Top Ways to Care for Your Luxury Vinyl Tile After Installation

Today we are examining top luxury vinyl tile (LVT) care and cleaning tips as this highly sought after flooring option offers the perfect combination of durability and affordability when properly maintained.

LVT is popular in healthcare settings, schools, and commercial spaces. It has gained traction over vinyl composite tile (VCT) because it is a much lower maintenance application that has a long lifespan.

According to Healthcare Facilities Today for one school, the switch from VCT to LVT saved them $77,941 within 10 years.

Top LVT Care and cleaning tips

Darwin Fisher LVT installation at IMAX

Why is LVT Popular for both Designers and Facility Managers?

Luxury vinyl floors can provide any space with the rich look of natural materials such as hardwood or stone.

“We encounter designers who like to regularly specify LVT on new construction and remodels due to the extensive design possibilities offered in addition to the finishes,” says Doug McDonald, President of Darwin Fisher Commercial Flooring. “As it is a low maintenance product, it also appeals to facilities owners and their maintenance management teams.”

LVT

Photo credit: Mannington Commercial

While it is a very forgiving flooring application, LVT does come with a few challenges. Proper maintenance is a key factor and it’s important that the designated care company or facilities team is educated about the application properties and what cleaning approaches are best to use.

Top LVT Care and Cleaning Tips

LVT comes equipped with a wear layer, which can get damaged or scratched with regular wear. As a result, many manufacturers suggest simple protection such as pads under furniture and chairs to mitigate scratches and dents.

As LVT is often textured as it is designed to simulate real surfaces like hardwood or stone, it can be harder to clean. However, these patterns and ridges are helpful in terms of slipping, skidding and offer better slip-resistance over a smoother floor surface such as porcelain or ceramic.

LVT care

Darwin Fisher LVT installation at IMAX Headquarters

Most of the LVT manufactures recommend a regular dust mopping and wet cleaning to maintain the appearance and lifespan in addition to a cleaner that is near neutral pH for regular wet cleaning.

Caring for LVT – Maintenance Schedules

Newly installed LVT may look like it’s made from hardwood, but care and maintenance require a different approach. There are several different ways to care for LVT over the course of its lifespan.

Commercial Flooring TorontoTop LVT Care and Cleaning Tips – LVT Routine Maintenance

For routine maintenance, LVT simply requires a vacuum or dust mop. This will help to prevent debris from grinding into and marking LVT’s surface layer. If there are any liquids spilled, they should be mopped up or wiped away immediately using a cleaner specifically for LVT floors. Wet mopping can be applied daily or weekly depending on traffic levels and precipitation in the area.

Top LVT Care and cleaning tips

Photo Credit: Mannington Commercial, Layers of LVT

The wear layer varies in terms of thickness and it’s important that the thickness be chosen in conjunction with the application at hand or problems can surface in terms of floor traffic and long-term wear.

Whenever cleaning LVT always start in dry mode, sweeping away the loose dirt and debris from your floors prevents it from getting stuck to your mop when it’s time for a deeper clean. A vacuum cleaner in place of a broom also works well if the bare floor setting is used.

Commercial Flooring TorontoCommercial Flooring TorontoTop LVT Care and Cleaning Tips – Periodic Maintenance

This will again depend on traffic, however periodically your LVT should be cleaned using a neutral cleaner and auto scrubber and then rinsed with water.

If required, this can be followed by buffing to remove scuffs. This is one reason that routine maintenance is important as it will prevent the dirt from being ground into the flooring surface by the scrubber.

Following these steps will protect your LVT and keep the flooring properties intact. However, there are certain thing that should not be used when caring for LVT.

Top LVT Care and Cleaning Tips – Chemical Use

According to Multi-Clean, traditional neutral floor cleaners are often recommended for cleaning LVT flooring. “Owing to their mild nature, these conventional products may not provide the cleaning horsepower needed to clean textured LVT surfaces. Dirt tends to collect in the low spots of the textured surface making it hard to clean while detracting from overall appearance.”

However, the company goes on to say that modern technology is allowing neutral cleaners to be strengthened using naturally occurring enzymes that help break down soils.  These bio-enzyme cleaners are still near neutral in pH but exhibit better overall cleaning performance.  Like neutral floor cleaners, the bio-enzyme cleaners don’t leave a significant residue and do not require rinsing. Owing to their better cleaning performance, these cleaners can be classified by UL for slip resistance.

