Vinyl Flooring FAQ

SAWLFA takes on the Luxury Vinyl Tiles

SAWLFA would like to announce the small but significant name change of the Southern African Wood & Laminate Flooring Association to the Southern African Wood, Laminate & Flooring Association. This as SAWLFA has agreed to take on the Luxury Vinyl Tile sector. LVT complaints have risen over the last few years, and have become quite a challenge to both the importer and the consumer. Products are oversold and installations are not carried out in accordance to manufacturer’s specifications

Vinyl Flooring Layers

Glue down and click vinyl tile products are receiving quite a bad name in the industry and as such intervention was required.

SAWLFA members, together with the vinyl importers rose to the challenge and in September 2014 released to all members, the pre-installation, installation and maintenance guides for LVT’s catering to the SA climate.

SAWLFA have the assistance of inspectors, this will have a huge impact overall on the industry as installers will be held responsible if incorrect installations are carried out; this will eventually lead to installers following correct installation procedures.

We can assist the consumer with inspection reports; the report will give a breakdown of the problem areas and how this can be corrected and who is at fault. The report will cost R3000.00 ex VAT ex travel.

Our trainers, who also assisted in the writing of the manuals will work with SAWLFA installers, this to make sure they follow and understand the vinyl products they are working with.

Introduction to Vinyl Flooring

So you love the look of wooden floors but not the idea of the noise or the maintenance; then vinyl would be your ultimate, wood look, flooring solution.

Vinyl Flooring is a versatile, natural looking, resilient flooring and suitable for commercial, leisure, retail and domestic applications, offering the authentic wood, ceramic or stone look designs.

Poor and incorrect sub-floor preparation and unacceptable moisture levels are major causes of floor failures.

As with any product, price dictates quality.

For more information re maintenance and preventative maintenance, check the brochure under customer info for both the glue down and click LVT systems.

Virgin Vinyl v Recycled Vinyl:

SAWLFA take valiant efforts to ensure they only list products, members can rely on, and as environmental sustainability is a topic that the floor industry has embraced, it was safe to say that recycled vinyl was the way to go; however through testing and research it has now become evident that recycled vinyl is not what is seems:

Vinyl floor is made up of pure virgin material, which can be recycled, thus satisfying the organisations aim for environmental sustainability.


Although the word “recycled” would imply a sustainable alternative, in reality and through testing’s conducted, some recycled products were found to have very high levels of heavy metals, and hazardous materials; it was further investigated, and was found that often recycled vinyl waste is from old tyres, power lines, and even copper wires. The result can have numerous negative effects on health & safety. What is of concern is the mix can change from batch to batch, and over time as the wear-layer wears down, these dangerous materials are exposed, and could cause potential health issues.

Further investigations revealed that recycled material is only as good as the regulatory requirements of the country of origin.


100% virgin material is certified low in VOCs (Volatile Organic Compound – Impact on Indoor Air Quality) but also contain no phthalates (Phthalates are plasticizers – Substances added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency, durability, and longevity).

By investing in 100% vinyl you are ensuring your floor will be recyclable. We must also state that virgin vinyl is more expensive than recycled vinyl, but when considering your health & safety, a product you can rely on is more important.

With the above information put forward to the SAWLFA Executive Team, and until such time as rigorous standards for waste inputs are in effect, and as we have no specifications for vinyl in SA, the executive team from knowledge and experience agreed to the following:

  • Accept fibre infused virgin vinyl for click systems. As this is a more stable product.
  • Accept Virgin vinyl for Glue Down products.
  • Accept recycled vinyl for glue down products as long as test reports stating that the recycled product is toxic free.

To list Vinyl through SAWLFA we will now require a local testing certificate of compliance which states no hazardous materials were detected.

Although tests cannot be conducted to determine if material used is virgin or recycled, the tests required will confirm if any hazardous materials are present.

A list of all products conforming to the above tests can be obtained through the SAWLFA office.

DATE: 24 January 2018 Vinyl Testing Reports received to date: Azura – deZign 200 & 500 series = No harmful chemicals detected.

Belgotex – Nottingham, Podium, Arlington, Oakland, Portland, Hampton Davenport, Penninsula, Charleston, = No harmful chemicals detected.

Finfloor – Trio-Loc & Symphony = No harmful chemicals detected.

Floorworx – Quickstep Livyn = No harmful chemicals detected.

Fotakis Bros – Lamett Delano & Primo = No harmful chemicals detected.

Global Stream – Como Nature & Windermere, KronoXonic = No harmful chemicals detected.

