Vinyl flooring can be found in any type of residence from apartment complexes and condos to two-story homes. This versatile material is easy to acquire and install, but how much do you really know about vinyl flooring? Whether you’re curious about its composition or the types of vinyl flooring available to consumers today, we have answers.
What is Vinyl Flooring made from?
When you hear the word “vinyl” a number of things can come to mind. This miraculous material is used in everything from records to siding and seat covers but is incredibly useful in the flooring industry as well. Simply put, vinyl refers to flooring made from PVC, which brings some unique properties to the table.
If you’re wondering how something that can be rigid enough for plumbing or toys but still be used for flooring, the answer is plasticizers. The addition of phthalates, in particular, allows manufacturers to produce vinyl flooring that has a bit of flex when compared to materials like engineered hardwood or laminate.
That video shows the process behind how vinyl flooring planks are made. They are the most popular form of vinyl flooring, otherwise known as LVP or luxury vinyl planks. There is more than one type of vinyl flooring, however.
Types of Vinyl Flooring
Most homeowners today are only familiar with one form of vinyl flooring which is a form of luxury vinyl. While different manufacturers use a variety of techniques to set their products apart from the competition, all vinyl flooring sold today falls under one of two categories.
Sheet Vinyl Flooring
Before luxury vinyl became popular, sheet vinyl flooring was found in millions of homes across America. While its popularity has waned, this flooring surface brings some distinct advantages to homeowners that they won’t find elsewhere.
Whether inlaid or layered, sheet vinyl comes in “sheet” form which generally measures 12’ wide and is cut to length. This provides one seamless surface which makes it ideal for areas prone to water damage or moisture like bathrooms or kitchens. Proper installation is a must, and it’s not exactly DIY friendly, but it is a highly resilient form of vinyl that can last for decades.
Vinyl sheet flooring is sold in two formats with glue-down vinyl that requires adhesive and loose lay sheets that use special tape. In both these cases, having a level subfloor key and you’ll still need to seal any seams to ensure a 100% waterproof surface. You can read a bit more about this type of vinyl flooring in our sheet vinyl guide.
Vinyl Plank Flooring
Sheet vinyl may have been the first mainstream form of this flooring, but it wasn’t long before vinyl planks found their way into millions of homes. This type of vinyl is a multi-layered product that’s highly resistant to water when properly installed. Today, the term vinyl plank flooring can refer to budget-friendly vinyl but is usually used to describe LVP, EVP, or LVT flooring.
Luxury Vinyl Flooring
Standard or traditional vinyl plank flooring was a breath of fresh air when it was first introduced to homeowners. It also pales in comparison to today’s vinyl flooring, which has a very fitting name. Luxury Vinyl flooring can refer to either LVP which are luxury vinyl planks or LVT, luxury vinyl tiles.
Luxury vinyl tile and luxury vinyl planks can have a flexible or rigid core. This will affect how the surfaces feel underfoot, but also has a major impact on the overall durability. Flexible luxury vinyl is considered “standard” while laminate with a special core falls into the EVP or EVT category.
Engineered Vinyl Flooring
Engineered vinyl flooring is one of the latest trends to sweep the flooring industry and one that brings a wealth of benefits to consumers. Whenever you see the word EVP, it means engineered vinyl plank which is the closest competitor to engineered wood flooring. It’s commonly used to describe flooring in this class that is rigid or features other hybrid properties.
As the name implies, this type of vinyl flooring is engineered from several different layers in a similar fashion to LVP or engineered hardwood. The difference is at the core of each plank, which is made from a composite. This makes each board or tile “rigid” or stiff although how rigid depends on whether it’s classified as SPC or WPC flooring.
VCT is also an option that can sometimes be found alongside WPC and SPC flooring. VCT are vinyl composition tiles, and while resilient, they are generally used in commercial spaces as well as areas like hospitals and schools.
Where is Vinyl Flooring Used?
Some flooring surfaces are only suitable for certain areas in a home, while others are far more versatile. If you are wondering where the best place to use vinyl flooring is, the answer is anywhere. That’s partly because of its construction, but also thanks to an array of colors and styles.
Whereas hardwood can only be used in areas where moisture isn’t a concern, you won’t find that problem with vinyl flooring. This synthetic floor covering is impervious to water, even if the subfloor beneath it is not. That makes it the perfect flooring for laundry rooms, bathrooms, and kitchens – all areas prone to spills.
Companies can produce designs that look like stone or wood through the printing process on the image layer, so the options are unlimited from that standpoint. You can find luxury vinyl flooring that will match almost any décor as well from shabby chic to classic and modern styles.
Vinyl Flooring Pros and Cons
Vinyl flooring may sound like it’s the best type of flooring on the market, but there are also a few cons that go along with any type of flooring in this category. With that in mind, here are a few things to consider before deciding to use vinyl flooring in your home or business.
The biggest advantage to using vinyl flooring is the fact it’s easy to install and comes in an almost endless range of colors and styles. There’s more selection overall than you’ll find with solid hardwood or laminate with more than a dozen major brands manufacturing new collections each year. Floating LVP and LVT are also considered the easiest type of flooring for homeowners to install.
As mentioned, vinyl flooring will shed water, but it’s also incredibly easy to clean. These floors can be swept or wet-mopped while a thick wear layer protects the image layer from foot traffic. Pricing is excellent as well with a range between $2.50 to $4.99 for budget to premium luxury vinyl flooring or tiles.
With vinyl flooring cons, you’ll need to consider the potential for VOCs first and foremost. These are produced by synthetic products and are commonly found with carpet, laminate, and vinyl flooring. There are regulations in place to ensure the flooring isn’t harmful, but the quality level varies significantly between GreenGuard Gold and FloorScore.
While resilient, this flooring can still be damaged. A good AC rating is helpful in high traffic areas, but if a scratch or gouge is deep enough, it can penetrate the wear layer and damage the image beneath. Vinyl flooring can be touched up, but cannot be refinished so entire planks or tiles will need to be replaced.
As the most popular form of synthetic flooring on the market today, vinyl is at the top of most homeowners' shopping lists. It’s a material we highly recommend for high-traffic areas, but one that will work in any area of your home. If you are considering installing new vinyl flooring, take a look at our list of the best brands in the industry.