Like many people during the pandemic, I have been updating and modernizing my home over the past 12 months, installing a new kitchen and bathroom along with decorating a few other rooms, and a big part of updating those rooms was to install new flooring.
With the bathroom and kitchen being exposed to more extreme conditions than other areas and being heavily used every day by my clan, I took my time in choosing a good quality flooring that will last a decent amount of time and stand up to the wear and tear of family life.
There are a several options and after some research I decided to go with Rigid core vinyl, here’s a few of the more common question I came across that will give you the information you need when choosing your flooring and why you should consider Vinyl flooring.
What is vinyl flooring?
Vinyl flooring is a hard-wearing material made from Polyvinyl chloride or PVC, there are 3 types of vinyl, Luxury vinyl, rigid core vinyl, and loose lay vinyl. PVC flooring comes as sheets on a roll, planks, or tiles in packs These should be laid on a flat, clean subbase floor, they are water-resistant and are widely used in kitchens and bathrooms.
With approximately 40 million tons produced each year, PVC is the world’s third-most widely produced synthetic plastic polymer.
PVC comes in two basic forms the first is rigid PVC also known as RPVC and the second is flexible PVC.
The rigid form of PVC is often used in the construction industry for large pipes and in profile applications such as doors and windows. It is also used in producing bottles, packaging, food-covering sheets, and credit cards.
By adding what are called plasticizers to it when it is being made PVC can be made softer and more flexible, one of the most widely used forms of softening agent are known as Phthalates.
In this more flexible form, PVC is also used to produce items used not only in construction but also in a much wider group of industries including
- electrical cables,
- furniture coverings,
- flooring, signs,
- phonograph records,
- inflatable products,
Soft or flexible PVC is also used to replace rubber for various reasons. Normal Pure polyvinyl chloride is a white, brittle solid. It is insoluble in alcohol but slightly soluble in tetrahydrofuran.
Vinyl flooring is usually made from flexible PVC and comes in three main types which are:
- Luxury vinyl
- Luxury rigid-core vinyl
- Sheet vinyl which is also known as loose lay vinyl
Each one of the 3 types of flooring has unique features that give them advantages over other flooring types when used in different parts of your home.
But they all share some similar features which apply to whichever room they are fitted:
- Vinyl flooring is easy to clean,
- Waterproof or water-resistant,
- Vinyl can be feature printed to provide an authentic textured look and feel
Vinyl flooring is also hard-wearing and easy to cut and fit which is an added benefit when it comes to choosing your flooring and as a DIY’er makes it a great option as it can be installed with only a few tools.
How to lay vinyl flooring
There are different methods used for installing and laying vinyl flooring based on which type of flooring you to choose to use.
To install luxury vinyl and some sheet vinyl flooring an adhesive is applied to the subbase, this is method is known as glue down. The area needs to be leveled and cleaned, removing any loose material and dirt, a thin layer of adhesive is applied in small workable sections, the vinyl flooring is then laid directly to the subfloor or base and the adhesive is used to hold it in place.
Vinyl flooring which is glued down does not use underlay as it is bonded directly onto the subfloor to maximize durability.
The advantages of this are that the flooring is very hard wearing and will last a long time making this a good choice for rooms or areas that have a high level of traffic.
The disadvantages to using the glue-down installation method are that it is difficult to replace the vinyl once it is worn or damaged also the use of adhesives makes installation more difficult than other types of vinyl flooring.
To install ‘Click and Lock’ vinyl flooring, first prepare, and level the subbase. Then clean it to remove dirt, the vinyl flooring is installed over a layer of underlay. Working in rows across the room, the vinyl flooring is locked to the piece next to it, by clicking the profiled edges together to create a floating floor layer. This method is used with rigid core vinyl and some luxury vinyl.
The click and lock system has become one of the most widely available methods for fitting vinyl on the market, there are a few variations produced by different manufacturers, but they all make the installation very easy and is great for DIY’ers as only a few tools are required to fit this type of flooring.
The last method for installing vinyl flooring is called loose lay, this method does not use glue or adhesive or any other type of fixings, once the subbase is cleaned prepared, and made level, then the vinyl is simply laid on top of a layer of underlay, trimmed to fit and floats on top, this method is generally only used with sheet vinyl.
The biggest advantage to using the loose-lay installation method is that no glue or other fittings are needed, which makes it easy to lay.
The disadvantages are that it can only be used on areas below a certain size, which depends on the manufacturer, larger areas tend to lift, and it is best used in low traffic areas of your home.
How to clean vinyl floors
Just like every flooring surface in and around your home, vinyl will get dirty, but the great thing about it is how easy it is to keep clean.
Cleaning luxury vinyl flooring only takes a quick sweep, vacuum, or mop, to keep it looking good, Luxury vinyl floors are tough, durable, and have a scratch-resistant top layer which makes them easy to clean and maintain. Luxury vinyl is 100% waterproof and can handle most spills and stains easily. Rigid core vinyl can also be steam cleaned to give it a good deep clean.
I would recommend that you never use abrasive scouring pads, hard brushes, or cleaning agents to clean vinyl as this can damage the surface, and always check the manufacturer’s instructions before you clean your flooring.
Regularly cleaning the floor in areas like kitchens and bathrooms should be on your list or daily and weekly chores, as a homeowner making these regular chores as quick a painless as possible is always a good thing and vinyl needs to be swept twice a week and then mopped once a week using a speed mop and Bissel vacuum cleaner which is my current favorite.
I normally give my vinyl floors a deep clean twice a year in the spring and fall, this keeps the flooring fresh and looking like new.
Can you paint vinyl flooring?
