What is Vinyl Composition Tile?

Robert Ferguson

There are two types of vinyl composition tile, vinyl asbestos tiles (VAT) and vinyl composition tile, or VCT. The manufacture of vinyl asbestos tile was discontinued in 1982 due to health concerns connected to asbestos. Vinyl composition tile is a flooring material used primarily in commercial applications. The flooring is available in different finishes that offer varying degrees of slip resistance.

Floor buffers must periodically be used to gently dislodging dirt and leave a glossy finish on vinyl composition tile.
Floor buffers must periodically be used to gently dislodging dirt and leave a glossy finish on vinyl composition tile.

The manufacturing process used to make vinyl composition tile turns vinyl chips into solid sheets of flooring. Heat is applied to the vinyl chips, which are then pressed into sheets. Next, a machine cuts the sheets into tiles. The most common size of vinyl composition tile is a 12 by 12-inch (30.48 cm) square, which is 1/8 inch (0.32 cm) in thickness. The tiles are packaged and prepared for shipping to customers around the world.

During installation, a grid or pattern is transferred to the floor's surface, usually with a chalk line. This grid is crucial during installation as it keeps the tiles running straight and in their proper alignment. Next workers use a standard V-notch trowel to spread a specific type of glue designed for VCT over the applicable flooring area. The tiles are then set into place. After removing any excess glue, a weighted roller is used to apply pressure to the flooring to create a good bond.

Its durability and high abrasion resistance make vinyl composition tile an attractive and practical flooring material for use in hospitals, department stores and other high traffic areas. Proper maintenance requires stripping and waxing the floor on a regular basis to help it keep its shine. The wax or finish helps to protect the floor from incurring minor damage. Tiles that do become damaged are simply removed and replaced with a new tile.

Periodically, a buffer machine must also be used to remove excess dirt, grease or grime. The machine rotates specifically-sized pads that cut through the buildup. Another process used in floor maintenance is stripping, which involves applying a chemical to the floor to remove layers of unwanted sealant and/or wax buildup. Maintained in these ways, a vinyl composition tile floor can stay attractive and serviceable for many years.

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