Types of Resilient Floors
The first step in planning a floor care program is knowing what type of flooring you have in your facility. Not all cleaning methods and surface treatments are safe for all floors, and using the wrong method can be a costly mistake. In this article, we look at the various types of resilient hard floors that you might encounter as a facility manager.
Resilient vs. non-resilient flooring
Before we get to the specific flooring types, let’s review the two main categories of flooring, resilient and non-resilient.
Resilient flooring is flooring that has a special property. When you press into a resilient floor, it gives a little and then returns to its normal shape. Resilient floors offer a few benefits you won’t find in non-resilient floors:
- Better traction and a lower risk of slip-and-fall accidents.
- Lower cost to replace damaged sections.
- Ergonomic benefits; less fatigue and more comfort to the people walking on the floor.
- Lower noise from foot traffic.
- Lots of choices in appearance. A wide variety of colors, patterns, and finishes are available.
Non-resilient flooring is exactly the opposite. A non-resilient floor has no give. If it’s dented, the dent is permanent. Non-resilient floors are also more likely to chip rather than deform. Concrete, for example, is a non-resilient flooring. There are some benefits to non-resilient floors as well:
- Durability. Non-resilient flooring can generally last longer than resilient flooring. When designing a high-traffic area, builders will often opt for non-resilient flooring.
- Price. Typically, a non-resilient floor is more expensive to install. Since it lasts longer, non-resilient floors can be less expensive over the total life of the floor.
- Maintenance cost. Non-resilient floors are typically less expensive to maintain than resilient floors.
We’re going to cover the different types of non-resilient flooring in a future post.
Types of resilient flooring
Vinyl Composition Tile (VCT)
Vinyl Composition Tile, or VCT, is made by forming polyvinyl chloride (PVC), fillers, and pigments into a flat sheet using heat and pressure. The most common size of VCT tile is 12” x 12”. Less commonly, VCT tile can be 12” x 24”, 16” x 16”, or 18” x 18”. Because it is a manufactured product, it comes in a large variety of colors and patterns.
VCT flooring is durable and stands up well to heavy traffic, and is a lower-cost flooring. For that reason, it’s found in most commercial and institutional buildings. If you maintain floors, you can all but guarantee that some of them are VCT floors.
VCT flooring comes with a finish from the factory. This finish is primarily added to the tile to protect it during shipping and installation. After installation, the factory finish is removed, and several coats of floor finish are applied. After a while, the floor finish will wear away or crack due to foot traffic and sunlight. To restore the floor’s appearance, the floor finish can be stripped away, and new layers of floor finish can be applied. Maintaining VCT flooring is a simple process and easily accomplished by scrubbing with a floor scrubber and polishing with a burnisher.
Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT)
Luxury Vinyl Tile, or LVT, is manufactured from several layers of different materials. It is primarily a vinyl tile with a decorative PVC film over the top of the base layer. A clear top layer, referred to as a wear layer, is then placed over the decorative film. The addition of the decorative film allows for a wide variety of appearances. The tile can be made to look like wood, stone, or ceramic flooring.
LVT is also a very durable type of flooring. The clear top layer is long-lasting, even in traffic areas. If needed, LVT can be maintained using acrylic floor finish and mild cleaners. Be sure to check with the manufacturer’s guidelines for maintenance. You will find that not every cleaning product is suitable for LVT tile.
If an LVT tile has a deep scratch gouge or dent, it can be replaced. During installation, extra tiles are typically ordered and set aside for future repairs.
Vinyl Asbestos Tile (VAT)
Vinyl Asbestos Tile, or VAT, is found in older buildings. Tiles manufactured with asbestos are typically either 9” x 9” or 12” x 12”.
Asbestos tile dust can be harmful, so if you’re removing asbestos tile, be sure to use proper procedures and precautions. If a tile was put down before 1980, there’s a chance it contains asbestos. If you’re not sure, contact a local asbestos remediation expert. Some tests can be performed to verify asbestos in tile.
As long as the vinyl asbestos tile is in good condition, maintaining asbestos vinyl tile floors can be done safely. However, a few precautions need to be taken, like not buffing or sanding the tile to prevent dust. Talk to your local janitorial supply distributor about the best products and procedures you can use to maintain asbestos vinyl floors.
Asphalt Asbestos Tile
Like VAT, Asphalt Asbestos Tile is an older type of tile that is no longer manufactured. Found in buildings built between the 1920s and 1960s. All the precautions listed above apply to asphalt asbestos tile.
If you have any concerns that your tile might contain asbestos, consult with local experts in remediation and floor maintenance to make sure you’re following the right procedures. As long as the tile is in good condition, maintaining the floors can be done safely.
Sheet Vinyl Flooring
Sheet vinyl flooring is similar in construction to luxury vinyl tile (LVT). Like LVT, sheet vinyl flooring has a wide variety of appearances available. The sheets are typically manufactured in widths ranging from 6 to 16 feet. With sheet vinyl flooring, builders can create unique designs without visible seams.
Because sheet vinyl flooring is continuous, damage can create a difficult problem. Rather than replacing a single damaged tile, an entire section of the floor has to be cut away and replaced.
Since the construction is similar to LVT tile, so is the maintenance procedure. The clear wear layer on the sheet will protect against damage. If needed, acrylic floor finish and mild cleaners can be used to maintain the floor. Check for the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance before selecting cleaning products.
Linoleum flooring is manufactured from solidified linseed oil, pine resin, ground cork dust, sawdust, and mineral fillers—the first uses of linoleum as a floor covering date back to the 1860s. As vinyl flooring became more popular, the popularity of linoleum flooring declined.
Maintaining linoleum flooring is similar to maintaining vinyl flooring. Generally, abrasive cleaning processes should be avoided because they can scratch the top layer of the flooring. High-speed burnishing is not recommended and can damage the floor. High alkaline cleaners (pH > 10) should be avoided. Before applying floor finish or using a chemical stripper, check to make sure it is recommended for linoleum floors.
Rubber flooring is manufactured from synthetic rubber, fillers, and pigments. Rubber flooring is available in square tiles, interlocking tiles, and sheets. Rubber flooring is very durable and can be purchased in a variety of colors and consistencies. Common applications are sports floors and high traffic commercial areas.
Rubber flooring is water-resistant, but too much moisture can impact the adhesive that holds the floor in place. For this reason, avoid soaking the floor while cleaning. Using an automatic scrubber, use just enough water to clean the floor and use the squeegee to dry the floor immediately. Some flooring manufacturers recommend cleaning rubber floors using just water. Others suggest using a mild soap solution. Be sure to check with your flooring manufacturer’s instructions to prevent damage to the floor.
Avoid using harsh chemicals and strippers on rubber flooring. Oils and solvents can also damage some rubber floors, so they should also be avoided.
Maintaining resilient flooring correctly starts with knowing what kind of floor you have. From there, you can select the right cleaning machines, chemicals, and processes to keep your floors looking great. Your local janitorial supply distributor is a great source of information when selecting cleaning products. In addition to your local distributor, NSS has regional managers throughout North America to help steer you in the right direction. Use the “Start a conversation” button on our homepage to let us know who you are and where you’re located. One of our regional managers will reach out to consult with you about your cleaning operations.