Vinyl Kitchen Flooring
Planning to put in new flooring when my kitchen remodel goes down in a few months. I'm pretty set on using vinyl. To stay within budget it's a cost efficient choice. Plus with dogs and kids, I understand that it's a viable option in terms of durability.
My question is...a full sheet (which I have there already now and will be installing over most likely), or tiles? Can you guys provide the pros/cons of each and possibly a couple of links to some good products?
I know the tiles will be more DIY friendly and that is a plus to me. However...I'm worried that they won't hold up with water spills, dog claws possibly, etc. Will this pop up the corners or create gaps between the tiles? Should this be a concern? The dude at Lowes said it wouldn't...but I'm just not sure.
I also read that there are many different types of vinyl tiles from quality to crap. Can anyone point me to the direction of some quality options?
We have tiles downstairs in the basement and full sheet in the kitchen, I personally wouldn't have the tiles in a heavy traffic area. Full sheet looks better and cleans up nicer. :2cents:
It has some wonderful properties. It is considered a 40 year floor, it is an antistatic floor (not to be confused with non conductive) therefore it aides in cleaning ease, it has a natural sterile zone 1/8-1/4 inch above the surface of the floor (which is one of the reasons hospitals use it extensively), and the creativity that can be utilized is truly limited by only your imagination and your choice of installation mechanics.
I did a lot of research into the most appropriate flooring I could install in my apartments before I chose vinyl composition tiles. You see, I own a 21 unit apartment block that had old worn out linoleum tiles and I knew they were already in need of replacement when I bought the building in 1986. And, of course, I didn't want to be kicking myself for not doing my homework and regretting the flooring choice I'd made and ending up with a mixture of different kinds of flooring in my apartments. Basically, I was looking for the most appropriate flooring for an apartment, not for a house, and there is a difference. Apartments are vacated every few years and the provides for better maintenance of the whole floor.
I chose Armstrong Excelon vinyl composition tiles in the commercial (1/8" thickness) and applied both sealer and finish to them. You can see pictures of the floors I've done anywhere from 5 to 20 years ago on my web site at:
Apartment rentals in Winnipeg, Manitoba
CONS of VCT tile floors:
1. The do require proper maintenance
That can be anything from scrubbing them down the high traffic areas by hand with a green Scotchbrite pad every 5 to 10 years and applying more sealer to a regular scrub and recoat every couple of years using a floor machine.
2. They simply aren't the most attractive flooring you can install.
PROS of VCT tile floors:
1. MUCH more durable than sheet vinyl (including Marmoleum), but not as durable as ceramic tile.
2. Repairability. In many cases damage to individual tiles can be invisibly repaired, and if push comes to shove, damaged tiles can be replaced.
3. Longetivity - If a VCT floor is properly maintained, then unlike other types of flooring, shoe leather will never come into contact with the tile itself. There will always be a coating of acrylic sealer and/or finish between the tile's surface and the dirty and abrasive shoe leather. It is this coating that requires periodic maintenance, so that there is never any wear on the tiles themselves. As a result, VCT tile floors can be made to last indefinitely because that coating over the tile is continually repaired or relaced. It's like asking how long a floor will last if you keep replacing the carpets on it as they wear out.
I'm very happy with my choice of flooring. HOWEVER, in my case, tenants will vacate apartments every 2 to 5 years or so, and that gives me the opportunity to go into that empty suite and machine scrub the whole floor down with a floor machine. That scrubbing removes the dirt embedded surface layer of the finish. I then mop on several coats of new finish to replace the finish scrubbed off, and the floor looks brand new again. I regularily have prospective tenants viewing my suites ask if the floor was brand new? (To which I typically answer: "Almost, it's only about 15 years old.")
