Vinyl flooring is a building material made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). It is similar in appearance to linoleum, but is more durable and long-lasting because it is made from engineered products rather than natural materials. This material is used in both residential and commercial applications, and comes in a wide variety of styles and colors.
There are two basic types of vinyl flooring, printed or inlaid materials. Printed vinyl is the less durable and more affordable of the two. It contains a thin sheet of vinyl topped by a printed paper top coat. Inlaid vinyl is heavier and more expensive, but has a larger quantity of vinyl throughout the thickness of each sheet. Both of these products are available in sheet or tile formats.
Vinyl is a versatile and low-maintenance flooring option. It is highly resistant to moisture, and is often used in kitchens, bathrooms and other areas subject to spills and splashes. This material is one of the most affordable floor coverings on the market, and is fairly easy for DIY installers to work with. It also has a built-in cushioned underlayment that makes it comfortable underfoot and adds some insulation.
While vinyl is more affordable than most flooring materials, it also tends to have a shorter lifespan. Over time, vinyl floors can wear down and lose their luster. They cannot be refinished, and must be replaced entirely to restore their appearance. Vinyl is also susceptible to sun damage and extreme cold, which can cause the surface to fade or crack.
When choosing between different types of vinyl, consider cost, installation and traffic levels. For commercial or busy residential settings, choose inlaid vinyl. Printed vinyl will work best for light traffic levels in residential applications. Use tile if you'd like more design variety and the ability to make easy repairs. Stick with sheet vinyl if you have a tight budget, as it tends to be more affordable.
Vinyl installation begins with proper preparation of the subfloor. This material can be installed over wood or concrete, but must be protected from moisture, which can cause glue or adhesives to fail over time. Use building paper to act as a moisture barrier between the subfloor and the vinyl to help alleviate this problem. Most vinyl tiles are peel-and-stick, making them simple to install. Sheet vinyl should be laid out in rolls, with heated seam tape used to join seams and minimize visible gaps and joints.
- Photo Credit Flickr.com, Danielle Blue
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