Luxury vinyl flooring is considered one of the most user-friendly types of flooring on the market today. These floors are easy to maintain and come in a vast array of styles. While planks are the most popular format, LVT or luxury vinyl tile is beginning to catch up as homeowners look for unique patterns and colors. Whether you’re considering using LVT in your home or are having some issues, here are the most common problems people experience with luxury vinyl tile.
The Difference between Luxury and Traditional Vinyl Flooring
Luxury vinyl flooring isn’t new, but before it came around consumers used sheet vinyl flooring and traditional vinyl planks. Both of these products are still being sold and installed today, although they’ve largely been surpassed by luxury vinyl for a variety of reasons.
Luxury vinyl flooring is thicker than classic styles, which provides more dimensional stability. Whereas older types of vinyl needed to be glued to the subfloor with a special adhesive, that’s not required for new click-lock luxury vinyl tiles. All styles of vinyl will have a wear layer, but luxury vinyl has a higher definition image layer.
LVT and LVP are thicker with multiple layers including a core. Depending on the class of luxury vinyl, that core can be flexible or rigid which falls into the engineered vinyl category. SPC and WPC vinyl flooring still have the same amount of layers as regular luxury vinyl, but SPC has a very rigid core while WPC is firm, yet comfy.
Luxury Vinyl Tile Installation Problems
One of the most common problems homeowners face with luxury vinyl tile comes from the installation itself. Modern click-lock LVT is easy to install, but the size of the tiles and subfloor can provide challenges to homeowners and contractors alike.
Luxury vinyl planks can be anywhere from 42” to over 60” in length with 46” being the general average. By comparison, luxury vinyl tiles are sized differently at 12” x 24” or larger. They are shorter and can’t span the same length on the subfloor, which could lead to peaking and other problems with luxury vinyl tile.
The subfloor needs to be level within each manufacturer’s specifications. Uneven surfaces could prevent click-lock mechanisms from closing tightly, which could affect the warranty or the subfloor if it’s installed in the bathroom or kitchen. Waterproof and water-resistant vinyl only lives up to its namesake when properly installed.
While thinner vinyl flooring can solve some of these issues and provide a little more flexibility, having a subfloor free of imperfections is critical. Small cracks or gaps can actually telegraph through the material over time, which leads to another issue with LVT if you plan to repair it.
Vinyl Flooring Repair and Restoration
While a poor installation can cause problems that can usually be fixed, the same isn’t necessarily true for vinyl flooring that needs to be repaired. Because of the way this type of flooring is produced, once the damage gets past the wear layer, you have a significant issue on your hands.
If the area is covered with floating flooring or vinyl tiles with a click-lock system, repairs are fairly simple. You can remove the baseboard near that area and take apart the flooring until you access the damaged plank. While not ideal, you can replace any damaged board this way as long as you have spares to work with.
That’s why we always recommend buying an extra box of flooring; especially considering how frequently brands change colors and designs. What’s popular and in stock when you buy your vinyl flooring may be impossible to match a few years later, which can make repairs difficult. There are touch-up kits for light scuffs and scratches, but vinyl in all forms is harder to repair than hardwood flooring or laminate.
Removing Luxury Vinyl Tile
The type of floor covering that goes down in a home may eventually need to come up, which can be an issue with certain types of vinyl flooring. Luxury vinyl is a type of flooring that is resilient and built to last for decades when properly cared for. It’s not impervious to damage, however, and when the protective top layer begins to break down, the flooring is nearing the end of its days.
If the luxury vinyl tiles used are considered floating flooring, there’s nothing to worry about. These tiles can be unlocked once the baseboard and any trim have been removed which makes uninstalling LVT a breeze. If the tiles are glued to the subfloor with an adhesive, things are quite as simple as you’ll need a number of tools to remove the tiles along with leftover adhesive.
Luxury vinyl tile may be designed to look like wood or stone, but it is not the real thing. This synthetic flooring doesn’t really have a significant impact on the resale value of your home, and older or budget LVT could actually have an adverse effect.
Synthetic flooring like carpet and vinyl are engineered to be resistant to a variety of things, but sunlight can cause even the best LVT to fade over time. Prolonged UV exposure in a room or outdoors will generally make certain types of flooring to fade, including all forms of vinyl.
A high-quality wear layer with UV resistance helps, but it’s important to consider sunlight and furniture placement beforehand. Laminate and vinyl can be affected by certain types of chemicals as well. That means you’ll still need to be wary of rubber mats and other things that sit directly on the flooring for long periods.
Volatile Organic Compounds
Another problem with luxury vinyl tile is related to its construction and the fact its synthetic are VOCs. These are volatile organic compounds, and something you’re probably familiar with even if you have never heard the term mentioned before.
VOCs are produced naturally but also from things like cigarette smoke, exhaust, aerosols, and synthetic products like flooring. Plastic chairs or tables on a deck are in the open air, but indoors with windows shut, exposure levels are higher. That was a major problem with vinyl and laminate produced several decades ago, but something consumers should still be wary of today.
Flooring that produces excess VOCs can lead to respiratory issues and serious problems for people with asthma or preexisting medical conditions. To ensure LVT flooring is safe to use indoors, you’ll need to look for flooring that carries the FloorScore certification. This ensures vinyl flooring meets the standards for safe indoor air quality and should be listed directly on the box or the company’s website.
Construction, repair, and installation may be problems with luxury vinyl tile, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a product that should be on your shopping list. LVT and LVP are two of the most popular flooring styles for a reason. To avoid any of the issues we’ve covered, make sure you choose a high-quality product from one of the top brands, and don’t hesitate to rely on a professional if you’re unsure about installation.
Q: How long will luxury vinyl tiles last?
A: That depends on the quality and the warranty. We found that most companies offer warranties ranging from 30 years to a limited lifetime guarantee.
Q: Do the same problems with luxury vinyl tile affect luxury vinyl planks?
A: Yes. They are both constructed in the same fashion, so luxury vinyl tiles are essentially just shorter and wider versions of LVP.
Q: Is it difficult to install groutable luxury vinyl tiles?
A: It depends on how comfortable you are working with grout, but we feel it’s something any homeowner can do as long as the tile has been installed correctly beforehand.
Q: What problems should I expect from cleaning LVT?
A: luxury vinyl tiles and planks are easy to clean with a broom, dust mop, or the right type of vacuum cleaner. They can also be spray mopped or wet-mopped if waterproof.