How to Choose Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT)
Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) experienced more sales per square foot in the U.S. than any other type of flooring in 2014. And the trend has continued this year. Part of the attraction is that leading manufacturers have improved replication, producing wood, stone and tile looks that are very realistic while vinyl is easier to clean and maintain than real wood and stone products.
Recently, the bar has been raised again. Several companies now offer products that are completely waterproof, allowing them to be installed in virtually any environment. Self-locking LVT planks also can be installed over most existing floors or subfloors with proper floor prep.
Still, not all of the products are equal, so look at these points when you are selecting a product to be sure it will offer lasting performance.
1. Wear Layer Thickness
As one might expect, the thicker the wear layer, the higher the quality of the floor.
The best products have wear layers that are more than 12 mm, and for commercial use, 20 mm or greater is needed. A thicker wear layer also means more embossing, which creates a richer look and feel.
2. Glue Down vs. Float
Floating the product by clicking it together and not attaching it to the subfloors can be a faster installation as it eliminates the step of applying glue. There are, however, situations where gluing is preferable. When gluing, we recommend adhesives that are proven and contain zero Volatile Organic Compounds. When floating, there are two types of locking systems: Valinge and Unilin, with Unilin offering a drop and lock type of installation that can speed up installation.
3. Do You Need a Completely Waterproof Product?
Several brands, including our Invincible H2O, are now completely waterproof. The companies making these are putting the planks together with a waterproof core made of different combinations of materials like composite wood, sawdust, limestone and PVC. I was skeptical when these products began appearing, so I took samples and soaked them in a bucket of water for weeks. They truly are waterproof.
4. Recycled Content
While I have never experienced it with any of our products, I have heard of complaints about odors emitted from some products that are made with recycled content. U.S. vinyl recycling leaders have done a great job in diverting old vinyl flooring from landfills and recycling it, but there have been reports that other companies, particularly in China, recycle items other than vinyl flooring into vinyl flooring. The U.S. companies that recycle also offer the same products with no recycled content. These specifications are listed on each product, so if you are concerned about this, check before you buy.
5. Phthalates and Indoor Air Quality Certification
There has been growing scrutiny of the use of ortho-phthalate plasticizers in vinyl products. All of the manufacturers whose products we sell have either already eliminated the use of ortho-phthalates, or are phasing them out by the end of 2015. Virtually all of the products we sell also have third-party Indoor Air Quaility Certifications such as FloorScore, GREENGUARD or GREENGUARD Gold, meaning that the finished products have been tested for chemical emissions and found to meet stringent safety limits. We make all of this information available to our customers, so just ask.