Shown is Armstrong’s Natural Creations by Armstrong Earthcuts. Photo courtesy Armstrong.

You don’t need to be a professional in the floor covering business to know that vinyl tile has emerged from its cocoon and become quite the beautiful butterfly. Think back to the connotations previously attached to vinyl and vinyl tile.

Several decades ago, flooring was more about function than beauty, and unfortunately nothing demonstrated that fact more than vinyl tile. That, perhaps, is the main reason it fell out of favor for so long. Vinyl tile was not associated with aesthetics or fashion. It was a predictable, inexpensive, homogenous way to dress a floor. Seriously, if your mindset is still stuck in that scenario, it’s time to take a fresh look. (Trumpet fanfare inserted here.)

Mannington’s Adura in Provence Syrah.

The transformation of vinyl tile has been monumental, to say the least. So let’s take a look at what was, and what LVT has become.

Vinyl tile of the past:trite styling; limited colors and patterns; ‘one size fits all’ tiles; and an easily scuffed wear layer.

Luxury vinyl tile of today:creative styling; full spectrum of artistic colors and patterns; nature-based styles in a myriad of sizes; and a high-performance wear layer that resists scuffs, scratches, rips, tears and even gouges. Excellent durability and maintenance combine to create a flooring choice that has it all.

Superior creative styling has to be the leading feature. Manufacturers have been working overtime in their research and development departments, recreating the definition and composition of vinyl tile. Here are some examples:

Tarkett NAFCO’s PermaStone luxury vinyl Firenze pattern in Olive and Antique White installed GroutLess.

Mannington Floorshas developed an outstanding line: the Adura collections, which are focused on realism and improved optic imaging techniques. Within Adura, the Distinctive Collection captures the natural beauty of hardwood floors. The 5” by 48” planks feature micro-beveled edges and offer walnut, cherry, oak and hickory vinyl planks designed to capture the warmth and essence of real wood. Adura Luxury Plank features squared edges and comes in 4” x 36” planks.

Switching gears to luxury tile, Mannington has created a mix of nature-based patterns. Adura Luxury Tile simulates real stone with exceptional authenticity. To add to the realism of these stone-look floors, Adura tiles can be installed with specially formulated grout joints. Instead of butting the tile edges tightly, they can be positioned with a desired gap and then grouted with premixed Adura grout. The look is exceptional and can be used with several of the Adura lines.

EarthWerks’ Legacy lvt offers  the look of natural hardwoods.

Adura also features the marbleized looks of “Seaside” which are clean and contemporary.  “Dynasty” translates the richness of slate into 16” by 16” luxury vinyl tiles.  “Manhattan,” “Sicilian Stone” and “Yunan” round out the Adura series with their natural stone looks.

Armstrong Floorshas a complete library of LVT designed to fit commercial applications.  Their target market segment includes healthcare, education, hospitality, light commercial, retail and office. The styling is so creative that you will no doubt see some of their LVT cross over to the residential sector.  As a matter of fact, if you are on the retail floor, this is something you should feel free to suggest. For the residential consumer seeking to create a unique floor, this is a viable option. Versatility is a key factor and that trait suits both commercial and residential applications.  

The key word is “flexible.” The mix and match capabilities are the draw that keep architects and designers specifying Armstrong. Their luxury vinyl tile collections include Stones & Naturals, Decoratives & Geometrics, Overall Patterns, Traditional and Distressed Woods, Hand-scraped Woods, Parquet, and a collection of Specialty Woods. Armstrong hasn’t missed a thing when it comes to creative styling.

EarthWerksis another excellent source for LVT. The tagline to their luxury vinyl tile collection is “Flooring Inspired by Nature.” I’d have to say that captures the essence of their line very nicely. They too have offerings that capture the look of natural hardwoods in a variety of plank sizes. The inspiration for their stone looks is from natural resources found in the mountains of Southern Italy. Their technology in capturing the realism of Italian stone and granite is exceptional.  If your customer is looking for a floor that adds elegance and natural good looks to their home, this is it.

Tarkett- I always make it a point to tour model homes regularly to stay up on what’s fresh and relevant in the home building industry. When I’m on the road, I especially like to research models to get a broader view of trends across the country. That’s how I discovered Nafco LVT in Destin, Fla. The builder was offering Nafco as a standard for his housing development. Lucky new homebuyers would get a home featuring Nafco flooring in their kitchen, nook and bath areas.

It’s a stunning surface that also incorporates real grout in the installation process (using their patented GroutFit system), which is engineered to deliver the richness and authenticity of a true stone floor. Innovation is everything, and Nafco more than delivered on that. Add to that their Tritonite wear layer, and the benefits multiply. Tritonite gets its impressive strength from millions of ceramic micro-spheres embedded right in the urethane finish. The result is superior resilience and protection against scuffs, scratches, and wear.

Galleher– I have just learned from southern California-based distributor Galleher serving Arizona, California and Nevada that they have just introduced the Rewards Collection of Luxury Vinyl Tiles.

One thing all of these featured luxury vinyl tile floors have in common is their ease of care.  Maintenance always ranks high on the list of consumer demands, and LVT more than satisfies their desire for a low-maintenance floor. Sweeping at least once a week and damp mopping occasionally with the manufacturer’s recommended cleaners are all it takes to preserve the beauty of these floors.

Even difficult stains like tar or permanent marker can be tackled on LVT using isopropyl alcohol on a dampened rag. (Before you tackle a difficult stain, be sure to consult the manufacturer’s website for their recommendations.)  For growing families with active lifestyles, luxury vinyl tile is out of its cocoon, looking beautiful, and ready to take flight.