Outdoor Vinyl Flooring: Can Vinyl Flooring Be Used Outdoors?


Can you put vinyl on your porch, deck or patio? Can vinyl flooring be used outside on your outdoor patio? Can you put vinyl plank outside? Is vinyl decking even a thing? What is the difference between outdoor vinyl flooring and indoor vinyl flooring? Is it really weather-resistant? What company makes it? Does it even exist? What is the best outdoor vinyl flooring?

So many questions! There are answers to all this vinyl outside thing, and we’ll cover them here in this post.

Benefits Of The Vinyl Flooring Option?

Vinyl laminate flooring is a popular flooring, both for residential and commercial, due to its many benefits. This goes for both plank vinyl and sheet vinyl. Vinyl is a durable and low maintenance material that is easy to clean and can withstand heavy foot traffic. It is also resistant to water and stains and mildew, making it ideal for high-traffic areas such as kitchens and bathrooms. Vinyl flooring is available in a variety of colors and styles to suit any décor, and it is often more affordable than other types of flooring.

It is true that most of this type of flooring is designed for indoor use. However, there are vinyl products designed for outside use, too, even though most vinyl products are strictly indoor products. 

Our guide to outdoor vinyl flooring will provide you with all the information you need. Here are a few other outdoor flooring options to give you some context, as well as answers to all your questions about using it.

Vinyl Flooring: First The Basics

So we’re all on the same page, let’s cover some key terms before we get into the detailed specifics of all things outdoor vinyl flooring. 

Known as PVC, vinyl is a strong, versatile, and waterproof type of plastic. Vinyl flooring, back in the day, was originally manufactured to replace linoleum.

As an alternative to real wood flooring options, luxury vinyl is also widely available today. Planks of luxury vinyl come in various colors, are multilayered, and can be very attractive. They are as durable as even the toughest wood floors.

Difference Between Luxury Vinyl Planks (LVP) And Sheet Vinyl

If you’re old enough, you may remember from your childhood, those sheets of vinyl that your parents and grandparents had in their bathrooms and kitchens. The basic idea is still available today, although with a lot more style choices thrown in. 

In comparison to sheet vinyl, luxury vinyl tile (LVT) or luxury vinyl plank (LVP) is a significant upgrade. Despite its hardness, durability, and excellent mimicry of stone and wood, it’s generally still less expensive than hardwood. 

LVP vs. LVT: The Difference

Basically, its just a matter of appearance. Wood planks are mimicked by LVP. Tiles are mimicked by LVT. It’s all there is to it. Luxury vinyl is usually referred to as either LVP or just vinyl plank by people. 

Can Vinyl Resemble Wood?

Surprisingly, almost all hardwood species are available in an LVP alternative. The planks and tiles of LVP allow great variety for custom patterns too, such as herringbone designs or chevron patterns which can traditionally be seen in parquet flooring. 

There are also rigid core vinyl versions of LVP (also referred to as EVP flooring). Special cores are fitted to these floors to make them more durable and/or comfortable.

Check out our article on Wood look vinyl flooring

Can You Use Vinyl Flooring Outdoors? 

There are some caveats, but the answer is yes. It is possible to install vinyl flooring outdoors. There are a few things you should consider before installing outdoor vinyl flooring if you want it to last longer than a measly 12 months or so.

There are two main categories of outdoor vinyl flooring:

  • Flooring designed specifically for outdoor placement and use
  • The flooring may not be specifically designed for outdoor use but is placed in protected areas such as greenhouses, sunrooms, or other outdoor rooms with adequate protection for the vinyl.

Specific Vinyl Brands Designed For Outdoor Use?

Some vinyl products are not specifically designed for outdoor use but are actually designed to withstand harsh weather conditions, and can therefore be used outside. 

Providing correct manufacturer instructions are followed for care recommendations and installation, and temperature and moisture/humidity levels are not too extreme, these products will typically last around 15 years.

 There Are Caveats

There are some great vinyl plank brands that can be installed anywhere. In temperate climates, they will survive even though they aren’t designed for outdoor use (though their lifespan may be somewhat shorter).

Even if you want a product specifically intended for outdoor use, it’s still best to use it in enclosed and at least partially covered in outdoor spaces with some protection from the elements. In settings such as a covered patio, sunrooms, or greenhouses,  vinyl flooring can still do well because there is just enough protection to make it work.

