A Complete Guide to Commercial Vinyl Flooring

Commercial Vinyl flooring

Contract vinyl flooring is a popular choice for many commercial and public buildings where a safe, watertight, and durable floor covering is required. But when it comes to choosing a new vinyl flooring the selection on offer is vast and can be confusing! There are hundred of different colours and designs available and all will have their own unique individual properties. Do you need a homogenous or heterogenous vinyl? Which is better, PU or PUR? What sort of slip rating will you need?

Hopefully, this handy guide will answer all of these questions and help you choose the right vinyl flooring!


Commercial (aka safety) vinyl flooring does exactly what it says on the tin! It is specifically manafactured for use in public or commercial areas to provide a completely watertight floor covering, which can be easily installed and offer a level of slip resistance to reduce the risk of slips, trips and falls and create a SAFE working environment.

Safety flooring is usually, but not always, a homogenous vinyl created with the addition of silicon carbide, quartz and aluminium oxides which provides slip resistance and is what gives them their unique patterns and sparkles.


In order to manufacture any vinyl flooring, the main component is polyvinyl chloride (PVC) which is a form of plastic which has further materials added to uniquely tailor the colour, sheen, slip resistance and flexibility to create final processed contract vinyl flooring.

The manufacturing process involves mixing the PVC with a liquid to create a plastisol (liquid plastic) which can be spread and processed through industrial rolling machines to create a sheet of vinyl. This is then dried using heat and air to produce a single, durable sheet of vinyl flooring.


There are two types of commercial vinyl flooring available and these are homogenous and heterogenous, but which one is best for use on your project?


Homogenous vinyl flooring is created as single layer of vinyl, meaning it is the same component from the top of the sheet to the bottom, which allows for depth of colour and high durability. It is also a stain resistant and easy to clean product which is ideally suited to high traffic public, commercial and industrial areas. You will normally see a higher slip resistance on offer when choosing a homogenous vinyl floor compared to a heterogenous floor.

As homogenous vinyl is manufactured as a single layer of the same material, the designs on offer can be more limited to single colours, which can easily be mixed and matched to define areas.


Unlike homogenous flooring, heterogenous flooring is comprised of multiple layers of material. This usually involves an initial backing, a reinforcement layer, a printed layer, and a top wear coat. As there is a printed layer with heterogenous vinyl this allows for endless possibilities for design which cannot be created when choosing a homogenous vinyl.

Commercial heterogenous vinyl floor coverings are exceptionally durable and are specifically designed for use in high traffic areas, such as schools, hospitals, and community centres to ensure a long lasting and desirable floor finish, that is safe and sound underfoot.

PU or PUR?

Polyurethane is what gives your vinyl an initial protective sheen and polish and is applied at the manufacturing stage but what is the difference between PU and PUR?


PU is a light covering of polyurethane that is applied to allow your new flooring to make it through the construction and installation stage but beyond that offers little in the way of long-term polish and protection. This means your new flooring would need semi-regular maintenance and polishing to keep your floors looking shiny and new! That’s not to say that a PU flooring is not a good option in the right situations!

 Commonly used in ‘back of house’ areas where heavy traffic is expected and you’re not going to be overtly precious about the odd ding effecting the look of your flooring. A homogenous flooring such as Polyflor XL is an exceptionally durable floor covering that can stand the test of time!


PUR on the other hand is a different beast entirely! The polyurethane is applied as a heavier coat which is then cured under UV lights to ensure long lasting sheen and protection! Normally boasting lifetime, polish free guarantees, these can allow big savings on the cost and time required for the upkeep for your new flooring which can make life a lot easier!

The majority of new contract vinyl flooring is manufacture using PUR so you can usually be assured of a long lasting, clean sheen!


Most manufacturers now offer acoustic commercial vinyl’s which reduce the sound produced by as much as 19db. This can be greatly beneficial if working in larger buildings where sound reverberates, as they offer impact sound reduction and also reduce ambient noise when working in-room.  So, no more clack clack clacking from noisy shoes walking the corridors!


When choosing a new flooring for your commercial premises it is of vital importance that you choose a vinyl with an appropriate slip resistance rating. It would be no good installing a low slip resistance flooring in a commercial kitchen where the risk of slipping is high as accidents do happen!

There are two ways that lip resistance is rated. These are the ramp test, which runs from R9-R13, the higher the number, the more slip resistance the flooring is. This is tested using a ramp, seeing how high and angle is needed before the test subject slips.

The other way is using the pendulum test, which is designed to replicate a pedestrian heel strike and runs from PTV 0-36+, the lower the number, the higher the slip risk and is a much more dependable system of testing.

For general use commercial areas, a slip resistance of R10 could be a suitable choice but the higher the “R” rating, the less chance of accidents happening. In a commercial kitchen setting a product such as Altro Stronghold 30, with an R12 rating, is highly recommended.


Once the decision has been made to choose a suitable flooring for your premises, you’ll need specialist skills, tools, and experience to ensure a long-lasting floor. Here’s a very brief overview of the steps required:

 The first step is to make sure all of the preparation has been completed to a high quality. You can find a link here to our article on the importance of getting the preparation right.

Then you need to choose the right adhesives to use to suit the environment. There are many to choose from for different uses, but for a standard installation a suitable pressure sensitive adhesive is best. We always like to use F. Ball products to ensure a perfect and long-lasting finish for our jobs.

Then it’s a case of cutting and laying out all of the runs of vinyl to ensure all areas are suitably covered and runs are going in the best direction to allow for minimal joints. Then comes the installation into the adhesive, using a 68kg roller to ensure a strong bond and no air bubbles are trapped before neatly cutting the vinyl in.

This is followed by heat welding all joints using a matching vinyl weld to ensure a seamless, strong vinyl covering. Finally trims and mastic applied where required and voila, one newly, professionally installed contract vinyl flooring!  


Once all the hard work of choosing and installing your new contract vinyl has been completed, you’re going to want to keep it looking as good as new for many years to come! Generally speaking, vinyl flooring is very resilient and can usually be kept looking spic and span by keeping a regular cleaning routine including vacuuming and mopping with a suitable floor cleaning product, although each manufacturer has their own specific recommendations.

You should always be provided with the manufacturer maintenance instructions at the end of the works in order to find out what works best for your floor.


If you have any flooring related questions or queries, then please get in touch with a member of London Commercial Flooring today and we will be more than happy to assist you!

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