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9 Questions to Ask Before Buying Luxury Vinyl Tile Flooring

Posted on Nov 21, 2017, by Alan Fennell

Selecting new flooring can be a minefield if you don't have access to the right information. How can you tell whether the flooring you're considering is suited to your organization's practical - as well as aesthetic - requirements?

To help you choose the right luxury vinyl tiles, we’ve put together nine essential questions, offering insights into durability, appearance retention, design and installation, to help you choose flooring that's the perfect fit for your organization.

Featured image: Office Revolution, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Design firm: Eastlake Studio.

Choosing Durable Luxury Vinyl Tile Flooring

You want to be confident that your chosen flooring will still look great in five, or even ten, years' time - so durability and longevity are essential traits to look for.

1) How Thick is the Wear Layer?

The wear layer is the clear layer on luxury vinyl tiles. It serves as a protection for the printed film design, and plays an important role in the durability, longevity and appearance retention of the product.

LVT wear layers are available with different thicknesses, measured in mil (1000th of an inch). As a general rule, the thicker the wear layer, the more protection it offers and the longer it will last. 

However, wear layers that are more than 28 mil thick can be misleading, making it look like the product will perform in high-traffic areas, such as industrial settings, where LVT is an unsuitable flooring option. Above 28 mil the wear layer is over-engineered, and adds unnecessary cost to the product while offering little to no benefit over 28 mil wear layers in heavy commercial/light industrial settings - which are the end use market category for commercial LVT.

2) How Easy will it be to Replace or Repair Tiles?

Will you be able to source replacement tiles in the future, or are you looking at an end-of-line (and likely heavily discounted) product? It may be worth considering budgeting for extra tiles to keep as attic stock, so you know you've got replacements in case of damage.

3) What Warranty Is Available?

Different flooring manufacturers will offer different warranty options. It’s important to understand exactly what these warranties mean (especially when referring to ‘lifetime’ warranties), what is (and isn't) covered, as well as the steps you need to follow to be eligible. You should also consider the credibility, longevity and integrity of the manufacturer when it comes to honoring the warranty.

Choosing Attractive LVT

LVT is available in a wide range of patterns and designs, making it a popular and versatile flooring choice.

4) What Design Options are Available?

Common design options include:

  • Wood-style patterning
  • Natural stone patterning
  • Abstract patterns, colors and designs.

Some flooring manufacturers offer a wider range of designs than others, as LVT is rapidly growing in popularity worldwide.

5) Is the Surface Textured or Smooth?

This seemingly insignificant detail has a surprising impact on the overall aesthetic of your LVT.

LVT can have different types of textured surface, to mimic the grain of wood or stone flooring. This makes it an even more popular choice for companies looking to recreate the aesthetic of real wood flooring, but at a lower budget. However care must be taken not to choose an embossed texture that is “too deep” as this can lead to maintenance issues.

Purchase and Installation

Some flooring types are easier to install than others. It's important to understand whether choosing LVT will add complexity and potential complications to your flooring project, or help to streamline the process.

6) What's the Lead Time on this Flooring?

The lead time on your chosen flooring can significantly impact your project timelines. Many popular products will be available via manufacturers' quick-ship programs, but if you've gone for a more unusual option, there may be a lead time of several weeks, which can have a knock-on effect, causing delays to the rest of your renovation project.

7) Is it Suitable for Installation in Your Space?

There are several factors that determine whether flooring is suitable for installation in a particular space:

  • Moisture - have you carried out moisture testing? LVT is less prone to moisture-induced warping than wood or laminate, but in very high moisture environments that are prone to mold and mildew, choosing the correct adhesive system is essential. "Breathable" flooring types - like broadloom, or open cell cushion backed carpet tiles should also be considered.
  • Longevity - in environments with very high levels of foot traffic, such as airports, or organizations that need their flooring to last upwards of fifteen years, you may need to look at a more durable flooring type, such as porcelain or Terrazzo tile.
  • Health and Safety  If  you work in an environment where there is an increased risk of slips and falls, then a cushioned flooring type such as carpet is likely to be a better fit.

Creating a Positive Indoor Environment

Your choice of flooring has a big impact on the indoor environment: it covers your entire floorplan, so has a huge aesthetic impact, and can also affect health and wellness in the workplace.

8) What Type of Maintenance is Required?

Proper care and maintenance is essential for keeping your LVT looking like new, and maintaining a positive indoor environment.

Some types of hard flooring are notoriously difficult and time-consuming to maintain. Fortunately, thanks to the clear, reinforced polyurethane, LVT is much simpler to keep clean: it only requires regular mopping and sweeping to maintain its as-new appearance.

9) How Will LVT Impact Acoustics?

Changing your flooring has the potential to significantly affect the acoustics of your space, thanks to the large amount of space it covers in a room.

If you had carpet in your space before, and you're replacing it with luxury vinyl tiles, you're likely to find that the space feels louder as a result. However, if you had another type of hard surface flooring, you'll likely find it much quieter, as LVT offers the best acoustic profile of all hard flooring types. Thicker LVT products, combined with underlayment, can help improve acoustics within and between spaces.

the buyers guide to LVT [free eguide]

Alan Fennell

Written by Alan Fennell