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If you’re in the market for new flooring, you know that the options can be exhausting. There are so many choices in styles, textures, and materials to consider. One great option to add to your list is luxury vinyl tile, or LVT. LVT has the unique ability to combine the look of most flooring materials with hearty, durable, long-lasting vinyl tile. This isn’t the vinyl of your childhood; it’s vinyl that can be cut and laid to mimic ceramic tile, stone, or wood, with the added benefit of water and damage resistance.
Currently, my family is in the market for a new home. It’s our first, but we learned early on in our house tours that flooring mattered a lot to us. The composition, the color, the pattern—it all ended up being a deciding factor in whether we wanted a particular house.
You may love carpeting and wood flooring—they are beautiful, after all, and everyone has their own pros and cons when choosing between options. My own family figured out a few things that had us searching for something different:
- We don’t mix well with carpet, and we spill things. Often.
- Our current wood flooring is too soft and very easily damaged by water, scratches, and general wear.
- We don’t want to budget for the level of maintenance that natural flooring needs.
Then, a few weeks ago, we visited a house that had luxury vinyl tile and luxury vinyl plank (LVP) throughout. We fell in love instantly with the varied and slight blue hues on the long planking, and with the kitchen that had the same flooring pattern in a different color. And there it was, our “Aha!” moment:
- LVT today looks just like true wood and stone.
- It is easy to pull a whole house style together using the different colors and patterns available in LVT.
- LVT creates a polished look and a high-end aesthetic that would cost far too much for us at this time in our lives.
- This new (to us) material met all of our wants, and with two children and a puppy running around, it has all the wear resistance we need.
If you’re actively looking for a new flooring option like I am, or if you’re ready for a change, contact a flooring professional to discuss your style and material options. By taking measurements of your rooms and looking at the slope and composition of your floor, a pro can tell you which of your favorites will work best for you and your lifestyle. Keep reading to see why LVT is a top-choice flooring option.
Luxury Vinyl Tile Explained
LVT is a very interesting material and a great option for my family because of its lifespan and low maintenance requirements. LVT is a hard flooring composed of layers, the top two being a wear layer mainly made of clear PVC and an aluminum oxide layer that covers it all, protecting the surface and texture of the tile.
The wear layer of LVT is important, so make sure when choosing a material to note the thickness. LVT thickness varies from around 6-10 millimeters for residential usage to about 30 millimeters for heavy commercial buildings. That wear layer is what will allow the LVT to last through the years, protecting the vinyl image layer and preventing deep gouges or tears.
The vinyl image layer is where the visual aesthetic comes from. There are many choices in images or colors, and with the clear coat on top adding depth, the tiles become incredibly accurate replicas of natural and created materials, including:
- Ceramic tile
- Natural stone
- Animal print
As with most other flooring materials, LVT can be cut and laid even in complicated patterns like herringbone, and it comes in many surprising color options. You can get LVT in tiles or long planks (LVP), and you can even have it deeply embossed or textured to further prevent slipping or to enhance the floor design.
Vinyl in Flooring Choices
All vinyl is not made the same. Admittedly, the word brings to mind my home growing up and the bright red vinyl kitchen floor. I remember it being replaced by linoleum, bright yellow flowers, stuck right over the old flooring. While the design options in vinyl have vastly improved over the years with almost any imaginable design available, the main drawback is the material’s non-resistance to gouging, denting, warping, and scuffing.
LVT is a great option in that the vinyl can be made in almost any print, and the added layers of protection take the abuse over the years. The vinyl print layer itself will resist fading, and it can’t be damaged. LVT is also cost effective, coming in at a fraction of the price of wood and stone. Factoring in the cost of maintenance, natural materials must be regularly polished and refinished. Stains in wood or stone can be a costly fix, while LVT resists staining and moisture.
If you are looking to do some quick updates to your home without breaking the bank, LVT is a relatively inexpensive way to update your home and create a bright and finished look.
LVT Installation and Maintenance
LVT and LVP can be easily installed just like tile or wood planks, and it allows for grouting, which further enhances the “real” look of LVT. It is a very sturdy and long-lasting material, and it requires very little maintenance over the years.
The LVT installation process
Once you have chosen a flooring professional to work with and have chosen your LVT, the installation process can begin. It is a renovation project, so be prepared to leave the rooms alone until your flooring pro tells you it’s safe to walk on the floors again. Generally, the flooring company will:
- Remove old flooring material
- Fill in any subfloor gaps, seams, and low spots
- Cut doors and base trim, if necessary, to allow the LVT to be installed right below the trim
- Install vinyl or plywood underlayment, if necessary depending on the condition of your subfloor
- Mark the starting tile position on the floor
- Lay the tile using adhesive, tile glue, or a “click lock” method
- Set the LVT using a roller
Maintaining your new LVT flooring
LVT is an amazing flooring material in terms of cleaning and maintaining, compared to its natural counterparts. As long as you follow the same guidelines as any other hard flooring surface, your LVT will last for many years and retain the original look that you chose:
- Sweep or vacuum every day
- Use a gentle cleaner specifically for LVT
- Use only very little water
- Clean up any spills as quickly as you can
- Any deep scratches or scuffs can be hidden with a vinyl floor finish or sealer
- If necessary, the damaged or scratched tile can be replaced individually
Is LVT the Right Hard Surface Flooring Choice For You?
While much of flooring is about the longevity of the material, the richness, color, tone, and pattern also play a huge part. If you have decided on hard surface flooring, definitely talk to a professional flooring contractor. They can bring out samples to help you better visualize the final product, and some even offer a 3-D rendering of remodeling choices. At the very least, a professional can let you know what your options are.
LVT is a top contender in the flooring world, more so as new options become available for patterns and colors. LVT even comes in patterns that mimic fabrics, and that is definitely a unique look I haven’t seen before in a home. I saw a burlap version in a pale blue, and it was breathtaking. You may want true wood, stone, or tile, and that’s fine. Just make sure you have a professional install your flooring—it’s a big cost no matter what material you choose. Warranties depend on correct installation and maintenance, so be sure to get all the warranty information when the installation is done.
If moisture, heavy foot traffic, or lots of little messes have you in search for new flooring, LVT may be the perfect choice for you. Take a look at the available options in LVT and LVP, and you may be just as excited as I am to try out a new product. It is beautiful, strong, long-lasting, and versatile, and it is definitely going into my new home.
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