While some may expect all flooring to stand up to frequent and longstanding footfall, only a few materials truly deserve to be labelled ‘resilient.’
Typically, only vinyl floors are referenced whenever the term ‘resilient flooring’ is thrown around.
However, vinyl, cork, linoleum and rubber all fit the bill when it comes to the Resilient Floor Covering Institute’s definition of a non-textile floor that is not only comfortable to tread on but also has the ability to bounce back from repeated traffic or compression.
According to the industry trade association, these hard-surface flooring options can easily make the transition from a messy school classroom to a stylish living room at minimal expense.
This blog post will tell you how to make the ideal resilient choice for your flooring project by taking a look at how these four products are brought from conception to your home.
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While some may associate vinyl flooring with a cheap-looking plastic best kept to laundry rooms and bathrooms, this durable material has come a long way in the style department.
More and more homeowners are turning to vinyl for its durability, easy maintenance, reasonable price tag and overall attractive appearance.
Its good looks and high performance are due to a multi-layered composition, beginning with the flooring’s core. This is a base layer of the plastic mounted on a felt or fiberglass backing.
The second layer differs slightly between printed and inlaid vinyl. The former uses a printing process called rotogravure, which involves the use of a rotary press to transfer patterns and colours onto a vinyl sheet. The result is a product that realistically reflects more costly substances such as marble or hardwood. With inlaid vinyl, a colour pattern is injected directly into a vinyl sheet, which keeps the floor looking newer longer, but limits pattern choices.
The final layer may just be the most important. This clear top surface, or wear layer, protects the product from damage. A thicker wear layer will be more resilient to scratches, dents, stains and moisture.
There are three common top coatings:
- Vinyl no-wax, which is cost effective, stain resistant and low maintenance.
- Urethane, which offers a higher level of protection against wear and tear.
- Enhanced urethane is the strongest of the three, and will hold up the best against heavy traffic.
One part of the manufacturing process consumers should take note of is whether phthalates were added to soften the plastic. This chemical stabilizer has been used for decades in numerous plastic products, and can be inhaled from the dust or fumes of vinyl flooring. Luckily, this harmful ingredient is not a necessary part of the production process, and has been eliminated completely by some thoughtful manufacturers.
CorkUnlike vinyl’s synthetic nature, cork is a renewable resource that is turning the heads of homeowners who are seeking a more sustainable flooring option.
The product is made from the bark of the Mediterranean cork tree, which is harvested by hand and dried for months in its native forest before being shipped to factories and utilized for wine-bottle corks. What is left over is ground up and compressed before being cut into flooring pieces.
Not only is cork a hardy and functional flooring option, but it is also a regulated and renewable resource. A cork tree must mature 25 years before being harvested, which can only be done approximately every nine years. The process doesn’t harm the tree, and it can continue to produce the material for decades.
LinoleumThis age-old product is composed of a number of natural ingredients, including linseed oil, wood flour, limestone, tree resins and cork dust. Invented in the 1860s, linoleum is making a revival of sorts after its replacement in popularity by more desirable products such as vinyl, laminate and wood.
Its biodegradable nature is especially favourable with homeowners looking for a ‘green’ flooring solution.
To produce the flooring, linseed oil is oxidized and mixed with resins to form a thick mixture called linoleum cement. Once the remaining ingredients are added, it is passed through a rolling machine called a calendar. The resulting sheets are pressed onto a jute backing before being cured for a few weeks in large, heated rooms.
The end result is a durable, versatile flooring material that has never been so visually appealing.
RubberWhile rubber is better known for its use in commercial settings and high-impact facilities such as gyms and dance studios, it also makes for a fashionable and practical flooring choice in homes. That’s because it can prove pleasing to the eye while also being soft and quiet underfoot.
And its resilient nature means it takes a tough stance against moisture and stains, not to mention frequent cleanings.
The manufacturing process for this flooring depends on whether it is made from recycled, synthetic or natural rubber. The recycled variety, for example, is usually composed of reclaimed vehicle tires, while the natural form begins with an extraction of sap from a rubber tree.
The product consumers will find in-store comes in rolls that can be laid and cut to fit a room, or tiles, which are fitted together. The sheet option is more difficult to install but tends to show fewer seams than tiles, which are more user friendly.
Both options have an excellent slip-resistant quality, and are more comfortable to stand on for long periods of time than most other resilient flooring products.
Lastly…While there are many types of resilient flooring – all of which are made differently – they have the common denominator of being reliably durable. And in a day in age where flooring design has evolved significantly, all four products can add a flare of style to any room in the house.
Whatever product you choose, take comfort in knowing your resilient flooring can hold up to just about any activity or lifestyle.
About Shawn Farina — Flooring Expert at Diverse FlooringShawn Farina operates Diverse Flooring, a family-run business in Maple Ridge, with his younger brother, Todd. He has been in the flooring industry for 18 years. Shawn is passionate about design and feels flooring has been a great avenue to help others make the best decisions for their homes.
“Flooring is something we all will at one time or another have to purchase. It’s really satisfying feeling to see when a client is truly happy with their choice in both the new flooring and our company.” – Shawn Farina