For most of human history, designers and architects had two choices for flooring: Wood or stone, if you didn’t want dirt.
With technological advancement has come a revolution in the flooring industry. Vinyl, a plastic, is formed to mimic the look and feel of many different materials, and it’s easier to install and maintain. Vinyl is so common, and relatively inexpensive, that it has started trends of its own.
Let’s look at the 2021 vinyl flooring trends – what’s new, exciting and ready to install in your home.
Trend 1: Even More Authentic Wood Flooring Look
Yes, vinyl plank and tile flooring made to look like wood isn’t exactly new. But it is trendy, or “on-trend” as designers say way too often.
Here’s what hot: In 2021, manufacturers are producing vinyl wood looks to mimic the most sought-after flooring treatment and texture trends.
- Wire brushed techniques leave the appearance of exposed wood grain that really brings out the beauty. Of course, vinyl plank flooring is formed. A brush never touches it.
- Distressed looks, similar to wire brushed, appear to have more wear and tear, with antique burns, scrapes, knotholes and more. Wood is smoked, fumed and torched – vinyl flooring options boast those looks too.
- Hand scraped (hand-scraped and handscraped are used too) vinyl creates high variation between planks using long, ingrained scrapes for a handcrafted look. Again, the planks are molded and extruded, not treated the same way wood flooring is.
Advantage Vinyl! Wood-look vinyl is as realistic as its most common competitor, wood-look laminate, but wood-look vinyl features far more versatility and less maintenance.
Did you know? Manufacturers like Kahrs Flooring make both hardwood flooring and LVP. Why? They are designed to be installed together in the same home. Let’s say you want gorgeous wood flooring in your living room and hallway, but you don’t think it’s a good fit for the kids’ bathroom or the mudroom. You’re probably wise. But what are you going to do? Something totally different and ruin the wood vibe? No! You can install vinyl flooring in the wet areas that looks nearly, almost exactly, unless you didn’t know it wasn’t wood you might guess it was…for a seamless appearance.
Trend 2: Any Wood Species You Want
Early vinyl plank flooring was mostly made to look like common domestic species – lots of oak, some maple, hickory, cherry, etc. That’s great, and those “species” still sell really well.
But now you can choose something exotic too, tigerwood, Brazilian walnut (ipe), bamboo…we could go on. Wood-look vinyl flooring in 2021 offers a near-complete variety of hardwood species in any and all colors and styles.
Did we mean Cali Bamboo? No! We didn’t confuse bamboo-look vinyl flooring from brands like Earthwerks with Cali Bamboo vinyl plank flooring that uses a bamboo composite core – which is pretty trendy for 2021 too!
Trend 3: Next-level Waterproof Planks
Designed to be completely waterproof, not just water-resistant, vinyl flooring meeting this standard creates a complete lock between the planks that does not let liquid through.
Tight joints and topcoats allow wet-mopping. Try that on your luxury hardwood!
Spilled liquids contained on the surface don’t have a chance to permeate into the floor, so the subfloor doesn’t swell from moisture. Homes with kids and pets, mudrooms and baths, are obvious environments to benefit from waterproof plank flooring. Dirt, food, and pet accidents can be cleaned completely.
Waterproof plank vinyl flooring is manufactured in 2021 in any and all styles, colors, textures, and price points. Kitchens, bathrooms and basements see heavier use of waterproof plank vinyl flooring. Many of the commercial floors installed in 2021 look like textured wood, but are actually waterproof plank vinyl.
Nucore is one among the many brands we’ve reviewed that have a waterproof line. So is Mannington. A leader in the development of waterproof vinyl plank flooring was Shaw. The Shaw Floorte Pro is an excellent choice where waterproof vinyl flooring is desired.
Pro Tip: Waterproof plank vinyl flooring can be Wood Plastic Composite (WPC) flooring or Stone Composite Core (SPC) flooring. Both are referred to as having a “waterproof core.” But if you have any doubt, go with an SPC core – stone is more waterproof than wood, right? More info below.
