Expert Insight: 12 Things You Should Consider Before Using Vinyl Flooring Outdoors

Kenneth Wilson

At this point, I bet you’ve probably heard about the numerous benefits of vinyl plank flooring. For starters, this flooring material is more durable, easier to clean, and visually appealing…. The list could go on.

It’s only natural for some homeowners to want them installed in every corner of their home, including the outdoor patio. (Related: EVP Flooring For Your Home: Pros, Cons & Costs)

Now, is vinyl an excellent option for outdoor flooring use? Let’s take a closer look at the factors, as well as other alternatives you can consider instead of vinyl.

Key Considerations Before Using Vinyl Flooring Outdoors

1. Vinyl Floors can be Used Outdoors

Technically, it’s possible to install vinyl floors on your outdoor patio as it is durable, moisture-resistant, and requires little maintenance.

An outdoor patio with vinyl flooring makes for a comfortable and highly durable living space. Use vinyl floors in an outdoor, temperature-controlled environment– such as a sunroom or enclosed porch.

2. It is Not Often Recommended

Professionals do not recommend installing vinyl floors in outdoor areas. Instead, floor coverings are considerably more ideal to use.

Vinyl may be 100% waterproof, but temperature fluctuations may affect the floor’s condition. Let’s say the vinyl floors are frequently exposed to cold temperatures, rainfall, or sunlight exposure– it may crack or swell like laminate flooring.

Thanks to plenty of advancements in the industry, some vinyl floor coverings have been approved for outdoor installation. However, professionals may still advise you to look for other alternatives that are far more suitable.

3. It is Very Durable for Outdoor Use

Installing vinyl on the patio or porch means you’ll have durable floors. If you have kids or pets at home, they can use the area as their play place without having to worry about any scratches or damage.

This flooring type has plenty of traction to decrease the likelihood of accidents or injuries.

4. It Doesn’t Need Fastening

Another benefit to keep in mind is that vinyl flooring doesn’t require fastening to the subfloors. You won’t need to secure it using nails or screws– effectively decreasing the chances of injury or accidents.

5. You have Plenty of Choices

Vinyl flooring for outdoor use can be a flexible choice. For one, vinyl floor mats and rolls are readily available in different colors and designs.

If you want to mimic a particular indoor flooring design on your outdoor patio, vinyl flooring planks are there to your rescue.

6. Vinyl Floors may React to Heat

Once there are changes in the temperature, vinyl flooring material may expand (extreme heat) or tighten (cold). Hence, the interplay may leave permanent damage to your outdoor floors.

7. Vinyl Flooring Cannot Withstand Cold Temperatures

Unfortunately, vinyl floors are prone to damage in freezing temperatures. If you live in an area with extremely harsh winters, outdoor vinyl flooring may not be the best option. You’ll only be signing up for frequent cracks in the floor and planks being out of place.

Meanwhile, moderately cold regions may enjoy the benefits of vinyl floors for outdoor use. Vinyl is known to be an excellent heat insulator, giving you a comfortable underfoot even in the cold.

8. You Have Other Flooring Alternatives to Consider

If you’re looking for excellent flooring alternatives instead of vinyl floorings for outdoor use, we got you covered.

  • Composite Wood – Combining aesthetics and functionality, composite wood floorboards are great for outdoor use. It mimics the look of natural wood– giving it a stunning, rustic beauty. Additionally, it’s designed to be fire and rot-resistant. It also requires little upkeep when compared to high-maintenance natural wood floors.
  • Ceramic Tiles – Ceramic and porcelain tile floors are more durable than natural stone and wood floors. That said, ceramic tile floors with high PEI ratings are suitable for outdoor patio installations. This material gives beautiful floors that can withstand wear and tear for long years.
  • Plastic Patio Tiles – Properties in areas with constant heavy rainfall may put their outdoor flooring at risk of moisture damage. Fortunately, plastic drainage tile flooring can help you deal with fast water drainage to prevent flooding. These UV-resistant tiles won’t fade under constant sunlight exposure. They are also designed to be slip-resistant, ensuring your safety at home.

