Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) is the fastest-growing type of flooring worldwide. Today I’m looking at what LVT is, and sharing the pros and cons of this increasingly popular type of flooring, to help you understand whether LVT is a good fit for your next flooring installation.
Featured image: Quarles & Brady LLP, Washington, DC. Design Firm: Chemistry in Place. Photographer: Chris Spielmann.
What is Luxury Vinyl Tile?
Luxury Vinyl Tile is a type of hard flooring. It has a wide range of design options, and can replicate the look of natural stone or wood flooring, without the extensive installation or maintenance costs associated with either.
LVT is made up of several layers: the polyurethane coating (1); the protective clear layer known as the ‘wear layer’ (2); the print film layer (3); the vinyl core (4); and the tile backing (5).
Pros of Luxury Vinyl Tile Flooring
For organizations that need or particularly want hard surface flooring for aesthetic or practical reasons, Luxury Vinyl Tile is one of the best options, combining many of the benefits of other types of hard flooring, without the drawbacks of price or complex maintenance requirements.
Ease of Maintenance
Hard surface flooring can be notoriously difficult to maintain: natural wood and stone flooring have very specific maintenance requirements to avoid staining or surface damage which will impair the look of the natural material. And while Vinyl Composite Tile (VCT) also has simpler maintenance requirements than natural flooring, it requires very labor-intensive maintenance: daily mopping and sweeping, combined with regular waxing and polishing to protect the surface from scuffs and stains.
In contrast, LVT flooring has a protective wear layer, which means that, for the most part, it doesn’t need waxing or polishing, and instead only requires mopping and sweeping to maintain its as-new appearance. Depending on the thickness of the wear layer, you can get up to 10 years’ use before it needs to be reapplied.
Offers Design Flexibility
LVT offers a wide range of design options, mimicking the look of natural stone or wood at a fraction of the price, and without the complex maintenance requirements. It can even mimic some of the texture of natural stone or wood, because the pattern of wood grain, for example, can be embossed into the tile to give it a more realistic feel.
One of the most common misconceptions about LVT is that the design will wear away through use. But the design is printed onto the film layer of the tile, and protected by the wear layer. This protective, clear layer guards against scuffs and scratches, and protects the printed design layer against walk-off.
Cons of Luxury Vinyl Tile Flooring
While LVT may be a great choice for organizations that need hard surface flooring, if you’re not limited by flooring type some organizations may find that carpet tiles are a much smarter flooring choice than Luxury Vinyl Tiles, as they offer a variety of usability benefits that LVT can’t match.
Can’t Match the Comfort Levels of Carpet
Like other types of hard flooring, LVT can’t match the underfoot comfort levels of carpet tiles. Cushion-backed carpet tiles reduce muscle fatigue by 24%, using the same cushioning technology found in high-performance athletic shoes. This is hugely beneficial in any working environment, but particularly for workplaces where employees spend a lot of their time standing or walking around.
Additionally, noise levels play a huge role in comfort levels: in hospitals, less noise creates a quieter, more restful environment to promote healing; and in office and school environments a louder space has been shown to increase stress levels and reduce productivity. While LVT offers the best noise absorption of hard surface flooring, carpet absorbs 3x more noise than hard flooring.
Higher Health and Safety Risks
One of the biggest drawbacks of hard surface flooring like LVT, VCT and natural hard floors are the health and safety risks.
Slips and falls are one of the leading causes of injury in the workplace. Unlike carpet, hard flooring can’t absorb moisture away from its surface, meaning that in wet weather the surfaces become slippery. This increases the likelihood of slips and falls. Additionally, falling onto a hard surface like LVT is more likely to cause an injury compared with falling on carpet, which is a softer, more shock-absorbent surface. However, LVT is more slip-resistant than most other hard surface floor coverings, making it the best option if your next flooring installation specifically requires hard surface flooring.