VCT versus LVT: Differentiating Vinyl Flooring Options

By Tom Mikulski

If looking for resilient commercial flooring, vinyl offers optimum durability. Two of the most highly sought-after products are vinyl composition tile (VCT) and luxury vinyl tile (LVT).

Vinyl Composition Tile
Originally, VCT was referred to as vinyl asbestos tile or VAT due to the use of asbestos. VAT products have since been discontinued, replaced by the VCT products known today.

Most often sold in 12-inch by 12-inch squares, VCT is a combination of vinyl and limestone fillers. Despite its name, VCT contains a relatively small quantity of vinyl, with its primary purpose being to hold the limestone together. This is the reason behind its low overall cost.

VCT requires a cross-link acrylic finish, often simply referred to as wax, applied to the surface. If VCT is left unprotected, it will easily scratch over time. Unfortunately, applying and maintaining wax on VCT is very expensive over the lifetime of ownership. However, VCT can be a durable and long-lasting product if adequately maintained.

The colours of VCT could be considered a little dated, which is another drawback as its complex makeup limits its visual appearance. But this shouldn’t be an issue for those looking for a simple, cost-effective, durable product and who don’t mind paying extra for maintenance.

Luxury Vinyl Tile
LVT compares to VCT in strength and resilience. But unlike VCT, LVT has a higher vinyl content and is more scratch and indentation-resistant. LVT can also be made with monolithic layers, almost like a sandwich. The bottom vinyl layer allows for flexibility to minor undulations on the floor. This is followed by a printed film layer that provides the product’s visual. It is then topped off with a wear layer that often has embedded ceramic chips in the finish for durability.

One of the major draws of LVT is the variety of styles. LVT printing has shown significant advancement in recent years. When it first hit the market, prints were created with analog photography and were not very popular. Today, products can look so much like the raw materials they mimic that it is hard to tell the difference. On the printed layer, customers can choose from wood grain, stone, ceramic and even concrete digital prints to achieve any desired look, often at a fraction of the cost of the real thing.

Compared to VCT, LVT has a higher price point, especially when it comes to installation. However, unlike its vinyl counterpart, LVT does not need to be waxed and requires less maintenance. Because of this, customers typically consider it the more cost-effective solution long-term.

Tom Mikulski is founder and president of New Jersey-based Commercial Flooring & Interior Concepts Inc. Tom has more than 30 years of commercial floor covering sales, service and problem-solving experience. His family-owned company is known for enhancing commercial interiors with long-lasting, environmentally friendly flooring. Tom can be reached at 732-542-0022 or [email protected].

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