Comparison of 100% polypropylene and “eco” floor tiles
As the flooring industry evolves, so do the products available on the market. One of the most recent trends is the emergence of “eco” floor tiles, in other words, recycled products. Good or bad idea? SWISSTRAX Europe shares its experience in using these trendy materials. The reuse of matter, or second life matter, are very interesting ecologically. But the notion of safety must not be overshadowed by the simple fact that the material is recycled and the price is lower.
The term “ECO-EKO” is hard to understand. One would think it was an ecological tile. In fact, they are in most cases products manufactured with the main goal of reducing costs to make them “more attractive”: material, place of production…
While it may be tempting to opt for a lower rate option, it is important to consider all aspects of a product before making a purchase decision. In this article, we are going to compare 100% polypropylene and economical recycled floor tiles.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 100% VIRGIN POLYPROPYLENE FLOOR TILES AND “ECO” FLOOR TILES
By using different materials from virgin polypropylene, some manufacturers have found ways to produce tiles of similar appearance with lower production costs, often changing the structure or composition of the material. These floor tiles are visually similar to the tiles in premium PP quality but are, by far, very different technically.
Premature ageing of «eco» floor tiles
When comparing the two types of floor tiles, one of the most important disadvantages of economic tiles is their premature ageing. Because of the lower quality materials used or because of reuse of recycled material, these flooring options tend to wear out faster than 100% polypropylene floor tiles. We found medium-term porosity of the material and even micro cracks on the surface. Outdoor exposure further accelerates this phenomenon.
Less resistance to moisture
100% virgin PP tiles are also more resistant to moisture and water damage, making them much more suitable to use in areas with high humidity, such as basements. The 100% virgin polypropylene is naturally non-slip. This gives it significant advantages, especially in projects with a wetting risk such as terraces, swimming pools decking, SPA areas or workshops cleaned regularly.
Random colors for the tiles
Another major drawback of ‘reused’ products is colorization. Because recycling is randomly sourced (and comes from different sources), it is almost impossible to offer a consistent and completely identical color for each production. The reaction of dyes with virgin polypropylene and recycled material is quite different. Colouring with a blank PP will always be the same as the original PP is perfectly stable. Colouring with non-regular recycled material will be completely unstable. The real question is what if you need to complete an order a few months or years after your first purchase? Would you agree to receive a product with a colour that is not exactly the same?
At SWISSTRAX, we have a global goal and commitment: Always providing the same products and colours in all countries, a true quality charter.
The smell of your floor with «eco» floor tiles
Products made with materials of second lives are mostly very smelly unlike a 100% virgin material. A parameter to also take into account if you plan to use in garage, workshops, or games rooms… This smell is rather unpleasant, due to the recycling of several materials already used. These places are often not very ventilated. This disadvantage is therefore not to be overlooked! We approach this point because it is unverifiable behind a screen. Instead, ask for a sample for a complete transparency of your purchase.
The resistance of your flooring
Compared to 100% polypropylene tiles, economical tiles have less resistance. This is perfectly understandable because of using a second-life material. Resistance is often associated with security; you will have to observe this priority in your purchase decision. You will have to study this concept of resistance if you opt for tiles for a garage, workshop, paddock…
The flexibility of recycled products is completely different from 100% virgin PP products, this is to be taken into account in case of uneven base floor.
Shock resistance is also important if you plan to use the product in a workshop. what would happen when using a car lift?
You will also have to be very careful if you plan an event flooring project. Also be careful, when mounting and dismounting your floor is regular. The tiles fasteners are also made in matter of second life, causing a natural fragility compared to a product in 100% virgin material.
Tracking your purchase
The supply of recycled raw materials is quite irregular. It is very difficult to receive the same material during manufacturing. Indeed, this material comes from recycling, and is therefore random. Every minor change in the material will have a very important impact on the technicality of your floor tile (shock resistance, aging, etc.). Inducing the risk of not receiving a similar product for another purchase in the future if needed.
Warranty conditions are also different between a recycled product and a virgin product. What about resistance to oils, for example?
SWISSTRAX EUROPE’S COMMITMENTS
Through its various international subsidiaries, SWISSTRAX has experience in the use of these trendy materials. After having used and marketed a range of recycled products, we made the decision about a year ago to put on standby this specific material for garage uses.
Risks and range differences are too important at the moment according to our strategy and quality charter. We focus on the premium quality of our products worldwide. We also think that it is still a little early to get into this market, which looks more financial than ecological. Of course, we manufacture on request recycled tiles for very specific markets. (Where resistance and colorization are not priority, in the horticulture market in particular…)
In conclusion: While it may be tempting to choose an economical flooring option, it is important to weigh the pros and cons of each product. The 100% polypropylene floor tiles offer superior quality and durability, but above all, incomparable resistance. The price of 100% virgin PP tiles is higher than a recycled product, which makes sense when comparing the technical characteristics of each material.
Current recycled materials do not allow SWISSTRAX Europe to offer all the safe advantages of its quality charter. We are totally open to recycling and the environment but when it is perfectly comparable to the safe qualities of the 100% virgin PP.
The research and development department of the SWISSTRAX USA subsidiary is in the final stages of testing a new source, which to date has produced some surprising results… To be continued…