The durability, practicality, and value of vinyl flooring have made it a popular choice in a variety of residential and commercial installations. However, there is a basic question that you will have to answer when choosing this material for your own job. Do you want the vinyl in sheet, or in tile form?
Each option has its inherent advantages and disadvantages making either appropriate for different locations.
The decision you make should be based on the type of environment it will be installed in, the level of traffic it will have to endure, and the kinds of hazards and staining agents that it will be exposed to.
Characteristics of Sheet Vinyl Flooring
Less Expensive: Sheet vinyl generally costs less than tile or plank materials. This is because they can mass produce it in large rolls, without having to worry about precision cuts and waste materials. It will be up to you or your flooring installer to measure the space it will be put into, and then to cut the material down to the appropriate size.
Impermeable To Moisture: Probably the biggest advantage of sheet vinyl over tile is the fact that it can usually be installed in just one or two solid, unbroken pieces. That means that you do not have seams running between individual pieces. Seams are like vulnerable chinks in the defensive surface of your floor, through which small particles of water can seep to do unspeakable damage to your subfloor.
With sheet vinyl you just have to make sure that the material is secure at the edges of the room, and that any overlapping pieces are sealed and bonded using adhesive and heat.
Design Options: With individual tiles, you have to try and create a composite design across your floor. In some cases, you will be able to effect a mosaic pattern, but the disassembled nature of tile is such that manufacturers can not give a lot of attention to the big picture.
That is not so with sheet vinyl flooring. In sheet form, printed vinyl can be inscribed with almost any pattern, color, or image that you desire. This is printed right onto the surface layer of the floor covering and is then installed directly into the room without having to worry about assembly. With solid and composite vinyl tiles you will have fewer specific print and is then installed directly into the room without having to worry about assembly. With solid and composite vinyl tiles you will have fewer specific print options but will be able to create large, unbroken patterns of random color across the entire installation.
Characteristics of Tile Vinyl Flooring
Replaceable: If a sheet vinyl floor is severely damaged with a scratch or a stain your only option is to either replace the entire floor or remove the affected area and replace it with a patch. This patch will have seams that will make the floor water permeable, and which will disrupt the unbroken pattern of the colors in the vinyl.
With tile vinyl floors, when an area on the surface gets damaged you can simply remove and replace the tiles. Removing vinyl tile is a matter of heating the adhesive beneath it, and then pulling the tile up and scraping away the bonding agent below.
From there you can replace the tile with another for a repair job that will be completely integrated into the rest of the floor.
Patterns and Design Options: While sheet vinyl allows the manufacturer to get creative with different printing styles, tiles allow you to be the creative one. That is because individual pieces can be mixed to create elaborately colored designs which will match and contrast across the entire surface of the floor.
With tile. you also have the option of cutting individual pieces down into other shapes and sizes. With a square piece you can easily measure out consistent rectangles, or even triangles, to get really creative with the flooring installation process. However, you should always lay out a flooring project on paper first before you start actually cutting materials so that you can be sure that you have enough on hand to complete the job.
Ease of Installation: Most do it yourself amateurs are not skilled enough to successfully and properly install sheet vinyl. It requires the ability to take exquisitely accurate measurements, and then make precise cuts that will allow you to perfectly fit the sheet into the room it is being installed in. During this process, even small mistakes can add up to major material waste.
On the other hand, vinyl tiles are relatively easy to install and the project can usually be done by a moderately skilled amateur in about a day or two. The individual tiles do have to be laid in straight rows, but because they are separate pieces each mistake is less wasteful. You can also custom cut individual pieces to match the size and contours of the room.
Realism: One of the main reasons why people purchase vinyl flooring is the fact that it can be printed to look like a variety of natural floor surface coverings, including hardwood, natural stone, and ceramic. While sheet vinyl can be printed with these same colors, when you purchase individual tiles you have the option of having grout installed in between the pieces. This will not only give you a more authentic dimensional hard tile look, but it will also make the application feel more real underfoot.