It would be highly unlikely that you would find hardwood flooring in actual sheets. Most pieces of this type of flooring comes in planks that range from 12″ to 78″ inches long and between 2 1/4″ and 6″ inches wide. Due to the physical properties of wood and its reaction to changes in humidity, it would be impractical to install flooring in large sheets.
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Hardwood flooring will at times expand in response to high humidity and shrink during periods of low humidity. Therefore, by installing in planks, the wood is normally able to adjust to the climate without too much warping or checking to see if it has been properly installed.
Types of Flooring Available in Sheets
The most common types of flooring manufactured in sheets are vinyl and linoleum. The two floors should not be confused with each other because they are made of different materials. They both are similar, however, in the fact that they are considered resilient flooring products.
Even though there are a wide variety of different woods available, you will find your choices are almost limitless with vinyl or linoleum. Between colors, styles, patterns, and textures that also include simulated wood, you can get very creative with your floor design.
Just like hardwood flooring, manufacturers of vinyl and linoleum flooring offer a range of different grades of material to suit your needs for the room you will be installing it in. For example, Congoleum Vinyl Flooring comes in many styles ranging from its five-star rated Ultima line, which is reinforced with nylon and aluminum oxide for extra durability, to its Prelude line that is protected with ArmorGuard for light-duty use.
In this sense, resilient refers to its ability to bounce back from the weight of objects that may be placed on it without being damaged. For example, think of it like this: When you put furniture on carpeting, you will see indentations in the carpet that normally take quite a while to go away on their own. The same goes for putting your furniture directly on your hardwood floor without some sort of felt pad under the legs; you will see some sort of impression.
This resilient property, along with vinyl and linoleum’s durability, makes these types of flooring a popular choice for commercial buildings. They’re also popular with homeowners who need flooring that will be stand up to high traffic and moisture as can occur in bathrooms and kitchen areas.
Environmental Impact of the Different Flooring Types
Linoleum is made from natural products with linseed oil, which comes from flax seeds, being the main ingredient. Unlike vinyl flooring, linoleum is considered a green product and is biodegradable. This is especially important to businesses who are seeking LEEDs certification for being a green building.
For that matter, hardwood flooring can also be considered a green product, provided the wood is harvested through sustainable resources. Additionally hardwood flooring can also be made from repurposed lumber from old buildings.
Vinyl is made from chlorinated petrochemicals. While vinyl can be recycled, for the most part it will eventually find its final resting spot in the landfill.
So if you are a green consumer, this is something to take into consideration.
Differences between Vinyl and Linoleum Flooring
While both are similar in price depending on the quality you select, you will have a trade-off of features depending upon which one you choose. After installing linoleum, you will need to seal it with a coat of acrylic. You will then need to strip what is left of the acrylic off the floor at least once a year and recoat. Through proper maintenance, your linoleum floor can potentially last for 30 to 40 years.
You will not need to go through the trouble of sealing your floor with acrylic when you choose a vinyl floor. Once you install it, you are good to go and will just need to clean it as you normally would without applying a coat of acrylic to protect it. The trade-off is that vinyl will most likely not last as long as a linoleum floor.
There is another difference in the manufacturing as to the color of the two materials. Most vinyl floors actually have the color or design printed on the surface of the flooring. This is known as the printed type, which is basically a printed backer sheet with several layers of a wear material that consists of either clear vinyl or urethane.
Inlaid vinyl sheets have the color throughout the entire piece and are also heavier than printed vinyl. Because of the weight of this vinyl, this type is not recommended for installation by do-it-yourselfers.
Linoleum is also colored throughout the entire material. This means that, if the floor were to get a deep scratch, you may see a color slightly different from the original design with an inexpensive vinyl floor, while the linoleum floor would remain the same color.
Benefits of Resilient Flooring
You will often find vinyl and linoleum flooring in schools and hospitals, in addition to other commercial buildings. This is not only because of its durability, but because it does not collect dust and repels moisture. Bacteria growth is diminished because of this. This is important to have in hospital, healthcare, and school settings.
Additionally, these floors can easily be cleaned and disinfected, and they resist staining. This makes them very sanitary and cost-effective for the institutions that install this type of flooring because they do not require much maintenance in the long run.
Vinyl and Linoleum Flooring in the Home
If you or your child suffers from severe allergies or asthma, your healthcare provider may suggest replacing your wall-to-wall carpeting with flooring. Many suggest hardwood, vinyl, or linoleum flooring because dust is more visible and easy to clean up than with carpeting.
Dust and dust mites can remain in your carpeting even after a good vacuuming or are blown around in the air. This can cause allergy and asthma symptoms to worsen.
A simple damp mopping weekly on a hardwood, vinyl, or linoleum floor will pick up most dust without causing it to disperse in the air. There are mops and cleaning products on the market specifically made for this purpose. As most medical providers will suggest a daily mopping in severe cases, plain water is normally sufficient for this purpose.
Ease of Installation
Sheets of vinyl flooring are easier to install than linoleum flooring because vinyl is more flexible. Most rolls of vinyl will come in 12″ widths. Linoleum is somewhat more rigid and often comes in 6.5″ width rolls.
It is best to consult with your flooring supplier for the best installation method for the flooring you plan to purchase. There are two commonly used methods for installing sheets of vinyl flooring. The first one is to apply the manufacturer-recommended adhesive over the area where you are going to lay the flooring down. The second method involves using the adhesive and staples around the perimeter of the area and at the seams.
The first method of installation is usually recommended for a floor of lesser quality. It is also used if you intend to leave the floor as-is for some time. Otherwise, if you go to replace the floor in the future, you will have a big mess to clean up in order to prepare the base for the next floor.
If you are doing a traditional installation, similar to hardwood flooring installations, you will need to make sure that the base, whether concrete slab or a plywood subfloor, is properly prepared.
It should be free of debris with low and high areas leveled out. All holes should also be patched. You will want to make sure that there are no existing mold or moisture issues. If there are, you will want to address these before installing your flooring to avoid future problems.
Alternate Install Methods
What you may not know is that, if your existing vinyl or linoleum floor is still in somewhat good shape, you may be able to lay the new one on top of it. Do not assume that this will always be the case, however. It is best to check with the flooring manufacturer first. It is important to follow all manufacturer recommendations so you don’t risk voiding any warranties.
In some cases, you may be able to install over an existing tile floor, but check with the manufacturer of the vinyl or linoleum flooring first to see if it is not recommended. If you choose to go this route, you will need to prepare the tile with a special surfacing material, which is somewhat of a sandy grout texture. This surfacing agent will fill in all existing grout lines and provide a surface for the flooring adhesive to grab hold to, versus a textured or glossy tile finish that may already be present.
When in doubt, consult the professionals to make sure the result of your flooring project is going to be what you imagined it to be. You may find yourself in over your head if you are unable to do what is required for the install or find less-than-desirable conditions once you rip up your original floor or carpet.
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