The Basics of Vinyl Flooring
The vinyl plank and tile flooring sold at G&S Tile offers a wide range of contemporary designs with easy peel and stick vinyl planks installation. While appearing to be a simple, straightforward product, there are many variables you should understand before making a purchase.
At the bare minimum, you should be aware there are many manufacturers in the marketplace, offering vinyl at many price points and quality levels. You usually get what you pay for.
The amount of traffic a vinyl floor should be able to withstand should be your primary concern. If you buy a low-price peel-and-stick vinyl for your entry or kitchen, you’re asking for trouble. But you may not need the highest quality for a basement bathroom.
Nevertheless, if you’re flooring a small space, why not go with a higher quality flooring? The price increase won’t be significant. Even if the material is $4 per square foot vs. $2, the difference in a standard 6’x8′ foundation installation is less than $100.
In general, you can put higher quality vinyl anywhere, but be very careful where you install lower-quality materials.
One note before you get started: vinyl is not the same as linoleum. Linoleum is an all-natural flooring material that was around decades before vinyl flooring appeared.
To get the floor you need, start by answering three questions:
- What is the wear surface?
- How is the structure of the vinyl constructed and how is it backed?
- How will it be installed?
There are three basic types of vinyl wear surfaces:
Vinyl No-Wax is the original no-wear surface. It resists scuffs and scrapes, and it has some stain-resistant properties. This surface does require regular washing and occasional polishing to restore the gloss, especially in heavy traffic areas. Though this wear surface was once used on almost all vinyl flooring, it is now found mostly on entry-level grade flooring and some first upgrades.
1. Urethane (PVC)
Urethane surfaces do a much better job of resisting scuffs, scrapes, stains and heel marks. They will retain their new appearance much longer than the vinyl no-wax surfaces.
2. Enhanced Urethane
There are several levels of enhanced urethane, but all of them resist scrapes and marking better than other wear surfaces. The best of them will not stain from exposure to household troublemakers like mustard and iodine, and dirt will not stick. Regular sweeping and occasional mopping with an approved cleaner or vinegar and water is all that’s required of these floors.
Structure and Backing
The construction of vinyl flooring determines how well it will stand up to indentation from heavy appliances and falling objects.
Vinyl flooring is constructed in two ways.
1. The rotogravure or printed-floor process.
Roto or printed floors are created by attaching a printed image under the wear layer. As a result, this type of floor offers an endless array of designs and colors.
2. Inlaid Floors.
Inlaid floors are manufactured by placement of tiny vinyl granules from the backing all the way up to the wear surface, resulting in an extremely durable floor.
Basically all vinyl floors are made with a sandwich of layers, starting with a felt or vinyl backing. Both materials offer different advantages during installation, but vinyl backings also offer more dent resistance.
The structure is applied to this backing. On printed floors, a foam layer is placed on the backing, a picture is placed on the foam and the wear layer is applied. On inlaid floors, the vinyl granules are place directly on the backing and a wear layer is applied directly on the fused vinyl granules.
On some printed floors, a tough vinyl inner layer is placed between the foam and the picture, which enhance the durability greatly and protects the floor from gouges, tearing, and indentation.
In general, if you’re looking for a more durable floor, pay more for one with a vinyl inner layer or an inlaid floor, which is the most durable of them all.
Many “peel-and-stick” options have a self-adhesive covered with a peel-off backing. Tiles without the backing require an adhesive that is spread over the floor with a notched trowel, yet this job can usually be performed by a non-professional relatively easily.
Most modern adhesives used in residential installations are water-based rather than the toxic, solvent-based adhesives used in the past. When properly applied, they are totally safe and will perform well.
Regarding adhesives, always use the same brand of glue for the same brand of flooring. If you use Mannington vinyl, use Mannington adhesive. If you use Tarkett vinyl, use only Tarkett adhesive. If a manufacturer does not offer its own brand of adhesive, then ask what product the company recommends.
If you’re hiring someone to install your vinyl floor, make sure you specify what brand of flooring you’ve purchased ahead of time and what adhesive you want used. Making this determination will save you trouble later on. Better yet, providing both the flooring and the adhesive to the installer will eliminate any miscommunication.
Do Your Homework
Take the initiative to look at warranties, and read care-and-maintenance information before you buy the floor. Also, understand that every floor, even those designed to take the most abuse, will look worn at some point in the future. Given that information, realize that a medium-tone vinyl with a pattern will look better longer than a light colored or white vinyl with very little pattern.