Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) is the fastest growing commercial interior flooring. This versatile type of flooring offers the best of both worlds – aesthetic variety and affordable cost. Its benefits don’t stop there, but also include a long lifecycle, simple installation and easy maintenance. Because of this, LVT is quickly leading the charge to become the flooring of choice. Not sure of how to get started choosing the perfect product? Here’s how you can choose the right type of resilient flooring for your space.
The anatomy of a high performing floor
LVT is made of many layers that affect its durability and aesthetics.
1. The backing and core layers provide needed performance as well as durability and impact resistance.
2. The image layer is where the design comes in. If it can be thought of, it can be imaged and installed – meaning any aesthetic is achievable, including some of the most popular stone and hardwood designs.
3. The top layer, and probably the most important layer, is the wear layer. The biggest benefit of the wear layer is the protection it provides, so your floors stay looking as good as the day they were installed.
4. The proverbial icing on the cake is the performance finish. This urethane topcoat is often infused with various types of minerals and provides essential protection against scratching and staining.
How does your floor measure up?
It helps to be familiar with two different measurements when it comes to LVT – mm (millimeter) which measures the total thickness of the product and mil (one thousandth of a millimeter) which measures the thickness of the wear layer.
Total Thickness – The product thickness is really just how thick the plank is. The thicknesses range from 2 mm (about the thickness of a nickel) to 8 mm and beyond. Total thickness also determines certain profiles and aesthetic limitations. Generally click and loose lay products will be much thicker than direct glue products. This added weight helps the product securely stay on the floor without the use of adhesives. A thicker product also means you can get more detailed with embossing and beveling for a more realistic floor. Thinner products will require more subfloor prep so subfloor imperfections are not visible once the product is installed.
Wear Layer – Think of the wear layer as a “screen protector” for your floor. Just like the one on your phone, if you have a thin screen protector, it works, but it only protects against minor scratches. Now, if you have a heavy-duty screen protector, such as a glass one, your screen can withstand a lot more wear and tear. Similar to screen protectors, the wear layer comes in different thicknesses, depending on how much wear the floor is expected to endure.
6 mil – 12 mil: Residential and private areas in student housing, senior living and office spaces 20 mil +: High traffic commercial spaces such as retail, education facilities, and healthcare.
Wear layers come in thickness above 20 mil, but how thick is thick enough? You might think that thicker is always better, while under extreme traffic that can be true, but normally you will trade off some aesthetic value and incur more cost than you really need.
Installation designed with your space in mind
Not only does LVT come in various thicknesses, it also comes designed to install a certain way to address specific needs.
• Click installation is a floating floor made possible by a “tongue and groove” mechanical locking system built into the planks. This process is the simplest and easiest option since it requires no adhesive and minimal subfloor prep – the tiles simply “click” into place and there’s no waiting time for adhesive to dry. You can install directly over most subfloors and existing hard surface floors.
• Loose lay installation uses minimal adhesive, the weight of the planks and raised areas on the back of the planks to securely hold them together and on the floor. Just like the click installation this type requires little subfloor prep and can be installed over most subfloors and existing hard surface floors.
• Direct glue installation is the best option for heavy traffic areas. Unlike click and loose lay, this type of installation requires perfectly clean, smooth and dry subfloors. Since the planks are directly adhered to the floor, direct glue LVT will perform better under heavy rolling loads than loose lay or click installations.
Whether it’s new construction or renovation in a school, hospital, or living space, LVT offers a variety of options to fit your needs. But most importantly, LVT floors will give you the peace of mind that it can withstand day-to-day traffic for years ahead. To learn more about LVT flooring and check out some options for your space, visit philadelphia-commercial.com contact or a Philadelphia Commercial sales representative today.