17 Problems With Loose Lay Vinyl Flooring: Truth Revealed

Problems With Loose Lay Vinyl Flooring

With the invention of sheet vinyl, the world first came to know about vinyl planks and tiles in the 1970s. Nevertheless, Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) and Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) received mass people’s attention in the 2000s when the ‘peel and stick’ method was introduced.

A recent addition in the vinyl flooring family is ‘loose lay vinyl flooring’. This new-style flooring system has been accepted by a lot of people. Ease of its installation and price are considered to be the main reasons. 

With experience of more than 17 years in the real estate sector, I have some observations about loose lay vinyl flooring. Which may not be liked by their admirers. In this article, I would like to enrich you with my realizations about loose lay vinyl flooring, which may help you decide on new flooring for your house.

17 Problems With Loose Lay Vinyl Flooring: Identify Them Before Choosing

I have found 17 noteworthy problems with loose lay vinyl floors. They are explained below:

1. Growth Of Molds And Mildew Beneath The Planks:

By design, these floors are meant to be water-resistant. But a common complaint of loose lay vinyl floor owners including me is random growth of molds and mildew under the planks after some time. 

A single tiny leak in the seals of the floor is enough for water accumulation beneath the floor which makes molds and mildew grow rapidly. The risk of growing molds is higher in the kitchen and other places where water can be stranded on the floor.

2. Not Compatible With Typical Cleaning Agents:

You cannot use detergents, abrasive papers, ‘mop & shine’ products on a loose lay vinyl floor. Otherwise, you will find the floor filmed over with a dull texture. 

You cannot use any paste wax, regular polishing solution, or ammonia-based cleaning agents in a loose lay vinyl floor either. Regular usage of these elements for some days can make irreversible cracks in the floor. Using vinegar as a cleaning agent is also prohibited for loose lay vinyl floors. 

As a result, the maintenance of loose lay vinyl flooring becomes harder and costlier.

3. Can Be Tricky To Install:

To the DIY (Do It Yourself) community, one of the main reasons to choose loose lay vinyl flooring over other floors is it appears to be very easy to install. But the fact remains, an amateurish installation of these kinds of floorings can have many negative consequences.

A little carelessness while installation can damage the floor for good, which results in water leakage, floor lifting, and many other problems. If one is deceived by the appearance and starts setting his own loose vinyl floor all by himself, he is certainly making a big mistake.

4. Not For A Big Busy Family:

With rigorous maintenance, a loose lay vinyl flooring may work for a long time in a quiet house where only a few people live. But for a chaotic, big family, this is certainly not a good choice.

Continuous movements over a loose lay vinyl floor can make some seams between planks visible. Loose lay floors are found to perform worst in the living room where people gather for interaction most of the time.

5. There Are Only Planks And No Tiles:

In loose lay vinyl flooring, only the plank format is available. It becomes a big issue when a repair is required. You just cannot replace the damaged part of the floor. Planks of the whole area have to be taken out. This makes loose lay vinyl floors much costlier in the long run.

6. Limited Designs:

Being comparatively new in the market, loose lay vinyl floor planks come in a limited number of designs. Mainly textures resembling woods and stones are available in the market.

7. Not Prestigious Enough:

House floors represent the owner of the house, expressing their taste and culture. Unfortunately, a loose lay vinyl floor is not considered as posh as a hardwood floor. For those who care a lot about social status, this type of flooring does not get included in their shopping list.

8. Difficulty In Replacing Damaged Planks:

When a tile in other flooring systems gets damaged, it can be replaced with a little hassle, only by replacing one or a few tiles. But for a loose lay vinyl floor, you need to change the whole plank. Which is expensive and tiresome at the same time. So, you need to be extra careful about the maintenance of different types of vinyl flooring.

9. Disastrous For A Kitchen:

Loose lay vinyl floors are said to be sturdy enough to not shrink or expand with the weather. But the reality is the opposite, especially in the kitchen area.

The temperature fluctuates randomly in a kitchen. Again, spilling of water and other liquids is quite regular there. After using loose lay vinyl floors for some months, a lot of people have found visible gaps developing between the planks. 

People have complained that their kitchen planks shrank about a millimeter just after using loose lay vinyl flooring for about four months.

10. Discoloration:

Direct sunlight causes loose lay vinyl floors’ discoloration. That is why they are not suitable for the outdoors at all. Apart from sunlight, water can also distort the color of the planks. 

Also, this type of plank loses color when they come in contact with elements made with rubber or plastic. This is a big drawback for the loose lay vinyl flooring system.

11. Visible Seams And Random Lifting:

Planks of loose lay vinyl flooring are loosely laid on the floor without any adhesive in the middle area. So, a minor fault of installation or a sudden hard hit can expose the seams of the planks. So, a loose lay vinyl floor user has to be extra careful both while installing and using them.

12. Water Accumulation Under The Floor:

It is difficult to completely seal a loose lay vinyl floor. Even after sealing them entirely, the seal is easily broken exposing the seams. As a result, water and all kinds of liquid begin to build up under the floor slowly. Before anyone notices them, the floor becomes permanently damaged.

13. Source Of Volatile Organic Compounds:

The chemical structure of loose lay vinyl floor planks emits Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) in the air. VOCs are certain gases that are very harmful to humans. Some of them even cause cancer. 

That means, so far health is concerned, loose lay vinyl floors are not recommended by experts.

