Floor coverings have to fulfill so many roles. They need to be durable, comfortable to walk on, attractive, and long-lasting. It also doesn't hurt if they are inexpensive and easy to install. Yet one quality is the sole domain of one type of flooring: resilience. That's why these floors are grouped under the broad designation of resilient flooring.
What Resilient Flooring Is
Resilient flooring is defined as flooring that is firm, yet has a certain amount of "give or bounce-back," according to a leading resilient flooring industry group.
Resilient flooring is also a catch-all term that refers to floor coverings that occupy a middle ground between soft floors (such as carpeting) and hard floors (such as stone or hardwood).
So, carpeting is not resilient flooring because even though it has give, it is not firm. Hardwood flooring is not a resilient floor because it is firm yet doesn't have that distinctive give.
Some floor coverings that fit this definition escape the resilient category. With its fiberboard core and foam underlayment, laminate flooring provides both firmness and spring. Yet it is considered to be a hard floor covering.
Vinyl vs. Resilient Flooring
Recently, retailers and manufacturers have been slowly moving back to using the term vinyl. With the introduction of higher-end products like luxury vinyl flooring (LVF), much of the stigma tied to the word vinyl seems to no longer be in place. In some cases, luxury vinyl flooring rivals or exceeds the quality of its closest competitor: laminate flooring.
Types of Resilient Flooring
- Vinyl: Vinyl comprises the majority share of the resilient flooring market. This includes Vinyl Composition Tile (VCT), Solid Vinyl Tile (SVT), and Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) or Planks (LVP).
- Linoleum: This predecessor of vinyl flooring is a natural product made of linseed oil, wood, limestone, cork, and resins. Today, it comes in three forms: glue-down tiles, click-together planks, and large sheets. Linoleum is often thought of as a thing of the past, but not so. Linoleum is still manufactured and installed, though its numbers are far overshadowed by vinyl flooring.
- Cork: Cork is an organic flooring covering made of thinly sliced cork from trees. Cork has become a favored green or eco-friendly flooring product.
- Rubber: Once made of organic rubber from rubber trees, this category of flooring is now mainly produced from synthetic rubbers. Recycled rubber is sometimes used in homes, most often for gym or yoga studio flooring.
- Polymeric Poured Seamless Floors: Rarely found in residences and never self-installed by homeowners, these floors start as a liquid and, as the name suggests, this liquid is poured out to form a hard surface upon curing.
- Asphalt: Asphalt flooring is now an obscure and obsolete floor surfacing unit, rarely installed anymore. Still, where it is found, it classifies as a type of resilient flooring.
Every type of floor covering not listed above would be excluded from the resilient flooring category. This includes, but is not limited to, ceramic and porcelain tile, engineered wood flooring, laminate flooring, solid wood flooring, and natural stone.
Pros and Cons of Resilient Flooring
Ceramic tiles crack, solid hardwood flooring swells when wet, and laminates de-laminate. Every type of flooring has its own unique set of advantages and disadvantages, including resilient flooring:
- Durable: Most resilient flooring is durable and lasts for many years. Some linoleum installed over a century ago is still wearing strong.
- Flexible: While it's always best to start with a perfectly level and flat subfloor, resilient flooring is capable of bridging and riding over minor bumps and ridges that would crack tile.
- Inexpensive: One type of resilient flooring, vinyl, is consistently one of the cheapest floor coverings you can buy.
- Comfortable: With some floor coverings such as tile, you need floor mats or gel pads if you expect to stand on them for a long time. Resilient flooring is soft enough to stand on for moderately long periods.
- Indentations: Small pressure points, such as table legs or appliance feet, can permanently indent resilient flooring. Because of this, it's always best to place floor glides under sharp table and chair legs.
- Inconsistent Value: Resilient flooring represents the highs and the lows of buyer value perception. While there are high-quality, premium luxury vinyl brands, there are many low-quality vinyl squares that may peel away long before they wear down.
- Recycling: Vinyl and linoleum flooring cannot be recycled (rubber flooring can be, though).