According to Griffin, forgoing super-shiny floors that require stripping, refinishing and burnishing can save a facility 50 to 65 percent in maintenance costs. However, VCT is rarely replaced on a whim; most facilities consider low-maintenance flooring options for new construction or renovations.

Today, some of the popular alternatives to VCT include luxury vinyl tile, polished concrete, terrazzo, ceramic tile and rubber. Many new flooring options have a matte finish or a factory coating that imparts sheen, rendering finish unnecessary.

“I’ve seen people ruin floors because they put wax on no-wax floors,” says Poole. “Custodial staffs need to know what type of floor they’re looking at and what the manufacturer’s recommendations are for maintaining that floor.”

Mt. San Antonio College installed alternative flooring in some of its new and renovated buildings several years ago. 

“We were able to get our voices heard on the labor involved with VCT,” says McAlpin. “So we went with finished concrete throughout one of the buildings in the corridors and classrooms, and we also installed some rubberized flooring.”

The new floors are durable rather than shiny, and McAlpin says they are easier to maintain than VCT.

“Once you prep and finish them, you can go three years or more without a lot of labor-intensive work involved,” he says.

Despite advances in technology and the trend toward alternate flooring, VCT is still a viable option for many facilities — especially those who covet high shine. But shiny floors aren’t just about appearances: Applying finish protects the floors, extends the life of the product and provides a stable platform for walking.

“There used to be a reason to replace VCT, but the second- and third-generation products perform much better,” says McAlpin. “If you maintain VCT well — strip it, finish it and preserve the look — it’s pretty much a lifetime deal.” 

KASSANDRA KANIA is a freelancer based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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