Jargon buster – Luxury Vinyl Tile flooring

Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) continues to be the UK’s fastest growing flooring choice thanks to its stylish and realistic designs and high performance and low maintenance qualities. Here Steve Ball, Technical Services Manager for Malmo™, jargon-busts some of the terminology associated with this popular flooring material.

Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) – Luxury vinyl tile is made from carefully compressed multiple layers of PVC vinyl which create a high-quality, durable and water resistant floorcovering. LVT comes in tile or plank formats that mimic a range of styles including wood, stone and ceramic tile, but with all the practical benefits of a sophisticated man-made material.

Dryback – may also be referred to as gluedown or stickdown, this is a thinner product than rigid LVT (usually 2.5mm) but with high density and strength. This means it is incredibly easy to handle and install on site, and there is less requirement for adjustments to doors etc.

Stickdown installation – Stickdown is one of two installation methods for LVT flooring. Here the dryback vinyl planks/ tiles are glued directly to a sound and level subfloor. Being fully adhered, this results in a more stable floorcovering that can withstand heavy weights and variations in temperature, meaning it is more versatile for areas such as conservatories.

Self-levelling compound – A self-levelling compound is a chemical mixture used to smooth uneven concrete floors. It is very important to have an even-surfaced floor when installing LVT flooring with a maximum deviation of 2mm over a 2m span. If self-levelling compound can’t be used then a flooring grade plywood can be used as an alternative.

Primer – primers are used for pre-treating floors and are often applied prior to levelling materials or flooring adhesives to ensure good bonding of upper floor layers.

Adhesive – a suitable LVT adhesive must be used for dryback products, and there are two options available – a standard vinyl floor adhesive or a pressure sensitive adhesive.

Rigid – a type of LVT flooring created for fast and easy fitting and perfect for DIY projects. The core of this product is usually either WPC (wood particle composite) or SPC (stone polymer composite). An SPC core is more durable and water resistant than a WPC alternative. The thicker and more solid core means that it can be laid over existing hard floorcoverings, to easily cover variances of up to 2mm within the subfloor e.g. ceramic tiles with grout. As rigid LVT products are usually 4-5mm in thickness, they still allow you to install over existing hard floors without impacting the overall floor height, reducing time, cost and mess when compared to lifting a ceramic tile floor for example.

Click installation – there is a range of patented click installation systems available across rigid LVT products. These include:

    • 5G – a strong locking system that requires the lightest of touches to simply push down the end joints. Malmo™ rigid LVT features the Välinge 5G installation system.
    • i4f

– a strong click mechanism which is often secured with ease by tapping with a rubber mallet.

    • Angled click

– the end joints are clicked together, and then lifted together into the long lengths. This originated with laminate flooring products rather than LVT.

Underlay – some rigid LVTs feature underlay already attached (e.g. Malmo™) whereas others may require a separate 1mm thick LVT-specific underlay prior to installation. These dense underlays provide transitional sound absorbency, ideal for use in apartments and installations above ground-level.

Expansion Gaps – this is a gap of 6mm minimum required around the perimeter of a room and fixed items like door jams and radiator pipes with rigid LVT. This prevents damage to the flooring by allowing it to expand and contract with the environment where it is fitted. Expansion gaps must be 10mm minimum where UFH is used, and never filled with sealant or silicone. This also means that door profiles must be used in every doorway with rigid LVT products. Expansion gaps are not required for stickdown LVT.

Registered Embossed – the texture is pressed into the surface of the material perfectly in line with the visual pattern of the woodgrain to replicate the look and feel of real wood. The Malmo™ Senses range incorporates a registered embossed surface finish.

Slip resistance – slip resistance is measured in the UK as an “R” rating within the domestic market, or “PTV” rating for commercial use. Both cover wet and dry use, and a high R rating is defined as R10+ upwards, whereas for PTV it would be +36 (Building Standard Regulation). The forthcoming Aluminium Oxide coating being applied to all Malmo™ stickdown products will achieve +36PTV.

Wear Layer – this is a clear overlay which gives LVT flooring its durable and hardwearing surface. As stickdown LVT is more commonly used in commercial applications, it tends to have a thicker wear layer, for example Malmo™ stickdown LVT features a wear layer of 0.55mm, Malmo™ Rigid Comfort is 0.3mm, but because it is registered embossed Malmo™ Rigid Senses also has a thicker 0.55mm wear layer.

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