Why Can’t Vinyl Be as Easy as Ice Cream?

Vinyl flooring
I love ice cream!
I like all kinds. I am happy with a soft serve cone, and I am happy with a custom-mixed, multi-flavor concoction. However, the most common ice cream I eat is the steady stream of pints of wonderful-sounding (and tasting) flavors I get from Haagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s. While I can be happy with almost any ice cream, I tend to like the more expensive stuff sold by the pint (actually smaller, now 14oz) versus the less-rich tasting stuff sold by the gallon. Why is that? I knew there had to be reasons, so I was inspired me to try and figure out why I like the more expensive stuff better. I did some quick research and discovered that there are actually government guidelines that have broken ice cream up into different categories. Several factors can contribute to a product’s quality segment such as price, brand positioning, product packaging, quality of ingredients, milkfat content and the amount of overrun (air) in the product. I found this handy chart that breaks them down.

Types of vinyl flooring

So why I am talking about ice cream? I was fooled after buying a very good-looking Rocky Road that was part of the Signature Collection from Vons (Standard level) and immediately regretted it. That’s the problem the chart doesn’t tell you. There is a reason you get twice as much for about the same price or less on the more basic offerings. Ice cream looks similar, even when the ingredients are vastly different, and it occurred to me that’s what is happening in my business on many products including vinyl tile.

Inferior products can have samples that look fine but the difference may be bigger than what you think. Especially when we are talking about something we want to last a long time, not just a midnight snack. To prove my point, I tried to put vinyl tile floors in the same grouping as the ice cream industry did. There are no regulations or guidelines, so I tried to pick features that might help explain the hidden differences to you.

“Economy” is product unfit for most residential homes. Old style Peel and Stick or Glue down and Click vinyl tiles that are really only offered by the box stores don’t belong in a home you are planning on living in with a family.

“Standard” does not mean average or average expectations. It means basic. Better than the cheapest you can buy, but not really a product that you should have high expectations with. It is generally is below average of modest fashion and it is the low end of the rigid core product offerings (which is a fancy way of vinyl mounted to a stone composite core).

“Premium” is what most consumers expect with a floor that is going in their home for 10 to 20 years. This category covers well-made long-lasting product that if maintained properly will stand the test of time. These products are rigid core products that encompass WPC (Waterproof Polymer Core) and SPC (Stone Polymer Core).

The “Super-Premium” category is upper end product that is slightly more special than the premium offerings. These products may be thicker, more beautiful, or more durable.

Types of flooring

The easy answer is that “Economy” isn’t good on this chart. If you are planning on living in your home for any length of time you should avoid these types of products.

“Standard” floors can look fine with attractive pricing, but in order to be at those prices, they have something missing. These floors can be good floors, but in order to be low-priced, they have to leave out components that will make a floor perform better over time.

Common issues with economy and standard products researched online on a box store’s own website include: lackluster finish performance, scratches and dents too easily, doesn’t perform as expected, won’t hold up over time, abnormally low quality, chip easily, joints break, flimsy and fragile, often mis-milled, uneven and have gaps, floors don’t fit together well, finish peeling off, show scuff marks from shinier finishes, and white marks from too coarse of a finish. Many consumers report wearing through the finish surface, will have cheaper locking systems that are often unstable and brittle, and they often have issues with joint cracks from vertical movement (steps) and can break, they often have low quality cores with overall dimensions are often thinner because of a thinner core, often have de-lamination issues where the top layer releases from core, poor dimensional stability, poor planar stability and doming. often have looks that skimp on plank variation, use recycled visuals, and have bevels that are non-existent or look odd, often exhibit issues where the planks have irregularities such as: being cut out of square, when installed they show abnormal wide gaps, slippage where planks are higher than their neighbors, mis-cutting through improper annealing or curing times, they can show cupping or crowning due to humidity and moisture more easily than a more stable plank, and the list can go on and on.

“Premium” and “Super-Premium” categories include products that are designed with care, using components that will lead to better expectations. These products are built correctly from the ground up.

1. They will have better locking systems: A superior locking system ensures that the tiles fit together tightly, reducing the chances of gaps or movement. This makes installation easier and more efficient, as well as providing a more stable and secure floor surface.

2. Better finishes: Improved finishes enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of the flooring. This can include features like high-definition printing technology that creates realistic and visually appealing patterns, textures, and colors. Aesthetically pleasing finishes can elevate the look of any space and complement various interior design styles.

3. Nicer looking visuals: Aesthetics play a crucial role in creating a pleasant and inviting atmosphere. With advanced manufacturing techniques, high-quality rigid core vinyl tiles can replicate the appearance of natural materials like wood or stone with remarkable accuracy. The result is a visually appealing floor that adds elegance and sophistication to any setting.

4. Thicker cores: A thicker core provides additional stability and durability to the flooring. It helps to minimize flexing and movement, making the floor more resistant to impacts, heavy foot traffic, and wear over time. This increased thickness also contributes to better sound insulation and a more solid feel underfoot.

5. Realistic bevels: Beveled edges are designed to mimic the slight indentation found in natural materials like hardwood or stone. Realistic bevels add depth and dimension to the tiles, creating a more authentic and realistic appearance. They also help to disguise minor imperfections and make maintenance easier by preventing dirt and debris from accumulating along the edges.

6. Commercial-grade durability: Premium and Super Premium products have commercial-grade durability designed to withstand high-traffic areas and heavy use. They are more resistant to scratches, stains, and dents compared to lower-grade products. This durability ensures that the flooring retains its quality and appearance even in demanding environments, making it suitable for both residential and commercial applications.

Buying a new floor isn’t the same decision as a treat that we will digest in an hour, we are talking about a product that your family is planning on living on and with for a long period of time. It’s a long-term investment, and you put your money where you want your expectations to be.

By opting for a “Premium” or “Super-Premium” floor you are setting yourself up for a product that incorporates these better components, you can enjoy a flooring solution that combines durability, aesthetics, and ease of installation, providing long-lasting beauty and performance for your space.