Wear Layer vs Overall Thickness of LVP - Why it's important?
So what precisely gives LVP flooring its strength? It's a combination of wear layer and it's overall thickness. We're going to briefly discuss the wear layer, the star performer of our resilient flooring.
First things first, we need to understand how the measurements work with LVP. Wear layer is measured in Mils and the overall thickness of LVP is measured in MM (Millimeters). See below in bullet form.
Metric unit of length
Used to measure the thickness of vinyl flooring planks
A thicker plank may be more durable and have better sound insulation properties
Abbreviated as "mm"
Unit of measurement for the wear layer of vinyl flooring planks
A thicker wear layer provides better durability and resistance to scratches and scuffs
Often used in the context of vinyl flooring to measure the thickness of the wear layer, which typically ranges from 6 to 28 mils
Abbreviated as "mil"
In summary, millimeters are used to measure the thickness of vinyl flooring planks, while mils are used to measure the thickness of the wear layer on the surface of the plank. Both units of measurement are important in determining the durability and longevity of vinyl flooring.
Now back to wear layers. The wear layer extends the life of your floor. The wear layer, which is made of transparent PVC film and placed on top of the photographic layer, gives your resilient flooring an additional boost in resilience and lengthens its lifespan.
Wear layers are commonly 6, 12, 20, or 22 mils thick, and their thickness is measured in mils. As you would have imagined, the flooring will be more durable the thicker the wear layer. The 20-22 mil thickness can actually withstand commercial environments. Choose flooring with a middle or higher wear layer if it will be in a high-traffic area of your home. A thinner thickness will be fine if the room in issue is unlikely to have substantial foot traffic. 12 mil works just fine in residential homes.
The thickness of vinyl flooring ranges from 2 mm to 8 mm and beyond. The most important thing to remember is that the wear layer, not the thickness, determines durability. Having said that, thickness is a crucial consideration.
We discovered that the majority of low to mid-range lines fall within the 5mm to 6.5mm range. Collections of high-end luxury vinyl planks are 8mm thick. The ideal candidates for flooring in this grade are homeowners seeking vinyl with a long lifespan or a limited lifetime warranty and/or a better feeling underfoot when walking on the new floors.
Is Thicker Always Better? There isn’t much difference in the warranties offered from one to another as they are no more scratch resistant nor do they offer any greater dent resistance or protection from water… Initially, it can be difficult to identify why someone might pick a product specifically because of its thickness. Thicker products however, do actually come with benefits. Things like a better, more realistic photo layer, thicker wear layers, and better attached cushioning. Thicker products tend to occupy space at the top of the manufacturer’s offering, but thickness itself is a difficult metric to accurately appraise. The thicker, beefier body of the plank also means the locking system itself is thicker and more durable and easier to install. Finally, a thicker core provides a more comfortable feel when walking. Again, though, these characteristics are a little more difficult to define, and you may or may not feel they are worth paying more for. Overall plank thickness is typically not a big selling point for us.
In the current market, two major types of plank composition prevail, namely WPC and SPC.
Wood Plastic Composite (WPC) planks comprise a wood component, in contrast to the compressed cardboard core of laminate products, yet they are fully waterproof. Being somewhat thicker and softer than SPC planks, WPC planks tend to provide more comfort underfoot and reduce noise to some extent. However, it is essential to note that the perception of sound varies among individuals. Some prefer a deeper sound similar to solid hardwood flooring, while others prefer a shallow tap similar to a concrete surface. Therefore, it is advisable to walk on the floor and experience the sound for yourself before making a decision. Salespeople claiming that one floor is "quieter" than another should be approached with caution since their definition of "quiet" may differ from yours. Nonetheless, any waterproof floor would be relatively quiet and prevent loud, clapping sounds that are common in laminate flooring.
On the other hand, Stone Plastic Composite (SPC) planks are denser and consist of stone fillers like limestone, making them more resistant to dents but harder feeling underfoot. While SPC planks are not necessarily louder, they do have a different sound when walked on and provide a less soft feel. SPC products have paved the way for thinner and more cost-effective products while retaining their solid core.
To summarize the two categories:
Stands for Wood Plastic Composite
Often considered more comfortable underfoot than SPC
Provides a range of sound options, but generally considered to be quieter
Stands for Stone Plastic Composite
Feels harder underfoot than WPC
Some people claim it produces more noise than WPC
More dent-resistant than WPC
Comprises a denser core made from stone fillers like limestone
It can be challenging to advocate for one category over the other due to the mix of features each product type offers.
The top product of the year lacks a specific name but is a blend of LVT and laminate features. Its surface is made of vinyl, the core is inflexible, and it can be installed using a click system. This hybrid type combines the best qualities of both vinyl plank flooring brands, making it both waterproof and rigid. There is no single term used for this product category; instead, there are several names for different types of inflexible vinyl such as WPC, rigid core LVT, stone core LVT, SVT, SPC, and others.
As with any new technology, variations and developments are inevitable. Initially, WPC referred to wood plastic composite, which contained a core made of wood dust, PVC, calcium carbonate (limestone), fillers, and foaming agents. However, the wood dust component was eventually eliminated from the formula due to its negative effect on dimensional stability. Therefore, the WPC acronym now represents a waterproof core.
Here's an example of this new technology: