Luxury Vinyl Planks and Tiles are now one of the most popular flooring products in the industry. Still relatively new, but taking the flooring world by storm. Many of you reading it have some knowledge of what LVP/LVT is, but let’s delve a little deeper to help you understand what’s what – and what’s best for you and your home.
First, let’s look at the differences between luxury vinyl and sheet vinyl. The names are similar, so it’s natural to feel hesitant about LVT if you have some experience with sheet vinyl (AKA linoleum) and aren’t the biggest fan. Take a look at the venn diagram we created that shows the few similarities, and the many differences between these flooring types:
Construction of Luxury Vinyl
Now, let’s look at the actual construction of luxury vinyl. Every brand has some changes they make – their special ingredients that set them apart. But they all follow some similar guidelines for the construction.
- Protective coating (optional) – This top layer is usually a UV resistant material to protect your flooring from sun fading. Some brands don’t have this layer or the UV protection is in the wear layer.
- Wear layer – This upper layer protects the picture layer from being damaged.
- Picture layer – This is where the image that makes up the pattern of your floor resides.
- Core layer – This is the thickest part of the plank. It is made up of a composite material that gives vinyl it’s name. It provides rigidity and stability.
- Base/backing layer – For gluedown, this will be a material that’s especially good for adhering to the glue. For floating, this may be a pad designed for comfort and noise muffling.
Let’s revisit the wear layer. This is the key to knowing you have a quality floor. If the wear layer is thick, scratches on the surface won’t reach the picture layer. This means they will be nearly unnoticeable. If your wear layer is too thin, scratches are much more likely to hit the picture layer, making it obvious your floor has been damaged.
Wear layer is measured in mils – not to be confused with millimeters. A mil is 1/1000th of an inch. You’ll read it as “Karndean’s Da Vinci line has a 30 mil wear layer”. Some retailers may confuse you by talking about the thickness of the overall product. For example: “Karndean’s Da Vinci line is 3 mm thick”. The thickness of the overall product is almost never as important as the thickness of the wear layer. While there are many circumstances where that information is needed, it’s very important to not let yourself be confused by the difference.
Most manufacturers have at least a few different options for wear layer thicknesses. Often times they have different product lines for each. Increments used vary slightly by brand, but these are the most common:
- 6 mil – The lowest commonly used. Usually cannot be warrantied beyond a few years.
- 12 mil – Most commonly used residentially. Respectable quality.
- 20 mil – This is the mark where commercial quality starts.
- 30 mil – Exceedingly good quality. Expect a warranty of 20+ years.
- +++ While there are brands that carry higher than 30 mil wear layers, for a standard residential application it feels a bit like overkill. There have been brands that have actually dropped their higher wear layer lines because they realized the cost wasn’t worth the extra product when there wasn’t a significant performance increase. Your circumstance may be unique, but for most, anything over 30 mil is not necessary, particularly in a residential application.
You know your home better than we do. You know how you treat your floors and whether or not you need something more durable or can get away with something a little less. Having this knowledge allows you to make the best possible decision for your life!
As always, we here at Full Service Flooring are here to help you in making these important decisions. Give us a call at 252.756.9308 to set up an appointment today!