Pros and Cons of Commercial Flooring – Top 5 Types

Technological advances in commercial flooring have created a variety of applications that have made installation and maintenance more manageable, while delivering long-term return on investment. Some of the most popular choices include carpet tile, luxury vinyl tiles (LVT), vinyl composite tile (VCT), engineered hardwood and laminate wood. In this article we will be examining the pros and cons of these five commercial flooring types.

Pros and Cons of Commercial Flooring by Type:

1. Carpet Tile

 Pros

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.

Toronto Carpet Tile contractor

Darwin Fisher carpet tile installation at IMAX headquarters

When it comes to carpet tile some of the pros include varieties available with extra cushion and vinyl backing so that they don’t easily unravel. Carpet tile is also  extremely durable and spot areas can be quickly changed without requiring additional installation expertise. New pattern matching technology ensures that design and patterns are maintained, and the appearance of the finished product resembles broadloom carpet when installed.

Carpet Tile Commercial Toronto

Darwin Fisher carpet tile installation at IMAX headquarters

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 broadloom attic stock available. Carpet tile can be easily spot fixed while broadloom is a larger endeavor. Carpet tile is more economical than broadloom and generates less waste. Broadloom carpet comes in rolls. Carpet tiles have a smaller footprint and are more modular. The cleaning and maintenance costs of carpet are relatively low, requiring regular vacuuming and an occasional deep cleaning.

Toronto carpet contractors

Photo credit Mohawk Group

 Cons

Carpet tiles need to be professionally cleaned so there will be maintenance. If the carpet and the secondary backing are not attached properly, over time they can separate, causing the installation to wrinkle or fibres to stray and pull at the separation point. The most common cause of delamination is improper formulation or application of the adhesive. Carpet tile can also perceived as “cheap” when compared to broadloom in terms of aesthetics, however that is changing as designs, patterns and materials have technological progressed.

2. Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT)

Pros

LVT has become a popular choice amongst dental offices and commercial offices that offer a residential feel. It’s 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 be 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.

pros and cons of commercial flooring types

Darwin Fisher LVT installation at Entertainment One

 Cons

For offices where employees are standing all day it may not be the best flooring in terms of underfoot comfort. 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. According to the Milliken Flooring blog – “Cleaning hard surfaces like LVT  and VCT (see below) is generally more labor-intensive than carpet, requiring mopping instead of vacuuming to remove dirt and debris. In an 8-hour shift, this makes it possible to clean a 21% larger carpeted area than a comparable hard surface – translating into a 21% increase in labor costs for VCT and LVT.”

3. Vinyl Composite Tile (VCT)

Pros

The pros and cons of commercial flooring also extend to VCT which 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 qualities 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 health care 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.

Cons

If not installed properly or in the wrong area, glue on the tiles can come loose and cause the tiles to lift at the corners. Maintenance requires regular waxing and polishing to maintain the protective coating on the surface of the tile. Over time color or pattern deterioration of the tile can be affected. Cleaning issues may also arise that are related to surface wear and tear. “Though VCT offers good value, it lacks many of the benefits carpet tiles are able to provide – including reduced ambient noise, improved underfoot comfort, lower risk of slips and falls, and greater color, pattern and design flexibility,” according to Milliken.

4. Engineered Hardwood

The pros and cons of commercial flooring when it comes to engineered hardwood, as seen in the picture below, include the following:

Pros

Engineered hardwood can be a great option for lower traffic areas. It doesn’t expand or contract as much as laminate flooring and is very pleasing from an aesthetic perspective. As it mimics solid wood flooring, it’s a great option that is less expensive to purchase. It is more environmentally friendly than solid hardwood.

Below is picture of how most engineered hardwood looks today. You can see the actual thickness of the hardwood and how it is laminated with plywood underneath to give stability and backing to secure to the subfloor. Most hardwood is produced this way as there are many layers of pressed wood to give stability, plus a thick wood veneer on the surface for several sandings, to be followed by a choice of a variety of sealants.

Pros and cons of commercial flooring

Engineered hardwood sample

The next consideration is the actual finish. There are 3 types of hardwood finishes. lacquer, water-based urethane and oil or hard wax oil finished. “The majority of the market is lacquer or varathane hardwood,” says says Graham Linton, General Manager of Interior Care.

