Vinyl flooring belongs to a broad group of materials called resilient flooring. Resilient flooring is flexible and able to conform somewhat to a given surface. After installation the material gives slightly to cushion footsteps, which is why some people find resilient flooring more comfortable than hard-surface flooring such as ceramic tile.

    Vinyl is the most common type of resilient flooring and is widely used in kitchens, bathrooms, and recreation rooms because of its durability. It is available in various forms and in many different colors, patterns, and textures. Modern vinyl flooring can even replicate the look of ceramic tile, stone and wood flooring. Vinyl is one of the least expensive flooring products and comes in two basic formats: sheet and tile.

    Key Specifications

    Design Name--The proprietary design, pattern, or style name of the product as defined by the manufacturer.

    Roll Width--Vinyl sheet flooring is sold in 6-foot and 12-foot widths. in The side-to-side measurement of a roll of resilient flooring.

    Gloss Level--The description of a floor covering's level of shine, sheen or luster-- Satin , Semi Gloss or Gloss.

    Wear Layer Thickness--A thin protective coating applied to the vinyl floor product which increases the product's durability.

    Pattern Repeat--The measurement between any given point in a design to where that exact point is repeated again.

    Pattern Match--The alignment of patterned floor coverings in such a way that the design element is continued across seams, making the finished installation appear cohesive.

    Backing Type--This is the part of the flooring which determines what adhesive will be used for installation over various substrates. Felt is by far the most widely used type of backing. Fiberglass is a newer type of backing and offers more installation options.

    Installation Type--Installation methods vary depending on floor construction. Felt-backed products are typically installed with full spread adhesive (adhesive spread under the entire floor) or by a layer of adhesive spread around the perimeter of the subfloor. Fiberglass-backed flooring can be adhered via loose lay (no adhesive), modified loose lay (adhered to the subfloor in a few strategic spots such as under heavy appliances with double-sided tape or adhesive), or, they can be adhered via full spread (adhesive spread under the entire floor) methods. Vinyl tiles and planks are often self-adhering; meaning adhesive is applied during the manufacturing process. The protective adhesive covering is removed at the jobsite and the tiles are pressed into place. Peel and stick is a term often used to describe self-adhering vinyl flooring products.

    Vinyl Sheet Flooring

    Often called sheet vinyl, this form of the product comes in long rolls 6 ft. or 12 ft. wide, though not every product comes in both widths. One advantage of vinyl sheet is that it covers large areas quickly. Another advantage is that the installation results in few seams that might allow spilled liquids to reach the subfloor. In fact, vinyl flooring can usually be installed in small rooms, such as bathrooms, without the need for any seams at all. This results in a surface with a high degree of moisture-resistance. Where seams are unavoidable, they can be sealed by heat welding or chemical bonding. Vinyl sheet constitutes 85% to 90% percent of the vinyl flooring market.

    Vinyl Tile, Plank and Strip Flooring

    All these forms of vinyl flooring are installed as a series of individual pieces. They have square edges that are butted against adjacent pieces. These products take more time to install but are much more convenient for homeowners to work with. They are also much easier to transport, as they are typically packaged in boxes containing less than 30 square feet of flooring. It is important to obtain all the material necessary for a project at one time in order to minimize slight color differences between manufacturing lots. Products with grout lines or with some geometric patterns tend to minimize the appearance of seams.

    Vinyl Flooring Construction

    Most vinyl products for residential use are made using either one of two techniques: Rotogravure or Inlaid.

    Rotogravure--Sometimes called rotovinyl, this is essentially a printing process. A pattern is printed onto a layer of the flooring, and then overlaid with a clear wear layer. This process offers a wide variety of patterns and detailed designs.

    Inlaid--In this process, the floor consists of vinyl chips or granules that provide color and pattern. The materials extend to the backing layer of the floor, resulting in a very durable floor.

    In vinyl flooring products that have a wear layer, it determines the gloss of the product and has a significant effect on its ability to withstand scuff marks and abrasion. The thickness of the wear layer is measured in mils, and generally the thicker the layer, the more expensive the floor. However, it may be the composition of the wear layer, not the thickness, that has most to do with the ability of a floor to resist scuff marks and abrasion. For example, some wear layers contain aluminum oxide, which improves scratch resistance. There are three basic types of wear layers: vinyl no-wax, urethane, and enhanced urethane.

    Wear Layer: Relative Durability

    <------Less Durable More Durable------ >

    Vinyl No-Wax

    Urethane (PVC)

    Enhanced Urethane

    Vinyl Flooring Installation

    Sheet vinyl and vinyl tiles are typically laid over a wood subfloor topped with plywood underlayment. The underlayment has a surface that is smoother than standard subflooring. In the case of vinyl sheet flooring, mastic is spread over the underlayment with a notched trowel, then the flooring is placed onto the mastic and rolled smooth with a weighted floor roller. Mastic should be the exact type recommended by the flooring manufacturer. In addition, mastic is used to bond many brands of vinyl tiles, planks, and strips. However, some of these products are also available with self-adhesive peel-and-stick backings that require no mastic.

    Additional Information

    The Plastics Industry Trade Association

    American Architectural Manufacturers Association

    The Vinyl Institute

    World Floor Covering Association

    Flooring Installation Association of North America

    American Floorcovering Alliance (AFA)

    American Institute of Architects (AIA)

    American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM)

    American Society of Interior Designers (ASID)

    American Society of Professional Estimators (ASPE)

    American Subcontractors Association

    Associated Floor Covering Contractors

    Certified Floor Covering Installers Association (CFI)

    Construction Industry Reasearch & Information Association (CIRIA)

    Floor Covering Industry Foundation (FCIF)

    Floor Covering Installation Contractors Association (FCICA)

    Floor Installation Association of North America (FIANA)

    Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification

    International Designers Guild (IDG)

    National Association of Floor Covering Distributors (NAFCD)

    National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)

    National Institute of Certified Floorcovering Inspectors (NICFI)

    World Floor Covering Association (WFCA)