While new and improved products are constantly hitting the market and, in the last couple of years the luxury vinyl business—be it tile, planks or the ever-expanding wood plastic composite floors—has exploded in popularity, sheet vinyl has managed to remain a viable option and first choice for many applications on both the commercial and residential sides of the fence.
“Resilient sheet is still important mainly because of three key attributes—it’s extremely economical, fashionable and durable,” said Dan Natkin, senior director of residential products for Mannington Mills.
For healthcare and laboratory environments, sheet flooring’s performance qualities remain unmatched, greatly due to the product’s seamlessness and cleanability—qualities that are crucial to keeping areas such as these safe and free of contamination by preventing bodily fluids, medicines and other chemicals from penetrating the surface and reaching the subfloor.
Unlike tiles and planks that can have easy to penetrate seams, sheet flooring’s flash coving capabilities and heat welded seams keep hazardous and contaminated fluids visible and accessible for easy clean-up.
“In the commercial segment, resilient sheet, such as Tarkett’s Acczent Flourish, offers optimal hygienic performance in hospitals and assisted living environments,” said Jeremy Salomon, product manager for Tarkett. “With fewer seams in which germs may hide, and the ability to be flash coved and heat welded, resilient sheet is a better option for infection control.”
From withstanding the high foot traffic schools see daily, to the weight of mobile hospital beds and medical equipment, sheet flooring’s durability, i.e., it’s strength, makes it an ideal choice for many types of commercial environments.
According to Andrew Heeter, Upofloor’s vice president of resilient sales, enhanced wearlayers and the company’s PUR factory applied finishes contribute to the durability of the mill’s sheet offerings.
“One way the durability and performance have changed is improved urethane top coats, providing added durability to sheet products,” added Salomon. “For instance, Acczent Flourish offers a 32mil wearlayer, which is exceptionally hard-wearing, making it ideal for heavy traffic areas. Additionally, our FiberFloor comes in a variety of construction types to suit any residential setting, but is also warranted for light commercial applications.”
For IVC, the use of fiberglass in sheet flooring has increased the stability in the product. “Our flooring has a sheet of fiberglass which creates stability in the product and helps it lay really flat,” said Tressa Samdal, the mill’s design development manager of sheet vinyl. “It’s an innovative approach to sheet vinyl.”
Resilient in the Home
Beyond the commercial market, resilient sheet continues to be an important product in residential applications.
“For residential products, sheet vinyl is still a viable product because it has unmatched value and properties that other products can’t mimic,” said Rachel Lombardo, director of product management, resilient sheet, Armstrong Floor Products.
Most valued in areas that might be subjected to moisture, sheet flooring’s ability to stand up to everyday life is appealing.
“Resilient sheet is an option for almost anywhere in the home but, today, consumers consider it primarily for bathrooms, laundry rooms and kitchens,” said Natkin. “The product not only looks great, but has excellent durability and moisture resistance for these types of rooms.”
Applicable in both single- and multiple-family spaces, sheet flooring’s look and price point allow it to be an option for consumers across the market.
“For single-family residential, resilient sheet is a beautiful, comfortable option that stands up to everyday life—and is an affordable option for young people just starting out or for established families on a budget,” said Liz Marcello, product manager at Tarkett. “It affords them the look of natural, more costly materials but gives them easy maintenance for their busy lives. It looks great with minimal effort.
“For residential multi-family,” she continued, “it can help to reduce overall costs, is easy to replace and update, and the aesthetics are appealing to renters.”
With the help of technology and print advancements, the look of sheet flooring is constantly improving, making it an even more welcomed feature in homes.
“Visually, the designs continue to get more and more realistic in terms of color and clarity due to improvements in print technology,” said Natkin.
Samdal said she and the designers at IVC use the most up-to-date print technology advancements to design flooring that fits customers’ lifestyles and design trends best.
“In terms of visuals, we are always trying to stay on trend,” said Samdal. “We are always looking at what’s happening with lifestyles, and then creating products around that. We have a lot of new modern looks with more pops of color as well as the popular linen looks.”
The Evolution of Sheet Flooring
On the installation side, the industry is welcoming additional installation options for a product that up until recently has been historically difficult to install.
“Installing [sheet vinyl] has always been a challenge, said,” Jeff Collum, president of Shannon Specialty Floors. “I’ve been in this business for 30 years and installation is always what people mention is the biggest challenge.”
According to Collum, the installation challenge is due to different styles of manufacturing. “Products made in different factories install different. Even though they are all a sheet that you roll out, they still handle differently and respond to different things.”
Luckily, installation has become simpler due to the conversion from felt backed to glass backed (fiberglass) resilient sheet, making it more flexible and easier to scrim, as well as use spray and tape adhesives—which have also improved greatly over the years due to technological advancements.
“Products utilizing new technology such as poly-acrylic tape adhesive systems make installation easier,” said Heeter. “Spray adhesives allow for faster installations, i.e., same day heat welding for sheet products.”
Additionally, spray and tape adhesives allowing faster installation are especially ideal for environments that require a fast turn-around in order to keep the facility up and running with minimal to zero downtime—something extremely important in today’s competitive marketplace.
“The option of adhesive systems allowing for immediate foot traffic and heat welding for areas that cannot be shut down for extensive periods of time such as hospital emergency departments is a key reason why sheet products are still vital to the industry,” said Chip Braulick, director of flooring for CBC America.
As resilient sheet continues to evolve, manufacturers are even exploring more sustainability options.
“Upofloor offers a PVC free product making sustainability a priority for both users and the environment,” said Heeter. “We now have a viable product in the market that is not only sustainable, but doesn’t compromise the performance of the product. In addition to sustainability and performance, our sheet product has a beautiful range of 45 colors, making it perfect for every application.”