Vinyl is an affordable and beautiful flooring material, provided you choose luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) or planks. Unlike conventional vinyl sheets and planks, these are more durable and have a realistic surface texture that mimics their natural counterparts extremely well. While it is more expensive than vinyl sheets and regular vinyl planks, it is more affordable than solid and engineered hardwood but equally beautiful. However, every product has its pros and cons, and LVT is no different. Being aware of the problems will help you avoid them and get you the maximum utility out of the product.
Challenges Posed by LVT
LVT, or Luxury Vinyl Tiles, pose certain challenges that affect the aesthetics and overall beauty of your floor. The following are some potential challenges you may face during installation:
Challenges related to the substrate:
Substrate preparation is key before any type of floor installation. But it is particularly critical for vinyl planks and tiles which can buckle if the substrate is uneven. Ensuring the substrate is laid flat without any bumps or dents is a challenge. The primary problems related to laying the substrate are:
- When the substrate is uneven and the vinyl flooring is laid over that without rectifying the problem, the material will shorten as it must ride over the high and low dents on the substrate. This leads to needing more flooring material.
- Moisture is a major problem, particularly in concrete substrate. Vinyl flooring gets damaged from underneath when it comes into contact with moisture. Problems include crumpling at the edges, as the adhesive has loosened, or, as in case of LVT, problems with abatement chemicals which can react adversely with these flooring materials.
- If you are installing click-lock vinyl planks, uneven substrate can lead to lifting of the flooring’s edges and joints.
- The substrate should be clean and dry before you lay down any subfloor and vinyl on top of it. Often when flooring is being replaced, homeowners neglect to clean off the residue of old glue and debris thoroughly, which can hamper the installation of new flooring.
Challenges related to installation failures
Another potential problem that can damage the look and longevity of your floor is installation-related failures. This can include the quality of the material, adhesives used, and wrong installation techniques, to name a few. You may come across some of these flooring installation troubles:
- The moisture level of the room and subfloor should be moderated. Failing to do so can lead to curling, cupping, dimensional instabilities and lifting of the flooring, which can be unsightly and diminish the floor’s longevity.
- Vinyl flooring is influenced by heat and cold, so the place where it is installed plays a crucial role in the usefulness you derive from it. LVT in particular is reactive to heat and cold and expands and contracts according to the external temperature. While it is a versatile material that can be used in the kitchen as well as the bathroom, care should be taken that moisture does not seep into the underside of the tiles.
- Vinyl flooring is a flexible material which is softer than other materials. Choosing the subfloor must be carefully done, and soft subfloor should be avoided as it can become a problem underneath vinyl, as it tends to dent more under foot traffic.
Solutions to Common Vinyl Installation Problems
Let’s find out solutions to various problems that vinyl floors may pose. Peaking, bubbling, and lifted edges are some of the problems that experienced flooring contractors can fix.
When two vinyl tiles or planks squash against each other and get lifted at the joints, it is called peaking. This is primarily caused by the lack of space left for its expansion and contraction during installation. The easiest way to fix this is by trimming the planks or tiles along the wall or removing some of the mouldings to create more space. Peaking will not be eliminated instantly, but it can be somewhat flattened by laying weights on top of the lifted area overnight or for a couple of days.
Peaking can also happen from moisture, sunlight, or water seeping into the joints, which takes us to the next point.
Warping is more often experienced in laminate and hardwood flooring but is not unheard of in vinyl as well. The primary cause of warping in vinyl is exposure to direct sunlight during installation, which causes the planks to expand. In case you are using glue-down tiles and planks, warping can occur if there is water spillage that is not cleaned up immediately and has seeped under the flooring through the seams. This trouble can be avoided through basic vinyl flooring maintenance.
Mould and mildew
A secondary trouble that can occur due to high moisture and water leakage is mould and mildew. You need to find the source of moisture first and take measures accordingly. If the substrate is the source of moisture, sealing it with a proper moisture barrier is the best solution. Determining whether your substrate is dry enough is not easy; you will have to ask the flooring installation contractors to check it professionally. Moisture meters can help you estimate whether the moisture level is within a feasible limit.
Vinyl flooring is an affordable and beautiful option for your home, but it is not entirely problem free. Potential problems and their sources must be understood to get the most from your flooring. If you keep the above-mentioned factors in mind, enhancing the lifetime of your flooring by another few years becomes easy.