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Vinyl, once the workhorse of flooring, is turning into a party underfoot. Say hello to luxury vinyl tile and some fun new looks. By Madeleine Boos.

Cover photo Glint Orb and Glint Void LVT Photo courtesy of Amtico-Mannington.

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Stone – Cool Light “Urban Marble” Photo courtesy of Amtico-Mannington

We’ve known of it as the workhorse of the flooring world: durable, resistant to stains and water, comfortable, and familiar to anyone who works in retail, hotels and supermarkets.

Vinyl flooring, once lowbrow and associated with checkerboard and speckled patterns, has emerged as a top home decor choice these last few years. It’s even been made to emulate the look of stone, wood and tile, and spawned a whole new interior design term: luxury vinyl tile or LVT.

Amtico-Mannington LVT

Abstract – Odyssey “Marcasite”
Photo courtesy of Amtico-Mannington

Now thanks to advances in digital resolution and screening, there’s a whole new category of offerings: abstract designs. Leading the way are visuals inspired by textiles; linear patterns and striations; and metallics and patinas.

FORS architecture + interiors in Tucson has used LVTs in some of the downtown restaurants they’ve designed, including Sushi Garden and Playground. “LVTs ROCK!….I was sort of joking, but I do really mean it,” says FORS architect and owner Sonya Sotinsky.

Amtico, a European company recently acquired by USA-based Mannington Commercial, and now made in the USA, just launched a new collection of LVTs, with a wide array of options, (more than 70). These can be mixed and matched, and even installed in custom layouts. Their “Abstract” line innovatively combines texture, color and pattern and is built to last. The designs shimmer and sparkle, like Glint Orb, Fragment Orion and Shimmer Denim. Channel your inner Katy Perry with “Marcasite” or opt for “Fiber Carbon” which calls to mind the indelible Sandy Chilewich. Abstract Spectrum features bold colors that punch with names like “Rio,” “Mumbai” and “Bangkok.”

Amtico-Mannington Abstract LVT

A mix of Design Woods – “Cirrus Air,” Cirrus Dawn” and “Cirrus Twilight”
Photo courtesy of Amtico-Mannington

Even its new “Wood” and “Stone” collections are pushing the envelope, with finishes that move away from replication, into patterns and designs that cross over into abstract art. Names like “Mica Mix Earth” and “Shibori Lapsang”  sit along side “White Oak” and “Limestone,” something for everyone.

Fiber Carbon

Abstract Quantum – “Fiber Carbon”
Photo courtesy of Amtico-Mannington

Standard tile sizes are 12″ x 12″, 12″ x 18″ and 18″ x 18″, and the wood finishes are available in ‘planks’ of 3″ x 36″. They can be staggered or aligned and can be installed for a monolithic look or installed with “feature stripping”, which simulates grout lines.

The pros of LVT are obvious. It’s cheaper than the stone or wood it replicates, at $6 to $10 per square foot. It’s scratch-resistant and requires less maintenance than stone or wood. And it can be easier to install than natural flooring. Though not biodegradable, LVT is recyclable. Warranties range from 10 – 20 years.

But the biggest plus right now is the fun you can have with it. “Abstract LVTs are a great way for making a fast and stunning statement on your floor,” says 3 Story’s own Madeleine Boos.

AR0AEQ13 Equator Flow Cross Grain July 2012

Abstract – “Cross Flow Equator Grain”
Photo courtesy of Amtico-Mannington

An even cheaper, and more enviro-friendly, solution is linoleum, coming in at $4.25 to $5.25 per sq ft installed with a host of interesting finishes.

The leader in the field is Forbo Flooring Systems  with its next generation of Marmoleum – the company’s trademark name for linoleum. New designs and modern lines are emerging, with geometric patterns, earth tones, subtle shades of concrete, and high-contrast blacks and whites with complimentary shades of grey. Forbo has introduced “Striato,” “Concrete” and “Graphic,” modern collections for modern environments.

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Marmoleum Striato – “Trace of Nature”
Photo courtesy of Forbo Flooring Systems

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Marmoleum Striato – “Trace of Nature”
Photo courtesy of Forbo Flooring Systems

Invented in mid 19th century England and popular until after World War II, when the more durable vinyl flooring was introduced to the market, linoleum is made from renewable materials including linseed oil, pine rosin, ground cork dust and wood flour with added pigments. As the world has become more concerned with sustainability, linoleum is making a comeback. And who doesn’t love a good comeback?

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Marmoleum Graphic – “Print”
Photo courtesy of Forbo Flooring Systems

 

 

The other pluses? It’s naturally insulated from sound, heat and cold. It’s anti-static, antimicrobial and 100% biodegradable. And it comes in rolls measuring 10 ½’ x 79” and can be cut and laid as desired. In other words, you can mix and match and customize your look. Its color is consistent all the way through, which means if the linoleum is scratched or scuffed, the damage will be nearly imperceptible, as the color and pattern will not change.

It’s been a long, interesting journey for vinyl and linoleum. Their reputation has gone from institutional to retro to, now, cutting edge. The sky’s the limit with where they go next. And it’s safe to say we don’t want any feet being kept on the ground.

Marmoleum Striato

Marmoleum Striato – “Water Colour”
Photo courtesy of Forbo Flooring Systems

* To see Forbo’s Marmoleum collection locally, visit Originate Natural Building Materials.

*For where to buy Amtico-Mannington LVTs, visit Mannington Commercial. More than a few flooring showrooms carry the brand in Tucson.

*Mannington Amtico also offers the Spacia Collection of LVTs, a stylish series of stones and woods with a few abstract designs at a lower price-point.

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