Learn About Vinyl
There is no doubt a welcoming warmth that comes from a beautiful hard wood floor adorning a home, or the endless style options that tile can allow for. Unfortunately, both products often come with a sizable price tag that can deter many buyers from gracing their homes with wood, ceramic, or porcelain. Enter vinyl solutions. Sheet vinyl, LVT, and rigid core products are all excellent alternatives coming in at many different price points while offering various application benefits. One of the most often asked question in our showroom is what the difference is between all the vinyl flooring options, and which would work best for them. Hopefully this will help clear the air in this category and educate buyers as they begin searching for their new floor.
We’ll get things started with sheet vinyl, since it is probably the oldest in the category. Sheet vinyl, previously know as linoleum, is often the cheapest hard surface flooring product that you can put in a home. It mainly comes in 12 foot roll width, though some come in 6 foot. If the product is going over a wood substrate it requires a wood underlayment that the vinyl is then adhered to, and if its going over concrete it gets glued directly to it. However, since the product glues directly to the concrete it will only be as smooth and level as the concrete below. This means expansions joints need to be filled and any significant high points or rough patches need grinding. If the vinyl is going over a wood substrate then underlayment is nailed down and sanded smooth to prevent any textures from transposing through the material. Vinyl can also install over existing vinyl, as long as the existing vinyl is still adhered well, and any texture is embossed to smooth it. If the area is larger than the width of the vinyl it requires seaming of multiple pieces together. Something to be aware of with vinyl is pattern match. Most vinyl products have some form of pattern on them, and that pattern only repeats so often. This means if there is a seam in a room enough excess vinyl must be ordered so that the pattern can repeat seamlessly. This often leads to more yards needing to be ordered than the net size of the area. Affordability and design options are excellent advantages of vinyl, but the largest disadvantage is durability. Vinyl can be subject to tearing if furniture is slid across it, or from large dog claws romping around. The positive feature regarding wear and tear is that it is waterproof, making it appropriate in kitchens and laundry rooms. Hopefully this helps you understand some of the characteristics of sheet vinyl; now we can focus on luxury vinyl tile.
Luxury Vinyl Tile
Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) or luxury vinyl plank (LVP), as some refer to it, is basically a more durable, planked version of sheet vinyl. Instead of being a rolled product this comes in planks or tiles. The installation preparation is the same as vinyl, as far and underlaying, prepping concrete, or going over existing vinyl, however the product is not rolled out and seamed together. Instead the planks or tiles are glued individually and laid in a desired pattern. Most of the planked pieces are designed to mimic the look of wood, whereas the tiles often replicate true ceramic tiles or slate. LVT does not commonly offer the range of patterns that sheet vinyl does. Where LVT has a leg up on sheet vinyl is in the durability segment. Most rolled vinyl is paper backed or vinyl backed, neither of which is particularly robust, but LVT has a composite back that does allow flexing, but isn’t near as malleable. For instance, a piece of vinyl can be folded in half and laid back out again (though it would damage it) but a piece of LVT would snap before folding due to its harder backing. On top of the backing lies the design piece and then a wear layer. Higher priced LVT products commonly have a thicker wear layer. Most LVT products are so durable that they even carry commercial application warranties. LVT comes in a range of prices depending on the style and wear layer, but in general it is slightly more expensive than sheet vinyl.
Rigid Core Vinyl Plank
Our final flooring product of this post is commonly referred to as waterproof core or rigid core flooring. I say “commonly” because various vendors use different names for the category, but they all share similar performance attributes. Rigid core is one of the newer technologies to come onto the flooring scene within the last decade and can be explained as rigid vinyl flooring with an expanded foam core, polymer core, or stone core. The flooring is waterproof, rigid, and offer tremendous stability. Rigid core flooring is so stable that it can be installed directly over the subfloor or existing floor without requiring surface preparation. Rigid core products install just like laminate, meaning it’s a click together floating floor. The biggest advantage of rigid core over laminate is that the rigid core’s polymer can withstand water unlike the compressed core of laminate. Rigid core flooring is also not subject to the floor break restrictions that laminates are. Some rigid core floors come with an attached pad, and others require it separately, but either way some additional comfort and sound dampening is provided.
Those are the ins and outs of the various vinyl product offering. Hopefully that helps direct you toward which type of flooring is most suitable for your type of flooring. If you still have questions, give us a call or swing by; we’re always happy to help!