Vinyl flooring and linoleum may conjure up memories of your great-aunt’s boring, outdated kitchen floor. Yet these affordable options have made a strong comeback, thanks to new luxurious designs and colors and options for ecofriendly, renewable materials. Now they’re both viable and beautiful alternatives to hardwood, tile and stone.
Still, before you run out and redo your floors, you’ll want to consider a few things to make sure you choose the perfect flooring for your home.
What type of vinyl flooring can I choose from?
Your first decision is whether to buy sheets or tiles. Each type comes with different options, so you’ll want to consider how you’ll use your floor, what your budget is and how you want your new floor to look. Here’s a quick breakdown of your options:
This is a great choice if you’re looking for a patterned design. It typically comes in rolls that are 6 or 12 feet wide that are rolled flat and cut to the shape of your room. Except for small seams where two sheets connect, the sheets present a continuous pattern.
• Inlaid: This style is typically more expensive as well as heavier than the printed option. Since the pattern and color extend through the entire sheet, this option will show less damage if scratched or scuffed. However, if you decide to go with inlaid sheets, you’ll want to have a professional install them since they’re so heavy.
• Printed: With this style a pattern is printed onto a backing material, then coated with layers of clear urethane or vinyl to protect the pattern from wear and tear. This protective layer is called a wear layer and comes in a few different levels.
If you’re looking to create a checkerboard pattern or something similar, this option is your best choice. It typically comes in 12-inch squares that have adhesive on the back.
• Composition: This style is made of many different materials and fillers all mixed in a large vat with the final color. A wear layer, along with additional color and texture, can be added after the tiles are set. An easy way to tell the difference between composition and solid tile is by checking the back of your tiles. If the pattern is different on each side, it’s composition tile.
• Solid: Solid tile is less porous and typically has a photographic-film surface, which means it can match the colors and patterns of stone or wood.
How can I install my vinyl sheet flooring?
If you opt for a sheet style, you’ll have a few options on how you can install your new floor.
• Felt-backed: This is the most common option, and the added felt adds cushioning and strength. To install a felt-backed sheet, you’ll need to coat your entire floor with adhesive.
• Vinyl-backed: This style requires you to glue only the edges. It’s recommended that you hire a professional for installation of this option.
• Modified loose-lay: This option features a fiberglass backing, which provides more stability and strength than vinyl or felt backings. These sheets are installed without adhesives.
Are linoleum flooring and vinyl flooring the same thing?
Technically linoleum and vinyl flooring are not the same thing, though both can come in a tile or sheet style. However, linoleum is created with natural, biodegradable materials, like tree resin, wood, cork, linseed oil and more, plus a jute backing. It also comes in several colorful styles, including marbled varieties called Marmoleum; those require more care and specialized cleaners. A linoleum floor can last up to 20 years longer if taken care of properly, but keep in mind that it tends to show its age over time, too.
What else should I consider when choosing linoleum or vinyl flooring?
• Look for a FloorScore certification. If you choose to install a vinyl floor, look for options that are certified to emit relatively low levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These compounds are linked to respiratory illnesses and have been known to cause headaches and dizziness. As linoleum is made from natural materials, emission of VOCs is not a concern.
• Ask about sunlight protection. As with many materials, vinyl and linoleum can fade or warp when exposed to sunlight. Check with the manufacturer or seller to see if there’s a warranty against fading.
• Check for ample cushioning. It’s a good idea to take a sample piece home and stand on it for at least five minutes to check how much cushioning it provides. Look for options that come with a backing to ensure you’ll have a soft surface to stand and walk on.
• Check the thickness of the wear layer. If you’re looking for a floor that will hold up to scratches, dents and general wear and tear, a thicker wear layer is a good investment. A general guideline is that 1 mil of wear layer will last a family of four for one year, so look for a wear layer that’s 10 to 30 mil.
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