Vinyl flooring is a popular choice of flooring amongst homeowners in Singapore for its versatility and affordability. Over time, more durable and hassle-free types of vinyl flooring have also emerged on the residential flooring scene, adding to the range of options available. This complete guide to vinyl flooring in Singapore answers all the questions you may have about vinyl flooring and compares it with some common flooring materials chosen for residential homes.
What is Vinyl Flooring?
Vinyl flooring is a synthetic material consisting mainly of polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Other fillers are added to the material in the manufacturing process. Most types of vinyl flooring available on the market is heterogeneous, which means that it comprises multiple layers. Its layered construction is what gives it many of its desired properties. The layers of vinyl flooring include the foundation or base layer, the foam core, the image layer, the wear layer, and finally the surface protective coating.
Are There Different Types of Vinyl Flooring?
There are many different types of vinyl flooring. Learning about the pros and cons of the differences between vinyl flooring types will help you to decide which type is best for your home project.
- Roll Vinyl
Roll vinyl is available in singular sheets ranging from 6ft to 12ft. This type of vinyl is typically chosen for large commercial spaces and are less suitable for residential purposes.
- Vinyl Tiles
Vinyl tiles are available in a variety of tones and designs. They are a popular choice for homeowners who want to replicate a natural stone look in the home. Vinyl tiles can be cut to desired size to fit around tight spaces, as well as conveniently replaced in the event of damage. The simple grid pattern of tiles achieves a contemporary look that easily matches your desired aesthetic.
- Vinyl Planks
Vinyl planks are made to resemble natural wood or laminate flooring. Intricate patterns can be achieved to mimic the look of parquetry at a fraction of the cost.If you are a new homeowner, you may encounter the term Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVT) vinyl flooring when you are shopping around for flooring products. Compared to traditional vinyl flooring, LVT vinyl flooring is a type of flooring that has a thicker wear layer. The wear layer lies between the surface protective coating and the printed image layer and contributes to the overall durability of the vinyl flooring. For high traffic areas in the house or households with children and pets, you may wish to opt for this type of vinyl flooring.
Besides the shape that they take, vinyl flooring can also differ in terms of wear layer thickness and in their material composition. These are important considerations as they affect the durability and longevity of vinyl flooring.
Other Terms To Take Note Of
- Wear Layer Thickness
Vinyl flooring differs in terms of wear layer thickness. The wear layer separates the surface most protective layer from the printed image layer. Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVT), Stone Plastic Composite (SPC) vinyl flooring, or Eco Resilient Flooring (ERF) all differ from conventional vinyl flooring in terms of their wear layer thickness. These typically have a wear layer thickness of 0.5mm and above. For households with pets or children and for high foot traffic areas in the home, it is recommended to opt to go for one of these options. The thicker wear layer is responsible for the overall durability and longevity of the vinyl flooring.
- Foam Core
Within the spectrum of vinyl flooring, there are also differences in material composition. LVT vinyl flooring differs from SPC vinyl flooring in terms of the material composition of the foam core. The former has a simple vinyl derivative foam core, with plasticisers added in the manufacturing process to enhance the flexibility of the material. The latter consists of a mixture of PVC and ground limestone. This high mineral content gives SPC vinyl flooring a rigid core construction that makes it harder than LVT vinyl flooring.
What Vinyl Flooring Designs Can I Choose From?
There is no lack of vinyl flooring designs that can replicate the look of natural materials. Many options are available on the market which capture the essence of stone- or natural wood-looks in both tiles and plank types. If you are opting for vinyl planks, you can mimic the look of parquetry using different lay patterns such as herringbone.
How Much Does Vinyl Flooring Cost?
Prices of vinyl flooring fall within a spectrum and can vary depending on thickness and material composition, amongst others. That being said, vinyl flooring is by far one of the most economical flooring materials, and you can expect to pay between $3 and $6.50psf. Vinyl flooring for HDB flats can go as low as $3.00 at Home Expo Asia.
However, the price reflected above is only the material cost. Homeowners should note that there may be charges on top of this material cost. If the subfloor is not level, the contractor will need to apply a layer of cement screed to ensure it is even throughout. Trimming of the base of room doors will also be needed so that they do not damage the flooring.
Thus, additional costs can include cement screeding, laying of skirting, door shaving, and wastage charges. To save on installation costs, you can opt to lay the vinyl flooring over existing tiles so there is no need for hacking.
How is Vinyl Flooring Installed?
Vinyl flooring can be installed in a variety of ways. Traditional methods include the use of an adhesive that bonds it to the subfloor. Later additions to the market such as Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVT) can be installed using click-and-lock methods, which allow the tiles to be fitted together without the use of an adhesive. The added convenience shortens the time needed for installation, and also eliminates visible seams that may allow for seepage of water to the core of the material.
Before commencing installation, care should be taken to ensure that the subfloor is adequately prepared. Any unevenness caused by bumps or debris on the subfloor can transfer to the surface of the vinyl flooring, resulting in visible irregularities.
What are the Pros of Vinyl Flooring?
