When And How Did Vinyl Flooring Come About? What Is It Made Of?

Easy to install, practical to maintain, and thermal and acoustic comfort are some of the benefits of vinyl flooring that make it one of the most used coatings in residential, commercial and corporate projects worldwide.

Despite being increasingly common throughout Latin America, many people still have doubts about when it is necessary to understand and explain what it is, what it is made of and the possibilities of applying this floor.

As the world’s leading vinyl flooring manufacturer, Tarkett can quickly tell you everything you need to know about vinyl flooring. Check:

When and how did vinyl flooring come about?

At the end of the 19th century, the most widely used flooring in Europe was linoleum. At that time, this coating was made with natural materials such as pine flour, linseed oil and jute base.

Given the restrictions on extracting these raw materials, the coating industries needed a more viable alternative. They found it in a synthetic plastic polymer discovered by Eugen Baumann in 1872.

Cross section of a linoleum floor: today, only three companies in the world still manufacture this type of floor – Tarkett among them.

You can find it in the technical literature as polyvinyl chloride or polyvinyl chloride. Still, it is because of the acronym PVC that this plastic became one of the most well-known and used materials in the world.

PVC is developed from a chemical mixture that converts essential elements of petroleum into a unified compound. In this process, features such as chlorine and ethylene are combined and give rise to polyvinyl chloride.

In the last stages of manufacturing, depending on the additives and other substances used, PVC can take on different forms and characteristics, giving the industry innumerable application possibilities.

With the beginning of the industrial production of PVC at the beginning of the 20th century, the precursor of vinyl flooring emerged: Paviflex®, also known in the market as a Vinyl Composition Tile (VCT).

Store with flooring from Tarkett’s Paviflex® Natural line: a precursor to vinyl today, it is a sustainable option made with a biodegradable plasticiser based on soybean oil and more than 95% natural raw materials.

What is vinyl flooring made of?

Because it is light and flexible, you may have already heard of vinyl flooring as a ‘rubber floor’. However, rubber does not and never was part of its composition. Another common mistake is to visually confuse it with laminate, which is a floor made up of derivatives of natural wood.

To manufacture a vinyl floor, PVC is used in a mixture with other elements such as mineral fillers, plasticisers, pigments and additives. Depending on the amount of each ‘ingredient’ used, floors with different characteristics are obtained that can be more or less flexible, resistant, and acoustic, among other attributes, to meet a wide range of market needs.

Paviflex, for example, has a small amount of PVC (3 to 4%) and a high mineral load in its composition, which makes it a less mechanically resistant floor. On the other hand, it is a light, fast and creative floor to install.

Unlike wood and its derivatives, vinyl flooring is immune to pests such as termites and does not rot in contact with moisture. Another advantage to highlight in the vinyl composition is the impact on good indoor air quality.

All Tarkett coating solutions have low emission levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and are also free of toxic substances such as formaldehyde and phthalates in their composition.

What are the types of vinyl flooring?

After the creation of VCT, sheet vinyl flooring emerged in the search for an option that could be stored in rolls, and that would be easier to apply over larger areas.

This is how homogeneous vinyl flooring (HO) in roll format arose, which has more PVC and less mineral filler and plasticisers in its composition, giving rise to flexible and less brittle monolithic surfaces whose single mass will determine what the design will be.

Given the limitation of designs in homogeneous materials, it was necessary to develop a multi-layer roll vinyl floor, that is, heterogeneous (HE) – a base built with less mineral filler and plasticiser and more PVC such as HO, but that would allow including the printing of fully customised designs, colours and textures.

This evolution in the manufacture of a floor in several layers also allowed the creation of a new modular solution in tiles and boards of the Luxury Vynil Tile (LVT) type, the noblest type of vinyl floor, since it is manufactured from several thin layers. For different compositions, adding attributes makes it more flexible, durable and easy to clean.

Tarkett has the most extensive portfolio of LVTs in Brazil to meet the needs of residential, commercial and industrial projects. The symbol of this mix is ​​the Ambienta® Line, a brand launched 12 years ago and today synonymous with modular flooring in Brazil with the Click, Design, Make It, Textile, Stone and Series collections.

What are the installation ways?

One of the significant advantages of vinyl flooring is a quick and clean installation. You can install it on old floors – which makes renovations that need to save time and reduce damage much more accessible.

The vinyl floor can be installed directly on the cement subfloor, level concrete, ceramic and porcelain plates and with joints less than 5 mm, as well as polished marble and granite. However, it cannot be installed over wood – click here for all the subfloors that can and cannot receive vinyl flooring.

For a perfect result, the vinyl floors in tiles, boards and rolls, before being installed, need a self-levelling mass so that the subfloor is firm and level. In the glued types, a specific adhesive is also necessary, recommended by the Tarkett brand.

Installation of glued vinyl flooring

Those who prefer to save more time in the installation can opt for embedded vinyl floors, whose ‘click’ fit of the tiles and boards dispenses with the use of adhesive. With Tarkett’s Click® Line, for example, it is possible to realise the dream of having a new floor installed in less than two days.

Clicked vinyl floor installation

Contrary to ‘fitted’ laminate flooring, fitted vinyl flooring does not need to reserve space between the floor and the wall for expansion. However, unlike the glued models, the embedded ones can never be washed.

Regardless of how it is installed, the advice is always to wait for the product to acclimatise to the environment, which lasts around 24 hours. You can see this and other installation tips in this post.

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