When my sister needed new flooring for her kitchen, I installed VCT tile. I knew she didn't have the time to be maintaining the floor, so instead of putting on 4 coats of sealer and 8 coats of finish, I put on 12 coats of sealer. Sealer is put down to protect the tiles from stains. It can't really be maintained because it's so hard that it doesn't respond to polishing. Any janitorial company with a floor machine can strip it off, but it's not meant to be stripped off except if new flooring is intended to be glued down over the VCT tiles. With only sealer on the VCT tile floor, you simply wait for an area of your floor to start looking "dirty". That indicates that the sealer is worn off and dirt is starting to get embedded in the VCT tiles themselves. You then take a green 3M scotchbrite pad or a Magic Eraser and scrub the surface of the VCT tile clean, and apply another 12 coats of sealer in that area. Typically, it's only the traffic areas that get worn off, so it's typically only the traffic areas that are maintained by replacing the sealer. In my sister's case, it took about 10 years after the installation that we first scrubbed and recoat one area with new sealer, and that was in the entrance to her dining room; a very heavy traffic spot. She has two boys, and those boys used to roller blade and play ball hockey on her floor (cuz the rest of her house was carpeted). She's had a dog and two cats for most of the time she's had that VCT tile floor. And, about 5 years ago, my other sister needed a new flooring over her basement concrete flloor. That other sister ended up having VCT tiles installed largely on the recommendation of my first sister.
To answer some of your questions:
WATER SPILLS: I have VCT floors in all the kitchens, dining rooms and bedrooms in the apartment block and I've never had tiles lift as a result of water spills. (I have sheet vinyl in my bathrooms.) I have had the odd tile lift a bit in some areas (bedrooms, say) after a dozen years or so and I just stick those tiles back down. I just use a 15 watt mullion heater for a fridge, put it over the area that's lifting, put some insulation on top to keep the heat going down into the tile, place a weight on top of the insulation (to keep the tile pressed down tight while the old glue softens) and leave it overnight like that. In the morning, that tile will be stuck down as well as it was a dozen years ago.
VCT tiles are probably your best choice for flooring that'll stand up to dog claws. VCT tiles are actually quite hard. Also, as long as you scrub the dog claw areas once a year or so with a Magic Eraser to clean it and give the floor another few coats of sealer, it'll be the sealer the dogs are scratching off, not the vinyl. And, of course, if you don't maintain the floor, you can always replace the tiles in the damaged area without replacing the whole floor. (Always buy an extra box of tiles as replacement spares.)
QUALITY of TILES:
There are differences between different kinds of vinyl tiles, such as VCT tile, pure vinyl tiling and Peel & Stick, but the difference between one company's VCT tile and another's is minimal. Ditto for pure vinyl and ditto for Peel & Stick. The most durable vinyl tile floor is 1/8 inch thick VCT tile. You can also buy 1/12 inch thick VCT tiles, but almost no one uses them. That's because the major cost factor, the labour to install them is the same regardless of whether the tiles are a bit thicker or not. I used 1/8 inch thick tiles, but I can honestly say that since there's never any wear on the tiles themselves, the 0.080 gauge (1/12th inch thick) tiles would have served me just as well. But, the thicker 1/8 inch tiles are commonly available at home centers, so the 1/12 inch thick ones are harder to find in case you need replacements.
VCT tile is also fairly DIY friendly because the tiles can be cut easily with a jig saw. The fillers in the tiles are abrasive, however, so cutting VCT wears out jig saw blades very quickly.
In 20 years of looking after 21 vinyl composition tile floors, I think I've encountered just about every kind of cleaning/maintenance problem there could be with VCT tile floors. The single major drawback with VCT tile floors is that the sealer/finish coating over the floor needs to be maintained, and the better that coating is maintained the longer the flooring will last. This is why you can find old vinyl asbestos and vinyl composition tiles that still look like a new floor. It's because the sealer/finish wear layer over the tiling has been continually repaired or replaced so that there was never any wear on the tiling itself. Other floorings, like hardwood floors would last just as long if people maintained the polyurethane finish on them, but there simply isn't any technology available by which that could be done the way there is with VCT tile floors.
There is an awful lot to know about installing and maintaining VCT tiles that can't be covered in a single post. However, after having installed and maintained about 9,000 square feet of the stuff over 20 years, I like to think I'm pretty knowledgeable about the subject, so I think I can answer any further questions you may have.
