A beginners guide to vinyl flooring

Choosing the right flooring can be tough with so many different options available. One type you can choose that’s growing in popularity is vinyl flooring. Our vinyl flooring guide provides a great introduction to anyone looking for a durable and versatile flooring option.

What is vinyl flooring?

What is vinyl flooring

A synthetic type of flooring, vinyl flooring is flexible and thin. Vinyl floors are usually made with several layers:

  • a thin backing layer.
  • a thin layer of solid vinyl to which the design is printed.
  • a transparent protective top layer.

Unlike other flooring options, such as carpet tiles and laminate, vinyl flooring is a relative newcomer. As the design layer is printed, it’s easy to find a range of quality designs. Vinyl floors can even mimic more expensive natural floors, such as stone and wood effects, for a fraction of the cost.

Even though both laminate and vinyl flooring may look the same (or similar at least), there are some fundamental differences. Unlike laminate flooring, vinyl flooring offers water resistant qualities. Vinyl flooring is also much more versatile, offering greater choice in designs and laying patterns.

Vinyl flooring has become a popular household choice due to the great benefits this type of flooring offers. So much so that vinyl flooring is also becoming a popular choice for commercial settings. Patterned wood designs is one of the top flooring trends of 2022.

How to prepare a subfloor for vinyl flooring?

Prepare a subfloor for vinyl flooring

In most cases, you should be able to install vinyl tiles directly on an existing subfloor. Installing on a smooth and level surface is important. The quality of your flooring installation is dependent on your subfloor.

A subfloor needs to be level for both loose lay and stick down flooring. Otherwise, imperfections will show through your flooring. Even though vinyl flooring is durable, the quality is only as good as the installation.

To avoid any permanent damage to your flooring installation, it is advised that you carry out proper flooring preparation. How to prepare a subfloor is dependent on the material your subfloor is made of:

  • Concrete subfloors will need levelling by using a smoothing compound
  • Timber subfloors will require an application of plywood to level the subfloor

At E&M Services, we provide subfloor solutions as part of our flooring installation services. Our extensive product knowledge and expertise in subfloor preparation allow us to overcome any issues for a professional flooring installation.

Why choose vinyl flooring?

Why choose vinyl flooring

There are some great reasons why you should consider choosing vinyl flooring:

  • An affordable flooring choice that won’t overstretch your budget
  • Wide variety of realistic looking patterns, designs, and colours
  • A cheaper and more easily maintained alternative to natural materials
  • A durable floor that can withstand high foot traffic
  • Cleaning and maintenance are easy
  • Installation is quick and simple
  • Vinyl has waterproof and water resistant properties

While this type of flooring does have some great benefits, there are also some drawbacks that you should be aware of.

  • Even though vinyl flooring is durable, it can damage easily. Vinyl can easily be damaged by sharp objects.
  • Colour can fade, especially when exposed to prologued direct sunlight.
  • The materials are not eco-friendly.
  • Doesn’t hold up well against heavy loads, such as heavy furniture.
  • Can peel and expand if exposed to water for prolonged periods.

What are the different types of vinyl flooring?

Different types of vinyl flooring

There are three different types of vinyl flooring that you can choose from. Depending on the type chosen will determine how the flooring is installed. Let’s explore the 3 different types:

Vinyl planks

Vinyl plank flooring is perhaps the most favoured in households due to its easy installation. Vinyl planks come in plank-shaped strips, similar to the shape of laminate flooring. However, vinyl plank flooring boasts more realistic designs of natural floorings, including stone and tiled effects

Typically, vinyl plank flooring clicks together to form a sturdy and slip-resistant quality floor. Vinyl plank flooring has become a household favourite. It can stand up to the demands of a busy family home, including handling spillages and dirt trampled in from outside.

Vinyl plank is also warm underfoot and compatible with underfloor heating. Self adhesive vinyl planks are also available, using an adhesive to hold the flooring in place. However, self adhesive tiles do not work with underfloor heating.

Sheet vinyl

Sheet vinyl is as the name suggests, large single sheets of vinyl flooring. Unlike other vinyl flooring types, sheet vinyl can usually cover a room with 1 single sheet. As sheet vinyl is installed in large sheets, no joins are present on your floor.

Sheet vinyl is better suited for rooms such as bathrooms and kitchens where spillages are likely to happen. Without the joins, the water cannot seep between the planks or tiles causing damage to the floor. Sheet vinyl provides a safe choice for installation in wet areas.

