Article Flooring Type Considerations: LVT & VCT

Two of the most popular flooring products for commercial spaces are LVT and VCT. Affectionately referred to as LVT, Luxury Vinyl Tile or Luxury Vinyl Plank, it has proliferated in commercial spaces and is available in a variety of formats. VCT, or Vinyl Composition Tile, holds a longer legacy in the market and still commands much of the flooring real estate in commercial segments such as retail and education. Let’s explore some of the factors to consider when selecting between LVT and VCT for your next project.

lvt
Luxury Vinyl Tile
vct
Vinyl Composition Tile

 

Design Aesthetics & Structure

 

Flooring serves as both a design element, due to its high visibility and large square foot presence, and a functional element since it must be durable enough to withstand foot traffic, movement of objects, and dirt and debris.  The modular format and glue down installation procedures make it easy to create sophisticated flooring designs without requiring highly skilled installation labor. Amazing flooring designs can be created with either LVT or VCT, as well as many other materials. Wide-ranging elements of color can be found in both LVT and VCT flooring, with LVT holding an advantage that theoretically any visual design conceived can be printed onto film and incorporated into LVT.

 

VCT provides a chip and base visual which is either tonal or contrasting, both of which serve to create a monolithic floor design that hides dirt and markings well. Dramatic pops of color, wayfinding or different color floor zones are easily achieved with VCT.   Additionally, Armstrong Flooring VCT features a true Through-Color/Pattern Wear Layer so that if the surface wears or becomes damaged, the same color and pattern will be visible throughout the entire structure. This enables it to live on in place with standard restorative maintenance procedures.

 

The final appearance of a floor in terms of gloss level is also typically associated with either LVT (where a matte finish is common) or a high shine for VCT (which is equated to cleanliness). Gloss level on VCT can be easily adjusted as part of the regular polish maintenance procedures necessary for maintaining a VCT floor.

 

 

 

LVT

VCT

Format

Available in a variety of sizes including planks and tiles, and various thicknesses

Available in 12 in x 12 in tiles

Structure

1. Commercial UV-Cured Coating – scratch, scuff and stain performance and resistance to alcohol-based hand sanitizers

2. Performance Wear Layer – textured surface for realistic visuals and abrasion resistance

3. Designer Printed Visual

4. Base Layer

1. Manufacturer-specific applied protective layer for surface protection during installation, and enabling quick and easy initial maintenance

2. Through-Color/Pattern Wear Layer – in case of surface damage the same color and pattern will be visible through the entire structure; strengthened by 85% North American limestone content

 

Initial Cost & Ongoing Maintenance

The primary cost element is the price of the floor itself. The cost of LVT varies widely based on structure, size, coating and more. However, it is almost always more expensive than VCT. VCT is an economical choice with decades of proven performance and durability. It’s a great way to stay on budget in a project without compromising the design vision.

The secondary cost element of any floor is the expense to maintain it. When considering foot traffic, any type of rolling load movement, the peril of dropped objects, dirt, liquids, and other debris – floors experience considerable abuse. For simplicity, maintenance can be broken down into initial, and ongoing. When choosing LVT appropriate for heavy foot traffic and rolling loads, with a 20 mil wear layer and today’s innovative coatings, a regular maintenance schedule including sweeping, spot cleaning, and scrubbing with a neutral cleaner will be sufficient in most applications. Since no initial floor polish or sealer is applied, there is subsequently no ongoing maintenance to consider, other than keeping the original installed floor clean. In high traffic spaces, the use of polish should be evaluated, but is optional.

VCT flooring on the other hand does require both initial and ongoing maintenance, and as one would expect, this leads to a higher long-term maintenance expense than LVT. Initial maintenance for a VCT floor typically includes properly cleaning the floor and applying 3-5 coats of high-quality commercial floor polish. Increasing the coats of polish should be evaluated based on use of the space. Ongoing maintenance will include periodic scrubbing, recoating and polishing, and restorative maintenance where the floor polish needs to be stripped and new polish applied. This process is a standard maintenance protocol that has been practiced and perfected for decades.

All facilities should properly use, place, and maintain walk-off mats as well as fixture or furniture rests for any objects residing on the floor. This will help prolong the appearance and life of the floor.

Sustainability

With building resiliency increasing, there is more information available than ever before to gauge the sustainability contribution of products going into our built environments. It’s important to look for not only sustainability documentation, but also third-party verified information like EPDs (Environmental Product Declaration) and HPDs (Health Product Declaration). Trusted brands of LVT and VCT will be free of ortho-phthalates and heavy metals, have low VOC emissions, and be recyclable as well. Armstrong Flooring’s On&On™ recycling program has kept over 150 million pounds of flooring material out of landfills and uses a closed-loop process in which reclaimed materials are recycled into new flooring products.


 

LVT

VCT

Design Aesthetics

Countless formats including planks, tiles, oversized formats, various thicknesses and glue down or floating installation options. Custom, wood, stone, textile, or patterned visuals.

Simple, proven, economical square and rectangle tiles. 150+ wide range of tonal and bold color options.

Installed Cost

Higher installed cost
$$$-$$$$
Lower installed cost
$$-$$$

Maintenance

Lower initial and on-going maintenance. Clean and periodically scrub as needed. Known as low-maintenance or polish-optional.
$$-$$$$
Higher initial and required on-going maintenance. Clean, periodically scrub as needed, recoating and polishing, and restorative maintenance.
$$$$

Sustainability

Third-party verified EPD, HPD, ortho-phthalate and heavy metals free, low VOC emissions, and recyclable

Third-party verified EPD, HPD, ortho-phthalate and heavy metals free, low VOC emissions, and recyclable