This modern, practical, and versatile flooring is essentially a system of planks that lie flat on a smooth surface. In some cases, loose lay flooring requires no adhesives, glues, fasteners, or other mechanisms to hold the planks in place, nor does it require a subfloor.
This flooring solution has grown in popularity over the years thanks to the planks’ ease of installation and their resistance to damage that may result in other flooring solutions due to expansions and contraction.
Additionally, the planks are just as easy to uninstall as they are to install, which means they can be used and reused in semi-temporary situations. This benefit, along with the fact that the planks are highly effective in absorbing sound, makes them ideal for theatre installations or for anywhere you may want a reduction in noise.
Installing loose lay planks is simple – it consists of only one step – and the planks can be used to beautify a space, protect an existing flooring, or absorb sound.
Where does loose lay vinyl plank flooring come from?
Loose lay vinyl planks are relatively new, but various types of vinyl flooring have been around for over 50 years.
The earlier types of vinyl flooring came in the form of foam-backed sheets which tore easily and hard tiles like those you might see on supermarket floors.
A lot of research and development has gone into these kinds of flooring products over the years leading to advancements, which include, among others, the popular timber-look loose lay vinyl plank flooring.
When did it first come to Australia?
Vinyl plank flooring started appearing in Australia in the early ’90s and was quite different to the earlier sheet vinyl as it was harder and was cut into individual plank-size pieces featuring unique patterns.
These vinyl planks evolved further with the advancements of technology, and the planks became more and more realistic looking. We have now reached the stage where it is hard to differentiate a vinyl plank floor from a real timber floor.
Vinyl plank flooring has generally been a 2-3 mm thick product, known as LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tile), that is glued down directly to the floor with a hard set adhesive.
Introduction to the Market of Loose Lay Vinyl Flooring
More recently, in 2011, following many years of development, Karndean introduced LooseLay, a true loose lay vinyl plank flooring, to the Australian market.
What made this product different wasn’t the look of the finished floor but in how to lay loose lay vinyl planks. The product gained popularity thanks to the speed and ease of installation. The product made it possible to install, in one step, the planks over an existing floor without causing any damage or unsightly glue or adhesives.
The surface of this product is very similar to glue-down planks, but they added a reinforcing layer for dimensional stability. In addition, they also added extra thickness, bringing it to 4.5 – 5.0 mm thick to give it its own weight, which helps to keep it on the floor. Finally, they added a special non-slip backing to the underside of the planks.
Following Karndean’s success with Karndean LooseLay vinyl planks, numerous other manufacturers started coming out with their own versions of loose lay vinyl planks. This has increased the choice of qualities, colours, and prices, but they all have the same basic design principles of a stabilisation layer and non-slip backing.
The Different Layers of Loose Lay Vinyl Flooring
The basic make-up of a loose lay vinyl plank starts with a clear wear layer on top.
The thickness and hardness of this wear layer varies in range and manufacturers, but this is normally what determines the wear warranty of the product.
Under the wear layer is the image layer, which is a digital print of the timber or material that is being imitated.
Below the image layer are a variety of filler layers, stabilisation layers, and reinforcement layers. Underneath it all is the special non-slip backing.
Each manufacturer makes their version of loose lay vinyl slightly differently. Some add a special coating over the clear layer to make it easier to clean. There’s a variety of wear layer textures, bevelling and polishes.
There is also a different make-up for the stabilisation/reinforcement layers, and a variety of non-slip backings.
How to Install Loose Lay Vinyl Flooring
Even though the product is called loose lay vinyl flooring, this doesn’t mean the flooring can be loose laid in any and all situations. Depending on the area, floor surface, and use, you will want to choose from among a variety of simple and effective installation methods.
Loose Lay, Full Spread or Perimeter Adhered
Depending on the situation, loose lay vinyl flooring can be installed through multiple methods including truly loose laid, held with perimeter stick double-sided tape, adhered with pressure-sensitive glue to the entire floor, hard stuck with acrylic tape or adhered with 2-part epoxy tape.
The true loose lay method is only recommended for small low-traffic areas or for temporary use.
There are two methods for installing your vinyl flooring:
In this method, the adhesive is applied, not to the planks themselves, but to the substrate of the floor.
In this method, the adhesive is only applied to the edges of the planks and to the seams of the room in which they are laid.
Perimeter stick using double-sided tape is the most widely-used method for DIYers and is suitable for medium-sized areas.
DIYers can install the planks one by one with pressure-sensitive glue for a more permanent or semi-permanent installation.
The acrylic adhesive installation method is the most common method used by professional installers as it minimizes the risk of the planks migrating.
The advantage of using an acrylic-based adhesive is that it is sun resistant, it withstands wide fluctuations in temperature, and is not easily affected by moisture. For these reasons, when installing vinyl flooring in your kitchen or laundry room, an acrylic adhesive is strongly recommended.
Epoxy adhesive is a chemically set thermoplastic adhesive made of resins and hardeners. Once an epoxy adhesive cools and sets, it turns into a solid, integrating both the flooring and the substrate.
This is the most complex method for installing vinyl flooring and is best left to professionals. Additionally, it is also the most permanent as removing the flooring after installation is quite difficult and will most likely damage the substrate.
Suitability of Loose Lay Vinyl Planks
Loose lay vinyl planks are perfect for use in the home or in commercial areas, such as offices or shopping centres.
Installed in hundreds of retail stores around the country, loose lay vinyl planks have shown their durability in areas of high levels of foot traffic. They’ve stood up to the wear and tear of hundreds of trolleys going over the flooring day in and out for many years.
With such a wide choice of installation methods, its durability, and the fact that it’s easy to install, loose lay vinyl flooring is truly a versatile flooring product suitable for any kind of home or business.
The friendly staff at ID Flooring can help you decide among the many types of high-quality loose lay planks. They can help you find the solution that is best for your home and can advise you on which installation method is best suited for you and your specific needs.
If you would like to take a closer look at our loose lay vinyl planks, please feel free to visit our showroom at Helensvale.