The Many Faces of Vinyl Flooring (aka resilient, linoleum)
Vinyl flooring remains one of the top choices for home and business owners today. While the benefits have remained consistent, its composition and construction continue to evolve, making it one of the most popular and versatile product categories in the floor covering industry. Also referred to as, “resilient” flooring, the vinyl category can be separated into three major categories: Sheet Vinyl, Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) and Engineered Vinyl Click (EVC).
Among the options:
Sheet vinyl gained popularity in the United States after the WWII era as a more durable and easy-to-maintain alternative to linoleum flooring. It can be separated into three constructions: Homogeneous, Heterogeneous, and Glassback. Homogeneous is a single layer of vinyl and is built for heavy-duty commercial applications. Heterogeneous sheet vinyl is backed with felt and is much more common in residential installations. Glassback sheet vinyl is the fastest growing construction of the sheet vinyl options. Utilizing a fiberglass construction, glassback sheet can be found in both residential and commercial applications.
Developed in the 1970’s, Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) and Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) were created as a means to improve upon the realism of sheet vinyl. Popularity grew exponentially in 2000s as the glue-down construction, aka, “dryback”, emerged as a low-cost alternative to laminate, hardwood and carpet. Around this time, “peel & stick” versions were released as an option catering to the DIY (Do-it-Yourself) consumer. In recent years, “looselay” LVP has been growing in popularity with DIY consumers due its ease of installation and board replacement. Loose-lay is extremely popular in Europe as people have been known to take their flooring with them when they move!
(for both Standard and Luxury flooring)
Plank Vinyl Flooring was developed to give your floors the appearance of authentic wood floors without the hefty price tag. Vinyl planks also provide more stain-resistance and durability than traditional hardwood planks.
Tile Vinyl Flooring consists of individual squares of various size that, when assembled, give the appearance of stone tile. One of the many benefits of individual tiles is that they’re easier to replace when one is damaged. It also allows for pattern arrangements.
Vinyl Sheet Flooring is a single roll of flooring about 6 to 12 feet wide. Vinyl sheets minimize the number of seams and is great for high-moisture areas, such as bathrooms and kitchens.
Engineered Vinyl Click (EVP) burst onto the scene in 2012 and has been the fastest growing product category in the flooring industry. EVP is waterproof, durable and quiet. Beginning with WPC (Wood Plastic Composite), also known as, Waterproof Core, the category has already evolved with the development of SPC (Stone Polymer Core), also referred to as Rigid Core.
Wood Plastic Composite, also known as wood plastic core or waterproof core.
Stone Polymer Core, also referred to as SPC and Rigid Core.
The Long Evolution
There was little interest in resilient materials like rubber in the 1800’s. However, in 1845, linoleum was invented and grew in popularity by the end of the century.
A European chemist called Eugen Baumann was experimenting with a gas called vinyl chloride. While combining the gas with other substances, one resulted in creating a rigid material. At the time, there was no clear use for it, so this accidental discovery was set aside.
American inventor Dr. Waldo Semon was attempting to invent an adhesive that bonded rubber to metal. While working for the B.F. Goodrich Company, he created polyvinyl chloride, which allowed vinyl to be used for golf balls and the heels of shoes, as well as tubing and insulation for industrial spaces.
The first vinyl composition tile (VCT) was introduced at the “Century of Progress” exposition in Chicago. It quickly became a popular choice for flooring and received praise for its durability and low cost compared to other products on the market. Later that decade, the first Vinyl Composite Tile was presented as a type of flooring. Vinyl composite tile (VCT) was described, as it is today, affordable, resilient, and easy to install. But even though it first entered the spotlight in 1933, vinyl flooring did not catch on until the 1940s.
World War II
During war times, vinyl was used for a number of things other than flooring. Due to scarcity of material during this era, vinyl flooring did not gain much traction. Still, many vinyl manufacturers contributed their services and products to the war effort where vinyl wire coating replaced rubber insulated wire on US warships.
Post WarPost War
THE POST-WAR BOOM
After World War II, the production of vinyl tile flooring took off. As soldiers returned home, wedding bells rang and homes were bought, the vinyl composite flooring market exploded. It’s popularity in homes also made it a popular choice for larger spaces, including commercial and institutional flooring.
In the 1970’s, the health concerns about asbestos came to light and beginning in the 1980’s, manufacturers began to phase out the use of asbestos in vinyl flooring. Most were able to replace their asbestos-filled floors with quickly developed, healthier versions of VCT. Since then, vinyl has continued to be a cost-efficient flooring option for many home and business owners.
Vinyl Flooring is the second-largest-selling plastic in the world, thanks to the introduction of Luxury Vinyl Tiles and Planks. These innovations allow vinyl floors to offer a range of diverse looks that can mimic tile, stone, or hardwood. Today, vinyl is available as a waterproof flooring option and it remains very popular for its low cost and durability (something that has not changed since its invention). Vinyl continues to evolve, especially in its effort to lower the amount of PVC used in vinyl flooring.