Considerations for Outdoor Vinyl Flooring

  • It is not recommended to install vinyl flooring outdoors because of the issues that direct sunlight will likely cause. If the manufacturer says it is okay to do so then that should be ok.
  • Vinyl flooring should never be exposed to direct sunlight unless the manufacturer says otherwise. Continuous sun exposure tends to break down vinyl that has a low-quality top wear layer.
  • Vinyl flooring designed for outdoor use (that is, vinyl flooring that is designed to be outside) should not have this problem, but we advise you to check it out anyway.

Is Vinyl Flooring Waterproof?

If standing water is likely to collect on your vinyl flooring, don’t install it. There is no vinyl flooring that can resist the erosion power of water, even waterproof vinyl flooring. Thus, regardless of whether it is outdoor vinyl flooring or not, it is not recommended to install vinyl flooring where water may regularly collect. Despite its unlikely occurrence, floor wear layers can be damaged over time by standing water.

Vinyl Outdoor Flooring With Temperature And Humidity

Changes in temperature and climate may still affect outdoor vinyl flooring. The temperature, humidity, and other factors can drastically affect outdoor vinyl flooring. 

Even if short sharp changes in weather occur fairly regularly, the best brands of vinyl plank flooring should be able to resist it. Vinyl will always last longer in a stable environment, however.

The manufacturer’s recommendations should still be followed even if you get outdoor vinyl. There are caveats and needs for all flooring products.

Vinyl Flooring In Cold Weather

Extreme cold weather can damage even the best vinyl outdoor flooring. During freezing temperatures, waterproof seals can break, cracks can form, and floor adhesives can degrade, resulting in a damaged floor. 

Depending on your product, this may or may not be an issue – but it is best to check the details depending on where you want to install it.

Vinyl Flooring For Outdoor Spaces: How To Install It

If you choose LVP or sheet vinyl, installing outdoor vinyl flooring is relatively straightforward. It is recommended to glue down outdoor vinyl flooring. Don’t attempt a floating floor approach in this scenario.

With very few exceptions, you must secure the vinyl to a foundation or subfloor if it’s going outside. Vinyl flooring usually needs to be glued down in most situations.

As a result, vinyl floors can’t be floated in an outside setting, since there is nothing to prevent the process of warping or lifting as humidity and temperature changes occur. In general, click-together flooring has this particular problem, which makes it unsuitable for outside.

Even though glue-down vinyl plank flooring can increase your costs, it is the most reliable way to ensure the product’s longevity.

Your Outdoor Floors Need A Solid Foundation

Vinyl flooring must be supported by a foundation if you’re installing it outside. 

In most cases, wood or concrete subfloors are used for flooring foundations. It doesn’t matter which, as long as they are made level with a moisture-resistant barrier added.

Outdoor Vinyl Flooring: The Benefits

Comparatively to hardwood flooring, outdoor vinyl flooring has many benefits.

Vinyl Is a Very Durable Material

In terms of scratch resistance, vinyl flooring is one of the best options on the market. A modern LVP flooring like rigid-core SPC can be dented, but modern LVPs are more resistant. 

You’re likely to find vinyl flooring that resists common outdoor damage if you’re buying it for outdoors.

The Vinyl Material Is Waterproof

No matter where you live, you need waterproof vinyl flooring for your outdoor space. The majority of vinyl flooring is waterproof (unless it is a very low-quality product).

Even in the case of the best hardwood floors, are susceptible to water damage, so it makes them superior to hardwood.

Installation Is Easy For Vinyl Flooring Outside

One of the easiest flooring to install is outdoor vinyl flooring. You just glue planks or sheets to a foundation, making it some of the easiest flooring to install.

In contrast, hardwood is that it is extremely difficult to install due to the requirement of cutting planks, securing them, and then applying a finish.

The Versatility of Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring is just as suitable for outdoor use as it is for kitchens, living rooms, and mudrooms. 

 Additionally, It Requires Little Maintenance

Vinyl has the benefit of being very easy to maintain and requiring virtually no special care. 

It is probably okay to hose off vinyl flooring outdoors every now and then – done. 

Comfortable High-Quality Vinyl Flooring

Because WPC flooring is made of shock-absorbing materials, higher-end vinyl products can be extremely comfortable. 

The impact of your steps is not absorbed by sheet vinyl or low-end LVP, so these flooring types may have less comfort. 

Vinyl Offers A Wide Variety Of Styles And Designs

Almost any style or pattern can be created with vinyl flooring, especially outdoor flooring. Whether you want unusual wood floor colors, interesting wood floor patterns, or something unique, it can be made for you. 

The look of wide plank wood flooring can even be found in wood lookalike floor designs. As a result, there are virtually no limits to what you can do. 