MacNeil – Twigg Base – Twigg Core – No harmful chemicals detected.

Quantum – Steinhaus 3mm dry back = No harmful chemicals detected.

Traviata – Elemental & Traviloc = No harmful chemicals detected.

Van Dyck Carpets – Rococo = No harmful chemicals detected.

WanabiWood – Smartcore, Luxury Glue down 3mm/0.3mm, Premium Glue down – 3mm/0.5mm,

Ecowood Classic = No harmful chemicals detected.

It must be noted that at this stage SAWLFA have not taken on the listing of EVP, WPC, ISOCORE or similar technology, as we do not have training, training manuals, or inspectors to assist members. However it was felt that you should be made aware of products that had been tested, this for health & safety reasons and had passed.

LVT’s (Luxury Vinyl Tile) LVP’s (Luxury Vinyl Plank) are quite new in South Africa but are fast becoming quite popular as a floor covering, it is simply a very “versatile product”. But LVT’s are misunderstood and because of misinformation the vinyl has been oversold to sales staff and the consumer.

To understand the LVT and LVPSAWLFA have researched the product and along with its importer members, inspectors and trainers; have put together the following to assist.

Vinyl flooring is made up of four distinct layers; the wear layer/UV coating, the printed or decorative layer, a centre layer/inner core and a backing layer. There are fused together to produce the final product.

Different application areas depend on the thickness of the wear layer as per the below:

0.1mm – 0.3mm – For the home, office, exhibition stands, kinder garden school classrooms etc.

0.3mm – 0.5mm – For the cinema, school classrooms, hospital main reception areas, super markets, hotels etc.

0.5mm – 0.7mm – For the airport terminals, main access passages, lift lobbies, subways and train platforms.

  • The heavier the potential traffic usage the greater the wear layer required.
  • Check for high-quality manufacturing processes using 100% Virgin vinyl, as some imports include “fillers” which could contain contaminants or lesser quality materials.

Vinyl exposed to heat/temperature changes could be problematic if care is not taken; the dimensional Stability is a good indicator re the performance of a LVT/click vinyl product. The EN 434 European test will indicate the percentage movement that the vinyl will experience when exposed to heat. The minimum requirement is <0.25%. It is in the interests of the dealer to ensure that the products they sell are well in excess of the basic requirements of the EN rating, are manufactured from “Virgin” PVC, and have a cross-linked or fiberglass shades within the board layer – EN test = 0.10%, with “Cross-Linked – closed cell” fibre glass mesh layer, which when installed in a 4.000 x 4.000 room the expansion gap required would be, 4.000 x 0.10% = 4mm all round. It must be noted though, that all the manufacturers’ recommendations are followed so as not to invalidate the product warranties.

LVT floors are inherently water resistant (and fairly impervious to wet spills from above). However excessive water can damage the boards. It’s important to install over flat, dry, approved substrates so that no water seepage occurs beneath the floor.

Fine grit and sand, the same as any wood floor is the enemy and can cause scratches to the surface of vinyl, placing walk off mats at entrances and sweeping frequently will extend the life of your vinyl floor. Be sure the mats you buy are for vinyl floors. Some rubber-backed mats may leave stains or marks.

You need to understand that good quality products tend to have good warranties. A good warranty gives piece of mind. Extra’s to be considered:

  • An old floor covering to be removed and properly disposed of. Or, you may be able to “float” your floor over an existing one.
  • The sub-floor will need to be prepped for vinyl flooring installation.
  • Additional materials, like adhesives, moisture barriers, stair nosing and/or skirting boards may be required to correctly finish off your vinyl flooring.
  • Cleanings is recommended to maintain the beauty and life of your new vinyl flooring. Ask your retailer and/or manufacturer’s for maintenance instructions.
  • If the maintenance instructions are not followed correctly, this could cost you your guarantee/warrantee.
  • The first 24 to 72 hours (for glue down applications) after the flooring is installed, calls for special precautions. Please make sure your installer gives you all the information required.
  • Dust, sand and grit are the enemy. Sweep or mop the floor with clean warm water. Rinse the floor thoroughly with fresh water frequently.
  • DO NOT use scrubbing brushes.
  • DO NOT use detergents, abrasive cleaners or “mop and shine” products.
  • Walk off mats or rugs in front of outside doors will help keep the dust and grit from getting to the floor. Be sure the mats and rugs you buy are for vinyl floors. Some rubber-backed mats will leave stains or marks.
  • For further information consult the manufacturer’s installation specifications or the SAWLFA training guides.