All you need to know about Luxury Vinyl Flooring

by Ofentse Sefolo
All you need to know about Luxury Vinyl Flooring

Luxury Vinyl Flooring has been the fastest growing floor covering since 2013.

In this article:
• What is Luxury Vinyl Flooring?
• What are the benefits of Luxury Vinyl Flooring?
• Installation considerations
• Cleaning and Maintenance
• Why the coating of your LVPs and LVTs is important
• Frequently Asked Questions
• Special promotions available

Available in Luxury Vinyl Planks (LVPs) and Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVTs), this floor covering is becoming big décor news throughout America and Europe, transforming homes into breath-taking masterpieces.

LVTs and LVPs are basically high-quality vinyl tiles or planks which use a photographic print film laminated between a backing and a clear vinyl layer. This process produces extremely realistic designs and is offered in an excellent selection of sizes and shapes.

The reasons behind the rise of popularity in LVPs and LVTs are plentiful because of the sheer number of benefits they offer. The products are:
o environmentally friendly
o safe from harmful substances such as formaldehyde and VOCs (volatile organic compounds)
o made from virgin materials
o have excellent acoustic, insulation, castor-wear and furniture-leg resistance properties
o are virtually maintenance free
o require no special treatments

LVPs and LVTs are also very trendy thanks to the innovation, research and development that exist in this sector. The flooring incorporates 3D printing technology in order to perfectly replicate the aesthetics of other, more expensive flooring types such as wooden, marble or slate flooring. When it comes to LVTs, your imagination can run wild. However, what makes the ongoing developments in technology with this floor type so amazing is that the floors not only look like wood, but they feel like it too! That’s right; upon touch, you will feel the grains and textures that define wood floors. Nobody will be able to tell the difference and that’s what makes these floors so popular.

It is also a flexible choice for those who enjoy redecorating and redesigning their home’s interior with the latest trends. Unlike other types of flooring, it can be lifted and replaced with something different without too much effort at all.

• More benefits of LVPs and LVTs:
o Cost-effectiveness: If you had your heart set on a natural wood floor, then LVTs will most definitely offer a more affordable solution. Considering the cost of marble flooring, it is rather exciting to be able to install LVTs that look exactly like these pricier alternatives.
o Maintains a pristine finish: When installed over a correctly prepared, level subfloor, vinyl becomes extremely resistant to dents, scratches and stains.
o Can be installed anywhere: LVTs are extremely resistant to water and are therefore ideal in areas exposed to a lot of water, which means you can even have the wood look installed in your bathroom.
o Comfort: They are soft underfoot and warm during winter.
o Design and style options: LVTs are available in several sizes to suite any space, be it big or small. Currently, larger sizes are making a massive entrance into the market. These larger sizes can be mixed and matched with other sizes to create a truly personalised space specific to your needs and desires.

• Installation considerations
Evaluate the space before purchasing a specific size. Larger tiles/planks are beautiful and popular; however, a very small space may not necessarily work well with larger tiles.

Many homeowners are concerned about the installation of this flooring type. LVPs and LVTs are most certainly DIY friendly, bearing in-mind specific criteria such as expansion gaps, maximum sizes, screed levels, etc.

If you’re not familiar with installing LVPs, it is advisable to opt for paying someone to do the installation for you. Problems that arise from DIY installations are floor preparation such as levelling, moisture in the sub-floor and the correct expansion gaps. These are the three areas where most floors fail and they should be handled by a professional. The most common pitfalls for DIY installers are:
o Moisture in the screed – it must be checked and be within the manufacturer’s recommended level before the flooring is laid
o Subfloor preparation – the subfloor must be level to within a 3mm tolerance over a 2m span
o Expansion gaps – there must be the correct allowances for expansion all around the walls, door frames, and so forth. This means the installer must have the right tools to be able to achieve this.

LVPs and LVTs are usually installed as a floating floor, either loose-laid or glued down.

The flooring can be installed with a rubber underlay to reduce both transition sound and walking sound. Good underlays can also be used with underfloor heating, where they prevent heat loss and promote energy saving.

