What is Luxury Vinyl?
The new popular flooring option, Luxury Vinyl, is a low maintenance, durable, and water proof floor designed to mimic the look of either stone or hardwood at a much lower, consumer friendly price.
Generally the specific way that LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tile) is made and is structured varies from manufacturer to manufacturer in terms of materials used.
Most manufacturers, however, go by the same basic structure formula which includes the following;
- Wear Layer
- Print Layer (Decorative layer)
- Core Structure
- The Attached Underlayment
A common misconception many people have about vinyl is that the thicker it is the more durable. What really determines the durability of a vinyl plank is the wear layer.
The wear layer of a floor can be defined as the protective coating above the decorative layer. The wear layer protects the floors against scratches, stains, and scuff marks.
There are several different types of wear layers however the most common type is a urethane based coating. The wear layers based on urethane is easy to maintain and preserves the original appearance of the floor.
In light of the development of new technology, some manufactures offer added durability layers, including added UV, for a durability boost of the floor. COREtec is one popular brand that does utilize these new technologies.
The decorative layer of a vinyl plank is the key defining factor of what your floor looks like. This layer provides the unique pattern, grain, and color.
The decorative layer of vinyl come in different texutures. Some are embossed and others are smooth.
Shaw, another popular floor brand, uses different degrees of embossing to create different, beautiful wood looks. Light embossing adds interest and a subtle appearance, similar to that of wire-brushing. A medium level of embossing really creates character within the planks especially following the grain pattern in a species with lots of movement. A heavy degree of embossing creates the look of hand scraping.
The core structure portion of a luxury vinyl product is consisting of either WPC or SPC.
WPC, wood-plastic composite, defines cellulose fiber filled plastic composites. Specifically it is a composite material made of thermoplastics, calcium carbonate and wood flour. (The pulverized wood powder used in WPC is termed wood flour. ) Generally WPC is white in color and very durable such as Oasis Wood Flooring's Rainbow Collection.
SPC, stone-plastic composite, is the same as WPC however it does not contain in wood particles. Just like WPC, SPC is waterproof, easy to install, and easy to maintain. SPC flooring is a bit more expensive than standard vinyl flooring, however it less expensive then more classical flooring options such as engineered floor and stone tile. Popular SPC choices include products from COREtec, Pardigm, and Republic.
The Attached Underlayment
Attached underlayment is responsible for moisture protection, noise reduction, and camouflages sub-floor imperfections.
The underlayment of luxury vinyl come in either cork or rubber.