Did You Know?

The Case for Linoleum and Vinyl Floors

So far in this flooring series, I've discussed a variety of ceramic tile, plank wood, engineered wood and laminate floors. Rounding out but by no means completing this series are linoleum and vinyl - also called resilient flooring, or sheet goods. Resilient flooring's a better term because not all resilient floors come as sheets. What they have in common, however, is an iron-like durability and the promise of easy maintenance.

While no flooring material is perfect, resilient floors has been a popular choice since the middle of the 19th century, though that popularity waxes and wanes with the times. These days, resilient flooring is enjoying resurgence. According to the great people at Floor Covering News, it's currently the only flooring category enjoying a growing market share.

Resilient flooring products remain popular, though they may not carry the cachet they once did. For a lot of people, these floors' easy-to-live-with nature makes them the logical choice for house full of kids and or pets. That they can cost significantly less money than the alternatives adds to their popularity.

If you're in the market for a resilient floor, be sure to do your research, find a reputable retailer and ask lots of questions. How long one of these floors will last and wear plays a direct role in how much you'll pay for it.

In 1863, Englishman Frederick Walton was granted a patent for a new flooring material he called Linoleum. It grew in popularity throughout the 1800s, and as Walton brought his product across the Atlantic, a number of imitators followed him. Walton never trademarked the name of his product, and linoleum became a generic term.

Linorette brand linoleum flooring from Armstrong 

Both brands make linoleum with the same ingredients Frederick Walton used. Namely, linseed oil, powdered cork, powdered wood, limestone, jute and pine rosin. The raw materials used to manufacture it are rapidly renewable, so linoleum is catching on as a sustainable flooring option. Some varieties of linoleum contain recycled material, and not only is it recyclable, given the right conditions and enough time, it's biodegradable.

Linoleum is sold in sheets and tiles in a wide variety of colors. Linoleum has to be installed by a professional installer. Almost all applications of this product require sometimes-extensive seams. Its performance over the long term is dependent on the substrate over which it's installed.

Marmoleum brand linoleum sheet flooring from Forbo 

Linoleum is a sturdy, water- and wear- resistant material and if taken care of will last for a very long time. It can't handle having heavy objects being dragged over it, but no flooring material can.

Linoleum is static free (helpful when it comes to cleaning up pet hair) and is purported to be non-allergenic. Take care to clean it with pH neutral cleaners (Fabuloso is one) and it will stay looking beautiful for years and years.

Pros: Wide selection of colors and patterns, environmentally friendly, easy to care for, comfortable underfoot
Cons: Can be expensive to have installed, water-resistant but not waterproof
Suggested uses: Living rooms, kitchens, hallways, baths, dry basements
Price range: $5 to $15 per square foot

Sobella Supreme, Fiberglass core, vinyl sheet flooring from Mannington 

At some point in the 1960s, sheet floors made from vinyl all but replaced linoleum. These vinyl floors took over so thoroughly that vinyl sheet floors too are often called linoleum. They're made completely differently of course, but they behave in somewhat similar ways. Just as is the case with true linoleum, vinyl floors are sold as sheets and as tile, though for home use it's most often seen as a single sheet.

Though vinyl sheet flooring no longer has the prestige it once had, it remains a popular material. In some places it's still the default material for kitchens and baths.

Wenge Bourbon, Cushion Step vinyl sheet flooring by Armstrong 

The move to vinyl came about for a couple of reasons. For starters, vinyl has greater brightness and translucency and can therefore come in a nearly limitless range of patterns and colors. The surface of vinyl flooring is virtually nonreactive and you can clean it with just about anything and not worry about how it will affect the floor. Its main ingredient, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is thought to be inert and benign once it's in the home, but its manufacture is problematic from an environmental perspective.

Sobella Omni HD fiberglass core, vinyl sheet flooring from Mannington 

Vinyl sheet flooring is all but unrecyclable at this point, though technologies on the horizon may change that. More progress is being made with resilient vinyl tile recycling, but again, that's not a material often encountered in homes.

In the industry's defense, they are working on ways to lessen the impact of these products and there are buy-back initiatives available; check into them before you replace a vinyl floor.

