Alison looks at the challenge at the end-of-life of luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) and how loose-lay technologies are a step forward in realising reuse or recycling.
While the industry is working hard to improve the logistics of reuse and recycling of LVT and establish systems that can minimise downcycling, there are still many challenges to overcome. These are not only presented in the composition of the floor and how it is separated and recycled through existing systems, but also in the way the floor is uplifted at end of life.
The dominance of dryback products in commercial installations mean that this is a complex procedure that makes reuse or recycling near impossible, if not highly complex, inefficient, and costly. To this end, a good proportion of LVT floors end up in landfill or being downcycled for energy recovery – a far from ideal solution.
However, the contractor can have a major role in making sure that the LVT floors they install today are ready for future recycling systems by embracing loose lay methodologies.
Making the floor easy to uplift in five, 10 or even 15 years’ time; loose lay floors eliminate glue from the installation procedure. By removing the adhesive used in installation, there’s no messy uplift or residue and so loose lay floors can be easily used somewhere else or entered into more efficient recycling streams.
There are two approaches to loose lay LVT floors that contractors may well be familiar with. First, rigid LVT using click profiles are gaining popularity. The technology makes for fast and easy glue-free installation and can eliminate some subfloor preparation, particularly through floors with built-in underlays, while allowing for clean uplift. The second, and perhaps less familiar, are heavier weight LVT floors with an anti-skid backing. Here planks are simply laid next to one another and held in place by friction.
With the right construction, a durable wear layer and PUR coating, both these systems are suitable for commercial use and have been proven in contract settings. What’s more, they are faster and easier to install so have immediate benefits too.
There are better solutions for dryback floors too, with self-adhesive underlays that emulate the benefits of loose lay technology. Allowing for easy uplift – a boon not only for reuse and recycling but also for replacing damaged planks during the floor’s life – these underlays rely on a tackifier to turn any dryback product into a floating floor. Reducing subfloor preparation, eliminating trowel or spray glue and easily separated from the floor, they turn a traditional dryback LVT into a loose lay product.
At IVC Commercial, we believe that loose lay technology not only provides genuine advantages for future reuse and recycling, but also at the point of installation. By developing products that eliminate glue while still providing the strength and stability required for commercial projects, we help contractors to work faster and smarter. And of course, for those that still favour traditional dryback LVTs, we offer a solution for that too.