Resilient vinyl flooring is one of the most popular flooring types in the United States. In sheet, plank and tile forms
vinyl accounts for about 12% of all flooring sold in the country. It is resilient because of its ability to spring back from
the compression caused by the weight of objects that it supports. In the last few years, new technologies have improved
vinyl’s performance and its ability to withstand tears, rips and gouges. Vinyl is often the preferred flooring because it is
resilient, moisture resistant, fire–retardant, durable and easy to maintain. It is extensively used in
high–traffic commercial areas or rooms required to be kept exceptionally clean like nursing homes and hospital
operating room floors.
There are in general three types of vinyl flooring – sheets, tiles and planks. These come in two categories of tile
and plank – solid and composite vinyl, and three categories of sheet flooring – homogenous, inlaid and layered
All vinyl products are a composition of vinyl resin with additives like plasticizers, stabilizers, pigments and fillers.
The precise proportion varies according to the manufacturer as this determines the various properties of their product. In
fact the vinyl (PVC or Polyvinylchloride) content can vary from as little as 11% to as much as 55%, nonetheless all are known
as vinyl flooring.
- Homogenous (solid) vinyl has a structure that is uniform in composition throughout.
- Inlaid vinyl embeds color granules into the vinyl sheet before it is heated with the wear layer. The colors and patterns
remain even as the surface wears.
- Layered composite is the most common type of vinyl used. It comprises four layers – a bottom layer of fiberglass, felt or
vinyl, a core layer of liquid PVC and filler, a decorative layer and a protective layer of clear PVC or vinyl.
There are two ways of applying patterns to vinyl. The manner in which they are applied has significance to the durability
- The Rotogravure (Printed) method is where a pattern is printed onto the core layer which is then covered with the clear
surface layer. Since the pattern is merely superficial it is liable to damage when it is exposed once the clear surface layer
- The Inlaid method where granules or chips of vinyl are embedded is impervious to wear since the pattern goes through to
the bottom or across the entire cross section.
Vinyl sheets are generally available in 6’ and 12’ widths which can be cut to size. Vinyl sheet flooring results in fewer
seams where dirt and grime is liable to collect. But installation is difficult and best handled by a professional.
Vinyl floor tiles come in 12" and 18" squares and planks of 3" x 36". The latter are made to closely resemble hardwood.
Thicknesses are 1/16" and 1/8". Vinyl tiles and planks are also available as self-stick with an adhesive backing.