Luxury Vinyl Tile is the fastest growing type of flooring worldwide, but it is often confused with laminate or other types of hard flooring.
Today I’m looking at what LVT is and how it’s made, as well as clarifying some common misconceptions about luxury vinyl tiles, to help you understand whether LVT is a good fit for your next flooring project.
What is LVT?
Luxury Vinyl Tile is often confused with other hard flooring types such as laminate or Vinyl Composite Tile (VCT), despite its construction and aesthetic differences. With a wide range of design choices, LVT can replicate the look of natural hard flooring such as stone or wood, without the install or maintenance expenses associated with either.
LVT was originally known as “hot pressed tile” which is a good indicator of how it is made. LVT is made of several layers that are fused together under heat and pressure:
- Vinyl backing
- Vinyl core
- Print film layer (with your chosen design)
- Protective clear layer known as the ‘wear layer’ and finished with a polyurethane coating which is sometimes re-enforced with ceramic bead, silica bead or aluminum oxide
The wear layer and polyurethane coating of your LVT plays a large part in determining the lifetime of your tiles. Wear layers of 28 mil and above are ideal for use in heavy-use commercial traffic environments.
4 Common Misconceptions about Luxury Vinyl Tiles
Luxury Vinyl Tile was created more than forty years ago, and despite developments in construction and print technologies, common misconceptions which were applicable then still persist now:
1) Risk of Walk-off
One of the most common concerns about printed tiles surrounds walk-off: the idea that over time you’ll wear away the design. However, Luxury Vinyl Tiles have a clear top layer over the printed layer which guards against scuffs and scratches and protects the printed design layer.
2) No Visual Texture
Forty years ago when they were first introduced, the printed design on Luxury Vinyl Tiles were visually very flat, with little texture or depth. However, with the improved quality of print technology, the appearance of this type of tile has greatly improved.
3) It’s Another Name for Laminate
One of the more unusual misconceptions is that LVT is another name for laminate flooring – perhaps caused by the visual similarities between laminate and wood-style LVT. But laminate flooring is constructed very differently, with a core made from wood powder whereas in LVT the core layer is made of vinyl.
This means that the two types of flooring react to moisture very differently: while vinyl isn’t affected, wood will warp and buckle if it is exposed to excessive moisture, for example through wet cleaning.
4) It’s Costly to Maintain
This misconception is caused by confusion between LVT and VCT. Vinyl Composite Tile doesn’t have a clear protective overlay like Luxury Vinyl Tile, which means that it’s necessary to perform a vital maintenance process involving waxing and polishing the tiles to ‘seal’ the surface and protect against wear and damage from heavy use. The wax and polish is then regularly stripped away to remove the build-up of wax and polish before reapplying.
In contrast, the wear layer combined with the polyurethane coating on LVT provides excellent resistance to stains, scratches and scuffs while eliminating the need for waxes, polishes and harsh chemicals for cleaning and maintenance.