Looking at Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) flooring samples, you can find a dozen oak-look designs at different price points – so how do you work out which option is the best fit for your needs?
After installing LVT flooring in your space, it can be difficult to know whether it will last as little as three years, or as long as twenty. So today, I’m looking at the two main factors you need to consider to ensure your LTV looks as good as new for the years -- or even decades -- to come.
Luxury Vinyl Tiles are constructed in a series of layers. The make-up of these layers plays a significant role in the longevity and durability of your flooring:
1) Polyurethane coating to improve durability
2) Protective clear layer known as the ‘wear layer’
3) Printed layer (with your chosen design)
4) Vinyl core
5) Vinyl backing
High Vinyl Content
The vinyl content of the core and backing layers of your LVT will impact its durability over time. There are two common options: LVT which contains a high proportion of post-consumer recycled content in the core and backing, or LVT which contains only virgin (that is, non-recycled) vinyl.
Having a high quantity of recycled content in the core or backing of your flooring tiles can impact performance in the long term. Recycled vinyl is likely to wear out and break down more quickly and less predictably than 100% virgin vinyl. In contrast, virgin vinyl is more resilient and more durable underfoot as it hasn’t already been used and reconstituted.
This means that virgin vinyl is very predictable: you know what it’s made of and therefore you know how it will wear and break down over time. It is also less prone to shrinking or rippling than recycled vinyl, which often contains traces of other materials that can distort under regular use.
LVT has a transparent wear layer on top of the printed design layer to protect it, and the wear layer of LVT plays a large part in determining the lifetime of the tiles.
Different manufacturers have different standard thicknesses for the wear layers on their LVT products. Generally speaking, the thicker the wear layer, the longer it will last: a 20 mil wear layer can be expected to last about 5 years, compared with a 28 mil wear layer which can last for up to 10. For heavy-use commercial environments, you will need to choose tiles with a wear layer of 28 mil (0.7mm) thickness and above.
Maintenance is also crucial to maximizing the lifetime of your LVT, and is largely dependent on your organization to ensure it is maintained properly.
LVT is often assumed to have similar maintenance requirements as Vinyl Composite Tile (VCT), which requires daily sweeping and mopping, along with regular waxing and polishing to protect the surface from damage from foot traffic, scuffs and scratches.
However, thanks to its protective wear layer, most types of LVT flooring have ‘no wax’ maintenance schedules, and only require sweeping and mopping as their regular maintenance schedule.