Today’s vinyl will floor you

 With a myriad of colours and patterns, vinyl flooring is affordable, easy to install and simple to maintain. Vinyl’s water-resistant qualities with patterns and textures that simulate stone and wood floors make it a popular mainstream choice for kitchens, laundry rooms and bathrooms.
        Vinyl floors are made of synthetic materials, such as polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, and urethane. First developed in the 1950s, today’s vinyl floors have a clear vinyl or urethane wear layer that protects the printed pattern underneath. (Vinyl floors should not be confused with true linoleum, which is a natural product made of linseed oil, pine rosin, wood flour, powdered cork and limestone.)
    Vinyl is called resilient hard-surface flooring, because minor dents that occur , due to chairs and walking ,will bounce back. Hendricks says as consumers become more sophisticated, so have their options in vinyl flooring patterns, which now emulate natural materials.
        But not all vinyl flooring is on equal footing. Generally, the thicker the vinyl is, the better its quality. Vinyl manufacturers have also addressed consumers’ concerns about off-gassing volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, and have switched from solvent-based inks to water-based ones, according to Hendricks.
    If your floor plans include using vinyl, the three common types include the felt-backed sheet variety, fibreglass vinyl and luxury tiles. Major manufacturers of vinyl include Armstrong, Mannington, Congoleum, Tarkett and International Vinyl Corp., Hendricks says.
    Traditional felt-backed sheets are the least expensive vinyl flooring option, starting around $1 per square foot, says Allen Cubell, vice president of Residential Resilient Flooring for Armstrong Floor Products in Lancaster, Pa.
    Sheet vinyl starts at 1/16-inch thickness and goes up from there, with options including an enhanced wear-layer. Traditional sheet vinyl should be professionally installed and must be glued down to stay in place.
    The fibreglass variety is one of the greatest technological advances in vinyl flooring. Also called flex floor, glass-backed or glueless, this floor has a core of fibreglass that is fully encapsulated by vinyl.
    Fiberglas vinyl is a seamless floor that can be floated over an existing flat and smooth surface. The use of pressure-sensitive adhesive around the perimeter, as opposed to the use of traditional vinyl’s full-spread adhesive, further reduces installation time.
    Because of the fibreglass-wrapped-in-vinyl construction, potential problems found in its felt-backed counterpart — contraction, expansion, cracking and curling , are eliminated. With prices averaging around $3 per square foot, fibreglass vinyl is more flexible than conventional sheet vinyl, and is easily used in basements.
    Cubell says technological advances have helped vinyl resemble higher-end flooring. “The printing, texture and coating of vinyl floors give it a real appeal,” he says. “Today’s vinyl can appear to be a hardwood floor, but feels warm with a cushion underfoot. You don’t get the ‘click, click, click’ sound on vinyl that you do when you walk over real hardwood floors or ceramic tile.”
    Luxury vinyl tiles, not to be confused with boxed self-stick tiles ,have a thick, textured wear-layer that simulates hand-scraped woods or weathered stone floors.
    Caring for a vinyl floor is easier than ever, with some varieties having built-in soil inhibitors and anti-microbial properties. Routinely sweep vinyl floors gently with a soft broom or vacuum attachment to remove abrasive dirt that can damage the surface.
    Although water resistant, occasionally cleaning a vinyl floor with a damp , not sopping wet,mop is best. Do not use abrasive cleaners on your vinyl floor, and consult the manufacturer’s instructions for suggested cleaners.
    It is imperative to keep the vinyl or urethane wear-layer intact, because once the vinyl pattern becomes worn, there’s no restoring it. Cared for properly, vinyl floors can easily last 10 years, with some styles offering a residential warranty up to 20 years.
    Vinyl flooring strikes the balance between beauty and budget constraints, says Hendricks. “Especially in these difficult economic times, vinyl is a great product for the money,” he says. “Today’s vinyl flooring is easy on the eye, easy on the feet and easy on the pocketbook.”