EVP and LVP: Which Vinyl Plank is Right for Your Project?

Kenneth Wilson

Installing new flooring has a massive impact on the look and feel of any room. This project may sound daunting for the novice, but it is less challenging than it sounds. Engineered Vinyl Plank (EVP) and Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) are two popular materials used in flooring projects. They look fantastic, despite being inexpensive and easy to install.

Home improvement enthusiasts of all levels of experience sometimes get confused about the differences between EVP and LVP. While they are similar materials, you need to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each before choosing the flooring for your next project.

What is Vinyl Flooring?


Vinyl flooring has been a popular material since the 1930s. This flooring had tremendous appeal for a few reasons:

  • Easy to install – you did not require specialized training or equipment to install most vinyl flooring.
  • Cheap – prices have fluctuated over time, but vinyl has generally been much more affordable than alternatives like hardwood, ceramic tiles, or carpet.
  • Durable – the hard plastic is highly resistant to damage and easily hides minor dents, scuffs, or blemishes.
  • Waterproof or water-resistant – high-quality vinyl flooring could withstand water better than other materials of its time. This also made vinyl flooring easy to clean.

The main problem with vinyl flooring was its appearance. The tiles could be prepared in many different colors, but they had a mass-produced look. Vinyl tiling is still common in high-traffic public spaces such as malls, public schools, and hospitals, most homeowners are looking for alternatives. (Related: The Best Types Of Kitchen Flooring For Your Needs)

EVP and LVP maintain the advantages of vinyl flooring but have an upgraded look by incorporating a decor layer that simulates the appearance of hardwood or ceramic tiling.

What is Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) Flooring?


LVP is the broad class of flooring that attempts to improve the appearance of vinyl flooring by creating a printed decorative layer. It uses the same vinyl exterior, but instead of a plastic resin, there is an image. This allows for a broader range of appearance compared to vinyl while maintaining a low price point.

What is Engineered Vinyl Plank (EVP) Flooring?


EVP is technically a type of LVP, but it has some features distinct from LVP. It is best to understand EVP by examining its four layers.

  1. 1
    Protective layer – this is a thick coating of clear vinyl plastic. It protects the flooring from most day-to-day damage and stress.
  2. 2
    Design coating – this is a printed image that gives the flooring its appearance. This decorative layer can show through the protective plastic coating while hiding the structural layers underneath.
  3. 3
    Core film – this is the hard center of the flooring. Made with either wood or stone, this improves the rigidity and feel of the flooring.
  4. 4
    Base film – this separates the EVP flooring from the floor below it. Some EVP flooring does not have a base film.

Appearance of LVP and EVP


When it comes to style, there are great options for both LVP and EVP flooring. In both cases, the appearance is dictated by a decorative layer within the flooring. This layer is essentially a picture printed onto the flooring, so either type of floor can take on a wide range of designs.

Durability of LVP and EVP


Durability is one of the most critical differences between LVP and EVP. EVP has a thick coat of vinyl plastic on the top and a solid core of wood or stone in the center. While EVP isn’t indestructible, it is exceptionally durable and can stand up to most day-to-day stresses.

LVP is also durable but not as durable as EVP. The vinyl coating is not as thick as EVP, which means less force is required to damage the decorative layer. LVP also has a slightly rubbery core, which means heavy weights are more likely to leave dents.

Installation of LVP and EVP


Both LVP and EVP are designed for beginners. You do not require advanced home renovation skills or expensive equipment to install LVP or EVP. It is helpful to have a power saw such as a table saw or a jigsaw to cut the planks perfectly to shape, but workarounds are available if you don’t have access to these tools.

While the difficulty level of installing LVP and EVP is similar, LVP has some disadvantages. LVP uses adhesive during the installation process. This means either peel-and-stick planks or a glue-down method. Working with large amounts of glue and adhesive can be very unpleasant. In addition, the flooring underneath the LVP might be damaged if it is removed in the future.

LVP is often considered the better choice for uneven floors. EVP has a rigid core of wood or stone, while LVP uses a rubbery plastic. This means LVP can bend slightly to adapt to the flooring. There is a limit to how flexible LVP can be, but for a basement or older house with a few odd angles, LVP will be more forgiving.

Cost of LVP and EVP


One of LVP’s most significant advantages is the cost. The materials are more straightforward and are therefore less expensive. LVP is often about half the price of EVP, which can make a substantial difference when flooring a large area or if you are on a strict budget.

It is worth noting that not all LVP is the same level of quality. Cheap LVP has issues with water damage, as low-quality LVP tends to be water-resistant, not waterproof. While it might sound appealing to use cheap LVP for flooring a laundry room or bathroom, you may have to repair planks that suffer water damage.

Conclusion


EVP flooring is widely considered to be superior to LVP in most situations. The installation is better, it feels more natural, and the durability is outstanding. EVP is more expensive, but it is still quite affordable. That being said, if cost is a significant concern, LVP is still acceptable to use. As long as you take the time to install the flooring properly, both types of flooring can serve you well.

Kenneth Wilson
November 12, 2021
Flooring

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done.

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