LifeProof found a way to create a great looking, easy to install and extremely durable floor all while not making the consumer pay through the nose.
If you have been following us for a while, you know I am working on my house. I am doing this in two phases. The first phase was gutting the entire house down to the studs and building it back up. The second phase is a new addition. While there is a lot to this whole project, flooring is just one piece of the pie, but an important part of the project. For phase 1 I didn't have any issues since there were hardwood floors and just needed to get them refinished and then install carpet in the bedrooms. However, phase 2, since it's brand new, flooring is something I am designing and working with from the ground up, which brings me to the LifeProof Flooring review.
Types of Floors
You may not think much of flooring until you either need to replace flooring in your home or when a floor really stands out and makes you notice the floor. While there are a lot of flooring options, you really have four types of flooring, carpet, hardwood, stone, and vinyl. Sure there are more options such as epoxy, but those are the four common types.
For me, vinyl isn't an option or at least not until I heard about LifeProof. Anytime someone talked about vinyl floors, all I could picture was the cheap vinyl from the 70's and earlier. The patterns are awful, they feel cheap, they sound hollow when you walk on those floors and it's just not an appealing alternative. Which brings me to my addition, phase 2 for my basement.
My goal for the basement is to make it kid-friendly for my kids who are into baseball and hockey. I want a place where they can be kids and not worry about breaking anything. They have always wanted a hockey net to shoot goals and a baseball net to hit balls into. We live in the Chicago area so winters can get cold and it would be nice to have a place inside. With that said, I knew I wasn't going to finish the basement as they will beat on the walls, floors and more.
So my goal was to install the bottom plates so I can frame it in the future when the kids get older. I wanted a floor so they aren't walking on the concrete but I wanted something tough. So what option does that leave me with?
Why I am using LifeProof
Since my basement is below grade I wanted something tough, I am only stuck to 1 option, porcelain. I can't install wood below grade. The kids were hitting hockey pucks so the carpet wouldn't work and as I noted, I had a misconception of vinyl floors. And no, I didn't want to epoxy the floor.
So my only option was porcelain, however, I was a little scared that I would get a lot of cracked tiles when the kids throw their aluminum bats.
So my wife and I went to our local Home Depot, which is in Lake Zurich, IL and yes, in my opinion, it's the best Home Depot because I feel like it's a small home town store with a huge selection. I know a lot of the people there and they are great. No, Home Depot didn't pay me to say that, that's just my two cents.
As we were at The Home Depot looking at the porcelain floors, a sales associate came over and started talking to us. He took time and got to know our project. He wasn't one of these people who just start throwing products at you, he actually took time to understand.
While he agreed that porcelain is a great option for the floor, he started telling us about how he thought LifeProof would be better. I have to admit, when he brought up that it was vinyl, my attention span decreased. He took us over to the LifeProof section and started getting all excited, which did make me check in a little more and pay attention. Then I started seeing the designs, which don't represent the 70's at all. He showed me how easy it was to install with the tongue and groove, the underlayment attached, the toughness and how it can be installed below grade. After he left, my wife and I talked and I couldn't believe I was actually interested in a vinyl floor. Well here I was, I was sold on a vinyl floor. LifeProof flooring was the floor I was going to install in my basement. I also have to admit that I was a little relieved because while I wanted porcelain, I wasn't excited about installing porcelain with the grout, mortar and the wet cutting.
The price isn't bad either compared to the alternatives. LifeProof is $3.19/sq.ft. or $63.98 per case. For some of the options, if you buy a large quantity, the price will drop to $57.58 per case.
As I noted earlier, LifeProof is not your traditional vinyl. This flooring actually looks awesome and I would never in a million years think I would be talking about how vinyl flooring looks amazing. LifeProof has a wide variety of options to choose from. The flooring is designed to look like a wood plank with a ton of different grain and color patterns. Each tile is 8.7″ wide by 47.6″ long.
I am jumping ahead but for the basement floor, what really stood out to me was the variety of pattern in each case. I am not sure how many they have but I have laid numerous floors that mimic wood and you really have to be careful as each color might only have 4 or 5 patterns. With the LifeProof, I did find some same patterns but I feel like there was a lot more variety so you don't accidentally lay two identical pieces right next to each other.
Features and Construction
So here is where LifeProof gets interesting. I have never seen a flooring product as well built as LifeProof. Here are just a couple of features of this flooring.
- Waterproof – This means it's great for a basement, mudrooms or anywhere water will be present.
- Acclimation – You don't need to acclimate this product like you have to do with real wood.
- Tongue and Groove Floating Floor – The floor is installed with a tongue and groove which makes it easy to install and very secure.
