How good is a vinyl tile with a felt backing?

Many are unaware, but there are different materials involved with vinyl flooring to which these materials provide different strengths to one another. One of them is felt-backed vinyl which is an alternative to regular vinyl made backed with polypropylene. The benefits can prove to be a must-have for households but there can be drawbacks that can make you hesitate to buy this product.

Felt vinyl is more porous compared to regular vinyl, so it sticks to the sub-floor better and moves around less. The felt on the backing is made from fibers that don't tear as easily as other types of vinyl when cut. It means that felt-backed vinyl is more dimensionally stable and withstand cuts and tears better than other types of vinyl. It also means that felt-backed vinyl can last a lot longer; their longevity shows that they are suitable for kitchens and bathroom flooring.

Felt-backed is easier to install compared to other vinyl variations because it is dimensionally more stable. Like every other vinyl, it is recommended to be installed in wet areas such as kitchens and bathrooms. However, moisture coming from the sub-floor must be treated before the vinyl is installed otherwise it can affect the adhesive. It can cause the adhesive to weaken and can also cause a chemical reaction leading to color migration. The color in the adhesive comes out and migrates through the vinyl and causes discoloration on the print layer. It won't occur on the top layer of the vinyl due to the protective resin layer making the vinyl waterproof. To help minimize moisture coming to the underside of the vinyl, seal the sides with silicone. It is recommended with all types of vinyl, not just felt-backed. Using the silicone on the sides can help increase the longevity of the vinyl as well.

When it comes to vinyl, appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers should be lifted rather than dragged along. It is because the dragging motions can cause the vinyl to stretch and ripple – in some instances the vinyl could come off leading to bubbling. With felt-backed vinyl, this is less of an issue as the felt ensures that the vinyl is properly secured to the sub-floor and won't come off easily. It is beneficial in UK homes where appliances have to be dragged out of benches and there is no alternative.

Felt-backed vinyl doesn't expand as much due to the fibers being dimensionally stable – they hold their shape better than other cheaper vinyl floorings. It is stuck in place better and won't move around, meaning there is less chance that it will bubble over the years.

Felt-backing can be placed simply using adhesive; permanent adhesive won't be required if the sub-floor is inadequate. Felt-backed vinyl can be stuck down with spray adhesives if you are on a budget because it is porous and will absorb the adhesive better than other types of vinyl. Usually, you wouldn't use just spray adhesive but felt-backed vinyl allows it to be used on its own. If you prepare the subfloor using plywood or screed or however needed then a permanent fix would be good. Permanent adhesives would be good for high-end, expensive vinyl. The only downside of using permanent adhesives is that it won't come off in one piece during removal; it will tear to pieces and this can be quite challenging to clear. It can also spoil the subfloor. In the textbook, a permanent adhesive fixture is good, however, realistically you would use sprays and semi-permanent adhesives to allow flexibility and easy removal. It means that if you decided to remove the vinyl to get rid of it or replace it, won't be labor intensive when removing and won't damage the sub-floor.

Felt-backed vinyl has a standard slip-resistant of R10 which means that it is good to stall for kids and pets to avoid slips. There should be a balance between choosing slip-resistance and good for cleaning. If a vinyl tile is more slip-resistant it is harder to clean due to the crevices – there will be a higher dust count with vinyl tiles with higher slip-resistance. On the flip side, easy to clean vinyl tiles means that the slip resistance is inadequate. Be considerate of the two options and choose the best one for your home.

One of the drawbacks of felt vinyl is the price. Compared to felt-backed vinyl, there are cheaper vinyl flooring alternatives that might be better to buy if you are on a budget. However, if you are unwilling to prepare the sub-floor as well, using plywood or a self-leveling compound like screed, you can use felt-backed vinyl. You should prepare the subfloor or make sure it is adequate before you start installing the vinyl but felt-backed can be a little forgiving with little dents and holes. It can cushion over the holes and appear smooth and flat even when the sub-floor is not. It is good when you have spent your budget on the vinyl and have none left for the sub-floor preparation. It could potentially decrease the life span of your felt-backed vinyl if use over big crevices – the vinyl will start to mold and the crevice shape can come through.

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