What lies beneath

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Finding the right flooring

by ANIL PALASAMUDRAM

Whether you’re new to the hospitality industry or you’ve been doing this for decades, the number of choices presented to you on a daily basis can feel overwhelming. Are our current room rates competitive? Should we implement on-demand housekeeping? Should we increase our entry level employees’ base pay? This is not an industry for those uncomfortable with decisiveness.

To that end, when deciding to install new or upgrade existing flooring, there are countless choices for the hotelier. The silver lining, however, is that there are consistent trends that have emerged recently in the hotel space. Perhaps leading the charge, luxury vinyl tile (LVT) – also known as luxury vinyl plank – is the fastest-growing category in the flooring industry. For those developing commercial, retail, and even residential properties, numerous key benefits have propelled LVT to the top of many wish lists, especially for those within the hospitality segment. LVT has proven to be a durable, resilient, indentation-proof, and waterproof flooring trend that will endure from delivery to installation, maintaining its durability.

Thanks to a greater understanding of and familiarity with this type of flooring, the industry is seeing a shift from glue-down LVT installs to more rigid-core and loose-lay installs within commercial spaces. Glue-down LVT is affixed to the subfloor using adhesive, while rigid-core is engineered with a core construction for added stability. Because the latter is a solid plank, it has less flexibility than standard vinyl. It’s constructed of three to four layers, including the wear layer, which protects the planks from scratches and stains, a thin layer of vinyl over the core, and a strong and rigid core that could be composed of wood or stone plastic composite for added durability. Loose-lay products are composed of vinyl and phthalate-free plasticizers – which actually adds to the weight and durability of this flooring – and adhesive is used around the perimeter of the room for this install process.

Several wear layer options are available in the market on LVT, including enhanced urethane options from many suppliers, all available in a 20-mil gauge, which is the preferred product wear-layer for commercial uses. This option specifically caters to the hospitality segment by delivering better performance and a measurable increase in customer satisfaction.

Compared to other flooring products in the industry, LVT’s transportation costs are generally lower due to the product’s lightweight nature, making it a highly efficient and affordable option. Once the product arrives, the installation process is simple since rigid-core LVT floats on the subfloor. There isn’t a need for thin-set or grout, thus saving time and money. With many waterproof rigid-core options available today, a locking click-system lends itself to a more straightforward installation process. Once installed, LVT is long-lasting, hygienic, easy to clean, and low-maintenance. And replacement is simple when required . A single piece can quickly be replaced, or the entire floor can be easily updated since glue or thin-set isn’t necessary for most installations, making LVT a simple choice, now and later, extending use and lowering the life-cycle cost for the owner.

Beautifully replicating wood and natural stone, LVT is inspired by nature with on-trend, high-definition looks while offering unparalleled durability and a unique ability to withstand everyday rigors in commercial settings providing a soft underfoot comfort that other hard surface flooring cannot provide. Underlayment is available if additional noise reduction is required to meet or exceed sound compliances. From work boots and heavy rolling loads, foot traffic, and everything in between, a 20-mil wear layer preserves the beauty of LVT and protection against damage such as scratches, spills, and indentations, which often makes this an excellent match for commercial applications.

Natural stone looks are also breaking into the LVT arena. Available in matte and polished finishes, replicating the look of smooth Italian marbles and sophisticated travertine, these elegant and classic styles will stand the test of time without the maintenance, hardness underfoot, and porosity of natural stone.

Many on-trend wood-look hues and tones are available, from light to dark, coordinating modern and traditional spaces. Wider wood planks have always been in demand, and we’ve seen this translate to LVT as well. From smooth finishes to more textural and hand-scraped looks, beveled-edges, coordinating trim pieces, and stair treads, all the details are available to complete the look and help encapsulate and harmonize your space.

LVT can be widely found in plank sizes and ever-popular large-format rectangles. Due to its hygienic and waterproof properties, this makes LVT a highly effective solution for high-traffic common areas such as hotel lobbies, restaurants, bars, kitchens, baths, or virtually anywhere else.

Anil Palasamudram is the Team Leader – National Hospitality of MSI Surfaces and can be reached at anil@msisurfaces.com or (713) 570-7001.

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