Vinyl Flooring Basics
Vinyl Construction, Durability and Types
Vinyl flooring is more complex than meets the eye. What started as a material used in industrial and household items, vinyl has now dominated the market as a type of flooring.
This flooring remains one of the most popular because of its attractive design, resiliency, moisture resistance and maintenance ease. Homeowners and commercial buildings love vinyl because of its basic, yet highly attractive features.
How Vinyl Flooring is Made
To understand vinyl’s intricacies, you must first understand how it’s made. Each vinyl floor consists of three core components: felt paper, vinyl foam, and a protective layer. Sometimes, on textured vinyl planks, inhibitors are applied.
Each plank starts with polyvinyl chloride resins (PVC) added to white pigments and calcium carbonate. Then, to make the flooring more flexible, plasticizers are added. Fungicide is tossed in to prevent mold, and UV stabilizers are added to slow the floor’s fading process. Finally, a blowing agent is added. This is activated later in the creation process to inflate the vinyl foam, which makes up the middle layer.
Once those materials are well-blended, they are added to a paper or felt backing. This is made from wood pulp or calcium carbonate. Together, they are fed through an oven to gel the middle layer of vinyl foam.
Next is the design phase. The print is pressed directly onto the middle vinyl foam layer to give it a decorative pattern. With that in place, the protective layer is applied and sent back into the oven. If the plank is to have texture, it is applied after through a process called chemical embossing.
After the flooring is inspected for quality, it’s sent to the production line where the process is finalized.
Vinyl Floor Layer Diagram courtesy of processsystems.sandvick.com
Types of Vinyl Flooring
There are several types of vinyl floors available to you on the market that have different pros and cons. Learning about the different types of vinyl flooring will help you know which type is best for your project.
Sheet vinyl is available in large, wide rolls. These are six to twelve feet wide, making it easy to install in rooms. They are installed using adhesive and do not add much thickness over the subfloor.
Vinyl tiles are squares imprinted with a variety of designs. These are easy to lay in unique patterns, making them a popular choice in bathrooms and kitchens. Lay them diagonally for a unique contrast in your kitchen, or lay them in a checkerboard pattern to give more depth to your bathroom floor. You can find vinyl tiles in a glue down and floating floor installation.
Vinyl planks look similar to hardwood or laminate and is the original floating vinyl floor. Vinyl planks are referred to most commonly as LVT or LVP. Vinyl planks are 100% waterproof and can be installed in residential and commercial applications.
Rigid core vinyl planks are an engineered vinyl that includes a rigid core construction, such as WPC or SPC. This type of vinyl features a thin layer of vinyl on top of a waterproof core.
WPC vinyl planks are engineered vinyl that is a mixture of wood, plastic and vinyl. This material is highly durable, is waterproof and has a DIY friendly click-lock installation.
SPC vinyl planks are engineered vinyl planks with a stone plastic composite core. This material is an affordable option for commercial and residential spaces.
Hybrid vinyl planks are engineered to combine the best of vinyl and laminate flooring together. These floors are 100% waterproof, but have a more durable top coating found in laminate floors.
If your room gets a lot of foot traffic, you’ll want to consider vinyl. The process manufacturers go through to create this product help solidify its durable characteristics. Because of the many stylish types of vinyl available, it’s the perfect addition to any room, no matter the style.
Although vinyl might look identical to wood, stone, or tile, it’s more durable than most of these materials. It’s also easier to maintain.
The process in which vinyl is created lends itself to durability. The interior foam can withstand high temperatures, humidity, and just about anything else thrown its way. Even though the design looks luxurious, the materials used are able to overcome a healthy amount of wear and tear as well as being waterproof.
Vinyl flooring is put through rigorous durability tests to measure the strength, scratch resistance, flammability, UV protection and much more. Here are the testing and standards that are used for vinyl floors:
- Indentation Resistance: ASTM F1914
- Dimensional Stability: ASTM F2199
- Abrasion Resistance: ASTM D4060
- Heat Resistance / Color Fastness: ASTM F1514
- Light Resistance / Color Fastness: ASTM F1515
- Chemical Resistance: ASTM F925
- Flammability & Smoke Resistance: ASTM E648 / NFPA 253
- Smoke Density: ASTM E662 / NFPA 258
- VOCs: ASTM D5116
- Slip Resistance: ASTM D2047