Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVTs) is one of the fastest growing market segments in the flooring industry and the number of flooring companies offering LVT product lines continues to rise. This market segment is poised for further growth thanks to the number of manufacturers investing in technology and new production methods.

LVT’s affordability, versatility, ease of maintenance and performance characteristics makes it an easy choice for many clients. Product advancement also means it’s a great solution for commercial segments such as corporate, hospitality, retail, health care and education.

Architects and designers have plenty of design freedom with LVTs thanks to the variety of shapes, sizes and options available. For customers, this flooring solution translates their design visions with minimal maintenance.

Wood Look LVTs
Not all LVT products are alike though. There are different types of vinyl flooring for clients who want a wood look: glue down plank and click floating floor systems. With these tiles, the “real wood” looks are printed onto the vinyl décor before it is then furnished with wear layers and UV protection. The panels are available in differing forms and thicknesses according to the clients required use/application of the product, i.e. commercial or residential.

The type of LVT that you specify will depend on the preferences of the client, the location of the flooring, as well as the type of traffic and usage the flooring will receive, but more discerning clients are generally willing to pay for this type of flooring. As with all types of flooring there are disadvantages, however, the advantages far outweigh these.

Ceramics, granite, and everything in between
Manufacturers are going above and beyond to develop products that emulate natural materials in the most realistic way possible. Inspiration is drawn from stone quarries in Tuscany, reclaimed wood, aged brick and everything in between to create the most beautiful floors.

Consider the thickness of the flooring
LVTs are available in thicknesses ranging from 1.5mm to 10mm, with click LVT normally starting from 4.00mm and glue down vinyl from 1.5 to 3.00mm. When specifying LVTs, ask the following questions to determine the tiles you choose:
• Where will the flooring be installed?
• How much foot traffic will the flooring be exposed to?
• What type of subfloor is installed?
• What is the condition of the current subfloor?
*Note: Mostly LVTs require a perfectly level, smooth and dry substrate. Some click systems may allow a bit more leeway.

It’s important to note that thicker tiles aren’t necessarily more durable than thinner tiles. The durability of the wear layer of the LVTs will also depend on the protective wear layer/overlay on top of the decorative tile. Many manufacturers are currently using urethane-based layers to protect the floors. The PUR coating on the tiles will impact the ease of maintenance and the composition of the vinyl material can affect sound transfer, reaction to changes in the temperature and dimensional stability.

Specifiers and retailers need to research LVT collections thoroughly to make sure they know what they are paying for. There are different qualities of protective finishes, wear layers, the vinyl used in the product (recycled/part recycled or virgin) and so forth. Keep in mind that you generally get what you pay for in terms of performance.

If you are specifying floors for a project that is looking to achieve green ratings or energy efficiency ratings, then you will also need to specify products that have been certified for indoor air quality, have no volatile organic compounds and recyclable components, for example.

Specialised tip: Working directly with the manufacturer will give you more transparency and control with regards to warranty support and certification accuracy.

Thanks and acknowledgement are given to www.finfloor.co.za, www.polyflor.co.za, www.traviata.co.za, www.sawlfa.co.za, www.bestlaminate.com, www.familyhandyman.com and www.floortrendsmag.com for some of the information contained in this article.

If you enjoyed this article please join the discussion on http://www.facebook.com/buildinganddecor, http://www.twitter.com/buildingdecor and https://www.linkedin.com/showcase/10172797/ and sign up for our newsletter: http://www.buildinganddecor.co.za/register/.