Luxury Vinyl 101: Anatomy of Rigid Luxury Vinyl
Luxury vinyl flooring, also known as LVP (luxury vinyl plank) and LVT (luxury vinyl tile), is relatively new to the flooring market but has quickly risen in popularity. Luxury vinyl's rapid assent can be largely attributed to its durability, cost, and look. The composition of rigid luxury vinyl varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, but it generally consists of six layers; The first layer is an attached underlayment, often a rubber product or cork. This layer dampens sound, insulates floors, and further masks any subfloor imperfections.
The next layer is the core; Luxury vinyl will either have an SPC core (Stone Plastic (or Polymer) Composite) or a WPC core ( Wood Plastic (or Polymer) Composite). A WPC
core creates a greater sound barrier between levels and provides a warmer and softer floor underfoot. An SPC core is ultra-durable; its compact, dense
features allow it to withstand heavy foot and rolling traffic.
The third layer is the decorative film; This layer is a highly detailed image printed onto a thin film. This image usually depicts wood or stone, but the possibilities are endless.
The fourth layer is the wear layer; this layer is critical to the longevity and resilience of the floor. The wear layer is a clear, usually urethane-based coating that provides scratch, dent, and stain resistance to the vinyl floor. The wear layer is often embossed to give the vinyl flooring a more realistic look. The most realistic looking luxury vinyl is embossed in register (EIR). Embossed in register means the texture of the ware layer is directly coordinated to the image depicted on the decorative film below it. EIR also offers life like texture by imitating the feel of real wood grain. The wood grain imitation also provides greater friction underfoot, making EIR planks more slip resistant. The wear layer is measured in mils; mils are a standard measurement equal to 1/1,000th of an inch. Wear layers range from 4 to 40mils; however, most residential products today will be between 8 to 22 mils. Floors intended for commercial use or high traffic areas are advised to have a wear layer 20 mils or greater.
The final layer is the UV Coating. This is the floor's “first defense” against scratches, dents and fading due to sunlight. This layer often consists urethane fortified with a ceramic or silicone bead that has been UV cured.