11 Common Culprits: What Can Damage Your Vinyl Plank Flooring?

what can damage vinyl plank flooring

Vinyl plank flooring has surged in popularity due to its attractive aesthetic, durability, and cost-effectiveness.

Loved by homeowners and interior designers alike, this flooring option can beautifully mimic the look of natural materials, such as hardwood or stone, without breaking the bank.

However, as with any home investment, maintaining the pristine condition of your vinyl plank flooring is paramount.

This involves understanding the factors potentially damaging your flooring and taking the necessary precautions.

In this piece, we will delve into the 11 main culprits that can cause harm to your vinyl plank flooring, enabling you to take steps to prevent unwanted damage and add years to your floor’s lifespan.

Water and Moisture Damage

1. Submersion and Flooding

You’re probably thinking, “Why on earth would my floor be submerged?” I thought the same until a bathroom pipe burst while I was on vacation.

I couldn’t believe my eyes when I returned to a flooded living room.

Vinyl plank flooring, though water-resistant, isn’t immune to damage when completely submerged for extended periods.

This incident taught me that even the best vinyl flooring can warp and buckle under such extreme conditions.

2. Spills and Standing Water

I recall when my then-toddler son decided to give his teddies a pool party on the kitchen floor.

The small spills and puddles created by his imaginative play were left unattended for hours.

This seemingly innocent act resulted in discolored patches on my beloved vinyl plank floor.

Lesson learned: standing water can seep into the seams of the planks, causing them to discolor and potentially warp.

3. High Humidity Levels

Living in Florida has its perks, but the high humidity is not one of them.

Over time, I’ve noticed my vinyl plank flooring expanding and contracting more than it should.

It turns out that the high humidity levels common in my area can have a similar effect as direct water exposure.

Consider investing in a dehumidifier if, like me, you live in a high-humidity area to maintain your floor’s integrity.

4. Inadequate Sealing or Caulking

Remember when I said my bathroom pipe burst? Well, I later found out the disaster could have been minimized with proper sealing.

The water spread faster and damaged more flooring because the caulking in my baseboards wasn’t adequate.

It seems minor, but an adequate seal can be a vinyl plank floor’s best friend, preventing water and moisture from getting underneath and causing damage.

Heavy, Sharp, or Pointed Objects

5. High Heels and Stiletto Shoes

If you’ve ever worn high heels or stiletto shoes, you know they can leave marks on certain types of floors.

Unfortunately, vinyl plank flooring is no exception. I discovered this the hard way when I hosted my first house party.

A friend of mine, wearing the most glamorous stilettos, left a trail of tiny dents across my pristine vinyl floor.

After that night, I made sure to gently encourage my guests to leave their high heels at the door.

6. Pet Claws

If you’re a pet owner, this point might hit close to home. I adore my Siberian Husky, but his sharp claws have left their mark on my vinyl floor.

Dogs and cats, especially the larger breeds, can unintentionally scratch and damage your flooring while playing or just walking around.

After noticing the scratches, I invested in regular nail trims for my Husky, which has made a significant difference.

7. Sharp-Edged Furniture

Sharp-edged furniture is another culprit that can harm your vinyl flooring.

My modern glass coffee table with its sharp corners seemed the perfect fit for my living room until I noticed the minor cuts and nicks it left behind on the floor.

A simple solution I found was to attach rubber or felt pads to the corners and legs of my furniture.

This has helped to minimize the damage to my vinyl plank flooring from sharp-edged furniture.

8. Heavy Furniture and Appliances

Furniture and appliances, especially those on the heavier side, have a significant impact on vinyl plank flooring.

I distinctly remember the time I decided to move my antique oak dresser across my vinyl floor.

The heavy furniture left unsightly impressions that marred the surface, and, much to my dismay, these marks didn’t bounce back once the dresser was moved.

It was a lesson harshly learned: The impact of heavy loads can cause irreversible damage to your vinyl flooring.

The solution? I’ve found it to be twofold. Firstly, consider the placement of your furniture carefully.

If you must move heavy items across your vinyl floor, Furniture sliders have become my go-to.

They distribute the weight of the furniture more evenly, preventing those dreaded dents.

Secondly, for stationery items, consider Protective pads. I’ve placed these under the legs of my heavy furniture, and they’ve done wonders in preventing any further damage.

These pads act as a buffer between the furniture and the floor, keeping your vinyl planks looking as good as new!

9. Sand and Grit

They might not seem like much, but these minuscule particles are pretty sharp, and when they get tracked onto vinyl floors, they can scratch the surface subtly over time.

How Abrasive Particles Can Harm the Flooring

A few months ago, I noticed hairline scratches on my beautiful vinyl plank flooring. The culprit?

Sand and grit carried into my home on shoes and pet paws. These tiny particles acted like sandpaper, gradually removing the finish on my floor with every step taken across the surface.

The minor scratches might not be immediately noticeable, but over time they can accumulate and become a significant issue, dulling the shine and smoothness of your vinyl floor.

