What to Know About Luxury Vinyl Locking Systems

By Brooks Jamieson

Luxury vinyl flooring, also known as LVT (luxury vinyl tile) or LVP (luxury vinyl plank), has become an increasingly favoured option for both residential and commercial spaces. One of the reasons for luxury vinyl’s growing popularity is the development and advancements in technology and, in particular, the locking systems. These systems make it easy to install luxury vinyl, and provide a secure and stable base for the flooring.

Since choosing the right locking system will ensure consumers’ investment and that floors will last for years, let’s look at the various types on the market today: click-lock, glue-down and floating.

Click-Lock System
The most common type of luxury vinyl locking system is the click-lock. The system consists of a tongue and groove design that allows the planks or tiles to click together securely. This makes installation quick and easy, as the planks or tiles simply need to be locked into place, fitting together like a puzzle piece. It’s also easy to remove at the end of the flooring’s life cycle because the system is not adhered to anything and does not require any special tools.

Other benefits of click-lock vinyl are its cost-effectiveness since no special tools or adhesive are required; it can be used in a number of different settings; and it’s available in a variety of colours and styles to suit consumer preferences.

On the downside, the click-lock system is not waterproof. This means that if moisture seeps through the edges of the vinyl planks, it can cause damage. For this reason, click-lock systems are not recommended for bathrooms or other areas that water is likely to be present.

Additionally, with a click-lock system, it’s not as easy to remove and replace a single plank without affecting the surrounding planks. This can make repairs more time-consuming and complicated.

And compared to other locking systems, if click-lock vinyl does not come with a pad already attached, it is not as warm and comfortable underfoot.

Glue-down System
There is no locking mechanism between the planks or tiles with a glue-down system; each piece is merely butted up to the adjacent piece. This system requires the use of adhesive to secure the flooring in place. While it can take more time and effort than the click-lock system to install, it is a permanent option and is recommended for heavy traffic areas or commercial spaces.

The glue-down method offers greater durability, stability and sound-proofing than the click-lock system. Because the floor is adhered to the subfloor, it is less likely to move and become damaged over time. The glue adhesive creates a strong bond that is resistant to wear and tear and moisture. It creates a seal between the subfloor and the luxury vinyl making it more resistant to water damage. Specific glues can be used to create a sound-deadening barrier between the luxury vinyl and subfloor. This results in less noise transmission between floors.

On the flip side, glue-down luxury vinyl requires the use of special tools, adhesives and skills, which can make the installation process more costly, time-consuming and messy. If the subfloor is not properly prepped, the adhesive may not bond properly and the floor may become loose over time. Also, luxury vinyl that is installed over an uneven substrate will ‘telegraph’ any unevenness or imperfections in the substrate.

When it’s time to replace, glue-down luxury vinyl can be difficult to remove, too, since it is adhered to the subfloor. Special tools may be required and there is a chance the subfloor may be damaged.

Floating System
With the floating system, the planks or tiles are not attached to the subfloor but are placed over a foam underlayment where they simply ‘float’ on top of the surface. As a result, installation can be done relatively quickly and easily.

A floating system is also low maintenance, as it’s easy to clean and requires very little upkeep. This makes it ideal for busy homes.

And the system is softer and more comfortable underfoot, so it’s ideal for those areas where people spend a lot of time.

Despite the many benefits, floating luxury vinyl has a tendency to expand and contract with changes in temperature and humidity. This leads to gaps between planks, which is not only an eyesore but it allows dirt, debris and moisture to accumulate.

Floating floors can also produce more noise than other systems when it is walked on. This is because the planks are not attached to the subfloor and will move slightly with each step. Luxury vinyl with a pad attached will help reduce much of that noise.

When it comes to installation, a sound and level subfloor is needed when installing a floating luxury vinyl floor to ensure the planks lie evenly and do not become misaligned.

Brooks Jamieson is the social media manager with Canada Nufloors Group Inc., a 100 per cent member-owned Canadian marketing/business group of Nufloors flooring stores. Currently, there are 25 locations across Canada. Brooks can be reached at [email protected].

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