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Cool Instead of Tacky

The new Generation of Resilient Floor Coverings

Synthetic floors are now non-hazardous - and trendy thanks to improved designs. We find out more from a flooring expert.


By Nicola Enderle

In the 60s the resilient synthetic floor experienced its first boom. It was cheap, robust and easy to care for. When they were later discovered to contain dangerous substances their positive image disappeared. But lately, things have changed. Today, resilient flooring has to meet strict test criteria and production technology has been improved. Thanks to a variety of options, vinyl floors and PVC tiles today are happily being looked upon as designer flooring.

Whether you are looking for a wood, tile, concrete or cement look; we'll show you some cool resilient floors We have also asked a flooring expert to give advice on the different surface configurations, laying techniques and the still much-discussed health concerns.

Photo: Parador GmbH & Co.KG Coesfeld

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A brief overview of (the new) vinyl/PVC floors


Want a floor covering that looks good, is warm on the feet, robust and absorbs sound? Sounds like wishful thinking - but it exists! Resilient flooring like PVC or vinyl has been reworked in appearance as well as mechanically. "Thanks to further technical development, the quality and look of resilient floors has been much improved over the past few years. Today, vinyl flooring is no longer being glued together. It is also available as boards with click connections for easy laying", says Marcus Schmidt, Raumkultur's floor-laying expert. The new synthetic flooring makes all this possible because it now has an extra layer. That makes laying it on difficult underlay and old floors possible. "It is also has a completely different, more authentic feel", Schmidt says.

Photo: Designflooring Düsseldorf

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Given the prejudice that resilient floors are rather hazardous, our expert, Marcus Schmidt first wants to tidy up one issue: "Every floor covering sold in Germany has to meet statutory test criteria." Whether a PVC floor comes on the market depends on the test results from the neutral testing, monitoring and certification authorities. "The user, when purchasing a resilient floor, should look for two marks. The CE-mark means that the product meets the minimum requirements for safety and health. The second important mark, which you have only in Germany is the Ü-mark. It tells you that the product has received general building approval from the German Institute for Building Technology", Schmidt says. Flooring so marked has also been tested for emissions and emitting of pollutants and its production is regularly monitored.

Photo: Scenario Architecture London

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Vinylboden für vollflächige Verklebung von Objectflor

Because of their thin construction, synthetic floors can be laid where other flooring would be too high (for example, because of existing doors). Under-floor heating is also possible. And "because of the basic nature of resilient floors, the surface is particularly sound-absorbing," says Schmidt.

Photo: Bodenfachmarkt Hermanns Langenfeld

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Wide-ranging designs are possible


"Almost all designs imaginable can be achieved in production," Schmidt says. "The result is a varied product palette of patterns, designs and colours. That is why these floors are now being recognised more and more often as being in the category of designer flooring."

New resilient floor coverings offer almost infinite possibilities for customised interior design. Design-wise, there are two main categories (and also two camps of fans and foes): on the one side, vinyl floors that imitate natural materials like stone and wood. On the other, floors that freely and graphically play with colours and shapes. For example, there are vinyl floors with rose patterns, game board prints, stars and polka-dots!

Photo: Designflooring Düsseldorf

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And which designs are currently popular? "At the moment, large format, grout-free tiles and tiles with the appearance of concrete are hot. They look very authentic and have many advantages compared to a tile floor," says Schmidt, our expert. "As a rule, resilient floors, thanks to their robust surface, are tougher than strictly natural materials such as wood flooring or stone tiles."

Because of that robustness, vinyl is happily being installed in public buildings, too. Most important of all, synthetic flooring is also cheaper which suits many owners just fine.

Photo: Tarkett - Bodenbeläge für jeden Raum Frankenthal

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Klick-Vinylboden von Project Floors

"When it comes to the wood-look, there has also been a change. Where formerly more shiny surfaces were chosen, today our customers decide more and more often on matte designs that look more natural," Schmidt says. As a result, there are more and more vinyl floors with the appearance of wood that look deceptively genuine, like oiled white pine, sanded oak or old wood left in its natural condition.


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Alongside its varied material looks, resilient flooring offers numerous new laying patterns. Thus, vinyl floors can be installed not just in sheet form but also in fishbone, chopstick, chessboard, hexagonal and rhombic patterns.

Photo: IVC GROUP Avelgem

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Cleaning and care of PVC and vinyl floors


"Thanks to the smooth surface, resilient floors are very simple to clean. Dust and dirt can be easily removed with a damp cloth," Schmidt says. One can also lightly clean synthetic flooring with a vacuum cleaner.

Stubborn spots and rubber heel marks can be removed with polyurethane cleaner and a non-scratching cloth. After that, the lightly spread cleanser should be washed away with clear water.

Photo: Francesco Pierazzi Architects London

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