I just laid a black and white checkerboard design commercial grade VCT floor in my kitchen. I had purchased the commercial stripper, sealer and polish to properly apply the initial protective layer(s).
I wanted to ensure I was doing these steps properly, so checked Armstrong Flooring's website for tips. They said that in a residential setting, it was unnecessary to strip or seal, and to just apply 2-3 coats of Armstrong Shinekeeper liquid wax.
I wanted to double check this, so phoned and spoke with a rep who assured me this was the way to go. (on the tile boxes is written "only Armstrong has the exclusive "Fast Start" stripping-optional factory finish")
After reading Nestor's post I'm now wondering if I've screwed up. The first coat of wax is drying as I sit here freaking out and second-guessing the information I was given.
By the way, I think these floors look fabulous! The tiles come in some very cool colours, I might add. I almost went with yellow or lime green and black, but decided since I will live with this floor til I croak, I had best be a little conservative, so went with black and white. It looks amazing. Mind you, now I'm scared to go and look at it with the first coat of wax now dry...
Nestor Who Knows All, please set my mind at ease.
You can leave the Shinekeeper on.
But I have nothing but contempt for Armstrong and Mannington's floor maintenance chemicals because the price charged by retail flooring stores on these chemicals is exhorbitant, and that promotes poor floor maintenance. You see, the more expensive a stripper or floor finish is, the less you use of it, and that's not in the floor's best interest.
If the chemicals were cheaper, then you'd use more, and that would lead to better floor maintenance. When you use Armstrong's New Beginnings floor wax stripper, it costs $14 per quart, and so you skimp with it. Instead, I very much like Revelation by Buckeye at $27 per gallon. It's cheaper, so you use more stripper, and that means you get the floor wax off COMPLETELY, and that's good from a floor maintenance point of view. Personally, I think Shinekeeper is garbage. I don't know what it costs, but I can guarantee you that a better floor finish is "Carefree" (in either the gloss or matte finish) by the Johnson Wax Co. or "Castle Guard" by Buckeye, both of which will cost about $28 per gallon.
Now that you've got the finish down, there's no point stripping it off to put sealer down. It'd be better to treat your finish like sealer, and some day in the future, strip the finish off and replace it with sealer. That's not hard to do, and you can do it yourself or any janitorial company will do it for about $100.
Ideally, if it wuz me, I'd have recommended you put sealer down right off the bat and not even bother with finish. But, now that the finish is down, then extend the life of the finish as long as possible by treating it like sealer (as described in my previous post), and some day when the finish becomes embedded with dirt, you can strip it off and replace it with sealer then.
You CAN strip the finish off now if you want. It's not hard to do a single room by yourself, but there's no harm done by leaving it on.
No, you didn't talk to knowledgeable people. People knowledgeable about maintaining vinyl composition floor tiles can be found under "Janitorial Contractors" in your yellow pages phone book. But, if you still have any questions, I can try to answer them.
Right now, if I were you, I would buy a gallon of "Carefree" by S. C. Johnson Wax or a gallon of "Castle Guard" by Buckeye, and put it down over your Shinekeeper to provide a thick and protective layer of finish over your floor that will also be effective in preventing stains from penetrating into the tiles.
Tell me how you're applying the Shinekeeper. I have a special mop I use to do this kind of work with, but you don't want to start buying such specialized equipment if you only have the one VC tile floor.
Ah Nestor... I should have asked your opinion before I started, but all of a sudden there was the damn floor and I had to do something about it! I did not realize that the sealant worked as a polish - I thought it acted as a penetrant to somehow overcome the porosity of the tile. Oh well...
I have slopped on 4 coats of that Shinekeeper crap ($18.95 a quart) and it's starting to look like something, but not the glossy mirror finish I was hoping for. (Just used a new sponge mop as recommended)
I will go and search for the J&J product or the Buckeye you recommended, but in the meantime, do I understand you correctly that the key to maintenance is simply to routinely recoat with product before it wears down to the tile itself?