Regular Sweeping and Vacuuming

Now, I make it a point to sweep and vacuum my floors regularly, especially in high-traffic areas.

This simple maintenance practice has made a remarkable difference in preserving the appearance of my vinyl floors.

I’d recommend investing in a good vacuum safe for vinyl floors to ensure you’re not inadvertently causing more harm than good.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure! Regular cleaning not only keeps your floors looking their best but also extends their lifespan, ensuring you get the most out of your investment.

10. Sunlight and UV Damage

Sunlight- it’s a blessing and a curse, especially when it comes to my vinyl floors.

I love the warmth and natural light streaming into my home, but over time, I’ve noticed an unwelcome effect on my flooring.

The UV rays in sunlight can have damaging effects, leading to discoloration and fading.

Fading and Discoloration

The vibrant, aesthetic appeal of vinyl floors can be a major draw for homeowners like myself.

However, prolonged exposure to sunlight can lead to fading and discoloration.

It’s quite disheartening to notice a pale, washed-out patch where a vibrant plank once stood.

I remember the disappointment when I moved a rug one day and saw the stark color difference.

The area exposed to sunlight had noticeably faded, while the area under the rug maintained its original hue.

Use of Window Treatments or UV-Blocking Film

Learning from past mistakes, I now use window treatments or UV-blocking films to protect my floors from solar radiation.

I’ve invested in some stylish blinds and curtains that not only add to the aesthetics of my home but also protect my floors from the harsh effects of the sun.

On mainly sunny days, I draw the blinds to shield the vinyl underneath.

For added protection, I’ve applied UV-blocking film on my oversized windows.

It’s almost invisible, doesn’t affect the quality of light entering my home, but works wonders in protecting my vinyl floors from discoloration and fading.

Living through a summer, I can see the difference these precautionary steps make.

I certainly recommend these measures to anyone looking to preserve the life and look of their vinyl flooring.

11. Harsh Chemicals and Cleaning Products

It’s easy to assume that the stronger the cleaning product, the better the results.

I fell into that trap when I first started caring for vinyl floors.

However, I quickly learned that harsh chemicals such as ammonia and bleach could cause more harm than good.

Avoidance of Ammonia, Bleach, and Abrasive Cleaners

I recall an incident where I accidentally spilled some bleach on my vinyl floor.

The harsh chemical stripped the color and left behind a noticeable bleach stain.

Ammonia, on the other hand, can break down the material making up the vinyl tiles, leading to cracks and breaks.

Abrasive cleaners are also a no-no. I used one once, and the scratches it left were heartbreaking.

The shiny finish of the vinyl was replaced with a dull, rough surface.

Safe Cleaning Alternatives and Methods

With my lesson harshly learned, I searched for safer, vinyl-friendly cleaning methods.

I discovered that a simple solution of apple cider vinegar and warm water works wonders.

The acidity in the vinegar helps clean without leaving behind a soapy residue.

I also picked up a microfiber mop instead of the traditional string mop.

It’s less abrasive and effectively picks up dirt and grime without scratching the surface.

For stubborn stains, a paste made from baking soda and water gently rubbed onto the stain does the trick.

My vinyl floors are now not only clean but also retain their original vibrant color and shiny finish.

Ultimately, it’s about understanding that not all clean comes from harsh chemicals.

Sometimes, gentle care is all it takes to maintain the beauty and longevity of your vinyl floors.


After witnessing firsthand the damaging effects of using inappropriate cleaning agents and methods on my vinyl floors, I have compiled a list of 11 primary factors that could harm your vinyl plank flooring.

These include using harsh chemicals such as ammonia and bleach, abrasive cleaners, failure to promptly clean spills, using a traditional string mop, and not placing protective pads under heavy furniture, among others.

These factors can cause discoloration, scratches, cracks, or even breaks in your vinyl flooring.

I cannot emphasize enough how crucial proper care and maintenance is for the health and longevity of your vinyl plank flooring.

The flooring may seem resilient and tough, but it does need your tender care to stay vibrant and shiny.

I learned the hard way that my efforts to maintain cleanliness should not compromise the integrity of the floor material.

Consequently, it’s crucial to choose cleaning methods and products that are safe for vinyl flooring.

I can attest that following the tips I’ve outlined can work wonders for your vinyl plank flooring.

It’s not just about what not to do; it’s also about adopting practices that foster the care of your floor.

Opting for a microfiber mop, using a gentle yet effective cleaning solution of apple cider vinegar and warm water, and addressing stubborn stains with a baking soda paste are all solid strategies.

Remember, our flooring not only enhances the aesthetic appeal of our homes, but it’s also an investment. Let’s protect it and enjoy its beauty for many years to come.


Hi! I’m Kobby, one of the co-owners of favoredstoneguides.com and the newest house owner in town. I’m a huge fan of most things natural. Over here on this site, I'm happy to share all the exciting hacks, tricks, and tips I have learned and continue to learn each day about taking care of natural stones.

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