Luxury Vinyl Tile
If you’ve been shopping around for flooring recently, you’ve probably heard about luxury vinyl tile, and you may be wondering if it really is a quality flooring product.
Luxury vinyl tile (called LVT for short) is one of the fastest-growing flooring categories in today’s market. But surprisingly, very few consumers know much about this innovative alternative to natural stone, woods, and ceramic tile. So we’ve put together some information to help you decide if luxury vinyl tile is right for your flooring needs.
Natural Appearances to Match Any Decorating Style
One of the main reasons LVT is gaining popularity is that it does such a good job at recreating the high-end look and textures of popular luxury flooring, including ceramic tiles, limestone, marble, slate, parquet, travertine, and hardwood. In fact, many of the high-quality LVT products on the market today do such an impressive job at capturing the colors, textures, and grains of the natural stones and woods they replicate, they are practically indistinguishable from the real thing.
Rich-Looking Plank and Tile Designs
With LVT, the design options are abundant. Most tiles include beveled edges and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Wood planks can be three to four feet long, and tiles are available in very large squares. Tiles can be laid with grout, for a more authentic stone or tile look, or without grout for a sleeker, seamless look. Wood looks include rich colors, finishes, and textures, such as handscraping, for more realism. Many LVT manufacturers also offer design strips and borders for even more customization in creating truly unique designer looks.
What Exactly Is Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT)?
To produce these authentic looks, LVT (also referred to as luxury vinyl planks), uses an advanced 3D imaging technology in which the manufacturer takes a photograph of the natural materials being replicated and transfers these images directly to the tile. Each tile is then uniquely embossed to match the appropriate texture. The final product, which is approximately 1/8 inch thick, is made of several layers, including a protective top layer (called the wear or mil layer) and often a urethane layer for added durability.
Essentially, luxury vinyl tiles and planks combine the best of design and technology to create realistic-looking products that are much easier to maintain and often much less expensive than the natural materials they replicate. Here are just a few more of the benefits of LVT.
Looking for flooring that will hold up in high-traffic areas? Concerned about possible damage from pets or young children? LVT is one of the most resilient flooring options available. The specialized wear layer makes these tiles exceptionally resistant to scratches, scuffs, indentations, and stains. Unlike many natural surfaces, LVT flooring won’t chip, warp, or yellow. It is also naturally water-resistant, making it a great option for kitchens and bathrooms. Another advantage of using LVT in bathrooms is that it is much softer and warmer under bare feet than regular tile and stone.
Luxury vinyl tile’s durability and dimensional stability make it a perfect choice for high-use rooms in the home. In fact, LVT has long been used in commercial applications for this very reason. Some high-end LVT collections designed for commercial use include a slip-resistant layer – combining style and safety.
High-quality LVT products may have mil layers as high as 40 mil. But commonly, tiles with wear layers of 20 mil or more are recommended for high-use areas in the home, as well as for commercial applications. Anything less than 20 mil should be considered for use in light-traffic areas only.
Many top vinyl flooring manufactures are so confident in their products’ durability that they back their LVT flooring with residential and commercial warranties of up to 20 years.
Perhaps one of the biggest perks – LVT is easy to maintain. To keep it looking great, just damp mop it weekly with water and a pH neutral cleaner. Design strips generally offer the same stain resistance as the tiles and won’t discolor like grout can.
More Installation Options
LVT floors can be glued down or floated. And because LVT is typically thinner than hardwood planks, stone, or ceramic tiles, it can be installed over most existing flooring – a great advantage for use in remodeling projects. It’s important to install LVT over flat, dry surfaces so that no water seepage occurs beneath the floor.
While installation can be relatively easy, especially for experienced DIYers, professional installations are recommended, particularly for custom designs. Also keep in mind that many LVT manufacturers will require professional installations to validate their warranties.
Endless Design Possibilities
There’s no doubt that when it comes to appearance, quality, durability, and style, luxury vinyl tile is truly luxury underfoot. And with more realistic-looking options than ever before, the design possibilities of LVT are limited only by your imagination.