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Vinyl Buying Guide

Today, people demand more from their floors.  They want their floors to perform well against water, kids, and pets while showcasing highly sought-after hardwood and stone styles.  Within the last few years, vinyl has risen in popularity for this very reason.  In this blog, we will look at the components that make up luxury vinyl floors and what to look for when you’re on the hunt for your new floor.

Constructions:

Luxury vinyl flooring comes in a few different variations, and it’s important to know the difference between each so that you choose the best floor for what you need.

  1. WPC – A 100% waterproof plank with a wood-plastic composite core.  The wood-plastic composite core is expanded with a foaming agent that adds some insulating properties and creates a comfortable underfoot feeling.  If you’re looking for comfort underfoot, warmth, and sound dampening from your floor, WPC is the best of the three luxury vinyl options.

  1. SPC – A 100% waterproof option with a solid polymer core.  In homes with heavy traffic that demand dent resistance and the highest durability, SPC is the option for you.  Compared to WPC, this core is denser and more rigid.  Instead of a foaming agent, it is a combination of limestone, PVC, and stabilizers.  With less “give” in the core, things like furniture and falling objects are less likely to leave dents in your floor.

  1. Mineral Core – An emerging category with various core compositions. The most popular is magnesium oxide. The selling points of mineral core are the lack of PVC in the construction and enhanced scratch resistance over WPC and SPC.  Removing PVC from the core creates a much more stable product that allows real wood veneers to be applied without worrying about expansion/contraction.  The exciting thing about mineral core is that it’s still very new!  It has been adapted in several ways to address different needs across the board.

 

Is It Really Waterproof?

Karastan’s Unearthed Beauty in Lace

When customers see “waterproof” labels on these products, they should know that this doesn’t mean flooding from their dishwasher or bathroom will not affect their floor.  It is easy to be oversold on the waterproof story luxury vinyl tells. It is important to know the difference between waterproof and water-resistant.  Vinyl planks themselves may be fine when exposed to water from spills and splashes, but the issue lies below the surface.  Water that makes its way between planks and down to your subfloor will cause damage, and you could end up replacing your whole floor.   So, the planks are waterproof, but this protection does not apply to your subfloor.  The term “waterproof” is also often misused when a plank is just water-resistant.  A dropped bowl of cereal, an overly excited toddler splashing in a tub, and a turned over water-bowl will not harm your vinyl floor if promptly cleaned up.  Coatings and tight locking systems will keep the moisture on the surface of your floor (unlike hardwood which could absorb the water and swell or warp), making it easy to clean up.   Again, the performance issue lies with the core of the product and the subfloor’s performance.

 

What Are Wear Layers?

As you shop for luxury vinyl floors, you will find several different thicknesses of wear layers.

Wear layers are the clear, protective sheets that lie on top of the print layer and can be embossed or textured to enhance the mimicry of hardwood.  The most common wear layer thicknesses are 6mil, 12mil, 20mil, and 30mil. At The Carpet Shoppe, we often suggest our customers look for nothing less than a 12mil product as this provides exceptional performance in their home.  If your home is filled with children and pets, a thicker wear layer is essential to keep your floor looking new, longer.  In some cases, 12mil may even be enough for light commercial applications.

It is important to note that “mil” does not stand for millimeters.  If you were to compare mil to millimeters, 20 mil is about 0.5 millimeters.  These layers are incredibly thin but also incredibly tough!

 

Which One is Right for Me?

It is important to know what you want from your floor. While all the mentioned constructions are tough and waterproof, it’s the small differences between them that can help guide your purchase. Let’s look at a few different scenarios:

  1. You have three young, energetic children who are constantly up to something. Whether they are dropping toys off the staircase for an “experiment” or running around in their shoes, you are worried about your floor wearing and denting. In this scenario, SPC would be your best option. Its thin, rigid core resists denting and wears better than WPC or mineral core would.
  2. You and your spouse live in an older home with hardwood floors, but hardwood isn’t practical with two grown dogs and a puppy. The charm of the real hardwood floors is something you can’t give up, but you need something that your furry family won’t ruin. Mineral Core is an excellent option with its ability to have natural wood veneers and increased scratch performance compared to SPC or WPC.
  3. You love to cook and spend time in your kitchen, but the cold, hard tile floor is uncomfortable to stand on, and after a while, it starts to hurt your legs and back. For comfort and more warmth underfoot, WPC is the best option since the core is foamed and provides more cushion underfoot.

Trust the professionals at The Carpet Shoppe to help you find the best luxury vinyl floors for your home.  We have several products in stock and hundreds more to view in our showroom.  The best part?  We can install your floor, too! Visit our showroom or fill out a contact form to learn more about how The Carpet Shoppe can serve you.