Peruvian Slate series vinyl sheet flooring from Armstrong 

Now with that out of the way, if you're in the market for a sheet vinyl floor, there are a couple of things that should guide your decision. The market's filled with a wide variety of products, and their prices range from a couple of dollars per square foot to more than $20 a square foot.

The first driver of price is the method used to make the pattern in the material itself. Vinyl products that are surface-printed cost less but won't last as long. Inlaid patterns with color extending through the full thickness of the material will last longer. Such materials also cost more as a rule.

The latest development in vinyl resilient flooring is the addition of a fiberglass layer to the core of the material. The fiberglass adds strength and cushion to the floor.

Charter Tawny Oak vinyl sheet flooring from Shaw

The composition of the top, or wear layer is also a significant driver of price. As is the case with just about every other product available for your home, quality and price are very closely linked.

The thicker and tougher that top layer is, the better the quality and the better the manufacturer's warranty. The best products on the market impregnate that wear layer with nylon and aluminum oxide to make it last even longer.

Kent Dark Cherry vinyl sheet flooring from Shaw 

Beware cheap flooring. Something that costs a dollar a square foot will not last and you will end up replacing it before too long. Considering the environmental impact of this material, buy it for the long term and get the best quality you can afford.

Just as is the case with every other manufactured flooring material out there, the printing technology used in its manufacture has exploded in recent years, and it's available in just about any pattern you can imagine.

Unlike the linoleum it competes with, vinyl sheet flooring is a much more forgiving material when it comes to installation. With a little preparation and care, many DIYers can tackle a vinyl floor as a weekend project.

Shaw Sumter Tile vinyl flooring

Even though resilient vinyl tile floors aren't often seen in homes, that's beginning to change as you can see here. The appearance of vinyl floor tiles for home use again is no doubt being driven by vinyl tile's smaller impact and ability to be recycled.

When you're researching resilient flooring, weigh your options and consider linoleum. If linoleum isn't for you then find a high-quality vinyl that will last for years. Look for a good warranty from a known manufacturer and buy from a reputable retailer.

Vinyl Flooring
Pros: Long-lasting, relatively easy to install, easy to maintain, comfortable underfoot
Cons: Difficult to recycle, adhesives can off-gas, seams tend to be visible
Suggested uses: Kitchens, bathrooms, basements, family rooms, laundry rooms
Price range: $2 to $40 per square foot

Did you know that hardwood may not be the best choice for YOU?

One of the most sought-after home amenities is wood flooring. From its timeless, classic look to its durability, wood flooring has been a leader in home floor coverings for decades. It’s stylish and can be easily maintained and cared for compared to its counterpart, carpet. However, hardwood flooring may not be the right choice for every homeowner. It can be very expensive and may not work for every homeowner’s lifestyle. For homeowners who want the natural look of wood without the high costs, laminate floors can be an alternative solution. They are generally cheaper than wood floors and they achieve a similar look and feel of wood. If you’re on the fence about deciding if hardwood or laminate is right for your home, here are a few facts about laminate flooring.

Laminate wood flooring is made from composite wood pressed together at high temperatures. The top layer is a high resolution photo of wood which is super-imposed onto the planks and then topped with a clear protective layer. Most people cannot tell the difference between wood and laminate because the photos are of such high-quality. Laminate has grown in popularity for a number of reasons.

They are very easy to install. Most laminate floors are clicked together and don’t require nails like hardwood flooring. It can be installed in virtually every room of the house, including stairs, bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. Laminate floors are often called floating floors because they are not glued to the slab. They typically "float" over the sub-floor on top of a foam or film underlayment, which provides a moisture barrier and has a sound-reducing property.

They are easier to maintain than traditional hardwood flooring. Laminate floors are scratch- and impact-resistant, which means they can hold up in high-traffic areas without losing its shine or durability. Homeowners won’t see the scratch marks left by pets, children, or high heels like you might with hardwood floors. Laminate flooring is also considered a good selection for allergy sufferers because it doesn’t capture and trap dust particles like carpet does.

In terms of care and maintenance, the most important thing you need to remember is water and laminate DO NOT mix. Sitting water can cause the planks to warp and swell, which is not covered under warranty. Spills are not a problem if they are wiped up quickly, but it is not a good location for your pet’s water bowls. You may want to consider using area rugs underneath their bowls or move them to another location if your pets tend to be messy!

