If you’ve read about the commercial vinyl flooring market lately, then you know demand for vinyl flooring products is growing at a good clip. The vinyl flooring market is expected to grow to nearly $50 billion within the next five years. And as the market for vinyl expands, it’s worth exploring how this evolution will impact the products themselves by taking a look at recent design and technology trends facility managers need to know.
The luxury vinyl tile (LVT) renaissance: Better products, better design, easier installation
Traditional commercial vinyl flooring types —vinyl composition tile (VCT) and vinyl sheet flooring— likely aren’t going anywhere soon. But LVT is taking the headlines, with improved design possibilities, installation technology and the emergence of an entirely new subcategory of rigid-core LVT products.
It should come as no surprise that luxury vinyl tile (LVT) will grow at the fastest rate of all vinyl flooring categories, growing at an average annual rate of 14.1%.
Demand has followed innovation as manufacturers have developed newer and better LVT products. And the development of more advanced products has put pressure on everyone in the industry to keep up, catalyzing even more innovation. Truly a renaissance in LVT flooring.
Let’s take a look at the LVT trends that’ll drive advancement in the vinyl flooring market as it grows and evolves in the coming years.
Limitless design versatility in LVT products
Manufacturers have mastered the art of imitation. With stunning graphics and detailed embossing, there are now LVT products on the market nearly identical to the premium products they mimic. And with the water resistance, high durability and low cost of LVT, it’s a viable competitor to more expensive materials such as ceramic, marble and wood.
Design is no longer the limiting factor for LVT manufacturers, freeing up time to explore the boundaries of LVT’s design potential. This is great news for facility managers who want to make a statement: Mixing natural with modern, subtle with bold, or any other out-of-the-box design.
There are hundreds of lines of stylish, fashionable LVT out there with the functionality to withstand heavy-duty commercial applications. Architects, designers or owners searching for a high-performance material that’s conducive to their design vision have an abundance of options. Every manufacturer has something to offer: Mannington, Armstrong, Shaw, Novalis and on and on. Here are some design innovations worth looking at:
Blurring the line between hard and soft flooring
This cutting-edge design of woven textile LVT —such as the ReThink line from Shaw— straddles the line between hard and soft surface flooring, with plenty of neutral and bold colors to mix and match. The textile layer giving the warmth of a carpet tile, with the water resistance and durability we’ve come to expect with luxury vinyl.
Wood grain flooring with a twist
Flooring manufacturers have mastered the art of imitating premium materials — the untrained eye wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between wood and LVT. Manufacturers are beginning to add a pop of color to traditional flooring looks. A good example of this would be the SNSE® line from AVA®, a new line of wood grain LVT flooring. With traditional neutrals —and the entire rainbow— to choose from designers can create fun patterns or colorful paths to aid in wayfinding.
These are but a couple examples of how manufacturers are modernizing how and where facility managers can use LVT. To get a big-picture idea of the wealth of design options out there, spend some time flipping through a few manufacturer’s most recent product brochures. You won’t be disappointed.
Advancing beyond aesthetics: Improving the performance of LVT systems
Enhanced design is far from the only advancement in recent years. LVT manufacturers have also put increasing focus on developing solutions to improve the construction, performance and ease of installation of the material.
It’s an innovate-or-perish market, and vinyl flooring manufacturers work hard to keep abreast of performance trends. Innovation has bred innovation and there have been some notable advances in LVT.
While every manufacturer seems to have their own version of the following technologies, here are a couple examples of innovation in the construction of LVT flooring systems:
Stain and scratch resistance
The rise of more effective stain-, scuff- and dirt-resistant LVT finishes are helping improve the long-term performance and durability of the flooring system. Certainly the most attention-grabbing example of this would be Armstrong’s Diamond 10 It’s a coating atop their LVT which uses cultured diamonds to enhance the flooring system’s stain, dirt and scuff resistance. Other examples include Mannington’s Quantum Guard® and Shaw’s ExoGuard®.
While these examples barely scratch the surface of the advances we’ve seen in the past several years, they’re helpful in understanding the upward trajectory in performance and construction for the luxury vinyl market.
Multilayer flooring (MLF): The new face of luxury vinyl
Amidst all the improvement in luxury vinyl construction, one product breakthrough stands above the rest: Multilayer flooring. MLF is a relatively new subset of luxury vinyl, distinguished by superior performance and strength.
MLF goes by many names: Rigid core LVT, wood plastic composite (WPC), solid polymer core (SPC) and more than 400 others have been used for the category since its introduction six years ago. But all of these terms refer to a type of flooring similar in almost every way to LVT except of the core, which is “rigid” instead of “flexible.”
Rigid core LVT provides many benefits over traditional products. It’s more dimensionally stable and doesn’t telegraph subfloor imperfections. It is quicker to install, simply clicking into place —and with no acclimation time because it doesn’t expand and contract like flexible LVT. And to top it off, it offers superior acoustic performance, water resistance and long-term appearance retention.
The luxury vinyl subcategory launched into existence when USFloors released their line of COREtec® luxury vinyl products in 2012. Since then, it’s evolved and changed significantly, with seven of the biggest manufacturers coming together to develop an official ASTM standard for the product category, which they established at the end of 2017.
It’s a fast-growing category of vinyl flooring, and widespread commercial use is imminent as manufacturers continue to pursue the advancement of MLF technology and lower-priced lines are released.