About Vinyl Floors
If the thought of vinyl flooring brings to mind hospitals, grocery stores and school hallways, it may surprise you to know vinyl floor sales are second only to carpet sales in the United States. That’s because vinyl flooring is inexpensive, durable and comes in an array of designs that can improve the look of just about any room of your home. Vinyl flooring is not just confined to sheets and tiles, you can now get vinyl flooring planks that mock hardwood and bamboo floors.
Vinyl is made from a special type of plastic known as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and is used to create a variety of items including home siding, toys, clothing and handbags. This versatility in production extends to vinyl flooring, which is available in a number of colors and patterns and can be crafted to resemble more expensive floors such as hardwood, tile or stone. Vinyl, cork and linoleum flooring are known as a resilient floors because of their ability to “bounce back” or “give” upon impact. This quality makes these types of floors more comfortable to walk and stand on for longer periods of time.
There’s more to selecting your vinyl flooring than determining how you want the floor to look. The type of vinyl flooring you choose (sheet, tile or plank) can determine both the ease and the method of installation. The way the flooring is constructed (inlaid or rotogravure) affects how durable the floor will be, while the top layer (vinyl no-wax, urethane or enhanced urethane) plays a role in how simple your vinyl floor will be to maintain and how long it will last.
There are several different vinyl floor types, wear layers, and decorative processes to choose from. These vinyl flooring factors – along with the way the floor is constructed – will have a direct affect on your vinyl floor’s appearance, durability and ease of maintenance. Knowing the types of vinyl flooring and the options you have when selecting a new floor, will help you decide whicy type of vinyl flooring is best for you. With the constant evolution of vinyl flooring, you now have choices beyond sheet and tile vinyl flooring. Now, you can get vinyl plank flooring that simulates hardwood and bamboo floors, without the constant maintenance of cleaning up.
Vinyl Flooring Types
Vinyl flooring comes in sheets, tiles or planks. The type of flooring that’s best for you will depend in part on how you want your floor installed.
Sheet vinyl is the most popular type of vinyl flooring. It is generally available in 6 to 12–foot rolls. This type of floor is great for quickly covering large areas without having a lot of seams where dirt and moisture can gather. Seamless surfaces are actually very moisture–resistant. If your flooring project requires multiple sheets of vinyl, seams can be sealed with chemical bonding or heat welding.
The size of sheet vinyl can make it difficult to handle, so sheet flooring installation is typically done by a professional flooring installer. Sheet vinyl comprises 85–90% of vinyl flooring sales.
Vinyl Tiles or Planks
Vinyl tiles or planks may take longer to install than sheet vinyl, but their size and ease of handling make them the preferred choice for do–it–yourself projects. Vinyl tiles are typically 1–foot squares, while planks are made to resemble wood and can measure 3 inches by 36 inches or longer. Both tiles and planks are available in a variety of colors and patterns that allow for plenty of creativity when it comes to appearance. They are also easier to replace than sheet vinyl floors. If you’re installing vinyl floor tiles or planks yourself, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions on cleaning and sealing your new floor.
Vinyl Flooring Construction
Vinyl flooring is created in one of the following ways:
- Homogenous or Solid: Homogenous (solid) vinyl is uniform in structure and composition throughout, with no added backing.
- Inlaid: Inlaid vinyl is made by adding granules of vinyl to a vinyl backing and heating them with the wear (surface) layer. This creates colors and patterns that will last even if the surface layer begins to wear down.
- Layered composite: Layered composite vinyl is the most common type of vinyl flooring. It consists of four distinct layers. The backing (bottom) layer is vinyl, fiberglass or felt. This layer is covered with a core layer of liquid polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and filler, which is topped with a decorative layer and a wear layer of protective, clear vinyl.
Vinyl Flooring Patterns and Designs
The way patterns are applied to your floor is one of the key factors that determine both appearance and durability.
- Rotogravure: In this process, also called rotovinyl, a pattern is printed onto the vinyl floor’s core layer, with a clear wear layer added on top of that. A variety of designs and patterns are available, giving you a great deal of options for your floor. Since the pattern is only printed on the core layer, however, the durability of the wear layer will affect how long the floor maintains its original appearance.
- Inlaid: Vinyl granules or chips make up inlaid vinyl floors, creating a unique color and pattern. These materials go all the way to the floor’s backing layer, making this type of vinyl floor especially durable. True inlaid vinyl floors come in 6–foot wide rolls only. If you find inlaid vinyl floors in 12–foot wide rolls, beware: some of the color may actually be part of the wear layer.
Vinyl Flooring Wear Layers
The wear layer atop your vinyl floor dictates the longevity and amount of maintenance you’ll have to put forth, so be sure to know what to ask for.
- Vinyl no–wax: The least durable of the three, your floor will nonetheless resist scrapes, scuffs, and some stains. It also sports a much smoother finish. Required maintenance includes regular washing and a good polishing from time to time to restore shine.
- Urethane (PVC): Urethane surfaces will keep their “like new” appearance longer than most vinyl no–wax surfaces, as well as resist stains, scrapes, scuffs, and heel marks. It has a more textured surface, which sometimes simulates tile or stone patterns.
- Enhanced Urethane: This most durable of wear layers resists staining from many common housenold elements. Since grime and dirt will not stick to this type of surface, the only maintenance needed is an occasional sweep or mopping. Watch out for fading, which may occur if your vinyl floors are exposed to strong sunlight.
Vinyl Floor Buying Guide
Vinyl flooring comes in a legion of colors, patterns and design options. It is affordable and easy to clean, making it a fantastic choice for your flooring project.
Several factors go into determining the price of vinyl flooring. This Vinyl Buying Guide is a fantastic tool for you to gather all the information you need to choose the best vinyl floor for your home. In this section, we take a look at the three main factors that affect the pricing of vinyl flooring.
There are two types of construction for vinyl floors.
- Rotogravure vinyl:The color and pattern are printed on the surface level of the vinyl only. This is a lower cost and more popular method of production that leaves the color and pattern susceptible to wearing away over time.
- nlaid vinyl: The color and pattern go all the way through the vinyl. This makes the color and pattern very wear–resistant.
NOTE: A high quality wear layer such as urethane will allow a rotogravure vinyl floor to endure years of residential use with very little maintenance.
Solid vinyl flooring is more expensive than layered vinyl. The majority of vinyl sold today is layered vinyl.
The thicker and more protective the wear level, the higher the cost will be. The wear layer on vinyl gives your floor its shine and has a significant effect on its ability to withstand scuff marks and moisture. The three levels of wear layers are:
- Vinyl No–wax
- Urethane (PVC)
- Enhanced Urethane
Questions to ask yourself
Installing vinyl flooring can be a great way to give your home a facelift for a fair price. Offering a wide assortment of colors and designs, vinyl works well with a variety of rooms and décor. However, before filling up your shopping cart, it’s a good idea to get your facts straight. When it comes purchasing vinyl floors, there can be just as many steps as there are pattern choices.
Get your floor project plans in order with help from our 3 vinyl installation questions below. Each question comes complete with a sample project planning worksheet and example answers. All you have to do is print a blank worksheet (by clicking on the link), fill it out, and start shopping!
The worksheet information comes in very handy when speaking to flooring professionals. Save time– and maybe even a few dollars – on your vinyl floor purchase.