So we recently saw that Karndean have added some new designs to “an innovative format of luxury vinyl flooring” that requires no adhesive. What’s so innovative about that? I wondered out loud, after all most of the luxury vinyl plank or tile products currently in the market use the ClickLock system than doesn’t have to be glued down… But then I took a closer look and realized that what Karndean (and a few other manufacturers) are offering is an entirely different kind of vinyl tile: one that is so incredibly simple to install that it’s hard to believe it’s true!
So what exactly is Loose Lay Vinyl Tile?
But it is true! The new Looselay – or sometimes written Loose Lay – tiles do not use glue or staples or any kind of ClickLock system. Instead the backing of each tile is made with materials that use friction to effectively grip the subfloor beneath; furthermore Loose lay vinyl tiles are completely dimensionally stable which means that they will not expand or shrink depending on moisture levels, so when you install them there is no expansion gap between the tiles and the wall, and therefore – as described beautifully by the team at Floors to Your Home – “once you’ve got your floor in place, it just has nowhere to go”; and finally, Loose lay vinyl is also super thick and heavy which adds to its ability to stay put.
Of course, as with all flooring, there are certain provisos when installing these products. You will need to follow the advice from each manufacturer about correctly preparing the subfloor so that it is level and offers the right kind of friction, and also the super-simple installation of Looselay tiles is best suited to smaller spaces.
Larger spaces will likely require the addition of a grid of adhesive tape applied to the subfloor first to ensure that the tiles stay put. Again, follow the advice from the manufacturer to get it right. Either way, the brilliant simplicity of this product means that most proficient DIYers will be able to confidently install a stylish looking floor! Eager to to see some options? Check out the loose lay flooring at BuildDirect and FlooringInc.
Other Benefits of Loose Lay Flooring
Clearly – even with an adhesive grid – the other major advantage of Looselay vinyl is that it is just as easy to get it off the floor as it is to lay it down: if you move home and would rather like to take your floor with you, you actually can! As most flooring options represent a fairly large investment, what this really means is that you can easily replace any tiles in the unlikely event of serious damage (make sure to keep a few surplus tiles, just in case).
The removability aspect of Looselay is also useful in office or high-tech home environments where you might have power sockets embedded into the subfloor that you don’t necessarily want to always have visible: tiles placed over such power sockets can easily be removed when you need access.
Other benefits include the fact that modern vinyl techniques mean that most Looselay tiles are pretty durable with manufacturers offering guarantees of up to 15 years, and they are also extremely low maintenance; click here for other durable flooring options. New technology also means that the aesthetic design of Looselay tiles is usually just as detailed, textured and authentic-looking as other vinyl such as LVT. Vinyl is both more waterproof and tends to be better at absorbing sound than real flooring products, so it is a great option for pretty much any room in your home. Plus it is warmer underfoot than real stone and softer than real hardwood, and certain manufacturers are offering Looselay tiles that can be used with underfloor heating.
Loose Lay Prices
Comparatively speaking, Loose lay is also pretty affordable, retailing between $3 – $8 per square foot depending on the brand. And when you factor in that you can DIY install it and the low maintenance costs over the years, you really start to see the long-term gains in opting for this innovative flooring.
Any Loose Lay Flooring Drawbacks?
The main disadvantage of Looselay at this point is that it hasn’t been taken up by all vinyl tile manufacturers yet, so the ranges available are still relatively limited (in comparison to LVT, for example).
The main options are wood and stone looks, and mostly in aesthetics that will broadly appeal to most classic design styles, such as traditional oaks and slates. A few brands do also offer abstract, color block or textile look tiles. Below we have reviewed a few of the manufacturers offering good Looselay collections, and it can only be hoped that as this product gains popularity that more interesting designs will come to the market.
Another possible drawback is that some of the main Looselay manufacturers are actually based outside of the USA, so you may need to track down dealers in your local area.
Beware Linguistic Confusion
If you’re interested in researching Looselay further, then be ready for a bit of linguistic detective work because there is a general confusion surrounding the wording of these products. Quite apart from the fact that some write it as Looselay and others as Loose Lay, different manufacturers are using the terms “loose” and “lay” in various ways to describe totally different products.
For example Gerflor has two product lines that cause serious confusion! What they refer to as their LVT Looselay (Senso Clic, Senso Lock and Senso Lock Plus) is actually a Click-Lock floating floor; whilst what they call LVT Removable (Senso Adjust) is what we would actually call Looselay, as there is no Click-Lock or glue or staples involved. Gerflor also has a line they refer to as Vinyl Rolls Looselay (Home Comfort, HQR, Texline, Solidtex and Primetex), and whilst these floors indeed do not require glue, they are in fact vinyl sheet not tiles or planks!
