What are The Best Flooring Options for Restaurant Dining Rooms?

restaurant flooring options - dining room scene

We get quite a few “What is the best flooring” questions, and all of them, like this one, will depend on essential criteria. I like to start with “how much money do you have? “Just kidding! That is my third question! First, we should outline what makes a specific flooring option good for restaurant dining rooms.

The best dining room restaurant flooring options will have these features:

  • A Hard Surface Floor Built for High Traffic Areas
  • Resistant to Visual Wear & Tear
  • Dent & Slip Resistant
  • 100% Waterproof
  • Sanitary & Easy to Clean
  • Plenty of Color Options
  • A Big Commercial Warranty

What Every Restaurant Floor Needs to Have

Most of the time, restauranteurs want a floor that is easily cleaned, so that is an excellent place to start. If that is the case, hard surface, rather than carpet, is the direction you should go. While carpet helps with sound, and, with the right yarn content, can be quite stain-resistant, it is still a more maintenance-intensive floor than all but a few restaurants can stand.

So, we have narrowed it down to a hard surface floor. What will it be? Luxury vinyl plank or hardwood?

Hardwood vs. Luxury Vinyl Plank

hardwood vs luxury vinyl plank close up

Hardwood is classy. Timeless. Hardwood flooring should make a customer feel warm and cozy. Then again, who wants their patrons to feel warm and cozy? Weird right? Jokes aside, the only choice to consider in most restaurant applications is Luxury Vinyl Plank. Sure, you could use ceramic tile, but unless you buy special tiles, they will be slick and even non-slip shoes could give on those. And the opposite of warm and cozy. And labor can be quite expensive.

We believe luxury vinyl plank is the real winner here. LVP is waterproof. If the vinyl plank product is overall thick, with a 12 mil or 20 mil wear layer. You will have a solid floor with a beefy commercial warranty. LVP is built to handle abuse. We cover the features, construction, and common pricing to vinyl plank below. Hardwood does have a romantic feel that many people love to see. Hardwood does lose the cost per square foot battle though.

Didn’t we already decide that LVP was the best route?

Luxury Vinyl Plank Wins

Luxury Vinyl Plank has been around for more than a decade and continues to gain in popularity. Why?

Mainly because it is robust, cheap, easy to install, and looks great. Now, before you rush out to buy a pallet, let’s discuss some of these attributes, and quantify them. Some are tougher, cheaper, easier, or cheaper than others. Which one is best for you? How about I just tell you what I know, and you decide what is best for your application? If you want a really in-depth breakdown of luxury vinyl plank, see our ultimate LVP blog post that goes over the construction, manufacturers, and features that define a “good” LVP product from a bad one.

3 Big Features You Must Know: The Core, Wear Layer, and Balancing Layer

You only need to know 3 features of a vinyl plank product to know if its any good. Most manufactures want to hide this information, or at the very least, not bring it up in a sales pitch. You can tell because most stores and places online show big beautiful room scene visuals on display. However, you usually only a few features in bold next to that demo picture. You will find a cheap price tag or the wear layer number. After learning these vinyl plank features, you’ll know precisely how to shop for your new restaurant dining room floor without wondering if a vinyl plank deal is too good to be true.

Luxury Vinyl Plank Cores: WPC vs. SPC

First, let’s talk about the core, where you have 2 options: WPC (wood plastic Composite) or SPC (Stone Polymer Composition).

This is a very touchy subject right now. Several manufacturers and a few big box stores (Like HD) have made a massive commitment to WPC floors. And when you talk to them, they love to throw around terms like warm and quiet. Don’t fall for it. The truth is, WPCs are yesterday’s technology. Their downfall? The dent. Badly. And easily. That soft core that is warm and quiet cannot compare in durability to an SPC floor.

It doesn’t take a geologist to figure out that stone is harder than wood. Or plastic. Hold a piece of each in your hand, you can even do your own dent test on the samples. Try it, and you will see what I mean. SPC floors are made for work and life in all its hectic, high traffic glory. SPCs were developed to withstand impact and resist indentation due to its limestone and dense polymer core. Can you imagine the chairs in your dining room, causing dents and depressions? Your floor would look horrible in a week.

SPCs are actually cheaper, as well, which warms my little heart! I like buying the good stuff, but I enjoy it, even more, when it is cheap.

So what makes one LVP better than the other? Well, I am glad you asked! LVPs are made of layers. The contents, as well as the thickness of the wear layer, are what determine the quality of the floor.

Wear Layers

Luxury Vinyl Plank Wear Layer Construction Photo

Let’s start with the wear layer since that is what you see. Actually, it isn’t. It is what you step on, but as a sheet of glass covering a desk, you look right through it.

The wear layer’s composition and thickness play a massive part in the longevity of your floor. The thicker is better. While floors will start at 6 or 8 mils (one-thousandth of an inch), we will not consider anything thinner than 12 mils for your application. Even in a home, I wouldn’t use anything thinner than 12. You can buy a high quality 12 mil from COREtec for $1.89 (our Hazel Creek), so getting a great deal on an 8 mil at $1.49 or so will only save you $300 on a thousand square feet. More on that later!

Really, you should probably go with a 20 mil floor in a commercial application, especially where you have heavily defined traffic patterns, as restaurants typically do. Spending another 50 cents sq ft won’t break you up, and you won’t be complaining 10 years from now when your floor still looks great.

The Balancing Layer

Another reason not to buy an entry-level product is the lack of a balancing layer. When retailers went to the manufacturers to get prices down, as we invariably do, one of the first changes was to remove the balancing layer, because most applications do not need it. Sadly, a multitude of claims resulting from floors that warped, twisted, and separated have been, and continue to be denied. Manufacturers say that excessive moisture and/or direct sunlight are the cause, and these cheaper floors are not warranted against that. Huh? That’s what I thought. Fortunately, we at ReallyCheapFloors.com never experienced that, and are moving to eliminate all entry-level products from our lineup.

Why would we do that? Aren’t we ReallyCheapFloors.com? Yes, we are, but we will never sell a floor that we know has a decent chance of failing.

What About Glue Down Vinyl?

All of the flooring we have discussed is click LVP, but another option exists. Shaw Floors has a great luxury vinyl plank vs glue down blog post on this topic. Some applications are better suited for a glue-down LVP. Glue down floors used to be significantly cheaper, but a glue-down SPC will now run $4 plus, not counting adhesive. Also, using a quiet cork underlayment requires the installer to glue down the cork, then glue the LVP on top of it. This will get expensive! These types of floors are mainly used in hospitals, or other applications where extremely heavy equipment is rolled across the surface. Also, glue-down installation requires a smooth subfloor and leaves the smell of glue for a few days.

What We Recommend for Your Restaurant Dining Floor

Again, I would recommend a product like our Mills River, from COREtec for a restaurant dining room.

  • Stone Polymer Core – Dent Resistant
  • 20mil Wear Layer – Built for High Traffic Areas
  • 100% Waterproof – Easy to Clean and Sanitize
  • Classic Colors with Plenty of Décor Matching Possibilities
  • 15-year Commercial Warranty
  • Value – Quality You Need with a Value You Want for $2.39 per square feet

If you have any questions about your restaurant flooring options or would like to receive samples of any of our products, please give us a call at 1-800-253-2728 or visit us at ReallyCheapFloors.com.