Resilient flooring is a loose, 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).
Resilient flooring is defined by the scholars at the Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI) as flooring that is firm, yet has a "give or bounce back."
Thus, carpeting is not resilient flooring because it has "give" but is not firm. Hardwood flooring is not a resilient floor because it is firm but has little "give."
Some floor coverings that fit this definition escape the resilient category. With its particleboard core and foam underlayment, laminate flooring provides both firmness and "spring." Yet it is considered to be a hard floor covering.
6 Types of Flooring Go Under the "Resilient" Moniker
According to industry group Resilient Floor Covering Institute (RFCI), only six types of floor coverings can be called 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).
- Linoleum: This predecessor of vinyl flooring is a natural product made of linseed oil, wood, limestone, cork, and resins. Linoleum is relevant mainly as a retro or vintage item today.
- Cork: An organic product 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.
- Asphalt: Unfamiliar with this one? Most people are. RFCI calls this an "obsolete floor surfacing unit."
- Polymeric Poured Seamless Floors: Rarely found in residences and never DIY-installed, these floors start as a liquid and, as the name suggests, this liquid is poured out to form a hard surface upon curing.
Everything Else Is Not Resilient
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.
Solid hardwood and natural stone snobs often forget that resilient flooring provides distinct advantages, such as:
- Durable: Some linoleum installed over a century ago is still wearing strong.
- Flexible: Resilient flooring bridges slight bumps and gaps.
- Inexpensive: One type of resilient flooring, vinyl, is consistently the cheapest floor covering you can buy.
Ceramics crack, solid hardwood swells when wet, and laminates de-laminate. Every type of flooring has its own unique set of problems. Resilient flooring, too, for all of its benefits, does have a few downsides.
- Indentation: Small pressure points, such as table legs or appliance feet, can permanently indent resilient flooring.
- Inconsistent Value: Resilient flooring is all over the map when it comes to perceived buyer value. Even within the sub-category of vinyl, you can install high-quality, premium luxury vinyl brands such as Mannington, Shaw, or Karndean or miserably bad (but cheap) vinyl squares that peel away long before they wear down.
A Euphemism for Vinyl Flooring
Eventually, the term vinyl flooring became associated with buyers' minds for inferior flooring. Flooring manufacturers and retailers began to substitute resilient floor for vinyl floor.
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.