9. The Benefits of Vinyl Outdoor Floors

  • Moisture resistant: Since vinyl material is 100% water-resistant– you can count on your new outdoor floors to be protected against water damage. It also doesn’t attract mold or mildew.
  • Needs little maintenance: If you find it tedious to clean and stain-free your floors, the good news is that vinyl outdoor flooring requires minimal maintenance on your end. You can do simple cleaning now and then to maintain its radiant appearance.
  • Durability: Vinyl floors can withstand heavy foot traffic. You can invite a couple of friends over to relax at the patio without worrying about your floor condition.
  • Easy installation: You’ll be surprised at how simple the vinyl flooring installation process is, as opposed to laminate or tile flooring.
  • Cost-effective: Installing vinyl floors can be cheaper than you would typically pay for other flooring materials, such as carpet, hardwood, or tiles. Total project costs may vary depending on the floors' brand, design, and texture.
  • Versatile: You can choose different colors and designs for your new vinyl flooring project, from traditional wood to the classic hand-scraped look.
  • Comfortable: High-end vinyl can be comfortable to walk on, mainly because they are made from shock-absorbing materials. In contrast, low-end luxury vinyl plank flooring and sheet vinyl are less comfortable underfoot.

10. The Drawbacks of Vinyl Outdoor Floors

  • It can be difficult to remove: Since vinyl floors are typically glued down, best expect these won’t come off quickly. You’ll most likely have a challenging time removing it and end up with a stained surface afterward.
  • Not an eco-friendly option: If you want your home to be as green as possible, vinyl floors may not be the best option. This material is not degradable and extremely difficult to recycle.
  • Possible discoloration: The top coating of cheap vinyl floors may fade over time with frequent UV ray exposure. However, premium vinyl plank floors can keep their sheen even if they get too much sunlight.

11. Avoid Installing the Outdoor Vinyl in Areas with Direct Sunlight Exposure

Unless the manufacturer tells you it’s okay to put your new vinyl floors in areas with direct sunlight – it’s best not to.

In particular, vinyl material with a lower quality wear layer may break down in the long run if exposed to constant sunlight. There’s no need to worry, though. Plenty of outdoor vinyl materials in the market do not have this problem, but it’s best to check first.

12. You Will Need to Ensure a Good Foundation

You can’t install outdoor vinyl floors on the dirt. To ensure a successful installation project, have a good foundation that adequately supports the floors.

Most foundations and subfloors are made of concrete or wood. If you have any of these at home, these will do. Ideally, these subfloors have been previously treated for moisture resistance (or at least covered with a moisture barrier).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What temperature can vinyl flooring withstand?

Typically, vinyl flooring can withstand between 65 and 85 degrees. Temperature above or below this level can lead to thermal expansion and contraction on the flooring. Extreme temperature does not go well with vinyl flooring. It will expand when exposed to too much hot temperature and contracts on cold temperatures. If you allow any of these to happen, it may cause your company warranty to be voided.

How long does outdoor vinyl last?

When installed correctly, an outdoor vinyl flooring will usually last for 10 to 20 years. However, life span still depends on the quality, brand, and texture. You may opt for the thicker vinyl types for those who prefer long-term projects, as they usually last for roughly about 25 years. Although, if you are low on budget and choose thin vinyl, you will benefit from attractive flooring for 5 to 10 years. Beyond that, it will begin to lose its color and may swell or crack.

Kenneth Wilson
December 31, 2021
Contractor Tips, 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. I also operate remodeling design service for homeowners.

Ask The Author Your Question In The Comments!

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

More From This Author

9 of the Best Ring Security Cameras: Home Security 101
Where You Should Place Security Cameras Around Your Home: Best Locations
How Long Do SimpliSafe Camera Batteries Last?
SimpliSafe vs. Ring: Which Home Security System is Best Suited for Your Needs?
The Best Plug-in Outdoor Security Lights to Keep Your Home Safe
Everything You Need to Know About Residential Laser Grid Security Systems