You may have heard the term hybrid flooring if you are on the hunt for budget-friendly flooring solutions. There are definitely benefits to this flooring including the fact it is waterproof and it’s durability (10-15 year lifespan). Like any product, it’s important to consider all of the pros and cons when deciding if hybrid flooring is the right product for your home.
What is it?
Hybrid, or hybrid vinyl flooring, is a vinyl (plastic) floor. These hybrid planks differ to vinyl planks (think the soft glue down planks) in that they are stiffer and board-like. The thickness and density of the planks are often varied to provide either a heavy and more rigid plank, or a slightly lighter and more flexible plank.
To get that timber look the print is either applied directly to the vinyl or a thin film is pressed into the surface of the vinyl, similar to laminate. You can feel the difference between the two – the print that is applied straight to the top of the vinyl will generally have very little texture, with the laminate style you have a more textured surface. In general, the laminate surface will have better scratch and wear resistance over time.
Let’s look at some of the key features of hybrid flooring.
No expansion and contraction with moisture
Hybrid vinyl does not expand or contract with moisture uptake, which is a huge benefit when compared to all other timber/ laminate/bamboo products. However, they do respond to changes in temperature. In fact, exposure to direct sunlight would be considered a high risk installation and something we would avoid.
Suitable for many different spaces
The fact that hybrid flooring can be installed in areas with high moisture without it leading to expansion opens up the possibilities of where it can be used.
The ability for the hybrid flooring to handle high moisture environments is a real positive. Areas with subfloor moisture concerns, high fluctuations in humidity on a daily or seasonal basis, and areas exposed to moisture from within the room are all great reasons to select a hybrid flooring product.
Ease of maintenance
The fact that moisture doesn’t affect the hybrid vinyl products means traditional cleaning methods used on hard surfaces (such as wet mopping) are suitable. In general, hybrid floors hold their shape quite well with no gapping between planks. This also makes regular sweeping and vacuum relatively easy to complete. However, unlike solid timber and many engineered floors, hybrid floors cannot be resurfaced.
To achieve the real-to-nature timber look, an image of timber is printed or pressed onto the surface. When looking at the aesthetics of a print, it is important to find out how often the pattern repeats in the product. That is, there is not an infinite amount of variations as found in natural timber – the pattern is a set size and therefore it repeats often. Many products have very few print variations (5-6 variations only that repeat in every box), while some more advanced manufacturing techniques allow for 20 or more variations, with the print aligned differently on each plank to help diffuse the pattern.
Environmental and health impact
Plastics are a real concern for the environment and can also be harmful to our health, especially cheaper grades of plastic with low molecular weight plasticisers. Unfortunately, this creates an issue when using recycled plastic in flooring manufacture – you simply do not know if the materials used will be safe when heated up to high room temperatures (such as exposure to direct sunlight). Some manufacturers refer to their products as being all ‘virgin’ plastic – meaning nothing recycled. Of course, this leads us back to the environmental issue – creating more plastics to deal with in the future.
Whilst much is marketed about the suitability of hybrid flooring over any subfloor it remains that the subfloor still needs to be well prepared.
A bonus is that the hybrid flooring product does not require an underlay as the composite product has a built-in rubber backing that acts as an acoustic underlay that has effective noise reducing capability. A great product for apartment building where noise can be a concern.
Advancements in printing technology have allowed for great looking hybrid flooring to be produced at a very low cost with the added benefit of being a waterproof product.
The best thing to keep in mind when considering a hybrid floor is that it is a floating floor made of vinyl. Once you understand it is vinyl (plastic) then you can get a better idea of its pros and cons – what you like about plastic-based products (such as the durability and being waterproof) and what you do not like (the feel under foot or perhaps the environmental considerations).
What we recommend
For a great balance of aesthetics, quality, price and safe plastics we would recommend the Hydroplank or Titan range of Hybrids. View the entire range here or visit our showroom and speak to our flooring specialists for more information.