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LVT vs VCT: The differences between Luxury & Vinyl Composition Tile


With the recent launch of Joy Squared, Shaw Contract is adding an LVT product to our portfolio in a square tile format. We thought we would take a moment to explain what LVT is and how it differs from a more traditional vinyl offering, VCT.

For starters, what does LVT mean? LVT is an abbreviation for Luxury Vinyl Tile and VCT is an abbreviation for Vinyl Composite Tile. While offering similar looks, the two differ in terms of material makeup, cost, installation and upkeep. Designers can achieve more advanced visuals and sizes with LVT, allowing them to create more impactful environments with patterns, colors, and creative installation methods.

LVT vs VCT Comparison Chart by Shaw Contract

The material composition of LVT and VCT is different, which can help with the decision-making process. LVT is made from vinyl making it a durable hard surface with a protective layer. “Joy Squared features ExoGuard+TM which gives it industry-leading scratch resistance, and the core gives the product 1500 psi static load rating, meaning it can stand up to heavy static and heavy rolling loads,” says Annie Skrmetti, Product Manager at Shaw Contract. VCT however, is made of only a small amount of vinyl with limestone or other materials that result in a more porous option, meaning it needs consistent maintenance to uphold its structure and appearance. Over the long term, this uses many chemicals and is time intensive for maintenance staff to maintain.

“LVT is a much more durable product that comes with a thicker, more resistant core and a top coat finish that is factory applied for enhanced durability,” explains Skrmetti. “While VCT tiles are typically thinner and use locally applied polish as a substitute for a top coat.” This makes upkeep costs higher for VCT since LVT does not require regular polishing. LVT is more cost upfront, but the break even cost typically occurs between 2.5 and 3 years. Then the maintenance costs, including chemicals and time, for VCT are higher than the initial cost and continued maintenance of LVT. For a comparison chart using your local figures, click here. LVT has a built in top coat that is polish optional meaning less maintenance and chemical use overtime. Spending less time on flooring maintenance can open time for staff to put their efforts in more impactful areas — such as preventative maintenance or making necessary upgrades to other spaces that enhance the learning experience for our students.

Both VCT and LVT are great options for high traffic areas such as healthcare, education or commercial spaces. As resilient products they are also ideal for spaces with topical moisture or spills such as multi-stall bathrooms, sink areas or break rooms. “These products are recommended in similar spaces but LVT products with a higher PSI, like Joy Squared, can be used in areas with higher static loads,” says Skrmetti.

With enhanced durability and a lower life cycle cost, Joy Squared is a smart long-term vinyl choice. “It also comes with a range of visuals and colors which adds to the warmth of a space,” says Skrmetti. “By mixing the bright and neutral colors there can be more effective wayfinding and impactful branding while the square format lends itself to large-scale layouts and color blocking.”

This is a republication of the Shaw Floors blog post:

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