Purchase price is a crucial component of any flooring decision, but it’s only a part of the total cost of ownership. Many organizations choose Vinyl Composite Tile by sheer virtue of its low price; but as we’re about to explore, VCT can cost your organization in other ways.
1) Working Environment
The aesthetic and feel of your working environment has a big impact on the productivity and well-being of its occupants, whether they’re employees, teachers, students or patients. Though VCT offers a cost-effective flooring solution, it can struggle to create a comfortable, welcoming environment.
Thanks to years of use in hospital corridors and waiting rooms, the aesthetic of VCT is often associated with cold, sterile environments. Though there are a plethora of different color and design layouts available, it can be difficult to overcome this association.
VCT is also much more slippery than carpet, especially when wet (as a result of cleaning, or rain and snow tracked-in from outside). As well as increasing the likelihood of a fall occurring, when compared to carpet, hard surfaces like VCT also result in a higher incidence of injury resulting from those falls.
Temperature and Glare
The use of VCT can also impact other aspects of the working environment. Incorporating high levels of day lighting is an important part of creating a welcoming, comfortable environment, but in bright spaces, VCT can create problems with glare. Similarly, temperature fluctuations can dramatically hinder productivity - and while carpet tiles can have an insulating effect (similar to wall insulation), VCT will do little to maintain a comfortable temperature.
2) Health and Wellness
Indoor air quality is an important concern for many organizations, and hard surface products like VCT are unable to “trap” allergens in the same way that carpet fibers can. When compared to carpeted areas, this results in significantly more particulates in the breathing zone than over a hard surface floor. It’s also harder to extract allergens from areas with VCT flooring, as mopping is far less effective at removing particulates from the floor than vacuuming.
VCT also offers relatively poor noise absorption, and in busy environments, can worsen problems with ambient and structure-borne noise (like employees walking in an open office, or carts rolling around a hospital). High noise levels can be detrimental to productivity, and even health and wellness; so it’s essential to reduce workplace noise in any way possible.
Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) offers greater noise reduction than VCT, with multiple layers of underlay helping to absorb structure-borne noise. Carpet tiles offer further improvements, especially when cushioning is used in the carpet’s backing.
3) Maintenance Costs
VCT is favored by hospitals and school alike for the ease of which liquid spills can be cleaned up. This is a result of the ‘sealed’ surface imparted by regular waxing and polishing – but it’s exactly this type of maintenance that can make the total cost of ownership of VCT greater than LVT or carpet tiles.
To maintain its appearance, it’s necessary to wax and polish VCT on a regular basis. In areas with heavy foot traffic, this can become a frequent necessity. When combined with the labor intensity of regular mopping, this means that over the course of an 8-hour shift, it’s possible to clean a 21% larger carpeted area than a comparable hard surface.
There’s no doubt that VCT is cheaper to purchase than other types of flooring; but over the course of a twenty year lifespan, vinyl composite tile can actually prove harder to live with, and more expensive to maintain.
It’s important to remember that there’s more to flooring choices than the purchase price. Floors are a purchase decision that buyers and occupants will have often have to live with for 5, 10, or 20+ years, and it’s essential to consider how your choice of flooring will impact occupants on a daily basis. Flooring affects everyone from nurses and patients, teachers and students, caretakers and senior living residents, to workspaces and their employees – comfort matters!
With that in mind, if you’re looking for hard surface flooring, luxury vinyl tile will likely be a better choice than VCT; and if you’re not limited to hard surface flooring, you may get more benefit from your flooring investment by choosing carpet tiles.