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What is LVT?

What is LVT?

Luxury vinyl tiles are the latest innovation in modern flooring technology. Also known as LVT, this high-quality smooth flooring combines the realistic look and feel of a wooden or stone floor with the practical features needed for a busy modern home. Each luxury vinyl tile or plank is made up of many different layers, resulting in a smart and stylish floor with super strength and durability that’s also stain- and water-resistant. It comes in a range of different natural designs from oak to whitewashed wood to slate - even the most eagle-eyed will struggle to spot the difference between LVT and a genuine wooden or stone floor! If you’re keen to find out more about LVT, read on to discover if luxury vinyl is the right flooring for your home.

How is LVT made?
 

Much like traditional sheet vinyl, LVT is made up of multiple layers, all of which have an important role to play. At the heart of each luxury vinyl plank is a lightweight core, surrounded by compact layers that provide strength, stability, and support, and guard against impact and indentations. On the very surface is a protection layer, which shields the floor from potential damage and provides scratch- and stain-resistance. Just below this is a wear and tear layer, which adds to the floor’s performance, followed by a design layer, and then an acoustic layer that minimises surface sound whilst adding comfort. In some styles of click LVT, there’s an integrated rubber underlay right at the bottom to provide extra cushioning and reduce the sound of footsteps. The result is an incredibly sturdy plank or tile with the appearance of natural wood or stone that can be laid in almost any room in your home. It sounds amazing!

What’s also amazing is how many different designs there are for luxury vinyl! Luxury vinyl comes in either planks for a wood effect or tiles for a stone effect. Depending on the thickness there can be anything from 6 to 18 planks in a box and the width of a plank/tile varies on different designs. To create the realistic look of wood or stone, a large repeating pattern of around 2m by 1.5m is printed on the design layer. The pattern is moved slightly each time, so no two planks look the same, to create a more authentic look. Some styles are also embossed and textured, with the more expensive ones featuring registered embossing that follows all the grooves and knots of the pattern, so it feels like real wood or stone beneath your feet. From traditional oak effect wood vinyl flooring to modern black stone, there’s a style to suit every space.

What are the benefits of LVT?
 

There are many benefits to choosing luxury vinyl – it’s one of the most advanced flooring options out there.

  • Durable The wear and tear layer combined with the protective coating makes luxury vinyl incredibly durable! It can easily cope with a high footfall and is tough enough for commercial spaces – we even use it in our Tapi stores! Many styles come with a lifetime wear guarantee for complete peace of mind.
  • Versatile Luxury vinyl is suitable for most rooms and all temperatures. It works with underfloor heating and its UV resistance means you can use it in conservatories too.
  • Water-resistant The protective layer is also waterproof, so it’s ideal for kitchens and bathrooms where there might be more splashes or spillages.
  • Stain-resistant Once again, that clever protective coating comes to the rescue, ensuring spills sit on the surface of the floor until you can clean them up.
  • Easy to fit Click luxury vinyl is one of the easiest floors to lay; it simply clicks into place. You can even have a go at fitting it yourself!
  • Low maintenance Unlike a real wooden floor, there’s no oiling or waxing required. You just need to sweep it and mop it from time to time – it’s so easy to keep clean!
  • Realistic design The state-of-the-art embossing process used to create the texture on the design gives the tiles or planks incredible detail, from the grain and knots in the wood to the natural lines found on stone or slate.
  • Comfortable The synthetic materials make LVT a warmer and more cushioned option underfoot than stone tiles or wood.
  • Price Compared to a real wooden, stone, or tiled floor, LVT is the more affordable flooring option. There are also no fitting costs if you fancy laying it yourself.

Which type of LVT is best?
 

There are two types of luxury vinyl: dry back and click. As with everything, each type of LVT has its pros and cons.

Dry back (also known as stick down) requires an adhesive to bond the floor directly with the subfloor without the need for an underlay. The planks are thinner and therefore more pliable so gluing them down gives the floor more stability, making dry back LVT better for bigger rooms and areas of high traffic. However, dry back luxury vinyl is hard to install (and remove!) plus it requires completely smooth subfloor so you’d definitely need to call a professional fitter – one of Tapi’s trusted fitters, perhaps?

Click LVT is what’s known as a floating floor and simply clicks into place like a jigsaw puzzle – similar to the way laminate is installed. Click vinyl flooring is more rigid and incredibly easy to fit, even if you’re a DIY novice! And because it’s so simple to remove, it’s also the perfect solution if you’re thinking of moving home or changing the room it’s in. It’s thicker than dry back and has extra cushioning from using underlay – most modern styles of click LVT come with underlay built in (very handy!). Still not sure whether to choose dry back or click LVT? Pop into your nearest Tapi store and one of our flooring experts can help you decide which type of LVT is best for you.

Which room is best for LVT?

