Types of Sheet Flooring for Home Improvements
Manmade materials such as vinyl, rubber and linoleum are available in sheets up to 4m (13ft) in width and also in tile form. The particular advantage of sheet flooring is that a large area can be laid with the minimum of seams. Sheet flooring is useful also in small areas such as bathrooms where you may have to cut difficult shapes.
Vinyl — polyvinyl chloride (PVC) — is waterproof and resistant to chemicals. Quality varies: there are cheap thin types which can be cold and hard, as well as more expensive warmer cushioned vinyls which include a higher percentage of PVC. Vinyl comes in a wide range of colours, patterns and textures. There are modern, clean-looking geometric designs, heavier-weight industrial types flecked with quartz crystals, and simulations of tiles or natural materials with relief surfaces.
Slightly thicker than vinyl, linoleum is strong and similarly resistant to chemicals. It consists of a baked compound of natural materials pressed onto a jute, hessian (burlap) or fibreglass backing sheet.
Linoleum makes a tough flooring for kitchens, bathrooms and hallways. It is available in a range of colours and patterns, including marbled or stippled effects. It is also easy to cut, so it can be used to make original floor designs. Shapes can be cut from a contrasting linoleum and inlaid to define areas.
‘Borrowed’ from industry, rubber flooring has a utilitarian, ‘hi-tech’ look that suits modern interiors. It is very tough: non-slip, soundproof and resistant to burns, it comes in a range of plain colours and some patterns. Many types are textured with round studs.
Care and Maintenance
Vinyl flooring can be damaged by burns or grit. Keep it clean with warm soapy water, rinsing off thoroughly. At all costs, avoid using harsh detergents, white spirit, turpentine or wax polish. Linoleum is likewise easily damaged by strong detergents. Keep it clean by sweeping and washing; shine with an emulsion polish or a recommended linoleum dressing. Make sure that water is not allowed to seep under the linoleum — this will cause it to rot.
Rubber is very resilient, but there is a tendency for grime to build up on textured types — around studs, for example. Wash with mild detergent; avoid strong chemicals.
Laying Sheet Flooring
The easiest way to lay sheet flooring in a small area, such as a bathroom or utility room, is to make a paper pattern or template for the whole floor. Stiff paper is best.
This method relies on the use of a scriber, a wooden block 4cm/1-1/2in wide. When the paper is laid, trim 1cm/ 1/2in around the edges and around obstacles. Place one edge of the scriber against the skirting board (baseboard) and trace a pencil line onto the paper all around the room.
Then place the paper template on top of the sheet flooring and tape it in place. Place one edge of the scriber against the pencil line on the template and draw a pencil line onto the sheet flooring, this time using the ‘outer’ edge of the scriber as a guide. The flooring can then be cut.
Cutting Around a Lavatory
1. Cut a paper template (in two halves for easy fitting) and lay it roughly around the obstacle. Stick it to the floor with tape.
2. Press the scribing block against the base of the obstacle and trace the outline onto the paper.
3. Lay the paper pattern over the flooring and transfer the outline, using the scribing block and pencil.
4. Cut the flooring along this line, making a cut at the back for access.