LVT care and maintenance

Photo Credit: Mannington Commercial LVT

In a recent Mannington Commercial article the company states “LVT does not need a floor finish therefore, we see a reduction of chemistry, water, and man-hours in maintaining these floors. In fact, we’ve found we can successfully reduce chemical and water use by 40 percent when the right products and processes are implemented.”

Mannington recommends a microfibre mop as it doesn’t absorb liquids, unlike flat mops or string mops which hold a lot more chemicals, which leads to over saturating the floor. This can leave a residue that the company states can attract more soil and creates a cyclical process, contaminating areas that don’t have foot traffic as dirty water is pushed around.

Top LVT Care and Cleaning Tips – What to Avoid

  • Never use any ammonia-based cleaners as it can end up damaging and cracking the vinyl flooring.
  • Never steam-clean vinyl flooring as the heat can cause LVT to warp
  • Never use anything that is abrasive such as steel wool or harsh scrubbers as it can permanently damage the tile beyond being able to be buffed out. This will also increase the lifespan of the flooring

Scratching of LVT flooring is a real possibility. Applying a rejuvenator to the flooring can hide existing scratches and other blemishes while protecting the floor from further scratching. Best of all, the rejuvenator makes floors easier to clean. The protector is an ultra-thin shield that doesn’t build up on LVT flooring.

While some facilities may apply a conventional floor finish to LVT this is considered an option and not recommended as there can be a build up over time on the finished floor which eventually will affect how it looks and performs.

Mannington also states using the same old chemicals, equipment and techniques aren’t an effective cleaning solution on newer hard surface floors like LVT or resilient sheet vinyl.

LVT

Photo Credit: Mannington Commercial, LVT looks like stone

Mannington offers Quantum Guard Elite and Quantum Guard HP, a proprietary technology that is naturally stain resistant and requires no-polish maintenance that significantly reduces overall life cycle cost and total cost of ownership. “If you’re a facilities manager struggling to see results after cleaning your floor with old techniques, consider switching to the right microfiber pad, water, and a bit of agitation to solve the problem with even heavily soiled flooring products,” states the company.

There are several options when it comes to LVT flooring maintenance depending on a many different factors including traffic. Your reputable flooring contractor will assist you with the best maintenance approach for your specific situation.

See our other news articles outlining how to protect your flooring investment as we profile different applications throughout the remainder of the year.

For a free consultation on your next LVT flooring installation please contact us here.

 

 

5 Expert Tips for Maintaining Your Porcelain Tile

Porcelain Tile Care + Maintenance Before, During and After Installation

Porcelain tile is a very durable flooring material that is water resistant, non-porous and requires little maintenance day to day. There are three main types of porcelain tile products: unpolished, polished, and patterned/ textured. To maintain appearance and protect your long-term investment, consider the following before, during and after installation.

  • Ensure all construction is completed before final installation as any heavy objects or traffic can damage the surface
  • Ensure you are using materials to cover the tile surface (kraft paper, plywood) during installation of grout to avoid grout residue and related product on the tile
  • Ensure the grout is sealed at all joints
porcelain tile care

Porcelain tile Photo credit: Ciot

Porcelain Tile Care After Installation

Depending on location and daily foot traffic, a simple vacuum or sweeping can be executed. For any stubborn areas a damp mop will also work to remove debris that vacuuming or sweeping missed.

If there are any stains that are not easily removed, spot cleaning is recommended rather than taking any type of detergent or chemicals to the entire surface area.

It is also critical not to use any cleaners with harsh ingredients such as ammonia or bleach to clean these problem areas. Over time it may erode the surface finish of the tile by opening the seal, allowing water to cause erosion to both the tile and the grout used to keep the tiles in place.