Luxury vinyl can be laid in pretty much every room in your home. LVT is durable so it’s ideal for high traffic areas like hallways and living rooms, it’s water-resistant so works in bathrooms and kitchens, it’s warm underfoot so it’s nice for bedrooms and offices, and it’s easy to clean so it’s great for dining rooms and utility rooms. LVT with UV resistance can even be used in conservatories!

How do you fit LVT?
 

Click LVT is easy to fit and a great choice for DIY projects. It comes in packs and is fitted plank by plank (or tile by tile) so can be left outside the room until it’s needed - perfect if you’re fitting it in a small space like a downstairs loo. Click vinyl uses a tongue and groove system that literally clicks into place. It’s installed as a floating floor, which means it’s not stuck down and needs a small gap at the edge that allows it to expand when the temperature in the room is higher. As with all smooth flooring, the subfloor needs to be properly prepared before you can lay your floor, and the LVT should be left in the room where it’s due to be installed for at least 48 hours beforehand so it can acclimatise.

Make sure you follow the manufacturer’s installation guide as there might be tiny differences between different types of LVT. When laying your first line of planks, position the ‘tongue’ side along the wall then add in up to 1cm spacers along the wall. Press the short ends until they click together. For the last plank of the row, measure the distance from the previous plank to the wall. Mark this on a new plank, score with a utility knife and snap to break the excess off, then click the shorter plank into place (leaving up to 1cm at the end for the expansion gap). Start the next row with a plank no shorter than 30cm, so you end up with a staggered plank formation. Repeat until your floor is complete!

  • Tapi Top Tip When calculating your flooring, we always allow for 10% wastage. You should always use materials from a single production batch for each installation, as there might be slight shade variations between batches. Plus, there’s always a chance you’ll need to replace a plank or two over the years so it’s good to have some spares.

Whilst you can choose to fit click flooring yourself, we’d recommend professional fitting for dry back vinyl flooring. Once it’s stuck down, there’s no going back, so it’s best to bring in an expert. We can arrange fitting for you when you place an order – whether that’s for dry back or click LVT - just ask your friendly Tapi flooring expert for details in-store.

How much does it cost to install LVT?
 

Luxury vinyl is one of the more expensive smooth flooring options, but thanks to its durability, it’s a long-term investment. And if you compare it to a real wooden floor, which requires a lot of maintenance to keep it looking good, there are no extra costs involved for luxury vinyl aftercare. The more expensive styles of luxury vinyl often have thicker wear and tear layers, and their designs will include registered embossing to provide that extra high-definition detailing, all of which contribute to the higher price tag.

Our fitting costs £12.99 per m2 for click LVT and £15 for dry back, and our cheapest luxury vinyl is £24.99 per m2. This means it will cost under £500 to install LVT in a 3x4 metre room, then you’d need to add on any door bars, and in the case of dry back LVT, add on glue as well. There might also be some extra costs to prepare the subfloor for a new smooth floor, depending on its condition. To get a full quote for new luxury vinyl flooring, head to your nearest Tapi store.

How do you clean LVT?
 

Despite their elegant appearance, luxury vinyl tiles are so easy to maintain! The hard-wearing nature of LVT flooring means it can withstand the daily demands of family life and high footfall areas without compromising on style. That said, prevention is always better than cure, so try your hardest to stop scratches happening in the first place. Sweep or vacuum your LVT flooring every evening to remove dirt, hair, and dust, and wipe up any potential spills right away. Place felt pads on the bottom of chair legs for protection. You can use a suitable LVT cleaning fluid or a damp mop or cloth now and again, but be careful, as too much water can damage your floor over time. And whilst LVT is slip-resistant, it’s always a good idea to have a hard-wearing, non-rubber backed doormat in the entrance to wipe off any excess water or dirt before you strut your stuff across your stunning new floor.

What’s the difference between vinyl and luxury vinyl?
 

The clue is in the name! Luxury vinyl has taken the practical benefits of vinyl and combined it with the aesthetic detail of real wood or natural stone to make it even better. There are a few key differences between vinyl and luxury vinyl:

  • Style Luxury vinyl comes in single planks (for wooden designs) or tiles (for stone); vinyl is sold as a sheet on a roll
  • Number of layers Luxury vinyl has more layers than vinyl making it much thicker and more rigid
  • Thickness of wear and tear layer Increased thickness of wear and tear layer for extra durability
  • Ease of installation Click LVT is simple to install; vinyl sheet flooring can be hard to lay in small spaces as it must be cut to size
  • Design Vinyl offers more designs overall; luxury vinyl offers greater depth and variation in its natural wood and stone designs for a more realistic finish
  • Water-resistance Both vinyl and luxury vinyl have a waterproof surface, but moisture could potentially get through the small gaps between each plank/tile
  • Cost Luxury vinyl is more expensive to buy and to install; however, it’s more durable and therefore should last longer than vinyl

The extra benefits that luxury vinyl offers come at a higher price, so you need to weigh up the pros and cons of vinyl versus luxury vinyl and decide which one is best for you. Our Tapi flooring gurus can help you to decide whether LVT is the right choice for your home when you visit your nearest Tapi store.

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