How to Choose Commercial Vinyl Flooring: 7 Essential Facts
| Fact Checked By: Ashley De Zeeuw
Published: October 22, 2021 | Updated: October 28, 2021
Businesses, offices, and other commercial spaces get a ton of traffic, which means they need durable flooring to handle it all. In the world of high-traffic flooring options, commercial vinyl flooring is one of the best. There are tons of options, with a variety of styles, installation options, and price points right at your fingertips.
But with all of these options, how do you know what to choose? Don’t worry! This guide is here to help.
In this guide, you’ll learn about the different types of commercial vinyl, the pros and cons, how to install it and keep it clean, and a whole lot more. Ready to get started?
What Is Commercial Vinyl Flooring?
Commercial vinyl flooring is a durable and affordable flooring solution made from synthetic materials. It’s perfect for high-traffic spaces, including lobbies, offices, hospitals, grocery stores, and more.
In addition to its sturdy design, commercial vinyl is also very stylish, with options for wood looks, stone looks, and abstract or geometric patterns. All in all, it’s everything a business over could want in a new floor. It’s easier to clean than carpet, cheaper than tile, and more stylish than concrete or epoxy.
Types of Commercial Vinyl Flooring
You might think that vinyl flooring just comes in plank form because that’s the most popular option. However, that’s merely the beginning of your options. Vinyl flooring offers a ton of variety, from those classic wood-look planks to resilient sheets, and even tiles.
Businesses often use sheet vinyl to cover large spaces. Sheet vinyl tends to be a more affordable option than vinyl planks and tiles, and they are a leading choice for commercial spaces since they’re budget-friendly and easy to install.
Some vinyl sheet flooring even comes with antimicrobial technology, making it a great choice for hospital flooring.
With luxury vinyl tile (LVT), you get the look of stone and ceramic tile without the high price tag or difficult installation. You’ll find a variety of stylish porcelain and ceramic looks, with all the benefits of high-quality vinyl flooring.
Luxury vinyl plank flooring (LVP) offers an inviting and warm feel to any commercial space. With realistic wood grains and textures like hand-scraped and wire-brushed, you get the beauty of wood with the durability and easy maintenance of vinyl.
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Construction of Vinyl Flooring
So what makes commercial vinyl flooring so durable? It’s all in the way it’s made. Depending on the type, there are a couple of different designs that will impact the durability of your floor.
Construction of Sheet Vinyl Flooring
Vinyl sheets are either heterogeneous (multiple layers) or homogenous (one solid layer).
Homogenous vinyl sheets are incredibly durable and typically longer-lasting than the layered version. It’s one solid color from top to bottom, which means stains and wearing don’t show as easily.
Heterogeneous vinyl is typically made of five layers:
- Wear layer: The top protective layer of the flooring that resists wear and tear.
- Texture/definition: This is where you’ll get the wood and stone texture.
- Print layer: Here’s where you’ll find the high-quality visuals.
- Vinyl: The thickest layer of the flooring.
- Backing: More durable backings are made of fiberglass which lays flat and won’t curl.
Construction of Vinyl Planks and Tiles
Luxury vinyl tiles and planks feature the same layered design, which makes them durable, waterproof, and easy to install.
- Wear layer: This layer protects your floor’s surface from the wear and tear of everyday life. The thicker the wear layer, the better that protection!
- Print layer: This layer features the gorgeous photo imagery of wood or stone that makes vinyl so popular as an alternative to natural materials.
- Waterproof core: This is where the magic happens. Waterproof vinyl flooring contains a solid, waterproof wood-plastic composite (WPC) or stone-plastic composite (SPC) core. No matter how much water it encounters, it won’t swell, or warp.
- Backing layer: This is the bottom layer of your plank. It provides a sturdy base and sometimes comes with an attached underlayment for added convenience.
SPC vs. WPC Vinyl Flooring
You know that SPC and WPC vinyl are both waterproof, but do you know the differences? Keep reading to learn more about what makes these two popular vinyl flooring options unique.
SPC Vinyl Flooring
Also known as rigid core luxury vinyl flooring, SPC vinyl is the most durable waterproof vinyl flooring on the market. SPC stands for stone-plastic composite, the ultra-durable material that makes up the waterproof core.
The SPC core won’t dent, warp, or bend, even over unlevel subfloors. You can install SPC rigid core luxury vinyl flooring on any level, over almost any existing (hard surface) subfloor, and for any amount of traffic. It’s the perfect commercial flooring.
WPC Vinyl Flooring
WPC stands for wood-plastic composite. The 100% waterproof core is made from a mix of wood fiber and plastic, and enhanced with a foaming agent, making it slightly softer and more comfortable than SPC.
This flooring is a great option for commercial spaces and businesses, but it is slightly less durable than SPC. While it can handle a ton of traffic, the softer core doesn’t resist denting as well.
Pros and Cons of Commercial Vinyl
If you’re still not certain if this is the right flooring for you, check out these commercial vinyl pros and cons. That way, you can shop smart!
- 100% waterproof: Whether you choose sheets, tiles, or planks, commercial vinyl flooring is fully waterproof. That means you can install it in any room, at any level.
- Stylish looks: Choose from realistic wood and stone looks, or a trendy decorative design.
- Low-maintenance: There’s no need to wax or refinish, and cleaning is a breeze. All you need is the occasional vacuum and damp mop to keep your floor looking fantastic.
