LVT is a flooring option that has seen much attention and fascination over the years. The benefits it brings to a home in its unbelievable visual designs and practical functions, whilst also having very few downsides, have spread the word and inspired a lot of goodwill amongst its customers.
That being said, there’s been a lot of misconceptions about LVT, including what it’s made up of, and how it differs from standard vinyl in more than its high presentation value. As such, Luvanto has made a blog to illustrate what LVT is made up of, and why LVT is one of the best flooring options on the market today.
What is LVT Flooring Made Of?
Quality Luxury Vinyl Tile is made up of five or more layers, depending on the specific product. These layers are bonded together to make a singular object, all whilst retaining the functional purpose of each layer. We will go over what each of these layers do here:
- Top Coating – Made up of a textured polyurethane or aluminium oxide coating that provides UV protection against sunlight, scratches and stains and gives enhanced anti-slip.
- Wear Layer – The wear layer is a clear coating that acts as another layer of protection, made up of urethane or other acrylic substances. Its purpose is to protect the floor, and the layers beneath it. It is effectively a sturdy layer that comes in varying levels of thickness, the thicker it is, the more protection it offers. For residential homes, the recognised standard wear layer is about 0.3mm. However, all of Luvanto’s products come with 0.55mm as a standard – adding that extra protection to keep your floors looking fresh for decades.
- Design or Decorative Layer – Beneath the clear wear layer, easily visible for all to see, is one of the biggest draws of LVT – the design layer. This layer is responsible for the aesthetic appeal of your LVT, whether that be stone, wood, ceramic or even non-traditional patterns. Advancements in technology have allowed the design layer to become even more defined, far outstripping the level of quality seen in standard sheet vinyl.
- Core Layer – The core layer is the thickest part of LVT and is essentially the “spine” that keeps the entire thing together. It’s usually made from a combination of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) layers for strength and flexibility, and fibre glass layers for structural stability may be used. This provides the resilience that ensures the flooring’s flexibility to avoid cracks. Any click system locking joint will be incorporated into this layer.
- Base Layer – The base layer serves as the floor’s foundation. It rests directly on the subfloor. The base layer is immensely important for glue down LVT, as this is where the adhesive is applied. As such, glue down LVT usually has a much more refined and adhesive-friendly base layer compared to its Click counterparts, which often have a built-in acoustic underlayment.
The Wear Layer
A lot of people gloss over the importance of a wear layer, most likely because they do not understand that there are different versions. Each of them is made of roughly the same stuff, that being urethane coatings. But they can come in different thicknesses, thereby offering different layers of protection. The wear layer also protects against acid, oils and solvents.
These are the thickness of each wear layer, along with what setting they are suitable for:
|Wear Layer Thickness||Suitable Applications|
|6 mil (0.15 mm)||Residential settings with light foot traffic such as bedrooms or guest rooms.|
|12 mil (0.3 mm)||Regular residential settings like living rooms and kitchens. Might also be suitable for light commercial spaces.|
|20 mil (0.5 mm)||High-traffic residential areas and commercial use. These thicker wear layers are designed for high-traffic commercial spaces, including retail stores, restaurants, healthcare facilities, and offices.|
|28 mil (0.70 mm)||Heavy commercial use: LVT with enhanced wear layers are suitable for areas with extremely high foot traffic, such as airports, schools, and shopping malls|
|40 mil (1.0 mm) and above||Specialised commercial applications where extreme durability is required, like the gym, industrial settings, or areas with heavy machinery.|
Installing an LVT with a lower wear layer than recommended will lead to a shorter lifetime for that floor. On top of that, the visuals will fade much faster with a weaker wear layer. On the other hand, a thicker wear layer than what you need can never hurt. It will not only ensure your floor lasts longer, but its looks remain pristine for far, far longer.
The Design Layer
The design layer is, of course, beneath the wear layer. One thing you often hear about LVT is the level of detail that it offers, with some claims even saying that it looks better than the real thing. But how?
The answer is in the massive technological advancements made in high-resolution digital imaging. Genuine wood planks, tiles, ceramics etc. are photographed using high-quality cameras that can capture every little minute detail within the material’s surface.
Then comes the image refinement process. Manufacturers put the images into specialised software that enhances them, improving clarity, colour balance and contrast. This is where the design really comes into its own.
After this, the design is imprinted onto vinyl sheets often through a method known as Rotogravure Printing. They are engraved onto cylindrical surfaces, which are then rolled onto the vinyl, transferring the image. The intricacy of this method allows for clean, sharp, multi-toned designs.
The Core Layer
The core layer is the thickest part of the LVT and can be considered the main layer, despite it being hidden beneath the design. It’s responsible for the overall integrity and life of the flooring material.
How are core layers made?
The core layer is made of a selection of materials to form a hard, yet flexible, foundation. The three main materials are:
These raw materials are mixed and combined to create the core layer. High-speed mixers are used to amalgamate them to create a consistent mixture. This mixture is then fed into an extruder. There, it’s heated and melted, formed into the shape required (click/sheet) through a die.
The materials are then passed through a series of heavy rollers known as calendars. They are made thick and smooth through this process, which also ensures uniformity across the entire product.
This is how most LVT products are made. However, there is another type, Rigid Core or SPC.
What is a Rigid Core?
Rigid Core LVT has a solid, less flexible PVC layer with maximum stability.
- Rid Core products can also take the form of SPC flooring. This is made from a blend of natural limestone powder, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin, and stabilizers. This composite core gives SPC flooring its rigidity, durability, and water-resistant properties.