Sheet vinyl also offers the same flexibility as vinyl planks. A wide range of different designs is available for you to get creative. You can also get designs that mimic natural floorings, such as wood, stone or marble.

Sheet vinyl can be installed over underfloor heating systems unless tape was used for installation. Cushioned sheet vinyl is also available, with foam layers to provide a softer underfoot option. A cushioned vinyl floor offers additional benefits, including being slip-proof and water resistant.

For commercial premises, there is also commercial vinyl available. Commercial vinyl offers a much more heavy-duty and durable option for high traffic areas. The ease of cleaning also makes commercial vinyl ideal for industrial, retail, and education settings.

Self adhesive vinyl tiles

If you prefer tiles instead of planks for your flooring, you can also get self adhesive vinyl tiles. Tiles come in much more varied designs and styles allowing you to become creative with how your flooring looks.

Self adhesive vinyl tiles come with an adhesive backing that holds the tiles down. No additional glue is required. These tiles don’t work with underfloor heating systems though, as they can cause the adhesive to wear.

Vinyl tiles come in a wide variety of designs and colours. For that reason, vinyl tiles can be a great choice to add a touch of class to your indoor spaces. Consider using vinyl flooring in the living room or dining room.

Luxury vinyl

Unlike vinyl flooring, which is thin and flexible, luxury vinyl provides a thicker and stronger alternative. Luxury vinyl tiles are typically made with between 6-8 layers, which can include:

  • A backing layer made from fibreglass
  • A foam layer making the floor more comfortable underfoot
  • A design layer where the design is printed on
  • A transparent protective layer over the design layer to minimise scratching
  • A top-coat layer that provides a shine

Some luxury vinyl makes can also come with a PVC backing layer for additional strength. Compared to ordinary vinyl, luxury vinyl is designed with a much more rigid construction. It does mean however that luxury vinyl comes with a higher price tag.

Luxury vinyl does come with some added benefits though (alongside the benefits of vinyl):

  • Stronger and more durable than vinyl
  • Has a warmth feeling underfoot
  • Soundproofing abilities to minimise noise
  • Tiles can easily be replaced if damage occurs
  • Higher quality design

Luxury vinyl flooring also has a longer lifespan. Vinyl flooring can only last for up to 15 years, whereas luxury vinyl can last for up to 25 years. Due to its more rigid construction, luxury vinyl can be used in a wide range of settings. Domestic, commercial, and educational settings can all benefit from luxury vinyl.

Luxury vinyl also comes with the added benefit of a floating installation thanks to its click-lock system. At E&M Services, we supply and install luxury vinyl brands such as Ambiance and Karndean. Check out the different styles of Ambiance luxury vinyl available.

How do you maintain and clean vinyl flooring?

Clean and maintain vinyl flooring

One of the benefits of vinyl is how easily it can be cleaned and maintained. But there are some things you should be aware of to avoid lasting damage to your floor. Our care guide will provide tips for keeping your vinyl floor looking as good as new and lasting longer.

  1. Use a damp cloth for wiping up any spillages as quickly as possible
  2. Regularly vacuum to collect any bits that may cause a dent
  3. Always use the hard floor attachment of your vacuum cleaner
  4. Never use excessive amounts of water as it can cause the vinyl to expand, peel or break
  5. Never use anything abrasive on the floor, such as scrapers or scouring pads, as it scratches the floor
  6. Polishing and buffing machines are not suitable and steam cleaners should be avoided
  7. Ensure any floor cleaners are suitable for use on vinyl or luxury vinyl floors. Cleaners that are not marked as suitable for vinyl or laminate flooring can cause permanent stains or damage
  8. Avoid oil-based cleaners as they can leave a residue or a waxy build-up
  9. Always apply any chemicals cleaners to a mop or microfibre cloth and not directly onto the floor
  10. Avoid wax or polishes as these can make the floor slippery

Unlike wood floors that require lots of maintenance and treatment, vinyl and luxury vinyl flooring won’t require so much dedication. The main concern should be to limit the amount of water you use. More stubborn stains may require some attention though. Check out these tips for removing stain on vinyl floors.

Fortunately, natural effect vinyl eliminates the problem of having to use specialist preservatives or polishes. Regularly cleaning your vinyl floor with soapy water or a suitable floor cleaner can keep your floor looking bright and shiny.

Vinyl flooring offers many great benefits for you to consider. Whether you are looking for domestic or commercial premises, plenty of choices are available. Our vinyl flooring buying guide can help you choose the right flooring for your needs.

See our guide to domestic flooring options for more flooring choices