What's all the fuss about?
LVT is one of the biggest growing trends in flooring - But what is it?
Vinyl is a fast growing sector of the flooring market due to its durability at relatively low cost and huge range of designs available. Sheet vinyl and cushion floor by the roll are popular but the sector is dominated by LVT. In reality most of the products sold today are “LVP”, Linked Vinyl Planks, as wood decors are more popular than ceramics and stone but the term LVT is still used to cover the whole non-sheet market.
Huge Choice – in terms of decors across wood, ceramic, stone and geometric designs.
Impressive Realism – not just in the design but in finishing techniques that allow for wood knots you can feel, tiles you can grout, etc. See appearance options.
Excellent performance – in durability for high traffic areas, scratch resistance and cleanability. Vinyl also tends to be much more non-slip than natural materials. Some products are water resistant for bathrooms and kitchens.
Warm and soft to touch compared to ceramic and stone floors – and a good heat insulator anyhow, and suitable for use with underfloor heating systems.
Sound reduction – vinyl has negligible impact sound compared to the tap/click of laminate and transmits less sound and vibration compared to solid floor.
Considerably cheaper – than the ‘real’ thing – both to buy and to fit – and tile/plank approach minimises wastage.
Vinyl requires a dry, sound, level subfloor as the relative thinness of vinyl and its light reflection performance will quickly reveal imperfections after installation as well as cause potential wear issues.
Existing wooden/MDF floors may need a plywood underlay up to 6mm thick and then the joints will need to be skimmed or taped. Non-wood sub-floors will need a self-levelling screed to be laid to ensure a suitable base for the floor. damp-proof membrane may be required depending on sub-floor moisture levels.
However, new rigid core products are less flexible and can be laid more easily over existing floors – see Construction.
Dry back – a sheet or tile that needs to be fixed to the sub-floor using adhesive.
Self-adhesive – tiles with a peel-off backing paper to stick to the sub-floor. Some tiles have adhesive overlaps to stick to each other rather than the sub-floor.
Loose lay vinyl – tiles that simply drop onto the floor and rely on a high friction backing to keep them in place – they demand a very sound, level sub-floor but are the easiest type of tile to lay or replace.
Click – tiles that have a mechanical jointing system to attach to one another (like a locked tongue and groove system) and ‘float’ on the sub-floor without being glued down. There are many proprietary versions of the click system which offer fast, clean installation and stability.
Vinyl tiles and planks cover a huge variety of sizes and shapes and can be mix and matched to achieve an infinite number of designs. Current fashions include extra wide and long planks for wood through to very small planks for wood. Border effects can be easy to achieve in LVT.
Other notable options include: -
Embossed – this is where the op clear layer of the tile has been embossed to create a realistic texture that matches the style of the stone or wood décor. Registered embossed is the most authentic – the texture matches the design so that, for example, a wood knot or hand-scraped element in the wood design can be felt on the surface of the flooring.
Grouting and grooving – vinyl tiles can be laid with grouting inlay strips or beads of vinyl for added realism – and there are acrylic grouts that can be applied. In wood decors, planks are available with v-grooves or beveled edges between planks for added realism.
Top coating – A polyurethane or aluminum oxide coating provides protection against scratches and stains and gives enhances anti-slip.
Wear layer – This is a key layer – determining the performance and resilience of the product. A 0.3mm (12mil) wear layer is good for heavy wear areas or above with 0.7mm at the top end. The wear warranties and guarantees carried by products will be based on this thickness.
Décor layer – This is the décor itself – in essence it is a paper – or non filmbased photographic inkjet print. (A few LVT floors have the image printed directly to the surface of the floor but this implies less image definition and different wear characteristics).
PVC and fibre glass layers – The construction ‘sandwich’ can vary between products but a combination of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) layers for strength and flexibility and fibre glass layers for structural stability may be used. Any click-system profile will be incorporated into these layers. Products often use a combination of recycled vinyl which is cheaper and virgin PVC which lasts longer and is more stable.
Rigid core – LVT has a solid, less flexible PVC layer with maximum stability which means it can be laid over existing, less even flooring without showing imperfections and therefore avoiding wear problems.
Base (or backing) layer – The final high density PVC layer varies according to the installation requirement and is designed for taking adhesive or as an ‘underlay’ for loose-lay and click installations.
LVT Flooring is here to stay , get in touch with us today and start your journey.