Did you know that not all warranties are realistic?
Manufacturers are a major culprit in creating unrealistic expectations with the warranties and promotions they create for their products. Lifetime stain warranties, 20-year wear warranties, 25-year texture retention warranties and 20-year soil warranties, along with warranties that cover pet urine, warranties that cover stairs, lifetime finish warranties on hardwood, and moisture warranties… just to name a few. Manufacturers spend millions on outdoing each other on crazy warranties and promotions. Part of my sales process is explaining the fine print in every warranty. I spend precious time trying to explain what the manufacturers deem as “wear,” time explaining who determines “texture retention,” etc. I am a salesperson, selling for the manufacturers so they can make money, and I am put in a terrible position because the very companies I am selling for are creating unrealistic expectations. Read a basic carpet warranty, pretending you are a consumer who buys carpet every seven years. Does it make sense to you? Now read that card as a salesperson of floor covering. Does it make sense? And should it be the salesperson’s responsibility to set the record straight on fine-print warranties that the manufacturers create? Every day we are the ones with our reputations on the line. We are the ones that the consumer looks to, to take care of their problems or unmet expectations. As a retailer I am left standing here trying to back a warranty that I did not even create, let alone promote. Our job is to sell flooring, recommending the right product for the right situation, and create satisfied customers by helping them choose a product that meets their expectations. Manufacturers need to create realistic expectations with warranties that are valid and apply to today’s consumer. They need to be honest on what consumers can expect from their products. They need to spend millions on informing consumers on how to maintain their flooring. As a store owner and salesperson I put on my flooring salesperson truth belt, and I arm myself with product knowledge and experience to find my customer the right product for her situation. Not only do I battle other local retailers, online retailers, big box stores, and rogue distributors; I battle the very manufacturers I sell product for.
Did you know that if I say Scotchgard, you probably think of fabric protection?
You'd be right. But, did you know that the same protection you've known and trusted for years for fabric, can now be found in carpet and hardwood and vinyl? Just imagine hardwood and vinyl and nothing sticks. Want to know more? Stop in!
Did you know that NANA-silver is the most sophisticated anti-microbial defense being used in flooring today?
This inert and non-consumable technology is currently used in many healthcare facilities around the world and is available to you in a Luxury Vinyl Tile? Want to know more? Stop in!
Did you know holidays and parties can be deadly to your carpets?
But, there is a carpet that actually resists hot coffee and red wine stains. A carpet that resists fading from sunlight, UV light, and the ozone. A carpet that comes with a lifetime pet urine warranty. A carpet that won't crush or mat under furniture or footsteps and comes with a lifetime Stain and Soil Warranty. And it's all ONE carpet. Want to know more? Stop in!
Did you know that no other flooring offers the warmth, beauty, and value of wood?
Wood flooring enhances the décor of any room and provides timeless beauty that will increase in value throughout the years. In fact, in a national survey of real estate agents, 90% said that houses with wood flooring sell faster and for higher prices than houses without wood floors. That's money in your pocket! Want to know more? Stop in!
Did you know that other than socks, carpet is the only textile we actually walk on?
When I think of my 225 lb. frame, constantly traversing across my floors delivering a torturing amount of pressure, carpet is truly a miracle of invention. I barely get a year out of my socks. Now, add my wife, kids, and pets to the mix. Doesn't it make sense to pay a few more dollars up-front to help ensure that your investment will stay looking good? Want to know more? Stop in!
Did you know that carpets are made from different fibers that have totally different characteristics that effect performance?
Some fibers are virtually stain-proof, but do not dye well. Some dye well, but over time can fade and stain. Some dye well and are extremely hard to stain or fade, but lack resilience or performance capabilities. Fiber type isn't the only important factor when considering a carpet purchase. What do know more? Stop in!
Did you know that women rule?
It's true. Women represent over 51% of the population and over 47% of the work force. Women are better educated and hold more than 50% of managerial positions. They are the chief decision makers in most homes; 40% of home improvement projects, 61% of major home fix-ups, and 83% of consumer purchases are made by women. Ladies, if you need any information to assist in making a flooring decision, please stop in!

Stop by Royal Plus Flooring for more information! 9939 Jerry Mack Road, Ocean City, MD 21842