- No phthalates: Air quality standards are important to businesses. Fortunately, you can find many phthalate-free vinyl flooring options. Just look for a FloorScore badge on our products to find a safe, healthy flooring option for you.
- Installation: While it’s possible to install this commercial flooring on your own, it’s more common to hire a professional installer.
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How to Install Commercial Vinyl Flooring
Most of the time, people hire a professional installer for commercial flooring, but if you want to make this a DIY project, you can!
There are a couple of different ways to install vinyl flooring, depending on the type. Explore these step-by-step instructions to determine which is the best fit for you.
How to Install Vinyl Sheets
Learn how to lay commercial vinyl sheet flooring in just a few simple steps!
- Ensure the subfloor is smooth, clean, and porous so it bonds strongly with the adhesive.
- Roll out the sheet and cut it to fit the area, making sure to leave a 1/8” – 1/4” gap between the edges of the sheet and any vertical surfaces. If you’re installing multiple sheets, line up the seams at this time.
- Roll back the sheet halfway to expose the subfloor. Snap a chalk line at this point to indicate where to stop applying the adhesive.
- Use a notched trowel to evenly apply the adhesive.
- Install the vinyl sheet immediately after spreading the glue. Then roll the sheet into the adhesive. Avoid laying or dropping it over, since this can introduce air bubbles.
- Use a 100 lb. floor roller to press the sheet into the glue. Start in the middle and work your way toward the edges.
- Once the first half of the sheet is secure, fold back the second half of the sheet and repeat this process.
Note: Always consult the manufacturer’s instructions for the most accurate installation.
How to Install Vinyl Planks and Tiles
Planks and tiles feature similar installation methods, so you can follow these easy steps for both!
- Set the first plank in the corner of the room, working from left to right. Use your spacers to ensure there is a 3/8” expansion gap from the wall.
- Complete the first row by interlocking the tongue and groove connectors and aligning the seams.
- Continue laying the flooring, using the tapping block and rubber mallet to tap the planks into a locked position.
- When you come up to a wall and need to cut a plank, simply measure the space and mark on the plank where it is you need to cut. Planks should be cut using a minimum 40-tooth blade on a power saw.
- Use the leftover cut ends that are at least 6” or longer to begin your next row to stagger the planks and give them a more natural wood floor look.
- Set the plank into the previous row at a slight angle to ensure that it slides into place and interlocks correctly.
- Continue moving down the room ensuring that the planks are interlocked and all the seams have a tight fit. Add spacers every few feet around the edges of the flooring and remove them when installation is complete.
Note: All commercial installations that will have rolling loads are required to be glued to the subfloor. You need to use a manufacturer-approved adhesive for this. Always consult the manufacturer’s instructions for the most accurate installation.
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How to Clean Commercial Vinyl Flooring
Commercial vinyl flooring will face a lot of traffic, which means lots of dirt. Fortunately, this flooring is incredibly easy to clean! Just follow these simple steps:
- Vacuum up any dust, dirt, or debris. It’s best to use a vacuum without a beater bar for this.
- For deep cleaning, use a damp mop with a mix of soap and warm water.
- To ensure long-term beauty and prevent potential staining or damage, clean up any spills immediately.
What is the best cleaner for commercial vinyl flooring?
If you want an effective vinyl flooring cleaner, choose a pH-neutral floor cleaner. Avoid abrasive products, harsh chemicals, floor polish, and detergent (source). We recommend Encore Care for Luxury Vinyl Flooring.
Thoroughly mop the floor with the mixture. To avoid soap build-up or any unwanted cleaner residue, make sure you rinse and dry the floor afterward and not let the water sit on the surface.
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Commercial Vinyl Flooring FAQ
You’ve learned a lot, but you still might have some questions. Don’t worry! Here are answers to the most common questions about commercial vinyl.
How much does luxury commercial vinyl flooring cost?
According to HomeAdvisor, commercial-grade vinyl costs between $1 and $5 per sqft on average. This price varies depending on the type. For example, commercial vinyl rolls cost less than planks or tiles.
How thick is commercial vinyl flooring?
The thickness of commercial vinyl flooring varies anywhere from 2.5mm to 15mm. People used to think that thicker flooring was always more durable, but that’s not always the case with vinyl. Rigid core vinyl is very thin and dense, and it’s the most durable vinyl flooring out there.
In the end, the thickness of your flooring doesn’t matter as much as the thickness of the wear layer on your floor. For commercial use, you should choose flooring with a wear layer of 20mil or higher. This will protect your flooring from the wear and tear of even the heaviest commercial traffic.
How do you repair scratches on commercial-grade vinyl flooring?
To hide shallow scratches on the surface, you can often use a floor finishing stain that matches the color of your floor. Just clean the scratched area, make sure it’s dried, and then cover it with the finish. You may need to fill deeper scratches with floor paste wax before using the stain.
Finally, you know all the essentials about commercial vinyl flooring. It’s durable and low-maintenance, making it the perfect flooring for businesses, office buildings, lobbies, and even busy homes.
No matter your style, you can find an option that fits your aesthetic. You can choose from a huge variety of trendy looks, from wood-look planks to geometric patterned vinyl sheets.
Now that you have all the facts, you’re ready to shop smart, and find the ideal flooring for you!