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What is Vinyl Flooring?

What is Vinyl Flooring?

Vinyl flooring

Vinyl flooring has come a long way over the years. Today, thanks to new imaging technology, it can be as uniquely beautiful as true hardwood, but with the added durability of waterproof construction.

Vinyl is made from synthetic materials and typically composed by layering materials over a thicker, stabilizing core. The material of the core differs by product and may include a combination of stone, plastic, and/or wood.
If you’re looking for a flooring material that is versatile, aesthetically pleasing, and easy to clean, add vinyl flooring to your list. Vinyl flooring is a great option for homeowners looking to update or add style to a room and not worry too much about damage or upkeep.

Vinyl flooring’s durability and easy maintenance have made it very popular, and it is available through many manufacturers. How it’s made and the materials used are major factors determining the quality of the vinyl flooring planks. This quality is typically what drives the pricing differences among vinyl flooring products available.

Throughout this page, we hope to answer your initial questions about the material in general and provide tips on what to look for in a quality vinyl flooring product.

Vinyl Flooring 101

What is Vinyl Made of?

Vinyl flooring is the sum of layered materials. Those layers depend on the type and quality of the vinyl but can consist of the following (from top to bottom):

  • UV acrylic coating
  • Wear layer
  • Print/pattern layer
  • PVC (vinyl) layer
  • Core
  • Built-in underlayment

The topmost layer, the UV acrylic coating, helps to protect the flooring from sun damage. Vinyl floors with this layer make a great option in sunny rooms.

The next layer, the wear layer, contributes to the durability and scratch-resistance of the vinyl flooring. The thickness of this wear layer differs from product to product but is essential for maintaining that ‘new’ look, for pet owners in particular. To gauge the thickness of products you may be considering, note that 20 mil is the industry-grade for ‘commercial’ traffic.

The print or film layer is another detail that can set some manufacturers apart from the rest. Depending on the quality of the imaging and diversity of patterns available for each product, the natural or wood-look of the vinyl can be more or less convincing.

Vinyl layers on either side of the core contribute to the thickness of the product, which provides stability and support to the other layers.

The core makes up the main weight of the material. It is typically waterproof and can be stone and plastic or a wood and plastic combination.

Lastly, the bottom layer provides foundational support to the flooring material. Products with a built-in underlayment may be particularly appealing to homeowners installing over an uneven subfloor. Another benefit of a built-in underlayment is the boosted noise and thermal insulation without the additional costs or installation of a separate underlayment.

Vinyl Wear Layer & Thickness

Vinyl Flooring Benefits

Vinyl flooring has many benefits for those looking to redo the flooring in their homes. First off, vinyl is 100% waterproof. This feature makes it incredibly versatile and allows it to be used for projects in high-moisture areas of the home like bathrooms, kitchens, or basements. Its ability to handle water is also very handy for more unpredictable family members like young children or pets.

An added benefit to vinyl being waterproof is that it is also very easy to clean and maintain. This is critical for families who want a clean home but don’t want to spend too much time or energy caring for high maintenance floors. Vinyl’s smooth surface makes a clean floor just a quick sweep or a mop away.

Vinyl flooring is typically very simple to install and usually includes click-lock milling. This makes it the perfect option for both the first-timer interested in a DIY flooring project and the seasoned pro looking for a quick install.

Explore more of the advantages of vinyl flooring.

Types of Vinyl Flooring

There are many types of vinyl flooring. The most common types are planks, but vinyl is also available in tiles and sheets.

Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) is plank shaped and typically seeks to replicate the look of hardwood.

SPC (Stone Plastic Composite) is also called Rigid Core, referring to its stone/plastic composite core, and is a bit heavier.

WPC (Wood Plastic Composite) has a wood/plastic composite core and is lightweight.

Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) is typically more of a square shape. With similar core options to planks, tiles come in stone, wood, and other patterns.

Luxury Vinyl Sheet (LVS) comes in sheet rolls. Vinyl sheets come in stone and wood options as well as other styles or patterns.

What is the Best Type of Vinyl Flooring?

The best vinyl plank flooring is relatively thick, heavier, has a thick wear layer of at least 20 mil (commercial grade), is waterproof, and is FloorScore or GreenGuard certified. Nicer vinyl floors have Embossed in Register (EIR) texturing where the woodgrain you see matches the texture you feel.

Vinyl Installation

There are a few installation methods available to those installing vinyl floors. Floating and glue-down are both DIY friendly installations. The best approach is typically decided by the needs of the room.

A glue-down installation of vinyl flooring leads to a firmer, more stable feeling floor. Glue-down is a good option if you’re seeking a permanent method of installation. The glue-down method is also preferred if there will be heavy furniture in the room.

A floating installation is faster, easier, and uses fewer chemicals. Floating a new floor is also a good option if your home uses radiant heat systems. If the subfloor isn’t completely flat, you may shy away from the floating method since any imperfections can impact the entire surface.

Watch this video to see how to float CALI vinyl plank flooring.

Explore More DIY Flooring Resources.

Recommended Rooms for Vinyl Installation

Vinyl flooring’s versatility makes it a great option throughout the home. Cali recommends vinyl flooring for the following rooms and more.

  • Bathroom
  • Kitchen
  • Living Room
  • Bedroom
  • Home Office
  • Home Gym
  • Mud Room
  • Laundry Room
  • Dining Room
  • Basement

Vinyl makes for great kitchen flooring because it is waterproof and able to handle endless spills. Its smooth surface makes clean-ups quick and easy.

The bedroom is also a great place for a material like vinyl since it can be very comfortable underfoot and comes in a variety of looks to match everyone’s style. Plus, vinyl with a built-in underlayment provides sound insulation which can help keep the room quiet for a great night’s sleep!