“The water-based urethane finishes have no VOCs (volatile organic compounds) so are low in odour. They also have a hardener component that cures. This means less downtime as it can be walked on after four hours,” says Linton.  “This allows average sized jobs to be complete and ready for use in one day.”

Varathane hardwood can be maintained with specialty cleaning products or with a damp mopping – never over wet. Hardwood installs that have an oil finished product make scratches less visible and can be oiled out. With urethane or lacquer, it’s difficult to impossible to fix scratches without a refinish.

Cons

When considering the pros and cons of commercial flooring when it comes to engineered hardwood, remember that while aesthetically pleasing, it would not be recommended in the main entrance of an office building. Seasonal precipitation and chemicals could damage the appearance and life expectancy. It further requires more maintenance over time in terms of dents, cracks, scratches and scuffs due to high volume of traffic.

It is one of the most expensive materials to install and also is not a good choice for spaces that are prone to moisture as it will warp and can buckle and crack.

Maintenance is also an issue as it requires the same type of maintenance in the long term as real hardwood.  If the scratches are deeper than the actual finish, isolating the repair is difficult. A very simple maintenance solution is to ensure the glides on the bottom of the legs of the furniture are replaced or covered with felt – this prevents surface scratching. Felt glides should be changed frequently as they will wear with use.

Pros and cons of commercial flooring

Hardwood flooring pros and cons

A refresh of the hardwood finish may be required every 8-10 years depending on the wear and tear of the floor. This is a process called ‘buff and coat’ whereby a contractor surface screens (light sanding) the top layers of the hardwood and applies a new coat of finish which can be varathane or longer wearing urethane.

Oil or hard wax oil finishes can be oiled and touched up for isolated scratches. The long-term issue is this type of hardwood finish, over and up to two years tends to dry out in our four-season climate, and requires nourishing through periodic re-oiling.

5. Laminate Wood

Pros

This man-made wood is favored as it resembles a variety of styles and finishes that mimic solid wood flooring. It is available at a much more affordable price point than real wood and is easy to maintain. It is often found in buildings that qualify for LEED certification points as it is more environmentally friendly option.

pros and cons of commercial flooring

Pros and cons of laminate wood

Cons

Laminate will not wear as well as some of the other new innovations. It is particularly susceptible to moisture due to that it is made from composite wood and can warp or buckle. It is not recommended for any areas prone to moisture.  It is also very difficult to repair.

Pros and Cons of Commercial Flooring Summary

As there are many products and applications to choose from, it’s critical to consult with a trusted contractor who understands the requirements of a particular space and how it will impact your flooring investment over time. Choosing the right application for your area goes well beyond just price, but should take into consideration the long-term functionality needs, the amount of daily traffic and employee needs.

We have outlined this pros and cons of some of the leading applications to give you a better idea of what to expect when it comes to factors affecting performance, life expectancy and appearance retention. Depending on the installation project, each of the above types of flooring provide different levels of wear and tear and also vary in design and aesthetic impact.

For a free consultation on your next flooring installation please contact info@darwinfisher.com. For other articles on commercial flooring and industry related news, please click here. 

 

 

 

5 Reasons Why LVT Popularity Continues to Grow

LVT popularity is increasing due to advancements in design and technology. New sizes, formats and patterns, combined with the fact that it is easy to install and less costly to maintain over time, makes it appealing to a variety of industry verticals.

The global LVT (luxury vinyl tile) market is anticipated to rise at a considerable rate during the forecast period, between 2020 and 2023, states MarketWatch research. “In 2020, the market was growing at a steady rate and with the rising adoption of strategies by key players, the market is expected to rise over the projected horizon.”

5 Reasons for the rise of LVT popularity:

  1. The Way It’s Made

LVT products are generally made of moisture resistant PVC or virgin vinyl. Milliken Flooring Blog defines LVT as a type of hard-surface flooring, made up of several layers that are fused together during manufacturing, under heat and pressure.

LVT is made up of five distinct layers:

  1. Polyurethane coating (sometimes re-enforced with ceramic bead, silica bead or aluminum oxide) to improve durability
  2. Protective clear layer known as the ‘wear layer’
  3. Print film layer (with your chosen design)
  4. Vinyl core
  5. Vinyl backing
Darwin Fisher Commercial Flooring examples LVT

Image Credit: LVT 5 layers – Milliken Floor Covering

This results in a flooring solution that is easy to install, durable and easy to clean and maintain. Typically, LVT wear layers range from 20-28 mm of thickness for commercial installation projects, with thickness selected based on requirements from low through to high foot traffic areas. (i.e. low traffic office space as opposed to building entrance areas).

