Resiliency is a key word for the building industry. Resiliency describes strategies, features, and even materials that can adapt to and recover from challenges. When applied to flooring, this word connotes durability and long service life. However, resilient flooring can be a bit of a misnomer because some products within this category have a low service life and present material health hazards.
What is resilient flooring?
Resilient flooring is popular for its water-resistant, acoustic, and insulation properties. In 2019 alone, this flooring type covered 23.5 billion SF in buildings across the U.S.3 Resilient flooring is an overarching term used to describe LVT (luxury vinyl tile), vinyl sheets, and vinyl tile. It also includes linoleum, rubber, cork, and other various PVC-free options that vary in material health.6
Vinyl, LVT, it’s all bad
Resilient flooring is known for its durable use that spans many product types, with the most common being vinyl flooring.1 Vinyl flooring has material health implications from the release of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) during the manufacturing process as well as legacy chemicals of concern found in recycled vinyl flooring.
Check out this previous newsletter on the specific dangers of PVC in LVT.
Be cautious of recycled content
Although recycled content is usually a positive attribute, vinyl flooring with recycled content poses additional concerns because it may contain flooring made prior to the 2018 phase-out of toxic phthalates.7 Recycled vinyl can also come from sources known to carry lead and arsenic.8 Go ahead and ask the LVT manufacturer if they screen their recycled feedstock for toxic content, such as Per-and Polyfluorinates Substances (PFAS), asbestos, and mercury.
Although resilient flooring may be an appealing option for multifamily and other large scale projects because of its cost effectiveness, make sure to analyze the lifecycle cost that considers replacement and maintenance costs.
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