While vinyl flooring has been around for decades, Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) is sort of considered the new kid on the block and many people are not all that familiar with it. If you haven’t heard yet of LVT, you owe it to yourself to know more about it so that when it is time to choose for your home or office, you can consider it as one of your top choices. When it comes to floor tiling options, there has always been a vinyl tile in one form or another. Today, vinyl remains as popular as it was several decades ago, and continues to be one of the fastest growing materials used for floors. You need to love any option you choose since it will be in your home for a long time, but when you stop loving it, or aging has taken its toll on the tiles and you need to change it, it’s good to know that LVT offers the option of changing the material and design in much easier ways than other types.
An outstanding feature of LVT is that it is available in a variety of different effects, and has the ability to naturally replicate the look and style of other types of material, be it wood planks, ceramic tiles, concrete or marble. This makes LVT easily designable with a long list of patterns and color options to choose from. The design options of LVT Flooring make it a desirable material, but this option also has many other properties that homeowners want in the material that they use on their floors. Extremely resistant to dents, water or moisture damage, heat and more, makes LVT a perfect pick for those who want durable and attractive floors. The LVT option is considered the improved and innovative part of vinyl.
Because vinyl has perhaps been always considered the cheapest type around, people didn’t often connect it with the elegance and more expensive look of other styles and floor materials, such as hardwood. Now, thanks to LVT, you can have the look of wood, stone or ceramics, yet less expensive and easier to take care of. This means that if you want a wood look for your bedroom or sitting room, you will find it in LVT, as you would also find a tile look for your bathroom or a stone look for a kitchen or basement. LVT offers a 3D look which creates depth and realism. It offers the option of a less permanent floor than wood or ceramic tile, especially with the growing popularity of floating LVT floors. Floating means that the vinyl sheet does not sit directly on top of the subfloor. To “float,” a vinyl flooring, an underlayment is installed. This is a protective layer that offers some cushioning underneath the vinyl, though most LVTs come with a built-in under layer.
As it continues to grow in popularity as a versatile and dependable solution, with endless design options, here is some more information about LVT.
How is LVT made?
The wood plank effect LVT is in the shape and form of a plank of wood. LVT is made with several layers:
- The polyurethane coating
- The wear layer
- The print film layer
- The vinyl core
- The tile backing
Under heat and pressure, these layers are fused together. During manufacturing, these substances need to bond to the flooring through the process of curation. If bonding isn’t performed correctly, the coating won’t be effective.
The wear layer is a clear layer that covers the print layer, protecting it from scrapes, scratches, and regular wear and tear, making it the most important layer since it is the main protection of the floor as well as the most expensive part of it. When you consider the alternative of this, you would realize why it is the secret weapon of LVT. If the wear layer does not exist, the bulk of maintenance time and effort would be spent applying and polishing a wax coating, which also requires intermittent stripping and reapplied to protect the surface from scratches and stains and other types of damages.
Typically, the wear layer is given some degree of texture or ornamentation, to better compliment the look of the print film being used. Finally, urethane coating is applied to the wear layer, to further protect it and give out the desired sheen for the pattern. The entire product is then cut up into smaller planks or tiles, depending on the pattern. Because LVT is made up of multiple thin layers, you’ll find that it is flexible but very durable and easy to take care of.
Types of LVT installations
Generally speaking, there are two main types of vinyl plank options. On the one hand, you have the LVT that is fixed to the ground with glue or self-adhesive. You need to wait for at least 24 to 48 hours after installation for the glue to fully dry. Yet, take note the glue makes the tiles harder to remove, should you want to do so in the future. Another means is via the floating vinyl planks and tiles which don’t use any kind of glue or adhesive and you can start walking on your floor immediately after installation. The first category comprises self-adhesive vinyl planks and glue-down vinyl, while the latter consists of vinyl click, where the planks fit into each other, and loose lay vinyl. Using newer loose lay systems makes it possible to use LVT with minimal surface preparation. With this solution the installation cost, as well as installation time, can be considerably lessened. Whichever type you choose, they do have a common prerequisite. To be installed properly, they all need a properly prepared subfloor that is hard, clean, dry and smooth.
Wear layer thickness
The wear-layer lies between the printed design and urethane finish. This layer is a key factor of how well your floors will hold up over time. If it breaks down, the printed design can be prone to damage and become faded. Better vinyl floors have wear layers that include a protective top coat. This coating usually contains additives like ceramic or other substances to increase the hardness level of the planks.
