By Annette M. Callari, Allied ASID; CMG
I have a confession to make. There was a time during my early design career that I had some preconceived notions about luxury vinyl planks and tiles. I had categorized it somewhere in my mental files as equivalent to olden-day linoleum. It’s a designer’s job to stay current on new products, so I did my research and accepted an appointment for a product knowledge presentation.
That was an awakening. In front of me were visuals so impressive, once installed they would be taken for real wood (and stones), without a doubt. The tactile surface texture added to the realism. Here was a product that could give my commercial clients the warmth and character of real wood, but with easy maintenance and a performance story that could outlast most other flooring products.
Designers see LVP/LVT as a solution product because of its durability. Besides authenticity, the range of styles and colors is exceptional. There are many newcomers on the market, so here are a few of the things professional designers look for when specifying LVP/LVT:
- The mil layer is important! 20 mil and above will perform well in heavy commercial use settings. Ask for the manufacturer’s specification sheets to verify mil layer. (12 mil performs favorably in residential settings.)
- Look for a brand that has longevity. Especially in commercial applications, warranty is important. Not just the label on the product (anyone can add a 10 or 20 year warranty sticker), but does the company have a history, and will that company be around to support and service warranty claims years from now, if necessary?
- Does the product have certifications that meet all U.S. standards? This is very important. Government regulations ensure that the product is safe and has no harmful contaminants. This information should be readily available to you.
- Be sure you can reach out to the manufacturer’s customer service department with any questions, including care and maintenance. Ask for the 800 number and test it!
That’s a quick primer in how to choose a quality LVT/LVP floor. If you find a product that meets the qualifications above, use that square-foot pricing to compare to other like brands.
Price and value do correlate in the world of LVT. If this sounds a bit like “buyer beware”, that would be correct. As a consumer, doing your due diligence always pays off in the end. As a designer, doing your due diligence (for the sake of your clients) is mandatory.