All vinyl flooring is durable and layered, with a protective top coating. Luxury vinyl flooring (LVF) is a newer, more advanced version that is thicker, coming in planks or tiles with wear layers that range in thickness from 2-mm to 8-mm, as opposed to the standard measurement of 10 to 15 mils.
LVF can feel somewhat rigid, and it is always completely waterproof; if you want an even higher level of waterproof protection, ask about the SPC and WPC cores.
The importance of a wear layer
It is the wear layer that is directly related to durability. As your luxury vinyl retailer will explain, the LVF wear layer is a top clear melamine sheet that protects the floor from scratches and scuffs. Although it's not directly related to waterproofing--that's the core's job--it assists by keeping spills from absorbing, sitting at the top waiting to be wiped off.
Style and savings
When vinyl first came to the US market over 80 years ago, it was highly praised for being durable, easy to care for, and water-resistant. It was somewhat lacking in design options, however, and was considered mainly an economy flooring.
LVF, considered a prestige flooring, came to market in the 1970s but took off in the 1980s. While both standard and luxury versions are realistic mimics of wood, tile, and stone, LVF has an additional design option: It can be cut into planks and square, groutable tile-sized pieces. Many feel the extra seams give it more realism, and some take the tiles one step further by using grout. Standard vinyl is available only in sheets or composite tiles.
The embossing is often deeper with LVF. Embossing gives the floor depth, dimension, and textured appearances such as wire brushed, hand scraped, weather, or distressed. Finishes are available in many colors and matte, gloss, and high gloss versions.
The preferred installation technique of LVF is the floating floor. Pieces click together, form a mat, and hover over the subfloor, which only needs to be clean, dry, and level. Sometimes the installer will need to sand the subfloor, so imperfections don't telegraph through.
If you're not yet familiar with luxury vinyl, explore our samples. The Carpet Giant luxury vinyl showroom is in Houston, TX, and we service not only Houston but also Sugar Land, Katy, The Woodlands, and Clear Lake. Ask about your free luxury vinyl estimate.