- Underlayment – The underlayment is already attached to each plank so you don't have to waste time or money installing it before the floor. Makes installing much easier and quicker.
- Scratch Resistant – There is a topcoat that protects the floor from not only water but also scratches.
- Warranty – Lifetime warranty for residential and 5 years for commercial.
- Can be installed over other floorings – Since it's a floating floor, you can install it over existing floors.
- Designed for residential and commercial use – You usually don't see a product you can use for both places but if it's strong enough for commercial use, it's easily strong enough and durable enough for your home.
- Inhibits stains and odor – The planks are treated to prevent stains and odor from developing.
Texture and Feel
This is something I had to put forefront and have it's own section because I have never seen this before. If you have ever dealt with fake wood flooring products, you know it's just a picture on top of the product. When you rub your hand over the flooring, the texture doesn't match the picture. Here is another reason why LifeProof surpasses all other floorings.
When you pick up a plank and look at the texture, then you rub your hand over the plank, the texture matches the picture below. If the grains are close together, you will feel the grains close together. If the grains are far apart, then you will feel the grains far apart. If you see a knot in the floor, you will feel the knot in the floor.
Again, I have never seen a product like this that mimics wood so well.
When it comes to durability, nothing comes close to LifeProof flooring. We beat this stuff up to test it and see how strong it really was. We ran it over with a Jeep, used is as skis on an asphalt road, hit it with a hammer multiple times, tried to scratch it with rocks and we couldn't get it to scratch. No floor will ever go through all that so if it can go through that, it can go through your everyday wear and tear use.
We even cut some up and put it in water for three days. When we took it out and compared it to another dry plank, there was no swelling or damage from the water, which was extremely impressive.
As we talked earlier, one great feature is the underlayment which is already built into each plank. This minimizes sound and helps enhance warmth.
Caring for the floor couldn't be simpler which is the most appealing feature to my wife and myself. I hate products that claim to be great but you have to treat them each year or can only use certain products to clean it.
LifeProof is different and very simple. You don't have to wax the floor. Just use a simple dust mop, vacuum or a cleaner with a neutral pH.
Installing was a piece of cake. Since it's tongue and groove, it just snaps together. You will have to buy spacers, a tapping block, puller, and a mallet.
You can start on one side of the room and insert your spacers so the floor stays away from the wall. Once your first piece is down, the second piece just snaps into the first. Use your mallet to tap it down and tight into the first piece.
As you move on and get to your second row. You can start using your tapping block and puller. The floor snaps into place but the mallet and tapping block gives it a very tight fit without any space between each piece.
To get more details about installing, check out LifeProof installation guide.
Bottom line, the floor is very easy to install. You can make cuts with a jigsaw and miter saw. I had a cutter which makes it even easier and less messy but LifeProof is very easy to cut and work with.
Here is another example of a floor installed with Lifeproof that we did on a Tools in Action job site. As you can see, they offer many different styles to fit your look. Again, I love how real these floors look and as you can see, there is not much repeat in each plank so it doesn't look fake.
My Thoughts After Installing
The floor looks awesome and couldn't believe how easy it was to install. There are three things that impressed me the most after installing that I never thought about.
- Sounds – If you have ever walked on a vinyl floor, you know they can sound hollow. The LifeProof floor has a nice solid sound to it and doesn't sound hollow or cheap.
- Level – While the floor does have to be somewhat level, my floor has a little drop, not much but something I would have to build up if I was using stone. The LifeProof worked well and stays strong even over the gradual drop in the floor.
- Feel – I have rough concrete right around my sump pump. Since no one was going to walk there, I wasn't going to grind it down since it only a little rough and not extremely smooth. After installing the LifeProof over that area, I can't even feel the dimple in the floor. Now you always want a clean floor but sometimes you miss something as you are installing. It's good to know that you won't feel it for years to come if you miss a small spot.
The Home Depot Reviews
Okay, so you might be saying I sound like a salesman. Sorry, I am not trying to, it's just one of the diamonds in the rough products that I truly believe in. I love the quality and toughness of this floor. In fact, I am going to keep revisiting it over the years. If you don't believe me, it has over 3,300 reviews on The Home Depot website with an average of 4.5 stars. That says something if that many people are giving it high fives.
As you can tell I am a huge fan of this flooring. In fact, I love it so much, I am going to buy some for my mudroom and install it in there.
Bottom line, this flooring is awesome. I love the durability, the ease of installation, the design and the way they built the planks with the different layers. If you are looking for the best quality flooring, LifeProof is an option you have to look into as you will not be disappointed.