Many, many thanks Nestor. In my short time on this forum I have learned to appreciate the wealth of your knowledge and appreciate very much your willingness to share. You should write a book. Or better yet, you dictate and I'll write. I'm looking for a retirement job...
Put additional coats of either Carefree or Castle Guard on until you see a real nice shine starting to bloom on that floor, and then put on a couple more coats after that.
[quote]I will go and search for the (Johnson Wax) product or the Buckeye you recommended, but in the meantime, do I understand you correctly that the key to maintenance is simply to routinely recoat with product before it wears down to the tile itself? [/quote}
You have it almost right. You want to maintain a coat of finish between the tile and the shoe leather. But, you don't want to cover dirt embedded in your floor finish with more floor finish. So, when you start to notice that the floor finish is starting to look dull, you should just clean the floor with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser (or generic equivalent), and THEN put a few more coats of finish on.
A Magic Eraser is not like a rag or a sponge. If you could look at it under a microscope, it has an extremely fine structure that gets into the tiniest crackes and crevices of surfaces. That's what makes Magic Erasers so effective when it comes to cleaning surfaces. So, you want to use a Magic Eraser (or generic equivalent) to remove as much of the dirt from the surface of your floor as possible, and then apply multiple coats of finish to restore the gloss and protection. And, typically with finish, you'd need to do that once every 3 to 5 years, say. Also, you don't really need to clean under tables or appliances since there's no traffic there.
And, if you notice that the finish is wearing out under where the chairs are, it may be because dirt is embedded in the nylon feet of the chairs. Those little nylon swivel feet on chairs with steel tube legs are fine when they're new. The problem is that as they can get embedded with hard dirt so that instead of having a protective nylon pad sliding on your floor finish, you can have an abrasive nylon pad sliding on your floor finish. It's not hard to replace those nylon swivel pads, and I can advise you on how to do that if you think you need to.
Maybe go to my web site at
Apartment rentals in Winnipeg, Manitoba
and take a look at the pictures of Suites 3, 11 and 12. Look at the gloss on the floors, particularily in the bedrooms where you can see the reflection of doorways and radiators off the floors. You should have that same level of gloss on your floor. If you don't, it's simply because you haven't put enough finish on. Both Castle Guard and Carefree provide a very nice gloss, but Carefree also comes in a matte finish if you prefer that.
BASF of Germany makes a foam called "Basotect" that was originally used in airplane seat cushions because it wouldn't burn. It's still used to make shoulder pads for men's and women's clothing. A Magic Eraser is nothing more than a piece of Basotect foam.
This is what Basotect foam looks like when viewed under an electron microscope:
A micron is a millionth of a meter, or a thousandth of a millimeter. A human hair is about 100 microns in diameter, and the smallest thing that can be seen with the naked eye is about 20 microns across. A red blood corpuscle is about 5 microns in diameter. The fibers that make up a Magic Eraser are about 10 microns in diameter which is small enough to get into tiny scratches on surfaces that you can't even see. Also, it's clear that as you use the Magic Eraser, and that very fine structure of the foam breaks, it creates tiny stiff plastic bristles that are well suited to get into tiny scratches on surfaces to clean them out.
You want to make sure you use a Magic Eraser (or generic equivalent) to clean your floor before applying more finish, or you'll just be burying more dirt than you need to under the new finish. A Magic Eraser is one of the best cleaning tools I use, and it's entirely because that very fine microstructure acts like a brush with extremely fine bristles that can get into nooks and crannies that a rag or sponge can't.
Once again, thank you, Nestor. I now have 6 coats of Shinekeeper down and it is looking really good - except that with each coat I have managed to make a booboo somewhere. That's my incentive to add another coat...You'd think this would be a piece of cake - just spread the stuff with the mop and voila...
I am pleased with the finished job now, but will search out the two products you recommended and keep on adding coats until I'm blinded by the shine!
I will try to get pics up on Photobucket and get them onto the pictures forum.
Please excuse my ignorance but what is the different between VCT and Luxury Vinyl Plank?
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