Multifamily Flooring 101
Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT)
LVT is a value add hard surface that is meant to prolong the life of the flooring and add a modern aesthetic to the units. Recently, properties are opting to install throughout the entire unit to eliminate the need for carpet replacements as well as the attraction of prospects with larger pets.
There used to be a drawback to installing LVT on upper floors but with the advancements in the composition of the products and underlayments, we are seeing a lot more whole unit installations throughout the property.
For Installation, floors must be scraped, smooth, and level. Pressure-sensitive adhesive is typically used as it allows for easier repairs. However, this application will fail when it gets wet.
Tile can be found in a plethora of shapes and patterns and has made a big comeback in Multifamily due to the new looks and longevity. The wood grain look and geometric patterns are probably the biggest reasons for this.
When working with rectangular pattern specs, it's good to know if the client would like to have the tiles installed in a straight lay or brick lay pattern. It is also recommended to confirm grout line spacing and transition needs.
It is good to consider whether the subcontractor doing these jobs for us has experience installing different types of tile applications. Especially in larger SF areas.
Making a big comeback in the Multifamily industry, commercial carpet applications have become increasingly creative over the past few years.
Commonly seen in conjunction with tile in clubrooms, carpet is also being used in fitness centers as a more decorative flooring alternative.
The installation technique is similar to LVT with the exception that the glue used will need to be spec’d by the manufacturer and usually not pressure-sensitive.
Even with the rise of commercial carpet installations in fitness centers, the best spec in my opinion is to always recommend a rubber product. Aside from the durability, many of the products today are able to keep up with the design needs of today's clients.
Rubber products come in rolls and tiles and can vary in thickness and color combinations. Stray away from recommending lighter color flooring when possible and always make sure that the installers are using the manufacturer spec’d glue and are applying it properly. Excess glue can stain if left on the product too long.
Important Notes about Your Subfloor
The preparation of the subfloor is probably the single most important aspect of the floor installation process. Depending on the age and location of the property, and like many of our dream projects, These floors can be a real nightmare and will need some extra attention.
If we have the flooring in our scope, make sure we have adequate numbers in our budget for possible subfloor repairs as this can kill a budget and slow a project down with change orders.
There are some great products in the market today, like Schonox and Nova Plan, which can really help with some of the more major issues. These are fiber-reinforced, self-leveling compounds that can be pricey but are magic to creating a good substrate.