“The key characteristic with porcelain tile is the grout lines when cleaning, that’s why we recommend industry approved porcelain tile and grout solutions,” says Graham Linton, General Manager of Interior Care.  “This is important as these cleaners already have the proper PH levels and won’t lead to damage as is the case with corrosive and acidic cleaners.”

porcelain tile installation

Photo Credit: Ciot – Polished porcelain tile

Interior Care is a member of Darwin Fisher Commercial Flooring’s partner program. Established in 1964, Interior Care offers a comprehensive client maintenance package. Owned and operated by the Linton family, Interior Care services all types of flooring finishes, including porcelain tile, hardwood, carpet tile and more. Interior Care is one of the largest privately-owned specialty flooring maintenance service businesses in Canada. Staff maintain over 700 corporate offices across Southern Ontario.

porcelain tile care

Photo Credit: Ciot

Porcelain Tile Care: Glazed and Unglazed

Porcelain tile care and maintenance for glazed and unglazed tile is similar for moderate to high foot traffic areas:

  • Loose debris and dirt can simply be swept or vacuumed daily.
  • If water is needed to remove dust/dirt, simply damp mop and dry.
  • If a cleaning solution is required for more stubborn stains – test the area, do not use any abrasive materials to remove the stain and allow to air dry.
  • Before the wipe down and air dry it is important to make sure that the detergent used is completely rinsed away with a second wet mop with clean water.
  • Do not let any industrial cleaning solutions dry on their own without removing and cleaning with fresh water immediately after staining is removed. By following this process, water spots and any streaking or residue that is left by cleaners will be eliminated.

Textured or Patterned Porcelain Tile Care

There are a variety of options with textured or patterned porcelain tile. Many of today’s styles mimic the appearance of wood or stone and have textured surfaces which may hold dirt. This can require extra cleaning time and more chemical solutions. This porcelain tile will also need to be cleaned more frequently as a simple damp mop will not easily remove dirt from crevices.

porcelain tile care

Photo Credit: Ciot – Textured porcelain tile.

“The cleaning protocol doesn’t really change much between textured, glazed or unpolished surfaces,” says Linton. “Porcelain is a very durable product. It takes a lot to damage the finish. The area that will require the most attention with textured porcelain tile is the grout.”

According to Linton, the same steps apply as above for polished and unpolished porcelain, however when cleaning the grout, if the wrong chemicals are used it can change the colour. The main difference with textured porcelain tile is that a damp mop will not work when there is soiling in and around this surface. Instead, agitation through a rotary scrubbing floor machine with a soft brush attachment will work best.

“Our challenge is the grout lines that are really porous,” says Linton. “These must be addressed with the greatest of care. There is a grout brush we use that is tapered to a point. We agitate all the grout lines then we mop off. We usually spend more time on the grout than on the tile itself.”

How to care for textured finishes

Photo credit: Ciot

5 Expert Tips for Porcelain Tile Care + Maintenance After Installation: Summary

  1. It is wise to use walk off matting systems or entrance throw mats to prevent dirt and debris brought in by foot traffic, especially in inclement weather.
  2. Do not use oil-based detergents, wax sealants or cleaners that will create a coating or build up on tiles or grout. This will damage both surfaces over time.
  3. Do not use any harsh or abrasive cleaners or materials such as steel wool pads, scouring pads, or any item containing that contains metal. These small particles can rust and stain the grout.
  4. Do not use abrasive cleaners such as ammonia, bleach or acid-based solutions as these harsh chemicals can damage the tile finish and may alter the colour of the grout.
  5. Any cleaning solutions should be free of any type of dyes or colour, specifically for unglazed ceramic tile. It is important to note that these agents may also alter grout colour.

By following these 5 expert tips for porcelain tile care and maintenance, your porcelain floor will be maintained in the best condition possible, increasing longevity, while protecting your investment.

For a free consultation on your next flooring installation please click here.

For other articles on our maintenance after installation series, please click here. 

For more information regarding Interior Care, please click here.

 

5 Critical Tips for Your Next Carpet Tile Installation

There are five critical tips for successful carpet tile installation. If you are planning a new office space or redesigning an existing one, your organization’s requirements will involve several considerations. Here’s how to make a more informed decision about your investment, ranging from moisture issues to employee health.

1.Carpet Tile and Moisture

The first factor to consider is whether the site in question is newly constructed or a renovation. This will determine the type of carpet tile required and what solutions make the most sense for that area.

For example, under ideal conditions a newly-poured four-inch concrete slab takes four to five months to be fully ready to accept flooring.

Commercial Carpet Tile Flooring Examples Toronto

Darwin Fisher Entertainment One carpet tile installation

As construction schedules don’t allow for the time required for concrete to cure, the carpet tile installed is one that must be able to handle rising water vapour. It’s a good idea to install modular carpet tile products have been designed to manage subfloor moisture vapor through an open-cell cushion backing.

