When we’re talking about vinyl, you could be forgiven that we’re talking about one type of product. But you couldn’t be further from the truth. There have actually been two main types of vinyl product on the market since 1970 – it’s just that one of them only gained popularity very recently.
The first – and one you’re probably more familiar with – is the traditional sheet vinyl, which came about when flooring producers wanted a wat to get maximum floor coverage for minimum cost, creating the low-quality commodity vinyl many of us will remember from our childhood homes. But as time moved on technology advanced, a new variety entered the market – vinyl tile. Both of these are still available today, and today we’re going to help you choose which one is right for you.
Look and Style
While the technology behind the construction on both sheet vinyl and vinyl tile is quite similar, the application is quite different. Both options feature a photograph set below the wear layer, which is what gives the flooring it’s design. The most popular designs are still stone and wood, which are available in both forms, but there is a far larger selection of varieties, types and levels of realism in vinyl tile – ideal if you have awkward spaces or want a super-realistic look.
Sheet vinyl is typically made using a calender press that is 6-15 foot wide and 3 foot long. They are bulky, expensive, and capable of making one style of sheet of vinyl at a time. This also means that sheet vinyl can only ben installed in one or two large pieces, meaning it doesn’t work well in awkward spaces. Vinyl tile on the other hand can be custom made in small numbers, allowing for complete customisation in the design, it’s even possible (and easy) for the installer to cut individual tiles and planks to create any number of shapes, patterns and designs. And since it can be cut in much smaller pieces, it can be installed in any desired configuration.
Durability and Stability
Sheet vinyl is, by the very way it’s produced, a much less durable and stable flooring solution than vinyl tile. The large calender press method means that there is less concern for precise crafting, and so it is more prone to damage. Vinyl tile on the other hand is pressed under immense heat and pressure, which created well-bonded and extremely hard layers – so they stand up to wear a lot better! Sheet vinyl also suffers from a fatal flaw – curling. Since it’s stored in tightly wound rolls, the sheets tend to keep that memory for curling, which is why you will see old sheet vinyl floors curling at the edges and in any damaged areas. Vinyl tiles are stored flat, so don’t suffer from this problem.
Then there is the issue of repairs. When you’re installing a large sheet of vinyl, if one area becomes damaged then your options for repairing it are limited. You either have to replace the entire floor, or cut the damaged section out and fit a new one in – both expensive and complicated. But with vinyl tiles, you can simply lift the damaged tile or tile out, and replace it with another, without needing to pull up large areas of flooring.
This is one of the areas where sheet and tile vinyl are pretty comparable – and it’s a big area right now in the age of sustainability. Both types of flooring are made from vinyl, and this is by and large a recyclable material. It can also be made from recycled materials, which many brands and providers have started to do. There is a limit to the amount of recycled material that can be used in a new product without compromising the durability of the floor, but that number is quite high, meaning vinyl flooring has a lower environmental impact than many other kinds of floor.
Cost wise, this is where you may see a big difference. While sheet vinyl is the ‘cheap and cheerful’ option, vinyl tiles are at the opposite end of the price spectrum. Part of this cost difference comes in the installation. Vinyl tiles are a higher end product that require a specific kind of preparation before being laid, and a skilled installer to make sure they are fitted properly. So you could never really ‘DIY’ vinyl tiles, only use an installer, which adds on to the bill. But it does mean you get a great professional fit that isn’t going to budge. Sheet vinyl on the other hand is often installed by the homeowner, as it is relatively simple to do, and many people prefer to save the money. There are downsides to this approach, which you can find out about here.
Vinyl tiles are more expensive than their sheet vinyl counterpart, but they will also withstand a lot of use over time, and tend of be much higher quality. Sheet vinyl on the other hand is likely to need repair or overhaul in the future, far more often than vinyl tile, so while it is often cheaper up front, this should be factored into your overall decision. We also don’t recommend that you use sheet vinyl for any room other than a bathroom – specifically because it is prone to ripping under heavy use and furniture. So while sheet vinyl might be a cheaper option, it’s very much a case of ‘you get what you pay for’.
At Floor24, we supply a wide range of both sheet vinyl and vinyl tiles, so you can choose the solution that works for your space, style and budget. Our preferred suppliers for vinyl tiles are Karndean and Amtico, both of which provide amazing, high-quality tiles in a huge range of styles, and we have plenty of styles for you to take a look at in store. If you’d like to know more, you can check out our website, or take a virtual tour of our showroom to see our selection, even during this difficult time. Or click here to chat to our advisors about your project by phone or email.