Read the Warranty! It always makes sense to know the terms of the waterproof warranty. Most are limited by time, i.e., standing water on the floor for 24-72 hours is the typical range.
Trend 4: SPC Vinyl Flooring for Tough Traffic
A WPC core flooring is more comfortable than an SPC floor. But what makes is softer also makes it weaker. There’s another option: Stone Plastic Composite.
Also known as Rigid Core Composite, the chief advantage over WPC vinyl flooring is its extra strength and rigidity. The strength of Stone Plastic Composite (SPC) vinyl flooring makes it possible to install vinyl floors on uneven subfloors. Manufactured in every style, color, and texture, SPC vinyl flooring combines flexibility, good looks, and durability.
Did you know? SPC also refers to Solid Polymer Core. While not quite the same, it is just as waterproof as SPC cores with crushed limestone.
Homeowners are using SPC flooring in high-traffic areas, kitchens, basements, garage conversions and many other areas that get a lot of traffic, where kids play or where heavy objects might fall or be set for long periods.
Business owners, as you’d expect, often prefer this flooring type too.
Trend 5: Speaking of Stone!
How does the discerning homeowner get a gorgeous, durable, realistic stone floor without using actual stones? With luxury vinyl tiles (LVT)!
This is stone look, not a SPC core (though some stone-look plank has an SPC core. Not trying to confuse you – We’re Flooring Clarity, after all.
Natural stone makes for a timeless and beautiful floor. But, wow, is it heavy! And expensive! And hard to install! And it has to be sealed regularly! And it stains!
OK, enough with the exclamations. The point is that all those troubling truths about real stone disappear with LVT/LVP stone look flooring. Luxury vinyl tiles have convinced a lot of homeowners to avoid real stone flooring, while enjoying the look and ease of care.
What’s your stone of choice? It’s probably available in vinyl plank flooring.
Travertine. The type of stone floor commonly made of limestone (the kind of floors found in castles, ancient architecture, and old movies) is called “travertine.”
Travertine is a hot look in 2021! Obviously, labor- and material-intensive, real travertine floors are prohibitively expensive for most homeowners. Travertine advantages of
Slate. Modern and chic, vinyl flooring with the slate look trends well in 2021. Actual slate comes in a huge variety of colors and textures, and realistic slate-look vinyl flooring is easily manufactured. And it really looks authentic.
Marble. Never out of style, marble is beautifully veined and translucent. However, marble is a soft and porous rock that chips and stains way too easily. Marble is also one of the most expensive building stones, to purchase and repair. 2021 marble-look luxury vinyl tiles provide the same visual and is softer than marble underfoot. Plus, it delivers waterproofing and is so easy to care for.
Concrete. In 2021, the search for the perfect industrial style continues, and vinyl flooring that exactly mimics concrete provides a modern look without the obvious drawbacks of real concrete (e.g. it’s heavy; messy to install; vulnerable to stains; and unforgiving to your feet and back.) Super-affordable and paired with modern décor, concrete-look vinyl flooring is found in restaurants and bars, many new condos, and high-rise apartments.
Trend 6: Metal-look LVT – that’s Heavy!
Bucking the other trends of 2021 that lean toward the natural and realistic (see: “wood” and “stone’ above), metallic looks add a sheen to vinyl flooring that is unquestionably artificial. The modern, contemporary homeowner of 2021 can certainly make a statement by installing metallic vinyl flooring. Metallic vinyl flooring shows best in commercial environments and bathrooms, in businesses, and with modern décor.
Trend 7: Sensing a Pattern – Lots of Interesting Ones
2021 continues the trend in patterned floors that was a hit in 2020.
Herringbone and chevron. Traditional vinyl planks in herringbone and chevron patterns are hot! Vinyl planks can be laid in either pattern, herringbone being a little easier to DIY. Vinyl sheets are even being produced with the pattern in the vinyl itself. These patterns are most popular in kitchens.
