Vinyl is a popular flooring material for many commercial applications. It is water resistant and low maintenance which helps to control upkeep costs, and it is relatively durable so you will not have to replace it very often. It is also available in a wide variety of colors, textures, and style options. It can even be printed to simulate the look of hardwood, stone, or ceramic.
When it comes to commercial vinyl flooring you get what you pay for. The quality of the material that you purchase will have a direct impact on how well it will withstand the rigors of varying levels of foot traffic.
With printed vinyl tile you have to be concerned about the thickness of the wear layer, the invisible coating that extends over the surface of the material, protecting it. Low end printed vinyl will have a 10 millimeter wear layer, while higher grade commercial materials will be closer to 30 millimeters.
Long Term Issues With Commercial Vinyl Floors
Dulling of the Vinyl's Surface Finish is probably the most common long term issue that you are going to have with a commercial installation. This is caused by small pieces of dirt, sand, and debris being tracked across the floor by shoes and the wind. As these tiny particles scrape across the floor they act like the grits of a piece of sandpaper, scratching and marring the surface of the vinyl, and wearing away any finish or surface layer that might be on it.
Solutions: The easiest way to prevent dulling of your vinyl floors is to keep them free of those tiny particles that can harm them. Sweeping, vacuuming, or mopping periodically can do a lot to help protect a vinyl floor in a high traffic area. The use of place mats at entrances and exterior doorways can also help to trap some of the debris before it is able to get inside to the floor where it can do harm. Commercial floor sealers are also available which can help to create a stain resistant, wear durable invisible layer over the surface of the floor. However you have to be very careful that you pick a sealing or finishing agent which is formulated to work with the specific type of vinyl that you have. In some cases using the wrong seal or finish can create a permanent murky layer across the floor.
Discoloration of Commercial Vinyl Floors is something which happens over time due to the buildup of dirt, oil, and asphalt sealers which are tracked into the room from exterior locations. The rubber in some shoes can even cause slight discolorations in the floor if the heel scuffs against the vinyl. Prolonged exposure to heat, or direct sunlight will also discolor the material, causing it to take on a yellowish color.
Solutions: Regular cleaning will help to remove the oils and greases which will discolor vinyl over time. Place mats set at entrances and exits will also help to cut down on mud and other staining agents that get tracked in. The use of curtains in places where windows and glass doors shine direct sunlight down on the floor can help prevent yellowing effects. However vinyl should not be installed in areas of high heat output such as near heating ducts and vents. You may also want to consider stripping the finish from a commercial vinyl floor once or twice a year. This will completely remove all surface build up, including the sealant layer, and any oils or greases that have coated over it. Once stripped the vinyl will be restored to its original state, and then can be refinished.
Surface Dents and Damage to the floor can be caused by a variety of issues. Heavy furniture scraping across the floor can cause gouges and scratches. Sharp unprotected chair legs can also severely mar a commercial vinyl floor in a cafeteria or eating area. Even some un-padded high heels can cause damage to the floors surface.
Solutions: If the scratches and dents are small then you can use liquid seam filler to repair them. Make sure that the vinyl is clean and dry, and then apply a small amount of the clear liquid to the blemish, being sure to smooth it out so it does not create bubbles or a mound. As it dries it should cause smaller blemishes to vanish. If you have vinyl tiles installed than individual pieces can be repaired if they become severely damaged. With sheet vinyl you have the option of removing the affected area and replacing it with a matched patch.