The luxury vinyl tile has been gracing homes and commercial properties for decades, not only because it is stylish and easy to maintain, but also because it lasts for many, many years.
And thanks to the advancement in innovation, this flooring now rivals some of the most high-end flooring options on the market, with its striking patterns, textures, and finishes.
However, as with most floors, it has a few flaws that must be put into consideration before one makes a purchase. Here are the most common problems with luxury vinyl tile:
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1. Installation May Require Extensive Preparation
While getting the subfloor ready is important for any flooring installation, it is particularly key when laying luxury vinyl tiles. If enough preparation is not done to get rid of dirt, debris, or bumpy areas or generally even the subfloor up, the tiles will not sit properly on the ground and this may pose lots of problems including:
Lifted Edges and Joints
If you’re installing click-lock tiles and the subfloor is uneven, the bumps underneath will tend to lift parts of the boards.
Now, if these protrusions happen to be just near the tongue or groove of a given tile, they can prevent it from locking with the adjacent tile properly, and this may result in a lifted joint.
Need for More Flooring Material
Uneven subfloor also means that your tiles have to sit over the high bumps and low hollows on the subfloor, which may cause the boards to shorten.
Getting a shortened tile to lock with an adjacent longer tile will not only be difficult, but the more shorter boards there are, the more flooring material you will need to cover the entire room. And the more tiles you will need, the more the project will cost.
To avoid these problems, make sure your subfloor is as smooth and even as possible. Sand all bumps, fill all low spots with patching compound, and scrape off any old adhesives.
Importantly, don’t forget to clean the floor after you are done prepping it. Scrub off any paints, oils, markings, contaminants, and any abatement chemicals and residue agents that may interfere with the installation process or ruin the vinyl material. And of course, allow the subfloor to completely dry before laying your luxury vinyl tiles on it.
2. May Get Stained or Discolored
Like most vinyl floors, luxury vinyl tiles are prone to stains and discoloration. If spills from drinks and foods are left to dry on the floor, they can be difficult to get rid of later, and this may result in the floor being stained permanently.
The best way to avoid stubborn stains is to wipe anything that spills on the flooring right away. It is also important that you use a clean rag so you don’t make the mess worse.
In addition to staining, luxury vinyl tiles may fade and develop a lighter shade than they originally were. This mostly happens in houses that let sunlight in.
If there is a part of your flooring that is constantly exposed to direct sunlight, that part will slowly start to discolor and will eventually appear completely different from the rest of the flooring. To avoid this, make a habit of keeping your blinds and curtains closed especially when the sun is hottest.
But direct sunlight is not the only thing that can make the color of your vinyl tiles fade. Discoloration can also be a result of cleaning your flooring with bleach or harsh chemicals.
Use only vinyl-friendly products to clean your tiles. Your dishwashing liquid, for instance, could be a great cleaner for your vinyl. Just add a few drops in water and clean your floor. If you are trying to remove tough stains, add some vinegar to the solution. Rinse the floor thoroughly after cleaning; do not leave any residue behind, as it can cause stains and discoloration.
3. Can Get Scratched
While luxury vinyl tiles are built to stand the test of time, if installed in homes with kids or pets or in areas with high traffic, they may develop scratches and dents. These may be caused by sharp toys or claws or dirt and small rocks dragged in from the outside.
Having a designated spot for kids to play and keeping your pets’ claws clipped can help prevent scratches. You may also want to sweep your floor regularly or have people take off their shoes before entering your house. Speaking of shoes, high, pointed heels can easily scratch or dent your floor.
Small scratches can be fixed by sanding the affected area and applying a light layer of car wax. For best results, the spot must be cleaned with mild soap and water before and after sanding. Here is a short video on how to fix scratches on luxury vinyl tiles.
4. Cannot Be Repaired
Small cracks, scratches, and other minor dents can be repaired by sanding over the dent and applying some wax afterward. However, if the tile is broken and a big part of it is ruined, it cannot be repaired; you can only replace it.
But replacing a damaged vinyl tile is easy, as all you got to do is pull out the damaged board and install a new one, right? Well, only if your tiles are glued down.
If your tiles use a click-lock mechanism to sit in position, chances are they are installed from the wall, hence you have to remove all the tiles from the wall all the way to the damaged tile and reinstall them all the way back after replacing the bad tile. This process is not only time-consuming but can also be costly especially if you are hiring a professional for the job.
5. Can Trap Moisture Underneath
It’s true – luxury vinyl tiles are water-resistant and will not be damaged by light spills if they are wiped away soon enough. But because of how these floorboards are installed, they are not able to completely keep water from seeping through the seams or the locking joints.
If you leave a pool of water sitting on the edges of a tile for a few minutes, the water will slowly seep through the gaps and get trapped between the tile and the subfloor.
It is very important that you prevent this from happening because if moisture gets stuck underneath your flooring, it will provide a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Eventually, the mold will spread underneath the entire floor, ruining and shortening the lifespan of your flooring.
And because it is constantly multiplying, some of its spores will start escaping through the spaces between the tiles and will contaminate the indoor air.
When these allergens enter your respiratory system, they not only cause allergies, but with frequent exposure, they embed themselves in the lung cavities, putting you at risk of chronic diseases like emphysema, tuberculosis, or advanced sarcoidosis.
Because of the moisture problems associated with luxury vinyl tiles, experts recommend not using them in wet areas like tubs and showers. For such environments, consider ceramic tiles.
6. Glued Tiles Can Be Difficult to Remove
Removing click-lock tiles is usually as easy as pulling the tongue of a tile from the groove of an adjacent tile. In most cases, this will only take a few hours.
Glued vinyl tiles are a different story altogether. After the glue hardens on the subfloor, the tile becomes harder to pull out. Sometimes you may even have to scrape underneath the tiles to avoid ripping them.
If you move houses a lot and you love the look and feel of luxury vinyl tiles, it is best to buy click-lock boards. These will easily float on the existing floor and will be effortless to remove and reinstall.
7. Not Completely VOC-Free
Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are present in many vinyl products including those we use for flooring. Luckily, with more and more people becoming aware of various household toxins, manufacturers have begun to produce floors that are low in VOCs.
Luxury vinyl tiles are among the low-VOC flooring options we have today. However, because they contain vinyl, these floors are still not 100% VOC-free.
It’s, therefore, important that you do some research before you place your order. Online home improvement forums like this one can help you find out which brands are low in VOCs and would be a great place to start to ensure you are getting maximum value for your money.
And remember, even if the product you install does not emit excessive toxins, you will still want to keep your home well ventilated for the first few days after installation. It will help get rid of the ‘new smell’ quickly.
As with all floor types, it is evident that luxury vinyl flooring has some shortcomings that you should be aware of before starting your buying process.
But also keep in mind that this flooring is among the most popular today in terms of durability, affordability, and ease of installation. It’s important that you look at both sides of the coin so you can be able to make an informed decision.