Luxury vinyl tile flooring is a top choice when it comes to flooring solutions today, and it’s clear why the commercial market trends toward this multi-use flooring solution. Whether you are looking to install flooring in a new construction application, or redesigning a current space, LVT is the most logical choice for your commercial project, that is, if you’re looking for a hard surface that will last.
Before we discuss how long luxury vinyl tile flooring lasts, let’s break down the construction of luxury vinyl tile. Generally speaking, luxury vinyl tile is a multi-layered, non-porous material that is comprised of the following layers:
- Vinyl Backing Stabilization Layer: A vinyl base layer provides dimensional stability and controls how LVT expands and contracts with temperature changes. This layer is also a source of support and stability.
- HD Design Print Layer: The printed film layer is the visual of the tile or plank. From the look of stone and wood to abstract designs, this layer offers limitless design options.
- Clear Design Protection Layer or Wear Layer: A clear design protection layer is resistant to foot traffic, scratches and scuffs contributing to the longevity of a flooring.
- Polyurethane Coating: A polyurethane finish adds a layer of durability to LVT floors. This final layer protects against microbes, scuffs, and other damage that can shorten your floor’s lifespan or detract from its appearance. Coatings will often vary by collection and manufacturers. For example, at TAJ, we offer a wide selection of LVT products with Protech Plus, an extra ceramic bead infused UV cured coating with antimicrobial technology.
Each component listed above is an important factor for the longevity of LVT flooring, but these are not the deciding factor. The lifespan of LVT is based on several additional factors beyond the general construction of the flooring and may include:
- Selecting the right type of LVT flooring construction for your project based on overall product thickness and wear layer
- Flooring preparation and installation procedures
- After installation care and maintenance
Let’s break it down a bit more.
Selecting the right product thickness and wear layer
The overall thickness of your LVT flooring plays a major role in the lifespan of the product. LVT is available in various thicknesses from 2mm to 5mm and greater. Thinner products like a 2mm thickness are generally considered for residential and multi-family use, or for light commercial areas that see minimal foot and rolling traffic. For a more standard commercial application, 3mm products are sought as the most universal thickness for everyday commercial or high traffic areas. 5mm products offer similar durability as 3mm products and tend to offer acoustic benefits and comfort underfoot.
With product thickness comes wear layer thickness and coatings
With most commercial flooring options, whether luxury vinyl tile or resilient sheet, a product’s overall thickness typically goes hand-in-hand with its wear layer thickness. As defined above, the wear layer is a clear design protection layer that is resistant to foot traffic and rolling loads. In addition to the wear layer is its coating. While coatings vary by manufacturer or by product, the coating is what protects the wear layer, and is the part of the flooring that resists scratches and scuffs.
For most commercial luxury vinyl products that are a 2mm thickness, the wear layer thickness is typically 10-12 mil. For 3mm and 5mm products, the wear layer generally runs from 20 to 25 mil with some specific requests for a customized 40 mil thickness for extreme high and rolling traffic spaces.
*Note, that while having a thicker wear layer seems like the obvious solution for having a highly durable flooring, a standard 20 mil wear layer is often suitable for most commercial spaces. Remember, that the thicker the wear layer (40 mil and above) the less clarity of the design since it protects the film design beneath it.
So, how long does luxury vinyl flooring last?
The lifespan of luxury vinyl tile flooring is based on several factors. As mentioned above, the construction and selection of the product for the appropriate application will contribute greatly to its longevity, and with the proper installation and maintenance techniques, luxury vinyl tile flooring is designed to last anywhere from 10 to 25 years and beyond in varying commercial applications. The following provides a general guide of what you may expect for warranty terms based on a product’s construction, though warranty will vary among manufacturers:
Still, the actual lifespan is contingent on several factors, like the amount of foot traffic it receives on a daily basis, or any environmental conditions related to a particular industry. For example, a multi-family apartment unit may require only a 2mm or 3mm product since the foot traffic of that particular space is only of those living within the unit. Though for a multi-family building and its hallways or common spaces, at least a 3mm product is required since all tenants walk through the space. Below is a general guide to consider*:
Certain industries and applications may require flooring that meets particular criteria such as high critical areas in hospitals or greater cushion underneath in assisted living spaces. We recommend consulting with your sales representative to confirm the construction necessary for your application.
In addition, product selection should not overlook the preparation, installation, and maintenance of the entire floor system. For more information and guidance, check out our blog post, The Pre-Installation Checklist for LVT Flooring Installations.
Caring for your LVT
If you have taken into account the overall product and wear layer thickness of your flooring and its intended end-use and traffic patterns, then LVT is one of the lowest maintenance commercial flooring products available today. While it is important to review your manufacturer’s maintenance instructions for detailed instructions, luxury vinyl in most general cases, is best cleaned with commercial floor care systems and machines. However, if mop cleaning is necessary, a two-bucket system using a neutral cleaner is a recommended approach.
Color Infused Board Buff luxury vinyl plank is featured in the entry way of a multi-family unit which ensures protecting their flooring with entry way walk-off mats. Project: Pointe Place | Photo by: Greg Murray
To further protect your flooring investment and application, utilizing entry mat systems is highly recommended. This will help reduce the dirt and debris tracked in from outside onto the flooring. A combination of the exterior, vestibule, and interior matting should be used for the first 15-30 feet to eliminate as much direct friction to the LVT as possible. While luxury vinyl is a highly durable and resistant hard surface, it can still scuff or scratch, but with the proper maintenance such as entry mats, you can preserve the life of your investment. Remember, not all commercial mats are the same. Consult a sales representative to ensure the proper type of mat is used to protect your installation.
When to repair your flooring
As previously mentioned, luxury vinyl is a hard resilient surface that is highly durable to scuff and scratches, though care should be taken to avoid such occurrences, it can happen especially in high traffic spaces or in places where you have little control of furniture movement like in apartment dwellings. Should your flooring seem scratched or scuffed, topical treatments are available and will maintain the gloss of your LVT and these treatments can be used to reduce the appearance of scratches. If the entire floor is seeming a bit dull, wall-to-wall revivals are also available.
If a deep gauge occurs, keeping attic stock of your flooring product is important. Luxury vinyl plank and tile is relatively easy to replace a few tiles at a time, as needed, and is recommended to consult a professional at the time of a repair for best practices.
When that time does come, TAJ is here to help. As a family-owned business, our values are focused on service and superior quality. We’ll take the time to make sure your flooring option meets the needs of your space for years to come.