Vinyl flooring does not adhere to paint very well. Dirt can be worn into the surface over time, this prevents the paint from bonding to the vinyl flooring, leaving a surface that is not as hard-wearing as the vinyl underneath. Even using specially formulated paints will not be as wear-resistant or hold up to foot traffic, eventually, the paint can become scratched, scuffed, and begin to chip or flake.
The surface of vinyl is designed to be hardwearing and resistant to damage this makes applying paint or other types of surface treatment difficult to get right.
It requires preparation of the surface to provide a good key for the paint and usually involves sanding and applying a primer before painting, the upshot of this is that it’s a lot of work and will not be as long-lasting as replacing the flooring.
I would recommend considering laying new flooring rather than painting existing vinyl flooring, this will be a better job that will look great and last longer.
How to cut vinyl flooring
To cut luxury vinyl, measure and mark your cut, then score the plank or tile with a sharp knife, use a metal straight edge as a guide a small speed square works well, snap off the plank. For cutting thinner vinyl sheet, sharp scissors can be used. For small sections of rigid vinyl, I often use a laminate cutter like this to make square and repeatable cuts.
Vinyl flooring is designed to be easy to cut and fit and has advantages over installing wood or ceramic flooring. You will not need any large or expensive tools such as a miter or chop saw, and vinyl flooring does not produce the same amount of mess or dust as ceramic tiles or wooden planks when it is cut.
My go-to tools for fitting vinyl flooring are:
The one tool you may find useful for cutting intricate or complex profiles is a fine-bladed hack saw or jigsaw. I like to use a cordless jigsaw, as it is quick and easy to use,
I have a Hikoki jigsaw that works well and is useful for this type of project amongst others.
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Do you need underlay for vinyl flooring?
Rigid core vinyl planking and luxury vinyl tiles need to be installed on top of a layer of underlay, this layer provides a protective barrier between the subfloor and the vinyl floating on top of it. Modern products often have underlay fitted to the planking or tile, removing the need to install a separate layer. Vinyl sheet and glue down vinyl do not need underlay, as it is bonded to the subbase.
There are different types of underlay that provide different benefits, some reduce sound transmission making them good for use on flats and upper floors, other types of underlay will provide thermal insulation.
When choosing the right type of underlay you need for your flooring check the manufacturer’s instruction, as some floor types, concrete, for example, will require a vapor barrier to prevent moisture damaging the underside of the vinyl.
Is vinyl flooring any good?
Luxury vinyl flooring is a great option for use in bathrooms, kitchens, and utility rooms thanks to its easy to clean surface and waterproofing which make it able to handle all of the spills and splashes that come from these high traffic areas. Rigid core vinyl is good for use in conservatories, it can withstand surface temperatures up to 60°C, and sheet vinyl is a great option for playrooms, and nurseries thanks to its cushioning and easy to clean qualities.
I use rigid core vinyl in my bathroom and kitchen for these very reasons, new production methods mean there are lots of choices for color and style of vinyl flooring.
Can you repair vinyl flooring?
Repairs to vinyl flooring can be tricky, it is possible to replace with rigid core vinyl planks, this involves lifting the whole floor and it is often better to replace the entire flooring layer rather than replace parts as that can look patchy. Like most materials vinyl can fade over time when exposed to direct sunlight and will wear out with use and traffic.
Sheet vinyl can be repaired by patching if done carefully, however, the repair will never be as good as the original layer and should only be used as a temporary measure.
The best way to correct any damage is to replace the flooring this can seem like a daunting task, however, it is often quicker to do this than spend time trying to repair a small area that can stick out like a sore thumb, and potentially lead to more problems.
Can you lay vinyl flooring over tiles?
Vinyl flooring can be laid directly over ceramic and porcelain tile floors, so long as they provide a solid and suitable subfloor. Luxury vinyl flooring behaves like a floating floor and will sit on top of the tiles. Any damaged or dented tiles must be corrected, and grout lines should not be too deep or wide, as this can create depressions in the vinyl flooring.
Click and lock rigid tiles work best for covering existing floors as they are laid on top of underlay which can adjust for small imperfections, the hard surface of rigid vinyl also helps to prevent grout lines from showing through.
I find it best to avoid using sheet vinyl on top of tiled floors because is softer and will settle over the underlying surface showing the lines and any damage below.
One option to prevent this is to lay hardboard over the tiled surface before laying the vinyl on top, this will help to level out the floor and cover any imperfections, however, this will mean the flooring is slightly higher and needs to be accounted for when replacing trims, baseboards or skirtings.
How does vinyl flooring cost?
For entry-level vinyl flooring prices start at $5 per square foot or £11 per square meter for sheet vinyl, for high quality, luxury rigid core vinyl will cost up to $17 per square foot pr £40 per square meter. The cost of vinyl flooring can vary depending on the quality and features included. Vinyl makes for a great, affordable flooring option, often costing less than other floors as it is made from synthetic materials.
I always suggest buying the best you can afford, rather than buying the cheapest option, choosing the right flooring for your needs will mean that you get a great result that you can be pleased with for a very long time, and probably cost less in the long term as it will wear better and suit your home in the way you want.
This article was written by: Richard Quinton – The DIY Help Desk Owner, Engineer & technical specialist.
Richard is one of the key partners in The DIY Help Desk team. He is a qualified Engineer, writer, and publisher, educated to Master’s level. He is a keen advocate of DIY and home improvements.
Richard enjoys helping others to learn new skills and reach their goals and believes that passing his knowledge and experience on through his writing is an effective way to positively impact the lifestyles and wellbeing of others on a larger scale.