Tile (from a wood to natural stone-look tiles) is the only other material that offers a similar catalog of style options.

It’s Usually Cheaper To Install Vinyl Flooring Outside

After you account for materials, labor, and maintenance, wood flooring costs can tend to be significantly high. Hardwood floor installation can cost up to twice as much as high-end vinyl flooring. 

Disadvantages Of Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring for outdoor applications has some disadvantages. Vinyl is not without flaws. There are a few things to watch out for.

Even if you use vinyl flooring especially designed for outdoor use, it will degrade over time

The degrading of vinyl flooring outside can be hastened by environmental changes. Although high-end products and brands last longer, they come with the downside of being more expensive.

There is a limitation to the life expectancy of vinyl flooring.

Vinyl plank flooring has the disadvantage of a short lifespan. It is not repairable, so vinyl plank will eventually need to be replaced, as opposed to hardwood, which of course can survive for multiple decades with proper maintenance.

When used outside, expect vinyl to last for 10 to 20 years.

Direct sunlight may fade cheap vinyl

The sheen of some vinyl flooring can fade if too much sunlight is exposed to it, particularly budget brands like NuCore flooring.

Vinyl plank floors are usually not prone to this problem.

Enclosed outdoor spaces may emit VOCs from vinyl flooring

Depending on the weather, there is a possibility that vinyl flooring used in outdoor rooms or sunrooms may tend to release more amounts of volatile organic compounds. Both the environment and people are adversely affected by these chemicals, especially those with sensitive skin. 

If you plan on installing vinyl flooring in an enclosed area, it is recommended to buy low-VOC vinyl flooring.

There Isn’t Much Eco-Friendliness in Vinyl Flooring

A more eco-friendly floorcovering option would be sustainable wood floorings such as Douglas fir flooring, pine flooring, or even bamboo flooring. 

It is still important to consider environmental factors even when purchasing low-VOC flooring so as to limit the level of off-gassing that can occur. Proximity Mills, for example, makes vinyl flooring that is at least somewhat recyclable and possibly more sustainable.

These vinyl brands aren’t meant for outdoor use

Despite their decent quality, some vinyl products should never be used outdoors. One such brand is Pergo Extreme. There’s a problem with Pergo’s vinyl planks – “solid” will not work outdoors.

Furthermore, no budget brand would be recommended for outdoor use. We would not put lesser-known brands such as Stainmaster luxury vinyl outdoors, like Lowes’ SmartCore flooring or Home Depot’s LifeProof vinyl flooring. Even for indoor use, some of these brands have mixed reviews.

Alternatives to outdoor vinyl flooring

Even if you aren’t interested in vinyl flooring, there are many exxcellent outdoor flooring options available. It’s common to have hardwood floors outside, but you also have a few other options.

Hardwood

A variety of wood flooring species, specifically those with water-resistant properties by default, are suitable for outdoor use. As an example, flooring made from teak looks fantastic and is also water-resistant due to its naturally occurring resins and oils. This takes away the worry of having to worry about the rain significantly.

Outdoor flooring made by the best hardwood brands is probably what you should choose if you want quality. However, vinyl flooring and other alternatives are popular because hardwood floors are expensive.

 Alternatives to hardwood

If you’re installing a floating floor outdoors, keep in mind that snap-together tile flooring may not be the best choice. 

Composite Decking

As a flooring material, composite decking is up there with the best-engineered wood and laminate. Waterproof and durable, it’s a blend of plasticizers, wood fibers, and binders.  

Some of these other materials, in contrast, have relatively few style choices with composite decking (so if you’re looking for ash flooring or hemp flooring, you may want to consider something else). Due to the hardness of the plastic, it’s not ideal wood flooring for dogs (since it makes them uncomfortable when walking or sleeping).

In Summary

Let’s make something very clear. Luxury vinyl plank that’s specifically designed for the outdoors isn’t really a thing. But high-quality outdoor sheet vinyl does exist. On the other hand, some LVP products are so well made that they can at least survive in outdoor rooms.

Sometimes outdoor vinyl may not be a permanent solution—but it can be an inexpensive temporary one.

It is possible to install vinyl flooring outside, but if you live in an extreme climate, you might want to look at another option.

As a whole, vinyl flooring for outdoor use is a good option. In addition to its durability, affordability, and great looks, it is pretty easy to install. 

It is not a good choice for outside decks. Even low-end budget deck options are still made from composite hardwood or hardwood, but not vinyl.

We have some other vinyl flooring-related articles you may be interested in:

How to fix scratches on vinyl flooring

Everything about installing vinyl cedar shake siding

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