14. Less Durable Than Wood Floors:

Durability is another selling point of the loose lay vinyl floor. But actually, they last much less than traditional wood floors. Where a properly maintained hardwood floor can be used for around 30 years, a loose lay vinyl floor can be used for only 15 years with the best kind of maintenance. 

15. Does Not Add Value To The House:

For many, spending on building or renovating a home is a kind of investment. Every renovation should increase the price of the house. But unfortunately, installing a loose lay vinyl floor does not add any positive value to the price of a house. In that context of resale value, vinyl plank flooring is more preferable to the loose lay vinyl.

On the other hand, newly installed wood floors can increase the value of a house up to 2.5 percent. 

16. Hostile To Environment:

All sorts of vinyl planks including loose lay vinyl floors are harmful to the environment. Besides emitting volatile organic compounds, they are non-biodegradable too. 

That means this type of floor plank is difficult to recycle. This feature makes loose lay vinyl flooring very unpopular to environmental activists around the world.

17. Easily Damaged:

Even a small grain, remaining under the planks of loose lay vinyl floor, can damage the floor after some time. Due to a long-term chemical reaction, the plank will wear out and a lump will appear on the floor surface. Eventually, that lump will create cracks.

Common Questions About Loose Lay Vinyl Floors:

How Does Loose Lay Vinyl Flooring Work?

Loose lay vinyl floors are made of phthalate-free plasticizers-one kind of synthetic rubber. They are generally 5mm thick. They only need adhesive in the surroundings of a perimeter. 

All the planks inside the boundary are placed without being glued to the floor. That is the reason they are called- ‘loose’. The extra weight and heavy fiberglass backing of the loose lay vinyl planks keep them staying on the floor without any adhesive. 

Why Do People Buy Loose Lay Vinyl Flooring?

Apparently, the installation of loose lay vinyl flooring is easy and quick. This attracts many DIY lovers. This type of flooring is also cheaper than other types of flooring. 

On the other hand, there is an overwhelming campaign in favor of loose lay vinyl flooring. They are claimed to be sturdy enough to remain in the same size in all seasons. Though, this claim is utterly unrealistic.

Does Loose Lay Vinyl Need To Be Glued?

We should not use any glue under loose lay vinyl floor planks. It will only damage the floor drastically. This type of floor plank has heavy fiberglass backing to make the planks stay on the floor.

Do Loose Lay Vinyl Planks Shrink?

Despite the all-through campaign of sturdiness, loose lay vinyl planks do shrink in given circumstances. Some people found the loose lay vinyl planks, set in their kitchen, to be shrinking more than once. 

Can The Water Under A Loose Lay Vinyl Floor Dry Out Itself?

Water dries out when they get in touch with air and light. Under the loose lay vinyl floor planks, water can not be evaporated on its own. You have to get the whole plank pulled up to clean the water. 

Unfortunately, chances of future water-logging under the floor are not eliminated by cleaning it only. It is quite a difficult job to seal the whole plank properly. 

How Quickly Does Mold Grow Under Loose Lay Vinyl Floors?

It takes only a day or two for molds to grow under a damp, moist loose lay vinyl floor. Mold and mildew live on moisture and easily reproduce themselves.

Molds not only damage the floor planks but also create an unhealthy environment for the inhabitants of the house. Loose lay vinyl floors have a short lifespan mainly due to the molds that are easily grown under its planks.

How To Tell If There Is Water Under Loose Lay Vinyl Floor?

If you find any part of the floor warped or discolored, there is a good chance that water has accumulated under the floor. If you see some bubbles forming in the middle of the planks, there is water under it for sure. Signs of lifting around the edges of the planks are also a sign of under-floor moisture.

One should give proper attention to his loose lay vinyl floors from time to time to check for any sign of water-logging. Otherwise, he may have to redo the whole floor within a short period.

Why Loose Lay Vinyl Floor Get Buckled?

The floor may buckle if the planks are going through some changes, like expansion or contraction. Though advertisers demand- loose lay vinyl floors are sturdy and never change shape, it is not always true. If the planks get continuous heat, they can slightly expand and cause buckling.

What Should Not Be Used On Loose Lay Vinyl Flooring?

There is a big range of cleaning agents that we cannot use on loose lay vinyl flooring. It includes detergents, paste wax, solvent-based polishes, abrasive cleaners, ammonia-based solutions, and anything chemically reactive.

These Items break down the chemical formation of loose lay vinyl planks. 

Can A Loose Lay Vinyl Plank Be Sanded Or Re-Coated?

You cannot use a sander machine on the loose lay vinyl plank to get rid of its stains and coarseness. Because it is a synthetic product. The only solution for a damaged plank is to replace them in total with a new one. 


As a former user of loose lay vinyl flooring, I thought it was my duty to share some true experiences with you about it, which contradicts the general idea about the particular flooring system. 

My intention was to portray the true picture of loose lay vinyl flooring. Personally, I believe they are extremely overrated and people have the right to know the truth about them before buying or using them.

You may also want to read:

Differences Between Marble And Quartz Flooring

Is Marble Good As A Flooring Material?

Best Marble For Outdoor Flooring

Jahidul Alam

Hello dear! This is Jahidul Alam. I am the admin of this Tidy Floor. I have been in the floor cleaning business for the last 20 years. My business is all about ensuring affordable flooring cleaning services for Americans.

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