Diagonal. Just lay the vinyl planks diagonally for a modern and expensive-looking flooring solution. It costs a little more in labor and materials to lay a diagonal floor, which is why it’s a less common option. The enduring uniqueness of a diagonal floor is part of its attraction.
Hexagon. Trendy for that vintage, classic appeal, hexagon vinyl flooring tiles are popular in 2021. However, they are often paired with a modern, futuristic look featuring clean, sharp lines, and steel-and-glass minimalist décor.
Trend 8: Plank Size and Variety Give you More Options
Go big or go home? Sort of. Manufacturers are producing lines with large-format tile, extra-long planks and wider ones too. In addition to visual interest, the bigger the piece is, the faster installation goes. And that will save you time (DIY) or money (hiring someone).
Large plank/large tile. Longer and wider vinyl planks and tiles can make rooms look larger and more open. Manufacturers are already producing vinyl flooring planks and tiles for 2021 that are even wider and longer than in 2021. This trend is likely to become a classic.
Pro tip on big planks and tiles: Yes, they’re make a room feel bigger, but if the room is actually quite small, the large sizes might overwhelm the space and look out of place.
Mixed width. Wide to narrow vinyl flooring planks of various lengths, laid together, create extra detail in a room. Using mixed width vinyl flooring planks adds variety and drama to any space, especially combined with cool colors or textures. Check out Nucore LVP if mixed-width interests you.
Trend 9: Hot Vinyl Floor Colors for 2021
MSI is one of the largest distributors of flooring in the world. It’s buyers know what vinyl flooring colors are trending for 2021.
Among its top picks are:
- Blonde Brilliance, Honey Hues all the way to Whitewashed: We’ve noted that blonde and honey-colored flooring is trending in laminate and hardwood too. It’s the same with nearly-white flooring.
- Looking a Little Distressed: Nobody needs more stress, unless it’s the flooring. Distressed is a better word for it. Distressed vinyl flooring is made to look like classic hardwood that’s been through life and has some character. It looks old, but in a vintage way, not worn out.
- High Variation and Pigment that Pops: OK, saying color “pops” is a little dated. But you’ll think it fits when you see some of the bold colors and color blends in LVP and LVT. We’re not talking purples and bright pinks, but rather subtle rose or olive in the grain that looks entirely at home in the flooring.
Pro Tip on High Color Variation Flooring: This tip applies to all vinyl, hardwood and laminate flooring, but it’s a “must” with high-variation designs. Here it is: Mix planks from three to six cartons before you start laying out the flooring. This will ensure that you mix up the color variations too.
Flooring is made in limited runs. Each new run requires a new blend of colorant. Even if the formula is precise, and it is, different runs have slightly different hues. You want those all mixed well, so your flooring doesn’t look like a different color at one end of the room than the other.
Trend 10: Sheets – Back and Better than Ever
Your grandmother’s vinyl sheet flooring was, in a word, cheap. It looked OK for a few years, but soon showed wear, tear, yellowing, etc.
Vinyl sheet flooring trending in 2021 is richly colored and decorative in a range of attractive patterns. New technology like fiberglass cores and backing make it much more durable and have many homeowners and designers re-thinking vinyl sheet floors.
Stone, wood and ceramic tile are all nicely replicated in vinyl sheets.
Vinyl sheets are easy on feet, back and joints because of the extra padding. Best of all, vinyl sheet floors are still very affordable. Want to spend less to stay on budget? Got a home you’re sprucing up to sell? Vinyl sheet flooring is still relatively cheap, but it looks and wears better than it used to.
Looking for More Trends?
If you’re like many homeowners, you are comparing LVP luxury vinyl planks to laminate to genuine hardwood flooring.
Well, we’ve written two complementary guides to this 2021 Trends in Vinyl Flooring.