Flooring trends: Vinyl trumps wood

When Murry Cathlina, EVP of design and construction services for La Quinta, was designing the brand’s new Del Sol prototype, he faced a challenge familiar to many room designers: carpeting at hotel room doors frequently becomes worn down more quickly than the carpeting elsewhere, making it difficult to maintain the whole room’s appearance. How could he keep this high-traffic area in good condition without requiring regular replacement of carpeting?

His solution was to use, as the prototype plan calls it, “uniform and continuous flooring” throughout the entryway and bathroom. When they choose their design schemes, La Quinta owners can opt for either ceramic tile or a product known as luxury vinyl tile (LVT), which can look like real wood. “They use an embossed texture on the surface that gives them a wood-grain texture, and they have a variety of different color options that simulate different types of wood floors,” Cathlina said of the vinyl tiles he selected from supplier Karndean. 

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While hoteliers may want the real thing, there are some notable advantages to luxury vinyl tile. As Cathlina noted, real wood is not practical in areas with high humidity, especially in bathrooms. Overall cost and durability can also be a significant factor, as Christy Schofield, director of commercial hard surface at Durkan, said. “Resilient flooring and laminates offer performance, while a real wood is the aesthetic solution.” 

Christine Neufeld, director of marketing for LSI Floors, said that advancements in the printing process have made the appearance of quality vinyl flooring look far more realistic than the vinyl planks of a decade ago. “Manufacturers using a six-head printing process achieve deceptively realistic wood appearance,” she said. “Embossed registration allows for the appearance of graining and knots in the surface texture. This allows the light to play in the same manner it would on real wood.”

Performance criteria and advancements in technology are making LVT “a very viable option to real wood” in hotel environments, Neufeld continued. “Vinyl plank is more easily maintained,” she said, noting that these types of floors do not require waxing, eliminating the costly process of stripping and reapplying on a regular basis. “Quality vinyl flooring can be maintained with a mop and a mild soap solution,” she added. “It is easily installed and easily repaired should anything happen to a plank.” Life expectancy for these floors “far exceeds” 10 years, she added. “Wood flooring will require refinishing at some point within this time frame depending on the amount of foot traffic it receives.

Other benefits can include noise transfer, Neufeld added. “Vinyl has sound absorption properties helping to minimize the clicking of heels transferring to the rooms below and helping to reduce the overall sound within the space.”