Vinyl first came into being as a light-weight and durable building material during World War II. As more and more use of this product began being discovered, vinyl entered into the commercial market with a vengeance. Today, one very important usage of this chemical is in the flooring industry in the form of vinyl floor tiles.
While every manufacturer has their own proprietary formulation for producing vinyl floor tiles, in its basic avatar, the product is made by using additives to vinyl resin, such as – plasticizers, stabilizers, pigments, and fillers.
Vinyl resin along with these additives is called vinyl compound in industry parlance. There are two methods of producing tiles from this compound:
·The compound is heated to a high temperature, and the liquid poured in molds
·The compound is fed through a series of rollers that gradually squeeze the material to just the gauge required for that batch. This technique is called “calendaring”, which is a unique characteristic of the vinyl compound. The sheet thus formed undergoes a coating meant to improve resistance to abrasions and stains.
Vinyl tiles are categorized into the following:
·Solid Vinyl: this particular tile type contains higher vinyl content (so is a purer form of vinyl).
·Vinyl Composite Tile (VCT): this tile type has a higher percentage of additives and fillers.
In fact, it was the versatility of VCT that caught the attention of the public when it was first presented at an Exposition in Chicago during the World War II days.
Depending on the composition of the material, vinyl tiles tend to have variance in characteristics, leading to choices in terms of whether a given tile is more or less suitable to be installed in a bathroom, doorway, or basement.
In the VCT, for example, manufacturers add a printed design layer created through a rotogravure printing process. This design layer is what gives the vinyl floor tiles those beautiful designs and colors and sparkle, making them attractive. It is in VCT again that manufacturers sheath a high-performance “wear” layer on top, in order to withstand heavy duty traffic.
Characteristics of Vinyl Floor Tiles
It is not for nothing that these tiles are called “Resilience tiles”. They tend to bounce back from whatever impact and pressure they are subjected to, whether through footfalls or static load. A few other notable characteristics of this product are as follows:
·Diversity of designs: Thanks to technology, vinyl floor tiles can imitate the look and feel of wood or ceramic floors, but at considerably less cost than these more expensive counterparts. It is very easy to cut the tiles and give them any shape; so the floor can be turned into a mosaic of designs and art. Company logos can be planted on the floor through vinyl floor tiles. Direction signs can be impregnated on the floor using this product… the list is as endless as your imagination.
·Ruggedness: Vinyl floor tiles with thick-enough wear layers can withstand the most punishing of traffic and heavy weight. Their resistance to stain and moisture makes them a good candidate for installing in such areas as the basement, kitchen or the bathroom. The tiles are even neutral to common reagents such as alkalis, acids, aliphatic hydrocarbons and the like. However, certain aromatic hydrocarbons can soften the tiles to some extent. Depending on where and how exactly you plan to use them, you may go in for the appropriate tiles for your installation.
·Exposure to sunlight: Continuous exposure over a period of time to strong sunlight can fade out the strongest of color pigments in the tiles. This point needs to be borne in mind while installing vinyl tile flooring in rooms with large windows allowing sunrays inside.
·Muffling of sound: Vinyl floor tiles are better capable of suppressing echoes created due to the stomping of feet on the ground. When this is your utmost concern (you do not want footfall noise to distract), you can additionally go in for underlayments that can further douse out acoustics.
·Application in sports facilities: The cost of setting up sports complexes can be further reduced by replacing expensive flooring options with vinyl tile floorings. Vinyl floor tiles do not require waxing. Plus, you can paint all the lines that your sports require on them without any worries. Special VCT products have foam cushion backing layer in them, which can reduce impact shock and therefore cause less fatigue to the running and jumping legs. The bounce of the ball will be that much sharper, thanks to the natural rebound produced by these tiles.
Cost & Installation
Vinyl floor tiles are priced anywhere from 29 cents to four dollars per square feet. The price is dependent on the tile’s thickness, color and design. A thicker tile will cost more. Special, “embossed-in-register” tiles have been crafted with that extra attention which naturally raises their price.
Installing these tiles can be a simple DIY affair, if you are so inclined. You can buy glueless tiles which come with a rolled underlayment that in itself has an adhesive which can stick to the back layer of the tiles. Or you can go for the peel ‘n stick version where there is a peel on the back layer which can peeled off, and the tile placed on the floor.
Limitations of Usage
Some of its core strengths make vinyl floor tiles vulnerable too. While VCTs are the in-thing for residential kitchens, a different quality of flooring is called for in commercial kitchen settings.
Another limitation of vinyl floor tiles is their susceptibility to indentation due to permanent placement of heavy, static loads (such as heavy furniture) on them. Similarly, a room where there is a constant traffic of rolling loads (such as horizontal drums in a storeroom for instance) will find the vinyl floor tiles giving way a bit too soon.
Vinyl floor tiles are a good value for money. These tiles now come in an unlimited variety of designs, colors and characteristics, so one can pick and choose the right product that suits both their requirements and their budget.