1. Application – will it be installed in residential or commercial space? It’s a great option for both, but commercial use requires a higher level of durability, which is best measured by wear layer and overall thickness.
2. Wear Layer – the top layer of clear protective coating typically made of urethane, and can be reinforced with other materials like quartz or ceramic beads to provide a superior finish to prevent and/or minimize wear and tear. Wear layer is measured in mils (one-thousandth of an inch). 8-12 mil is sufficient for residential use, whereas 20+ mil is typically recommended for commercial use.
3. Overall Thickness / Installation Method – these go hand in hand. The thickness of the overall product itself, which is measured in millimeters, heavily dictates how it should be installed. Glue-down LVT is primarily thinner (2-3mm) making it more cost-effective and it can literally be glued directly to the subfloor. Whereas, loose lay and click system LVTs tend to be thicker (5-8mm), constructed with an attached underlayment providing additional cushion and acoustical benefits, but make it more costly. However, it’s important to note that the subfloor condition must be especially solid, level and smooth when installing glue-down as imperfections are more noticeable. Loose lay and click systems are more forgiving and can better hide subfloor imperfections.
4. Warranty – all points above are what manufacturers use to determine how their products are warranted. Hint: if you want to save money and go with an 8 mil, glue-down product to use in a commercial space, the warranty may be 5 years, but that will certainly be voided the moment it’s installed in a non-residential space. The point is to make sure you purchase an LVT that both meets and warrants your needs.