Unlike hard backed tiles, these types of systems allow for water vapour to travel through the open-cell cushion and up the seam. It is then able to naturally evapourate through the edges of the carpet tile as it surfaces. If the water vapour isn’t allowed to evaporate condensation occurs which can lead to various problems including, lifting carpet, mould and mildew and potentially poor office air quality.

If the project is a renovation, properly preparing the floor and removing the existing flooring to lay the new carpet tile is the first step. The job may require grinding the floor and removing existing adhesives.

Products available for various manufacturers can easily be installed over existing adhesives to  completely obscures any surface irregularities, whereas these types of surface issues may show through hardback carpet after installation.

2. Carpet Tile and Reduced Downtime

Carpet tiles can be easily installed and do not require the dismantling of office systems or employee workstations. When installing carpet tile there is no need to lift furniture in contrast to broadloom, ceramic or hardwood flooring.

carpet tile installation

Darwin Fisher corporate office carpet installation

Darwin Fisher’s secret weapon is Levitate, an Office Lifting System that eliminates downtime and disruption while saving money. Levitate is a technology that allows carpet to be replaced with little or no downtime.

Levitate is a series of custom designed mechanical tools which are placed underneath any type of office furniture to lift it smoothly and safely. Once the furniture and workstations are lifted the carpet is easily installed.

Levitate office lifting system enables users to re-carpet occupied office areas providing significant savings in time, cost and eliminates employee disruption and relocation. There is no need for disconnection and reconnection of computers, cables, phone lines or other equipment.

The cost savings that Darwin Fisher provides its clients using this system is in excess of 50% as Levitate eliminates the need for computer technicians, staff relocation, furniture specialists and other budget intensive resources required with other types of flooring.

3. Carpet Tile and Durability

Carpet tile systems provide greater flexibility for installation and refitting for a variety of applications across many industries including healthcare, hospitality, retail, education and the entertainment industry. If broadloom is chosen and an area is damaged, fixing the spot in question is a much larger and more complicated process in terms of seam and pattern matching. It also makes it difficult to fix if there is no attic stock available.

carpet tile maintenance Toronto

Carpet tile spot removal and cleaning

Once your carpet tile is installed it is easy to change out any specific areas wear and tear areas or to spot clean for spills. This will help promote the longevity of your investment.

4. Carpet Tile and Investment

Yes, you can take it with you when you go. After installation you can protect your investment long term. If there is a future requirement to move locations, carpet tile can be easily lifted, removed and re-installed at a new site. At Darwin Fisher, we’ve had clients move their tile and number the tile so that it can be re-installed the same way it came up it was lifted.

Carpet tile has a long lifespan and if it is well maintained well you can realize a return on your investment for many years to come. Colour matching technology also have gotten much more accurate with time so that if a certain colour of tile is purchased years before and a new space needs to be carpeted there is the opportunity to match the older installation to the newer area.

5. Carpet Tile and Employee Health

Independent research reveals  cushion backing in carpet tile decreases muscle fatigue for the people who stand for long periods.  This helps to ensure employees reap the benefits of  improved comfort and the cumulative benefit may have an impact on overall health.

Commercial carpet tile Toronto

Darwin Fisher IMAX carpet tile installation

More good news for your employees. Acoustically, cushioned carpet tiles are also quieter than hard floors or hardback carpet. As a result, sound is contained and a quieter office space can be realized making for a more relaxing workspace.

For more information about carpet tile installation and how to protect your investment, please contact info@darwinfisher.com

Covid-19 Flooring Disinfection and How It Impacts Your Installation Choices

As Covid-19 continues into 2021, many flooring manufacturers are introducing new solutions, materials and finishes to increase social distancing. However, selecting the right application for your installation goes well beyond the product chosen. Covid-19 flooring disinfection will impact your flooring considerations to include long-term functionality, daily employee traffic flow and maintenance.

As there is now more demand for cleaning and sterilization, understanding how this impacts flooring in terms of life expectancy, appearance retention and ongoing maintenance also needs to be considered as installing the wrong product could lead to future issues.

Covid-19 Flooring Disinfection and Impact

‘As we continue to live with COVID-19, there’s an increased emphasis on maintaining flooring, with services on offer that are designed to keep floors clean—and virus-free. From protocols, to equipment and disinfectants, there’s plenty to consider when deciding on the proper cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting of commercial flooring,” states Floor Trends Magazine in a recent article.