LVT usually comes in either plank or tile form. A typical plank size is 48 in. x 4.5 in. A typical tile size is 16″ x 16″. Don’t be fooled that the thicker it is, the better it must be because there are other factors to be taken into consideration, such as the type of materials used to manufacture LVT. The level of wear on a vinyl plank is measured in mil, which is one-thousandth of an inch. Take note that a mil is not equal to a millimeter and roughly speaking, 40 mil equals 1.0 mm.
A thicker layer is more resistant to scratching and denting. Better quality flooring tends to have the highest wear layers but is more expensive. Professionals tend to stick with a minimum of 12 mil for residential areas and 28 mil for commercial. The wear layer should be at least 8 mil or 0.2mm thick for a room with moderate traffic. For high traffic areas or areas where you want the most durability, the general advice is to go with a wear layer that is 20 mil or 0.5mm thick.
Now that you know some basic facts about this kind of floor tiling, let’s have a look at its advantages.
LVT brings in luxury to your home at a lower cost than most other options. The cost will depend on various factors, such as the thickness; typically, the thicker high-end options will be more expensive but with undeniable quality. Out of all high quality picks, LVT can be the least expensive of them.
Durability is undoubtedly one of the main reasons why people choose LVT over other types. It is no surprise that commercial environments prefer LVT, be it offices, shops, lobbies, and many other places that need an option which endures high traffic. Being waterproof, it is also a great solution for areas more prone to moisture, such as basements. High-end quality brands may also be flame resistant. It’s difficult to ask for more than being able to endure heavy traffic, be waterproof and flame resistant, easy to maintain and affordable.
LVT can be installed almost on anything, without having to get rid of your old floor. It can be installed over existing plywood or concrete subfloors as long as the surface is flat, smooth and its structure is sound. Installation is much quicker compared to wood, ceramic or stone. It can either be installed with glue or with a loose-lay floor. Installation doesn’t usually require tile removal. This means it’s easy to install LVT around already existing furniture, or kitchen appliances such as floor cabinets or fridges. Since it is thinner, you probably won’t run into problems of height restrictions, such as under doors. All this means that anything you have installed prior to installing LVT, such as installed kitchen cabinets or heavy appliances or furniture, will not be an obstacle in the floor installation. Also, if you happen to be a DIY person, you’ll appreciate the easy install method of LVT.
Looks and feels real:
With thicker more rigid planks, it is easy to mistake it for real wood. You will find different species of wood, colors and grain patterns, all of which look very realistic and genuine. You will also be able to choose from different plank widths and lengths to suit the needs and décor of a room. The stone and tile effect LVT is just as realistic with uniform sized tiles and choices of color and style. LVT also gives you more under the feet, making it comfortable to walk on as well as being smooth and safe for crawling babies, and young tots to play on.
Some brands offer built-in soundproofing. The thicker the vinyl, the more subdued the sound. High traffic areas would require a thicker tile to guarantee sound and wear prevention. This makes it significantly quieter to walk on than on stone, tile, or wood. That’s an important factor for various facilities such as hospitals or libraries.
The protective wear-layer will do its part in protecting the floor from scratches, scuffs, stains, chips and dents, but you still need to take care of it. LVT can withstand some harsh chemicals when you want a deep clean. But with regular sweeping of dust and debris, then mopping, means you won’t need to do much more to keep a new look. Alongside of easy maintenance is easy repair. If for any reason a plank is damaged, you can just pop it out and replace it. If you already have tile floors, you would know that that’s very difficult to do, if at all possible, so damage to a center tile is no longer a nightmare. You can simply replace the tile instead of trying to patch the area up or having to replace the entire flooring.
There’s a huge range of unique vinyl designs to choose from, which is what you need to standout from the crowd to create your own unique flooring. Mixing multiple tile shapes and colors can result in some wonderful statement floors, earning the admiration from all your guests. The choices to match an already decorated room are easier to find in LVT than in hardwood or concrete.
Of course depending on the traffic on it, LVT has a very long life-span that can go nearly up to 30 years if the floor is properly taken care of. Any reputable company will give you a warranty of their product with your purchase. If at any time you feel the need for a change even though the floor is in good shape, you just have to rip it off to replace it with a new one.
Save thousands of dollars
It is not a far stretch to say that with LVT flooring, you can easily save thousands of dollars while also creating a new and chic look to any room or commercial area. LVT is becoming extremely popular with homeowners as it can transform any room with an authentic and hardwearing floor, without the drawbacks and downsides that sometimes accompany a natural product. It is a popular choice because it is practical, looks real, cost effective, durable, and easy to maintain. It will keep up its appearance for the long-run and has some great advantages that any homeowner would love.