The ABCs of Vinyl Flooring
Understanding Your Resilient Vinyl Flooring Options
Vinyl flooring is a proverbial alphabet soup of acronyms that, for those fairly new to the world of commercial flooring and project management, can be a bit challenging to decipher. How do you know the difference between VCT and LVT? What about BBT or SV? And once you have figured that out, how do you know which is the best choice for your commercial project?
These are questions Intertech Flooring’s project managers and design consultants hear frequently. So, keep reading! Here is our cheat sheet on the types of vinyl flooring and what you need to know about each option.
First, understand that vinyl flooring is broadly known as resilient flooring. Why? Because of its long-lasting durability and resilience, resistance to moisture, and cost-effectiveness. Resilient flooring products have long been a staple of the commercial flooring market for those reasons, and they continue to be a favorite of interior designers as manufacturers continually expand colors, designs, and textures.
Let’s start with the granddaddy of all vinyl flooring – linoleum. It has been a popular flooring choice since its invention in 1864(!), due to its incredible durability. “Linoleum has been around for more than a century,” according to Intertech manufacturing partner Armstrong Flooring. “It’s an excellent choice in settings that demand a long-lasting floor that holds up under heavy wear — which explains its frequent use in hospitals, schools, and commercial spaces.”
Modern linoleum flooring can last up to 40 years once laid and that durability makes it a popular choice for institutional floors and high traffic areas.
Linoleum floors have welded seams – preventing fluids from penetrating the surface and making their way under the floor. This added layer of hygiene makes linoleum flooring incredibly popular in the healthcare and assisted living sectors.
Vinyl Composition Tile (VCT)
If you are looking for the durability of linoleum but with more design panache, you might consider vinyl composition instead
Vinyl composition tile (VCT) is known for its low cost affordability and durability. Modern VCT flooring is more rigid than traditional, older vinyl tiles. It is best used in low visibility, high traffic areas, making it a popular choice for institutions and cafeterias. Keep in mind, though, that VCT has a much higher maintenance cost than other resilient products – something to factor in when considering it.
Luxury Vinyl Flooring (LVF)
Vinyl flooring has long been the flooring of choice in areas where moisture could be an issue – laundry rooms, kitchens, bathrooms. But the thin layer of vinyl is susceptible to gouges and tears. Manufacturers recognized the challenge and introduced luxury vinyl flooring (LVF) in the 1980s as an alternative.
It comes in both semi-rigid planks (LVP) or in tiles (LVT), Usually inspired by nature and contemporary design, choices include wood, industrial stained concrete, stone, abstract geometrics, and color block designs. New design choices can replicate the look of more expensive products.
LVT is available in several different wear layers ranging from 8 mil to 40 mil. The lower-end wear layers, 8-20 mil, are suitable for light commercial (very low foot traffic areas). The higher end, 20-40 mil, is best for commercial use with very heavy foot traffic.
LVT flooring is available with a waterproof core, floating click systems, and free-lay products that only call for perimeter adhesive, which reduces use of low VOC adhesive use.
Overall, LVT is a resilient, easy to install, and easy to maintain flooring option. It’s a great choice if you want a high design look for a lower cost.
Sheet Vinyl (SV)
Sheet vinyl is a continuous roll of vinyl flooring. Long-lasting and pre-coated means there’s less maintenance needed than other options on the market.
Also known as vinyl roll, sheet vinyl is a multi-layer vinyl with a printed top layer, says Tarkett Floors, one of dozens of flooring manufacturers with which Intertech partners. ”It comes in large, continuous, flexible sheets, and there are usually very few if any seams when installed. Vinyl roll is therefore usually recommended in areas subject to moisture, such as the bathroom, kitchen and laundry.
Marketed as a seamless flooring option, it’s heat welded to be impervious to germs. This makes it a popular choice in the medical sector, helping with infection control. The drawbacks of using sheet vinyl are it can be difficult to repair and install for people unfamiliar with it.
To use sheet vinyl on your floors, you need to make sure there is no pre-existing moisture in the substrate. Trapped moisture is bad news for sheet vinyl, so make sure you get your existing floor prepped fully in advance.
Bio-Based Tile (BBT)
Bio-based tile (BBT) entered the market a few years ago, as an environmentally friendly alternative to other vinyl flooring products. It is produced without Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC), using produced with rapidly renewable resources instead. BBT is both long lasting and tough, with five times greater resistance to impact and twice the indent resistance.
Bottom line, there are nearly limitless vinyl flooring product options depending on your project’s end use and anticipated foot traffic. If you are considering vinyl flooring for your next project, experience the Intertech advantage. From sheet vinyl to BBT, no one can match our experience and expertise in vinyl flooring. Learn more.