but if you want cosiness, carpet rules.
In looking at luxury vinyl flooring, we wanted to be sure that we’d considered all aspects before naming our winner. This is why we settled on our top pick, Quick-Step Alpha Vinyl. When rolling everything together, it was decided that this one offered the best overall buy due to its combination of good wear, great looks and affordability. No. It’s not the most hardwearing, but a 25-year warranty will satisfy most needs.
By looking for others that excel in particular areas, we are hoping that we’ve come up with a very useful list, ideal for those with a particular need. We’re confident that you’ll find one that appeals to you. If not, there’s lots more information online. Whatever you do, don’t skimp on the research. It pays to be thorough. When it comes to floors, more is more.
Is luxury vinyl hardwearing?
Luxury vinyl is extremely hardwearing due to its rigid core and multi-layer construction incorporating a hard aluminium oxide wear layer.
Is luxury vinyl waterproof?
Because of its solid core, luxury vinyl is highly waterproof, even in the face of extended immersion.
Is luxury vinyl bad for the environment?
Up to now, vinyl has had a bad name environmentally. However, progress is being made in both the production and the recycling of vinyl. Hopefully, this will continue to improve.
Does luxury vinyl look like natural materials?
Luxury vinyl can look very much like the natural material it’s simulating. That’s not to say that it all looks convincing. For this reason, it’s well worth looking at some in the flesh before you buy.