Vinyl Floor Care & Cleaning

Vinyl floor care is quick and easy due to its waterproof construction and smooth surface. Maintaining the floor for years to come is as simple as sticking to a regular dry-sweep and wet-mop routine. This differs from many other kitchen flooring materials, like tile, which regularly gets very dirty within the grout and cracks.

Review Vinyl Floor Care Details for more information.

Vinyl Compared with Other Materials

Vinyl vs Linoleum

Vinyl is typically recommended in water-prone areas of the home where hardwood or linoleum is not a good option. Vinyl is also more DIY friendly and can be installed by beginners, but linoleum usually requires a professional. Linoleum can be an eco-friendly option because it contains natural materials.

Vinyl vs Laminate

Vinyl and laminate are similar products and often compete as a more affordable option to natural hardwood flooring materials. Both come in planks and tiles and are constructed in layers. Laminate is typically stiffer and more rigid than vinyl, which can make it a more realistic wood-alternative but typically provides less comfort underfoot than vinyl.

High-Quality Vinyl Flooring From CALI

Cali offers several different high-quality vinyl plank flooring collections, all of which are 100% waterproof, easy to install and clean, and come at a great value. All vinyl flooring from Cali also includes a UV shield and a protective 20 mil wear layer for commercial-grade durability and scratch resistance even in high-traffic areas.

Rigid core planks with a limestone composite core. In addition to the commercial-grade wear layer, the Cali Vinyl Pro line includes a UV protective top coating and an EIR textured surface. Available in Classic, Mute Step, and Longboards.
See CALI Vinyl Pro

WPC core planks with a built-in underlayment. The Plus line also boasts the commercial-grade wear layer, a UV protective top coating, and an EIR textured surface. Experience vinyl flooring with extra comfort, along with thermal and sound insulation.
See CALI Vinyl Plus

Plus Pro Classic Longboards Mute Step
Length 48″ 48″ 70 7/8″ 48″
Width 7 1/8″ 7 1/4″ 9″ 7 1/4″
Underlayment Built-in Cork None Rubber Backing/Foam Rubber Backing/Foam
EIR Yes Yes Yes Yes
Sound Insulation Yes No Yes Yes

CALI Vinyl Flooring FAQ

Q. How does Cali Vinyl hold up to spills and liquids?

A. All Cali Vinyl Flooring is 100% waterproof and designed to withstand high traffic and moisture. Cali Vinyl’s top-to-bottom waterproof construction was designed to meet the demands of commercial, multi-level residential, senior and student housing environments.

Q. Is Cali flooring safe for my family?

A. Customer safety has always been Cali’s #1 priority. We utilize only the highest-quality manufacturing techniques and adhesives to ensure our flooring is free of harmful chemicals. All our flooring is tested for volatile organic compounds (VOCs), with many of our floors showing concentration levels of “not detectable.”
An example LVP test result for White Aspen is summarized here, although full testing documentation can be found for all our floors in the specs section on their individual product pages.

Q. Will Cali Vinyl flooring do well in my area or climate?

A. Yes! Because LVP does not expand or contract with changes in temperature and humidity, this floor will work perfectly in all regions of the U.S. Please make sure to follow our vinyl floor installation guide to ensure your floor will last a lifetime.

Q. How do I install Cali Vinyl flooring?

A. Our easy-to-follow installation guides for Vinyl Flooring can be found here.

Q. Do you sell Cali Vinyl accessories like stair parts and transition pieces?

A. Yes. All Cali flooring products have matching accessories available for purchase. Cali Vinyl flooring accessories and stair parts can be found here. Accessories include stair treads, stair risers, stair nosing, reducers, T-molding, quarter rounds, thresholds, and baseboards.

View our Flooring Accessory Page.

Q. Is LVP compatible with radiant heat?

A: Yes. This flooring is Radiant Heat Compatible up to 85°F.

Q. How will Cali Vinyl flooring hold up to dogs and scratching?

A. We’re all animal lovers at Cali, so we designed our flooring with an industry-leading, scratch-resistant finish that keeps your floors looking fresh, even with active furry friends of all sizes.

Q. What makes Cali Vinyl flooring different from other Vinyl floors?

A: Built to Last a Lifetime – We’ve meticulously designed Cali Vinyl to outperform in even the most demanding environments. Any climate, any grade, any room in the home, Cali Vinyl is designed to continually impress you for decades to come.

Thicker is Better – We challenged our designers to develop an extra thick wear layer, and they delivered. Being extra-thick and developed for commercial installations, your patience may wear thin, but your floors certainly won’t.

Fear No Moisture – Cali Vinyl is constructed from top-to-bottom to be 100% waterproof. Ideal for all moisture prone areas of the home including kitchens, bathrooms, and basements, Cali Vinyl slays the moisture monster for good.

Q. Does exposure to UV light effect luxury vinyl plank?

A: It depends. Although Cali Vinyl features UV protective coating, similar to other flooring types, it is best to limit direct sunlight on the floor by utilizing curtains and blinds in areas that are exposed to high UV rays.

Q. Can I use rugs or mats on my luxury vinyl tile floor?

A: Yes. However, the use of rugs with solid rubber or vinyl backings is not recommended due to possible floor staining. We recommend rugs made of a breathable material to prevent moisture entrapment and/or using a breathable rug underlay. Mesh or grid patterns are best.

Q. With Cali Vinyl, do you need to worry about edge curling?

A: No. Cali Vinyl is constructed with a 20mil commercial wear layer and a rigid SPC core made of limestone composite. This helps it endure high traffic, pets, kids, or all of the above. Our scratch-resistant wear layer will keep floors looking freshly installed for decades to come.