Vinyl Flooring

Resilient flooring refers to flooring materials which have a relatively firm surface, yet characteristically have “give” and “bounce back” to their original surface profile from the weight of objects that compress its surface. It has long been the most popular hard surface flooring in the United States.


Resilient flooring materials are made in various shapes and sizes including both tile and roll form. Common types of resilient flooring include:

Vinyl Composition Tile

Vinyl Tile and Sheet Flooring

Linoleum Tile and Sheet Flooring

Rubber Tile and Sheet Flooring

Cork Tile and Sheet Flooring

Because of its durability, comfort under foot, aesthetic appeal, long lasting beauty, and cost effectiveness, resilient flooring is used in a wide range of commercial and residential applications. The ease of cleaning and removing spills as well as the overall moisture resistance are important reasons why so many homeowners and commercial building owners select resilient flooring.

In residences, resilient flooring is commonly used in kitchens, bathrooms, entryways, family rooms and increasingly in other areas of a house or apartment where rugs are used in conjunction with resilient flooring. In residences occupied by hypersensitive persons, resilient flooring is commonly used because these floors can be easily cleaned and do not tend to trap dust, which when combined with moisture, can produce microbial contamination.


There are several quality features found in vinyl that are important to the consumer. All features may not be found in both sheet and tile goods, which is explained in the following paragraphs. Quality features for vinyl include: “no wax surfaces,” degree of gloss and surface texture, recovery capabilities, whether sunlight protected, underfoot comfort, and the thickness of the top wear layer.

No-wax Surfaces. You can either purchase “no-wax” or “wax” vinyl surfaces. Much of what is sold today is “no-wax.” The “no-wax” surfaces save cleaning time because the purchaser does not have to wax the floor since the floor shines without waxing. One problem with this is that even the best “no-wax” finishes eventually lose their shine and have to be restored by buffing or re-coating the “no-wax” finish. What manufacturers recommend is that the consumer apply a new thin coat of the “no-wax” material over the surface where the shine has disappeared. This re-coating should not be applied over the entire floor or the floor will get a buildup of the material where the “no-wax” surface has not worn down.

Most manufacturers have a patent on their “no-wax” surface. These manufacturers may use the same finish name, but the material may still be different in chemical percentages. That is why it is a good idea to use the manufacturer’s recommended re-coating material for your floor.

Just like the wear layer, the “no-wax” surfaces consist of either clear urethane or vinyl. The urethane finish is harder, more expensive, and usually lasts longer than the vinyl finish. A urethane finish provides a higher gloss and is more popular today because of the gloss.

Degree of Gloss and Surface Texture. You can find vinyl sheets and tile in a high gloss or a low-gloss finish with different surface textures. A high-gloss finish with little surface texture tends to dull in high traffic areas and also shows irregularities in the floor surface. If you are going to install the floor in an area where the finish might be scratched, buy a low-gloss finish with texture. A textured surface with a low-gloss finish does not magnify the scratches like a high-gloss finish with little surface texture.

Recovery Capabilities. Sometimes vinyl will not recover from indentation caused by momentary impact or concentrated loads remaining on the floor for long periods of time. There are recommended load limit values available from the manufacturer to aid you in the selection of vinyl and the proper sized floor protectors for furniture and appliances. These floor protectors prevent permanent indentation from long-period loads. Check indentation caused by momentary impact by pushing into the vinyl sample with the object. If the vinyl recovers to its original surface, it should recover from various objects laid on your floor.

Sunlight Protected. Almost all flooring shows some damage when exposed to direct sunlight. Exposure to strong sunlight may cause fading, blistering, and brittleness. Neutral colors such as grays and tans offer the best resistance to fading. Pastels, especially yellows, reds, and pinks, give the poorest performance in retaining color. Ask if there is a warranty against fading from sunlight.

Underfoot Comfort. The amount of cushioning is very important in floor areas where prolonged walking or standing takes place. A cushiony backing is more comfortable to walk or stand on for long periods of time than a non-cushioned vinyl.

Solid and composition tiles do not have a cushion backing because the cushion comes within the thickness of the tiles. Test the underfoot comfort by laying the vinyl material on a hard surface and stand on the vinyl for at least 5 minutes. Does it feel too hard?

The printed vinyl and solid vinyl sheets may have a fiberglass backing, a backing consisting of a mixture of various materials, or a foam cushion backing. The fiberglass has a good non-tear quality and adheres to the floor quite well. The foam cushioning provides a soft surface to stand on and comes in various thicknesses.

Thickness of Wear Layer. The key to a long-wearing vinyl is the thickness of the wear layer. There are some thin wear layers that can be easily dented or gouged and worn through in high traffic areas. The thicker the wear layer, the longer the flooring will not show damage. The wear layer should be at least 10 mils thick to provide good durability. Ten mils is the minimum FHA requirement. The thickest wear layer is around 30 mils. The thicker the wear layer, the more expensive the vinyl. Manufacturers indicate that 1 mil of wear layer will last a family of four one year. To find out the thickness of the wear layer, ask the sales clerk if you could see the specification sheet or the manufacturer’s catalog

Quality Checklist

After each question, answer with a yes* or no.

1. If purchasing tile, did you check to see if it is solid or vinyl composition?

2. Is the surface “no-wax,” which makes it easy to maintain?

3. Is the surface dull or textured to minimize visible scratches?

4. How well does the floor recover from indentation?

5. Is there a warranty against fading from sunlight?

6. Did you ask for a copy of the manufacturer’s specification sheet to check the thickness

of the wear layer?

7. Did you figure how much vinyl will be required to cover your floor?

8. Did you check the amount of cushioning by standing on the vinyl over a hard surface?

9. Did you make sure that your subfloor is in the proper condition?

10. Did you check to make sure that you are going to use the proper adhesive for your

particular conditions and materials?

11. Did you read all the labels?

12. Did you read the warranty?

13. Did you get a copy of the warranty?

* If you answered all these questions with a yes, you can be assured of getting a high quality vinyl flooring..


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