And that’s another lingo thing to point out – Looselay vinyl can be in tile or plank format depending on whether you’re going for a stone look or a wood look, even though it is mostly referred to as tile!
Loose Lay Reviews
BuildDirect – Established in 1999, BuildDirect has become one of the largest online manufacturer-wholesalers, specializing in quality flooring and building materials. They have a truly competitive edge by offering manufacturer-direct prices, so if you’re looking to get the most from your budget they are a good place to look first. They currently offer a small but perfectly formed range of Loose Lay planks and tiles. Their St. Erhard loose lay vinyl wood planks line features 6 colorways, including two on-trend gray tones and a rather lovely warm honey-brown acacia (below left), with beautiful grain detailing; and their Vesdura vinyl loose lay stone tiles come in 4 colorways, from gray to brown. Currently available from as little as $1.74 per square feet, the BuildDirect offering is worth serious consideration!
Karndean – This UK based company has been making vinyl flooring products for over 40 years and were one of the first to introduce the Looselay concept to their product lines. The quality products have found markets across the world and are readily available at flooring retailers across the USA. There are currently 26 Karndean Looselay products divided into three series featuring a diverse range of wood and stone aesthetics. The wood look Looselay offerings are particularly interesting with a really good range of colorways from the smoky grey toned Hartford planks (below left), through a number of attractive warm brown tones to the coolly whitewashed Ashland. We also like the Karndean Looselay wood planks are available in a decently large size (41.3” x 9.85”) that adds authenticity to the already highly realistic designs.
FreeFit – This innovative vinyl flooring company that specializes solely in Looselay is based in Hong Kong and has already made great expansions into the Australian flooring market, and is set to explode worldwide as more and more people discover their excellent range of extremely attractive Looselay vinyl planks and tiles. They currently have seven different collections, covering an extensive range of aesthetics, from traditional rustic woods to edgy contemporary stones and include the HDCT collection that features textile like abstract designs. For added authenticity you should look at the Intaglio and EIR collections which have 3D printing graphics which means that they have textured surfaces that effectively mimic the real thing.
Polyflor – Another major vinyl flooring manufacturer based in the UK, Polyflor now have two true Looselay collections – the SimpLay Wood and the SImpLay Stone and Textile collections, both featuring 8 designs. Of all the brands we’ve seen, what set the Polyflor offering apart is the fact that all their Looselay tiles/ planks work really well with each other aesthetically-speaking, which makes it really easy to create a patterned floor or delineate different parts of a space using subtly different tile, as beautifully demonstrated in the image above right with the clever combination of the Limed Concrete and Cathedral Limestone tiles. Polyflor also get bonus points by using 20% recycled materials in their products.
Tarkett – The Looselay Square Acoustic and Square Compact collections from giant flooring company Tarkett are probably more suited to a commercial setting than residential, and feature the same 36 designs but in different sizes/spec. There are some fairly standard looking wood and stone designs, but the collections really stand out for their textile and abstract looks in mainly neutral colors, apart from the rather lovely Zen Blue and the not quite so appealing Patine Prune! However, where Tarkett really stands out above the rest of its competitors is with its innovative Tarkolay product. This is a specially designed underlayment that “makes it possible to loose lay nearly all the Tarkett range of resilient floorings” – contact your local Tarkett specialist for more details on how that actually works! It’s pretty cool!
Forbo – The Looselay product from Forbo Flooring Systems, Allura Flex, is probably the best contender to Tarkett for commercial Looselay vinyl tiles, but arguably the Forbo collection is more aesthetically versatile making it equally suitable for residential settings. There are three collections in the range: Flex Wood, Flex Stone and Flex Abstract. There are now 14 rather elegant wood look planks, each very realistically rendered, from the gorgeously veined Deep Country Oak (below left) to the delicately distressed Blue Reclaimed Wood. The 12 different stone tiles include a few more edgy design choices such as the Grigio Concrete and the Rusty Oxidized Steel; and the 10 Abstract designs include 4 fantastically bold block colored tiles in Lime, Aqua, Orange and Red that we haven’t seen anywhere else!
Gerflor – As mentioned above, the Gerflor people have rather confused matters in the naming of their products, but if you can get past that it’s worth it because their residential LVT Removable collection called Senso Adjust is small but absolutely perfectly formed in terms of design. Featuring just five wood planks and 3 mineral/ stone tiles, each design is bang on design trend in delicate shades of grays, smoky browns, and blanched blonds. Gerflor also has a super clever skirting board product in white or gray that will beautifully complement any of its Senso Adjust floors, which is a lovely touch. Gerflor also have a fairly extensive range of Looselay type flooring products for commercial use, check out their website for more details.