Mention the term "resilient flooring," and most of today's consumers think in terms of vinyl-based products. However, as those close to the industry realize, the resilient category also includes rubber floors, linoleum, asphalt tile and, some would argue, cork flooring.
Each of the aforementioned types of floors shares a variety of product characteristics in common. Though they provide a relatively firm surface, these materials also have the capacity to compress slightly under the weight of footfalls and subsequently bounce back to their original surface profile. It is this "give" in the product's structure that creates the comfort-underfoot characteristics for which resilient flooring is widely known.
In addition, resilient flooring is durable and easily cleaned -- typically, a damp mop is all that is necessary to maintain the product. Sheet vinyl is available in rolls as wide as 12 feet, which allows the product to be installed in a single piece for many kitchen, bathroom and entryway applications. When the room size makes this impractical, sections of the product can be "welded" together with specialized seam sealers.
In addition, many manufacturers of vinyl tile precision grind the edges of their products to ensure a tight fit between each tile. These tight seams, or lack of seams in the case of sheet vinyl, ease end user maintenance requirements because dirt and grit have no nooks and crannies in which to be trapped.
Another key to the success of resilient flooring lies in its broad range of colors and styles. With the possible exception of laminate products, resilient is virtually the only available flooring type that can be manufactured to convincingly emulate the look of competing products including hardwood, stone and ceramic tile. In addition, chemical and mechanical embossing techniques allow resilient manufacturers to replicate the textures, grains and undulations of natural flooring materials.
More recent advances
When it comes to high-profile technical advancements, resilient has often flown beneath the radar compared to some of the trendier flooring products now in vogue.
Vinyl floors, for example, have traditionally been available with high-gloss finishes. But more recently, many leading manufacturers have introduced new low-gloss products to the marketplace. In most instances, the floor's gloss is achieved by adding a urethane on top of the wearlayer.
These urethanes are often as durable as the urethane finishes that are applied to hardwood floors. Additionally, vinyl flooring suppliers have lavished much attention over the past decade on successfully enhancing their products' resistance to gouging, tearing and staining.
Manufacturers have also made great strides in enhancing the slip resistance of their products and reducing the conductivity of static electricity, features that can be particularly important in commercial settings but no less prized in the residential environment.
Styling: a key ingredient in the resilient formula
In the final analysis, the styling of resilient flooring is at least as important to its popularity as its considerable performance characteristics. The product’s myriad designs and limitless color combinations make resilient a viable option for any interior decor.
Research underscores the important role resilient styling plays in the minds of flooring consumers. According to the NFT Market Trends Study referenced previously, retailers say that their residential flooring customers rate sheet vinyl’s selection/styling higher than any other attribute of the product.
One look at the photos of newly released products that accompany this article may be enough to convince you why consumers feel as they do about resilient styling. If not, perhaps it's time to seriously review some of the thousands of SKUs available through your preferred resilient suppliers.
Resilient flooring may not be the newest or sexiest type of flooring currently available, but it is a workhorse product that consistently sells year after year. Add up the all of the advantages associated with its product characteristics, and it's easy to see why resilient remains a popular choice among U.S. flooring consumers.