Is vinyl flooring an easy, affordable update—or just a temporary solution?

By Wendy Rose Gould
Updated February 21, 2020

No matter how much you love your home, there are always a few aspects that require an update (or worse, a complete remodel). While many projects can be completed over a weekend and with a humble budget, others require more time and financial commitment. Installing new flooring is a perfect example of the latter.

Given that flooring is traditionally such a major commitment, it makes sense that a handful of alternatives have sprouted up that offer a fresh look for less money and less hassle. Peel and stick flooring, which is applied over your existing floors in a manner similar to wallpaper, is one such option. But is it the quick fix of your dreams or just a temporary improvement?

Ultimately, the answer depends on your overall budget, space, and personal preferences. To help you make the decision, it’ll help to know exactly what you’re dealing with and what you can expect from peel and stick flooring.

What is peel and stick flooring made of?

Peel and stick flooring is made from a vinyl material that’s roughly 0.3 to 0.5 millimeters thick (much thicker than wallpaper). It is also sometimes referred to as vinyl plank flooring, vinyl tiles, or peel and stick tiles.

“While you might think of the laminate flooring from decades ago—and maybe cringe a bit—peel and stick flooring comes in a huge variety of patterns and styles, and can be an affordable alternative to engineered or more luxury products,” says Tamara Day, an interior designer and the host of HGTV's “Bargain Mansions”.

How much peel and stick flooring costs

Depending on the quality and style of the flooring, you can expect to pay between $1 and $5 per square foot, which means that a 200-square foot room costs between $200 to $1000 to have peel and stick floors installed. You can save on the cost by installing the floors yourself, which Day says is surprisingly easy to do.

The best and worst spaces for peel and stick flooring

Peel and stick flooring is particularly ideal for spaces where you’re looking for a short-term solution, or for areas where you don’t want to invest a ton of money just yet.

“The material is actually very durable and somewhat water-resistant,” says Day. “For instance, I consider them a great solution for a kids’ space or a multi-purpose room. Because these vinyl tiles are easy to install yourself and pretty easy to remove later on, you can use them while the kids are young and upgrade the space to something more sophisticated when they’ve outgrown a playroom.”

Peel and stick flooring could also work in a guest bedroom, the laundry room, or even in a walk-in closet. On the other hand, Day recommends avoiding super high-traffic areas, such as the living room or an entryway, or major “splash zones,” including bathrooms and kitchens. That said, some people opt to install vinyl plank flooring throughout their house and have had a positive experience doing so.

How long peel and stick flooring lasts

To answer the question bluntly, on average you can expect peel and stick floors to last between five and 25 years. However, their life span ultimately comes down to how well they’re installed, how much traffic they receive, and whether they’re repeatedly exposed to water. (Note that while some products are approved for heavier water areas, you may find that the flooring lasts longer if such areas are avoided.)

Excellent installation means that the subfloor is in good shape and completely even before you apply the peel and stick planks. “In a space that is rarely used you will get a lot more life out of it than you would from a high traffic area, but even in your high traffic area you will have years of use if the flooring installed well,” Day says.

The bottom line on peel and stick flooring

Peel and stick flooring can be a cost-effective, low-hassle way to add an updated look to your space. They’re particularly ideal for areas that don’t receive a ton of traffic, and they can even serve as a temporary solution while you save up for more expensive options. When installed properly and well maintained, they can last for 25 years and beyond, and they come in a variety of styles to suit a variety of tastes.