  1. Affordability by Design

LVT, through technological innovation, is now available in many different finishes, including those that mimic wood and stone. Designers are offered a large array of options at more affordable price points than natural materials. Designers are also drawn to the newly available patterns, colours and variety of designs offered as application pattern technology progresses.

  1. Low Maintenance

LVT popularity has also increased as it has become a practical choice across many industries. According to FCNews research  commercial flooring executives attribute the category’s overall growth to several factors including an increase in demand from key end-use market sectors including corporate, healthcare and hospitality. Upon initial purchase, LVT is more expensive than vinyl composite tile (VCT) products, however LVT has a lower maintenance cost over time due to its built-in protective layer, offering much more comprehensive and long-lasting protection. The protective layer doesn’t need regular waxing and polishing like VCT. However, this top layer will wear over time and may need to be reapplied for heavy traffic areas.

Each organization’s LVT cleaning and maintenance requirements will vary based on traffic. Inclement weather will also affect cleaning requirements. LVT only requires regular sweeping and mopping to remove dust and dirt which is much easier for cost-conscience maintenance budgets.

Toronto LVT Commercial Flooring

Darwin Fisher Commercial Flooring LVT IMAX installation

  1. Return on Investment: Durability

LVT popularity is driven also by the fact that it is protected by a clear layer which helps to maintain its appearance over long periods of time. The wear layer varies in terms of thickness. Thickness must be chosen in conjunction with the traffic area as heavy, long-term wear will affect appearance.  It will not expand and contract in humid or dry seasons and is a fraction of the price of stone or real wood. LVT is less likely to scuff, indent or scratch with regular use and wear and tear through foot traffic and furniture movement. This makes it a solid flooring investment choice for the long-term, combined with the fact that it requires very little maintenance.

  1. Acoustically Sound

Studies have shown that elevated noise levels from hard surface flooring can negatively affect the health and well-being of employees. LVT offers better acoustic properties than hard surface flooring like ceramic tile and it won’t chip or discolor.

Armstrong Flooring reports that building materials and furnishings can affect the acoustics of a building in three ways through information gathered on Acoustical Data – Impact Insulation Class (IIC):

  • Sound Absorption: They can absorb sound, lowering background noise levels and reducing reverberation within a room.
  • Airborne Sound Transmission: They can serve as acoustical insulation and reduce transmission of airborne sounds, such as voices, between rooms.
  • Impact Sound Transmission: They can serve as impact sound insulation and reduce the transmission of impact sound, such as footsteps, from one room to another below or adjacent to it.
Commercial Flooring Examples Toronto LVT

Darwin Fisher Commercial Flooring LVT installation at Entertainment One

In healthcare, we’ve seen a trend towards installation of newer finishes like LVT over traditional ceramic. Flooring decisions in healthcare depend on how it will affect patients, safety, indoor air quality and infection control. Floor surfaces also need to be slip resistant and offer smooth transitions from one area to another for staff/patients and related equipment. Part of the reason beyond new finishes and designs, is that these technologies offer sound transmission protection. Dentists and doctors stress the need for soundproofing. Walls, ceiling and flooring materials selected need to help protect patient privacy and hinder sound travel.

Many Finishes and Manufacturers

According to Floor Focus Magazine, “…the already ascendant LVT category entered a period of relentless growth that has generated huge opportunities and lots of enthusiasm-and a $3 billion domestic market-along with a hefty dose of chaos and uncertainty.” The article further states that, “Beyond the acronyms themselves, which struggle to define the endlessly shifting product constructions, there’s the sheer diversity of products and price points; and there’s also the issue of which markets to target with which products.”

There are a number of different types of LVT products on the market. Many manufacturers offer different performance ratios from one product to another. This includes the surface of the product, to the type of backing used, in addition to thickness of the tiles. Ensure your flooring installer is knowledgeable of the differences, quality and applications that would best suit your environment, including projected wear from foot traffic/furniture, installation, and maintenance and acoustic considerations.

For more information about LVT flooring installation solutions please fill out this form on our website or email us directly at info@darwinfisher.com.