Everything you need to know about resilient flooring such as vnyl LVTs, cork, rubber and linoleum.
In a nutshell, resilient floors all exhibit buoyant characteristics and as such, return to their original shape extremely quickly. It’s what sets them apart and makes them such a desirable flooring option. But it would most certainly be an over simplification to assume this is the only trait that these flooring options share. In fact, all resilient floors, be it vinyl, luxury vinyl tiles/planks, linoleum, rubber and cork floors all possess several unique properties that not only add to their performance, but also their aesthetic qualities.
Here we summarise what you need to know about each option. We also encourage you to use it as a quick guide for future reference.
Vinyl floorcoverings are produced in both tile and roll (sheet) form and come in a variety of colours, patterns and styles. The primary ingredient of all vinyl flooring is polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and it is available in a number of different grades. There are general characteristics that separate the broad vinyl classification into sub-classes, and are determined by the method of manufacture and the areas of intended use. One basic differentiating factor for solid vinyl flooring products is the quantity of PVC used during the manufacturing process.
• Vinyl Composite Tiles (VCTs)
VCTs are regarded as being semi-flexible in that they feel stiffer than the more flexible vinyl sheeting products. VCTs typically contain 10-15% PVC polymer, whereas vinyl sheeting products can comprise 30-40%,depending on the nature of application. VCTs are always manufactured as tiles, whereas sheeting products can be offered in either roll or tile form.
• Vinyl Sheeting
Vinyl sheet flooring can be manufactured using a wide variety of different methods, depending on the desired final appearance and application. These range from:
– Solid flooring often incorporating multiple base colours with or without additional marbling accents, the colour and patterning is continuous throughout the thickness of the product.
– They are manufactured in a single-pass process and utilises variations of blending techniques and pigmentation to offer vibrancy and depth of colour.
– Solid flooring containing two or more layers that can be reinforcing or decorative in nature. One of the layers is often printed and in this case the product will then include a clear wear layer on top.
– The methods to produce these products are more complex and can involve a combination of multiple processes yielding an extremely wide variety of patterns and designs.
– They can be formulated to provide excellent acoustic performance. Other types are produced with features incorporated in the surface layer that improve grip in order to maximise pedestrian safety.
One or more of the lower layers is foamed to provide a soft feel underfoot. These products also include a printed surface that is protected by a clear wear layer.
Vinyl sheeting products, whether homogeneous, heterogeneous or cushioned, can be welded together after installation to provide a continuous floor surface.
LUXURY VINYL TILES/PLANKS
What continues to make these floor types so popular in the industry is that you can create the look and feel of almost any hardwood floor at a competitive price while still being assured of a high performing, durable and easy to maintain floor.
LVTs 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 to the point where even experts find it difficult to determine whether it’s the real wood, stone, ceramic or any other possible effects.
They offer an excellent selection of sizes and shapes, with larger sizes growing in popularity. They also enable a client to further customise their flooring projects, not only by mixing and matching sizes, but also their unique colour needs and requests.
Because there are multi-layers of vinyl in LVT flooring as well as a resilient backing as the foundation, LVTs have excellent resilience underfoot, making it easier to stand for long periods of time. This flooring solution also tends to be warmer underfoot compared to other floor types.
From an aesthetic point of view, as already noted, the sky is the limit, and with 3D and HD technology, not only does the end product look like the real deal, it also feels like it too. These floors are therefore any designer’s dream, literally acting as a blank canvas for what can be done and achieved.
Cork is an impermeable material, harvested for commercial and residential use from the Cork Oak, which is endemic to southwest Europe and northwest Africa. Because of its permeability, buoyancy, elasticity and fire resistance, cork is used in a variety of products.
Once the Cork Oak trees are about 25 years old, the bark of the tree is traditionally stripped from the trunk every nine years, with the first two harvests generally producing lower quality cork. Harvesting does not harm the tree and a new layer of cork grows back, making it a renewable source.
As a flooring medium, cork is comfortable, silent, pleasant to the touch and environmentally friendly. It is a natural sound and thermal insulator and it is water-resistant and hardwearing. It is an ideal surface for people with allergies as it is antimicrobial and less likely to be affected by mould or mildew.
Cork provides a cushioned surface ensuring it is soft underfoot, and also has an antistatic surface and a long lifespan. It can be easily repaired if it gets damaged.
Rubber flooring is robust and durable and has long been used in very high-traffic and industrial applications. Due to its composition, it is easy to maintain, requires minimal chemical products for maintenance and isn’t prone to showing wear and tear or scuff marks.
The most traditional and best-known rubber flooring is the rubber studded tile. These come in a variety of thicknesses, starting at 2.7mm and going up to 4mm. When these tiles are installed, the manufacturer’s instructions should always be followed and installers should make a point of using the correct adhesive. Some manufacturers also produce a sheet version, with a smooth or non-stud surface.
Both products offer a wide selection of colours, although greys and blacks have proven to be the most popular. Bright, primary colours are useful for creative designs and to demarcate specific areas.
An alternative flooring to the above is recycled rubber. This is a recycled granular product which is generally made from old vehicle tyres and other rubber products such as the soles of running shoes. This product is primarily marketed for the sport, health and fitness industries as it is non-slip, resilient and durable.
Apart from excellent acoustic and slip-resistant properties, this type of rubber floor is extremely tough and offers great design opportunities for branding and educational content on the floor.
Linoleum is a floorcovering made from materials such as solidified linseed oil, pine rosin, ground cork dust, wood flour and mineral fillers such as calcium carbonate, most commonly on a burlap or canvas backing. Pigments are often added to the materials.
As it is composed of organic materials and is purportedly non-allergenic in nature, high-quality linoleum is used in several places, especially in non-allergenic homes, hospitals and healthcare facilities. In addition, linoleum tiles can be manufactured to create numerous designs and can be inlaid with various colours to form patterns reflecting the shape and use of a room.
Linoleum coverings are offered using two differing variations of surface coatings:
o Linoleum with a PU coating cured using ultraviolet lights or with so-called PUR finish or hard coating where the polyurethane has been reinforced by applying a higher-weight, top-quality polyurethane that has been UV-cured and cross-linked.
o Linoleum with a water-based polyacrylate coating. Polyacrylate plastics are applied to the covering in a watered-down dispersion coating. After the water has evaporated, the dispersing plastic forms a thick layer with the aid of film-building agents.
Known for its vivid, saturated colours, linoleum flooring is available in traditional marbled patterns, solid colours, contemporary flecked designs or graphic patterns. It is also available in softer tones to highlight its organic properties. One of linoleums most distinctive qualities is that the entire thickness of the wear layer (everything except the backing) is homogeneous. This means that the colour and pattern extends throughout the entire floor surface.