- Fuss-free Installation
Vinyl flooring installation is less labour-intensive compared to materials such as tiles. Materials such as porcelain will be harder to cut. For the actual laying of tiles, click-and-lock installation removes the need for the application of adhesive which bonds the vinyl flooring to the subfloor. This floating floor can also be installed via overlay, without the need to dismantle any existing flooring. Besides the time needed to install the flooring, this is also worth noting as it can potentially save you from hefty installation costs.
Vinyl flooring is a synthetic material and thus you can have full peace of mind against water damage. Unlike other flooring types which are water absorbent due to the presence of organic material, vinyl flooring will not warp upon contact with moisture and can even withstand soaking. This makes it an ideal choice of flooring in the bathroom and the kitchen, where spills are likely to happen.
- Comfort and Durability
Vinyl flooring is a versatile material for its ability to strike a balance between desired hardness and flexibility. As it has some degree of ‘give’ unlike harder materials such as tiles, it is more comfortable underfoot during long periods of standing.
What are the Cons of Vinyl Flooring?
- Not Impossible to Damage
Vinyl flooring rivals most materials in terms of hardness and durability. While it is reasonably impact resistant, it is not as hard as natural stone materials such as marble or tile. As such, it is still susceptible to dents, scratches and scuffing upon heavy impact.
- Not as Eco-Friendly
Vinyl flooring is synthetic and can be a source of ‘offgas’, which refers to Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions that can affect indoor air quality. Nonetheless, many manufacturers have taken steps to ensure that their vinyl flooring is within an acceptable range of emissions. All vinyl flooring carried by Home Expo Asia has also surpassed the minimum acceptable level of emissions.
For homeowners who wish to have added peace of mind, Stone Plastic Composite (SPC) vinyl flooring can be considered. SPC vinyl flooring is free of VOC emissions due to an absence of plasticisers in the manufacturing process. The Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVT) flooring that Home Expo Asia carries is also 100% phthalates free.
How Does Vinyl Flooring Compare to Other Materials?
Pros: Attractive, Can be refinished
Cons: Expensive, Prone to termites and water damage, Dents and scratches easily
With its natural tones and range of textures, hardwood flooring lends warmth to your home and can give it a vintage feel. Despite its aesthetic appeal, this material pales in comparison to vinyl flooring on other fronts.
While hardwood can last for a lifetime, it needs to be properly maintained in order to preserve its longevity. Hardwood flooring needs to be sealed. The sealant layer protects against accidental spills and dirt and grime buildup. Bear in mind that wood is an absorbent material and so any wearing down of the sealant will affect the integrity of hardwood flooring.
Vinyl flooring is just a printed representation of the actual material, and so ultimately cannot fully resemble natural wood. However, it has superior water and indentation resistance compared to hardwood flooring. It is thus suitable for homeowners who want to achieve a wood look in the home without compromising on the more practical aspects.
Pros: Convenient installation, Affordable
Cons: Prone to water damage, Not flexible
Homeowners who want a similar look to hardwood floors but at a fraction of the cost may wish to opt for laminate flooring. Laminate material is composed of high-density fibreboard at its core and is a more affordable option compared to hardwood. A photorealistic image is added to the topmost layer in order to resemble natural materials. However, its difference from natural wood may become obvious upon closer look. The grains on laminate flooring are uniform and this pattern repetition may be telling of the synthetic nature of the material. Laminate flooring is easier to install as it is available in click-and-lock types.
However, it is similarly susceptible to water damage due to the presence of organic material through the body of the flooring. Any contact with moisture will cause it to warp since it is not water or spill-resistant, and so it is unsuitable for use in high moisture areas such as the bathroom.
How does laminate flooring compare to vinyl flooring? Besides having all of the advantages of laminate flooring, including quick and easy installation and good performance, vinyl flooring is fully water resistant. Vinyl flooring is made of inorganic material throughout its body and is thus fully impermeable to water.
In addition, laminate flooring is less pliable compared to vinyl flooring. Vinyl flooring is forgiving over uneven surfaces due to its dimensional flexibility. Laminate material is rigid and thus may break if the surface it is laid on is not completely even.
Cons: Grout requires heavy upkeep, Prone to chipping
Ceramic or porcelain tiles are harder than vinyl flooring. This makes tile flooring highly durable. However, the strength of tiles is also its weakness as it can chip easily. Because it is made of vinyl composites, vinyl flooring retains some degree of flexibility while maintaining its desired hardness in this aspect. Compared to tiles, this also makes it more comfortable as it is softer and warmer underfoot.
In addition, tile flooring requires regular upkeep as discolouration of the grout lines may occur due to dirt and grime buildup over time. Vinyl flooring, on the other hand, is more convenient where upkeep is concerned. Click-and-lock vinyl flooring lacks any visible seams, and thus demands less maintenance.
Choice of flooring is one of the bigger items on the renovation checklist. Hopefully, this guide to vinyl flooring has given you a better understanding of the differences between the various types of vinyl flooring available, the pros and cons of vinyl flooring, as well as how it compares with common flooring materials.