What is vinyl composite tile?

Updated February 21, 2017

Vinyl composite tile, otherwise known as vinyl composition tile or VCT is a durable and inexpensive floor covering. Confusion can arise amongst consumers as the difference between "vinyl tile" and "vinyl composite tile" as they sound extremely alike. While both are durable and inexpensive materials, vinyl composite tile is a newer and more versatile product. Learning what makes vinyl composite tile different can help you make a more informed decision about your floor tile needs.

VCT Make Up

Vinyl composite tile is made in a similar fashion to older vinyl tiles. Both types of tile contain a substance similar to polyvinyl chloride, or PVC as their base. Vinyl composite tiles also contain fillers made of various inorganic materials. These fillers will vary depending on the manufacturer and the colour of the tile. True vinyl tiles are made up of more vinyl materials including a higher concentration of polyvinyl esters and vinyl binders.

VCT Characteristics

The removal of vinyl binders in vinyl composite tiles and the use of inorganic fillers makes vinyl composite tiles much harder than traditional vinyl tiles. Vinyl composite tiles can be buffed to a high shine, and don't have as much flex or movement as traditional vinyl tiles.

This can mean that the substrate or surface on which the tiles are installed, needs to be much flatter and more level than a surface being prepared for standard vinyl tiles.

VCT Appearance

Vinyl composite tiles look very little like old fashioned vinyl tiles. Vinyl composition tiles are available in a very wide range of colours, patterns and textures. It is possible to find VCT in planks resembling wood, large format tiles resembling stone and in patterns resembling parquet.

Vinyl composite tiles can be installed with or without grout joints, depending on the tile and some may include the appearance of a grout joint. This can help give the floor the appearance of ceramic or hard floor tiles without the thickness or difficulty of installation.

Installing VCT

Vinyl composite tiles can be installed in a number of ways, depending on the type of tile. Some tiles will be self-stick or self-adhering. These tiles will have a backer which will be peeled away during installation; the tile itself can be stuck directly to the substrate.

Other vinyl composite tiles will have varying adhesives and adhesive application systems depending on the tile's make up. If the tiles are not self-adhering they should be rolled with a vinyl tile roller into the adhesive, helping to bond them to the floor.

Cost of VCT

Vinyl composite tiles are amongst the more affordable floor products on the market. Starting at around .60 a square foot, they can range up to about £6 a foot for some types of luxury tile. Compared to porcelain tiles which can start at £3 a foot and go up to £19, and stone tiles which can go up to £195, vinyl composite tiles are a cost effective flooring option for many homeowners.

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About the Author

Sarabeth Asaff has worked in and has written about the home improvement industry since 1995. She has written numerous articles on art, interior design and home improvements, specializing in kitchen and bathroom design. A member in good standing with the National Kitchen and Bath Association, Asaff has working knowledge of all areas of home design.