LVTs, LVPs: Technologies & Trends

by Tania Wannenburg
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The latest trends and technologies that affect resilient floors and Luxury Vinyl Tiles/Planks.

As technology continues to permeate the flooring industry, one can see how it has enabled the creation of floors that are unique and innovative. The floor types that are gaining substantial momentum in this regard are Resilients, Luxury Vinyl Tiles and Luxury Vinyl Planks.

Even though LVTs/LVPs are regarded as a type of resilient floor, their massive growth and popularity has placed them in a category of their own. The words “Tiles” and “Planks” are often used interchangeably when discussing Luxury Vinyl products, however, they are supplied in various shapes and sizes, with a wood plank being longer and more rectangular, while the tiles are typically square or rectangular in shapes. Changing design trends play a big role in the specification of different sizes and shapes, not to mention the types of colours selected, as each creates a different aesthetic look and feel.

As already noted, technology, along with, fashion, lifestyle and generation differences influence trends that have emerged and will continue to emerge as far as these types of floors are concerned. This places them in good stead to continue growing in popularity, as the market shows once again that these floor types will most likely evolve well into the future.

FLOORS in Africa is excited to share these technologies and trends with our readers, some of which have only just been revealed.

LVTs and LVPs

Through the introduction and development of high definition (HD) technology, laser engraving and viscosity improvements, manufacturers are now able to produce realistic-looking images of hardwood, stone and tiles to meet the consumers’ needs. However, even though this array of high definition products is available, one still requires a talented design team to take something from concept to reality, and to make a scan of a real product and try to translate it into LVT. This requires a significant amount of skill and an in-depth artistic process.

3D realism through HD printing doesn’t stop at aesthetics, i.e. it’s not just about the colour and design, it also includes the size, shape, gloss, character and embossed surface created for LVT. This is why manufacturers are driven to go one step further by creating products that not only visually emulate their real-life inspirations, but the feel of them as well.

The goal is to create a visual and tactile experience, and the manufacturers are able to bring this realistic experience to these materials by mirroring the 3D surface texture of the wood grain or stone print design with each other.

Whether it is knots or hand-scraped or wire-brushed textures, today’s printing and embossing technologies can create both the look and feel of woods and stones. The ability to align the emboss texture with the print of the design (referred to as embossed-in-register or EIR) has enabled the formation of visuals that are almost indistinguishable from the real thing.

While the common opinion in the past has been that purchasing LVT is a trade-down, the combination of these technological advancements has slowly changed this mindset to the point where the industry is viewing it as a trade-up compared to its natural counterpart.

LVTs and LVPs have numerous benefits for the commercial sector, which add to their growing popularity among specifiers and interior designers/decorators. Not only are they hygienic but, if installed properly, can last up to 25 years. They are also soft underfoot, warm in winter and their protective polyurethane coating aids in preventing dirt and stains. In addition, they have excellent acoustic and insulation properties, plus offer water resistance, castor-wear and furniture-leg resistance. Luxury Vinyls are available in different dye matches and different plank widths in one box, while wide and long planks, which are very popular, can be mixed and matched to create a very specific look.

The Top 250 Design Survey 2015 revealed that, while the wood look in vinyl flooring has been welcomed throughout the commercial market, retail and hospitality, designers are clamouring for the second year in a row for something different. The study reveals they are not interested in faux looks, even though several of them do acknowledge their utility. However, most of them want abstracts and bolder colours and designs in general.

As one designer notes: “There is nothing new besides the ‘stone’ look or the 4 000 wood tones that now exist. Patterns and textures are needed.” However, in terms of flooring categories, designers in 2014 were still most impressed with luxury vinyl. The product is proving to be ideal in several settings, and the visuals are so advanced and sophisticated that designers are able to specify convincing wood and stone tiles at a fraction of the cost of the real thing.

However, at the same time, designers also had strong opinions regarding LVTs, once again focusing on the saturation of the wood looks, the lack of variety and the need for abstract, non-faux design. According to this survey, LVTs did top the HOT Products list, and it seems as though the torch has been passed to LVTs.

Acknowledgement and thanks are given to the following for the information contained in this article: www.floortrendsmag.com; www.domotex.de; and www.floordaily.net (The Top 250 Design Survey 2014)

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