• Cleaning and maintenance
With every reputable product, the client should receive a maintenance brochure. Cleaning involves sweeping the floor maybe once or twice a week using a specially designed Luxury Vinyl Plank Mop with the recommended cleaner, which is sprayed lightly onto the mop before cleaning the floor.

FloorworX recommends this system, because the mop will not leave any oil residue on the otherwise clean floor, unlike traditional mops. Damp, rather than wet, is always the preferred cleaning method.

You can use a clean damp cloth. No polish, no wax and certainly no household chemicals or abrasives.

• Why the coating of your LVPs and LVTs is important
South African flooring company, FloorworX, partnered with American-based company, EarthWerks, to bring versatile ranges to the local market. The team at FloorworX recognised there was a gap in the market for an LVT product that offers both excellent style and hard-wearing durability.

EarthWerks ranges are all coated with “the toughest coating ever: Tuff Shield”. This coating sets the LVP product apart from its competitors thanks to the stability and thickness it gives the planks. To understand what makes Tuff Shield a must-have coating, one must first understand the manufacturing process behind the solution.

The correct mix of ingredients and maintaining a precise thickness for each layer is essential for a stable and balanced product. The thickness of the Wear Layer along with the coating require a proper match of base layers. Having the right balance between these parts solidifies the structural integrity of the final product. Each EarthWerks Luxury Vinyl Plank consists of the following elements:

The Foundation is made up of base layers of PVC that create the structural range of the plank and differ based on overall thickness. The Balancing Layer is the bottom layer of PVC and contains a higher content of PVC resin and/or plasticiser to balance the product with the top layer (Wear Layer) and the multiple base layers. Fibreglass is added between the layers of PVC to promote dimensional stability.

The Wear Layer is what we see and touch once the product is installed and it is measured in millimetres. Superior Wear Layers are critical for performance and for allowing the design layer to come to life. The Tuff Shield Wear Layers offer consistent clarity and thickness, vibrant strength, ultimate wear and moisture resistance.

Tuff Shield is the double coating method (Wear Layer and UV Cured Layer) which adds strength to the urethane protection by improving it with the addition of aluminium oxide powder. The aluminium oxide crystals are suspended in the urethane, which is applied on top of the LVP Wear Layer. This method provides additional resistance to normal wear.

• LVP and LVT FAQs

How do I choose the right LVP or LVT for my home?
Most people decide on the basis of colour, but your best bet is to research the retailer you are going to deal with first and make sure they are members of the South African Wood and Laminate Flooring Association (SAWLFA).

In general, to make sure you get the best out of your floor, choose a 4 or 5mm LVP because it is certainly suitable for long-term use in the home. Look for a good wear layer ranging between 0.25mm and 0.3mm for residential use and 0.5mm for commercial use. A thicker wear-layer will ensure that the floor withstands day-to-day wear-and-tear better, however, the thicker the wear layer, the more pricy the product becomes.

Does this flooring type come with warranties?
Guarantees today are from 10 years up to 30 years, depending on the application, but there is a lot of fine print in-between! Buying cheap LVPs often means that the guarantee isn’t worth the paper it is written on, but you should get a good LVP floor guaranteed for 10-30 years, provided that you select a reputable importer or distributor that can back that guarantee. Remember, a guarantee only covers certain things in LVPs such as manufacturing defects and scratch resistance. It does not guarantee panels pulling apart after installation. In other words, if the installation is done incorrectly, the floor is not maintained properly or is abused, it will disqualify the guarantee.

Is underfloor heating an option with LVTs and LVPs?
Underfloor heating is an option for use with LVP flooring, but there are specific rules for the installation in terms of temperature i.e. a maximum of 27ºC in the screed. Also, make sure that the flooring product itself is suitable for underfloor heating.

How do LVTs and LVTs react to water?
LVP flooring is water resistant and will handle excessive moisture quite well. Should flooding occur in the area installed, the flooring can merely be removed and once the sub-floor has dried sufficiently, can just be re-installed to its original glory.

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