The wear layer of vinyl flooring is one of the reasons why vinyl flooring is a very durable, easy to care for, and affordable alternative to other popular flooring materials such as hardwood and stone. There are a variety of luxury vinyl plank flooring options available today; you can choose from wood, stone, ceramic, and a lot more.
It is inevitable that the wear layer issue will arise in the future when choosing vinyl flooring for your home or commercial building. Use this guide to learn more about the benefits of the luxury vinyl wear layer and how to choose the proper flooring for your building or renovation project. Picking the perfect vinyl flooring option might seem confusing now, but the process can be truly painless once you understand the basics.
What You Need To Know About The Wear Layer Of Vinyl Flooring
The wear layer of vinyl flooring is the top layer of the flooring that protects the design and colour layer from wear and tear. It is made of clear vinyl and is measured in mils (thousands of an inch). The most common residential wear layer is 12 mils or 20 mils. A 20 mil wear layer is thicker than a 12 mil wear layer and therefore will provide more durability and resistance to scratches, scuffs, and stains. This means that a flooring with 20 mil wear layer will last longer than vinyl flooring with a 12 mil wear layer.
Retail stores selling vinyl flooring say that 0.3mm and 12mil are the same, and 0.5mm and 20mil are the same thing. These terms are interchangeable.
Can a wear layer be more than 20mil? Yes! 28mil, 30mil can also be found. And less than 12mil can also be for (ie: 6mil). For this article we focus on 12 and 20mil, as these are about 90% of the options you will find in retail stores.
The Wear Layer of Vinyl Flooring: Manufacturing Process
Mils are used to measure luxury vinyl wear layers, which are one-thousandth of an inch thick. Do not confuse millimeters with mils. Generally, flooring materials with a thicker wear layer and a higher mil measurement will be more durable.
There is often an increase in cost associated with more durability. If you are building or renovating a particular type of space, you will need to balance the initial cost with your need for long-term durability.
12 Mil Wear Layer of Vinyl Flooring
A 12 mil wear layer is considered to be a standard thickness for a vinyl flooring wear layer and is generally considered to be a good option for residential use. It provides a good balance between durability and affordability. It is thick enough to withstand the normal wear and tear of a household while still being cost-effective. However, a thicker wear layer like 20 mil will be more durable and longer-lasting, so it might be a better option for busy residential situations, homes with pets, or young children. 20mil wear layer vinyl plank floors are also better for low and medium-traffic commercial spaces.
0.03 Mil Wear Layer of Vinyl Flooring
0.03mm and 12mil are very close measurements and the difference is not significant. 12 mil is 0.3048mm to be exact and 20 mil is equal to 0.508mm. But for marketing purposes, it is much easy to say 0.3 is 12 mil and 0.5mm is 20 mil.
20 Mil Wear Layer of Vinyl Flooring
A 20 mil wear layer and 0.5mm wear layer are both measurements of thickness for a vinyl flooring wear layer. 20 mil is equal to 0.508mm, which is slightly thicker than 0.5mm. Again, these are close and the difference is not significant… so floors are sold using these terms interchangeably.
A 20 mil wear layer is considered to be a thick and durable wear layer, providing a high level of resistance to scratches, scuffs, and stains. It is suitable for high-traffic commercial or industrial spaces, as well as heavy residential use. On the other hand, a 0.5mm wear layer is considered to be a relatively thick wear layer and will provide a good level of durability and resistance to wear and tear, but still not as much as a 20 mil wear layer. It's best used for moderate to heavy residential or commercial spaces with moderate foot traffic. It's always good to check the manufacturer's specifications to know the actual thickness of the vinyl wear layer.
The Wear Layer of Vinyl Flooring: Manufacturing Process
During the manufacturing of vinyl flooring, the wear layer is typically added as the final step in the process. The process usually starts with the production of vinyl material, which is made by mixing PVC (polyvinyl chloride) resin with various other ingredients such as plasticizers, stabilizers, and pigments to create a soft, pliable material. This material is then extruded into a thin sheet and cooled. Then the design and colour layers are printed on this sheet, creating the final design of the flooring. Finally, the clear vinyl wear layer is applied on top of the design and colour layers using a process called calendaring. Calendering is a process where the vinyl sheet is passed through a set of heated rollers that press the clear vinyl layer onto the design and colour layers, fusing them together. This process creates a strong bond between the wear layer and the design and colour layers, making the flooring more durable and resistant to wear and tear.
You may ask when the texture is added to the 20 mil wear layer vinyl plank flooring surface. The texture of the surface is typically added during the manufacturing process before the wear layer is added.
What Are The Different Textures of Vinyl Flooring?
There are a few different ways that textures can be added to vinyl flooring. One way is to emboss the surface of the vinyl sheet before the design and color layers are applied. This is done by passing the sheet through a set of rollers that have a pattern engraved on them, which is then pressed into the surface of the vinyl sheet. This creates a textured surface on the flooring. Another way is to print the texture directly onto the surface of the vinyl sheet using a specialized printing process before the wear layer is added.
The texture provides slip resistance and also can hide any scratches or scuffs that may occur in the future. The texture not only adds an aesthetic appeal but also improves the safety and durability of the flooring.
It's also worth noting that some manufacturers add texture to the wear layer itself, this is done by creating a raised surface on the wear layer which in turn will create a textured surface on the flooring.
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