The article goes onto say that more data about how chemicals will affect interior finishes is required as there aren’t enough long-term studies regarding how these disinfectants will affect specific materials over time.  For this reason, there is a greater need for flooring manufacturers to provide more information about what chemicals can be safely used on floor surfaces as disinfection becomes a regular part of the care process. This relates specifically to how this could impact warranty.

Covid-19 flooring disinfection

How disinfection can impact your flooring choices

Covid-19 and Social Distancing Flooring Solutions

Leading applications provide different levels of wear and tear and also vary in design and aesthetic impact. For example, carpet tile technology has progressed to absorb sound and offers cushioning for employees who frequently stand. Carpet tile provides greater flexibility for installation and refitting for a variety of applications across many industries including healthcare, hospitality, retail, education and the entertainment industry.

Mohawk Group Nutopia 2.0 and Milliken  Social Factor  and other manufacturers now providing navigational flooring solutions using carpet tile. Carpet tile has extra cushion and vinyl backing so that it doesn’t easily unravel. Carpet tile is also  extremely durable and spot areas can be quickly changed without requiring additional installation expertise. Many manufacturers are now offering social distancing carpet tile solutions to help mitigate employee anxiety and direct traffic flow. In general, the cleaning and maintenance costs of carpet are relatively low, requiring regular vacuuming and an occasional deep cleaning. How Covid-19 will impact the cleaning and maintenance of carpet tile will depend on the location, amount of traffic and demands of the space where installation occurs.

Covid-19 Flooring Disinfection

How Covid-19 will impact carpet installation

VCT offers both style and functionality. It is budget conscious and easy to install, repair and offers simple daily maintenance such as quick damp mop. It has a long lifespan and is a cheaper solution than ceramic or hardwood. It is also ideal for spaces which are prone to high moisture levels. If you require the qualities found in a rubber surface, mixed in with the appeal of laminate or linoleum flooring, vinyl is a great choice. This type of flooring is scratch-resistant. Vinyl floors are very common in dental offices and healthcare verticals because they offer style with functionality and ease of daily maintenance. Products made from 100% vinyl are classified as green solutions and eligible for LEED points. Although VCT is easy to maintain the impact of harsher chemicals for disinfection over long periods of time will eventually affect top layer finishes.

Covid-19 Flooring Disinfection

Photo credit: Mohawk Group – Large + Local LVT creates directionality

LVT has become a popular choice as it is available in a large array of designs that mimic wood and stone but is much more durable. It offers better acoustic properties than hard surface flooring like ceramic tile and it won’t chip or discolor. LVT is long-wearing, requires very little maintenance and is protected by a clear layer which helps to maintain its appearance over long periods of time. It will not expand and contract in humid or dry seasons and is a fraction of the price of stone or real wood.  There are several manufacturers that offer wayfinding LVT products to help with social distancing solutions and traffic flow in the workplace. LVT is another material that is easy to clean and maintain however, if it is installed in high traffic area which requires constant disinfection the chemicals used would have to be examined to determine how that would affect long-term care.

Covid-19 and Emerging Healthcare Flooring Applications

The flooring choice for hospitals is still dominated by resilient applications. Here we are seeing new and innovative solutions which are also environmentally friendly, like Legato Liquid Linoleum from Mannington Commercial.  According to Mannington, “Legato Liquid Linoleum can be installed across many segments that require the benefits of infection control, slip resistance, and sound dampening – traits that go above and beyond that of a traditional linoleum thanks to its seamless installation and Quantum Guard Elite® technology. These segments include healthcare, government, education, retail and assisted living applications.”

Liquid linoleum flooring solutions

Photo credit: Mannington Commercial  – Legato Liquid Linoleum

As there are a broad range of flooring solutions available it’s wise to ensure that you are dealing with a reputable flooring contractor that understands the opportunities and challenges associated with your new build or retrofit. As Covid-19 flooring disinfection becomes more complex, true flooring specialists need to have in-depth knowledge of the products that they install. They will make recommendations for your specific project and advise what type of products will offer the best performance. Installing the best solution for your particular space will ensure your flooring needs and return on investment are met for years to come.

Free Consultation

For your free Covid-19 flooring installation assessment, please contact us here.