How Do You Choose The Right LVT Flooring for Commercial Use?
Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) continues growing in popularity among the interior design industry largely due to it’s broad aesthetics, ease of maintenance, design flexibility and durability. With so many different materials to be selected on a commercial project, choosing LVT flooring should be an easy step. We’d like to guide you through the process of choosing the right flooring product for your project needs.
We've specialized in vinyl flooring for over 105 years. With the acquisition of Amtico International in 2012 we added to our expertise in LVT. Amtico has been perfecting high-quality luxury vinyl flooring products (LVT) in the UK for over 50 years.
At Mannington we currently make over 90% of our LVT in our Madison, GA LVT plant. As experts in the category we understand all of the different dynamics from performance to design to manufacturing. This allows us to have one of the largest LVT offerings in the world.
What are the performance features of LVT?
Aesthetics play an important role when you're thinking about your commercial space, but how the product performs for the life of the floor should be a major consideration. In most cases you want your floor to look good for a long time. With that said, not every installation needs to be down for 25 years, some are short-term or more medium-term projects.
In addition to the length of time you want to keep the floor, it's important to think about the amount of traffic in the space. These two things lead to your performance characteristics, which are typically specified in the wear layer.
For most commercial products, the ASTM spec for heavy commercial traffic is a 20 mil wear layer or higher, referring to the thickness of the performance layer in the LVT construction. There's also light commercial applications where it would be appropriate to use a 12 mil product. We have a full offering of everything from 12, 20, 30, all the way up to 40 mil wear layers. One key element is wear layers but total construction impacts performance as referenced in the image above.
Beyond wear layer thickness, it’s important to consider what performance characteristics are actually put on top of that mil wear layer to give it enhanced properties. Traditionally, the enhanced properties come from an applied urethane, a liquid compound that's applied during the manufacturing process that's then cured to the product and bonds with the wear layer so that it's one cohesive element.
You can also have aggregates that go in the urethane, such as ceramic or glass bead. Mannington has long utilized the enhanced performance properties of urethane with aluminum oxide that is UV cured for industry leading performance, referred to as Quantum Guard Elite technology. This process typically provides the stain, scratch, and scuff resistance
Most LVT companies have some type of enhanced urethane, meaning it has an additional additive to give it enhanced properties. They are not all created equal. You can have two ceramic bead urethane type finishes, and they'll perform very differently. So after you choose your mil wear layer for the right space, think about your traffic, and think about your enhanced performance features like a Quantum Guard Elite finish.
Does LVT Design Affect Performance?
Absolutely. A very light colored LVT with minimal pattern might not be the right choice for a concentrated high-traffic area that isn’t cleaned frequently for example. Certain patterns and colors are a better fit for certain spaces.
Regardless of the manufacturer, in general, the design is a key element of performance. Darker colors tend to show more in terms of scratching than lighter colors. Lighter colors show a little bit more debris on the floor if it's not cleaned regularly than darker colors. Pattern can also play a key role in helping to hide wear and debris.
Is All LVT Commercial Flooring Created Equally?
No. There is give and take with everything, same thing with LVT constructions and performance. To get better in one area, you often have to sacrifice in another. At Mannington, we work very hard to create a very balanced product that is put through rigorous testing.
Nobody really cares about a dimensionally stable product until they don't have one. But those technical elements of a product are important and relevant. We believe in US-made production, controlling our supply chain, being very thoughtful about the ingredients and end of life streams.
Choosing Your LVT Visual
There are endless LVT design possibilities across the flooring industry. Mannington has hundreds of visuals as well as different size formats that can change the look of a visual.
Because LVT visual come from the film, which is a print medium, the opportunities for visuals are vast. Mannington’s design teams create original print designs for our LVT portfolio, taking into consideration what's going on primarily within the North American market. Diversity in the line is important so that we have a good mix of wood, stone, and abstract visuals.
When we're doing the design development work for a new collection, many development ideas are brought forward, but they are not all brought to market. Just because a medium can create all types of visuals, doesn’t mean it's what the market needs.
While creating a new collection, we're trying to diversify within each of the categories, such as wood, stone, and abstract, so that each element has its own personality and can be utilized in different types of installations. Within a specific category we typically look to include a range of visuals, from example in woods we may include a more rustic look with heavy character knots and graining all the way to a really streamlined look with fine graining. Every collection is different and call for a different mix of visuals.
Our focal point is always working to design and create product that is both fresh and relevant to what the market needs. End users within different market segments have different wants and needs, so we are always working to connect our design to those important elements.
“Once you understand what your space requirements are and you decide, "All right, I'm going to look into the visual." The visual piece really is dependent on what you want that space to convey. So if it's something that's a little bit more warm and comforting and inviting, you may go for something that's a warm, almost residential quality wood. Or if you want something that feels much more minimalist or very modern, you may go for something like a stone that has very little character, or something like an abstract.”
- Roby Isaac, VP of Commercial Design
Once you determine what your space requirements are and then marry up the visual to achieve the feeling you want the space to convey, then sizing becomes the next design element. The size of the space is often a key driver in the product size that is most desirable. Many collections only offer one size, but collections such as Mannington Signature offers more than 10 running line sizes in different visuals to choose from to really meet your design needs.
In general, for smaller spaces we typically see a smaller size is selected to help make the space appear larger whereas a larger plank or tile may further condense the space. Conversely, we find that projects use larger tile planks and tile sizes in large, more open, expansive types of spaces.
Achieving Your Desired Floor
Now that you have a better understanding of the choices to make when specifying and selecting a LVT floor option you can be more prepared to select the right product that meets your design and facility needs.
To see your project come to life, we have an online visualizer tool that allows you to look through our product portfolio and select flooring so you can visualize your choice in a room. If you've been tasked with choosing flooring for the facility you manage or if you're a designer who would like to see lots of options this will help you on your journey to selecting the right LVT flooring.
If you're considering a Mannington LVT Product we'd love to connect you with your local sales representative who will help guide you through the process.