Luxury vinyl flooring is becoming increasingly popular for being budget-friendly, low-maintenance, and — for its uncompelling durability. However, to choose the most durable LVT flooring, be it either for commercial or residential use, you need to know what the LVT wear layer is.
The LVT wear layer is the topmost layer of luxury vinyl flooring. It’s a transparent protective layer of virgin or recycled PVC (vinyl) that gives LVT its durability. The wear layer is often supported with ceramic bead, silica bead, or aluminum oxide and can include embossing.
So, which LVT wear layer is best for you? How to choose the ideal LVT floor? Let’s discuss.
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What is LVT Flooring?
LVT flooring or luxury vinyl tiles often looks like hardwood or natural stone flooring and often have embossing or prints on their top layer to give you an authentic look. It is produced both in the form of tiles and planks.
Luxury vinyl tiles are typically made of four main layers of PVC vinyl. The manufacturing process of LVT has been perfected over the years, and various compounds are mixed with the PVC to improve its durability.
Although luxury vinyl and vinyl flooring are similar in many ways, for example, in layers and materials, luxury vinyl is five times thicker and has higher quality. The printing technology and textured embossing resemble real hardwood and natural stone like no other flooring options. LVT floors are fully waterproof, whether it is a Vinyl click or glue-down, making them a safe choice even for bathrooms and kitchens.
LVT Flooring Layers
Backing Layer: This is the bottom-most layer of luxury vinyl made of PVC to create a solid and flat backing. It also provides dimensional stability. This layer is typically textured to enhance adhesion bonds in glue-down installations.
Inter-core Layers: These are the middle layers of LVT, and they make up for most of its thickness. The inter-core layers consist of PVC and other inorganic fillers. Depending on the product design, some LVT can also include a face layer on top of the inter-core layers that add to the visual of the product.
Print Layer: The print layer is the primary visual layer of the product that gives LVT its natural look. It is made using different printing techniques to create realistic visuals or abstract looks.
Clear Wear Layer: The wear layer is the final and the topmost layer in LVT construction. The durable transparent layer gives the LVT excellent clarity, color stability, and design depth to the printing. This layer is made of PVC to make LVT long-lasting, waterproof, and reinforced for everyday wear and tear.
What is LVT Wear Layer?
Simply put, the LVT wear layer is an extra layer of protection that sits at the topmost layer of luxury vinyl flooring. In some cases, the product might feature a protective finish that goes on top of the wear layer to boost its durability.
The primary purpose of the wear layer is to protect the floors from denting and scratching and support the bottom layers. This layer also gives luxury vinyl its waterproof properties. It also makes the flooring extremely low maintenance, where regular mopping and sweeping will suffice to keep it looking brand new for years.
Wear layer composition
The LVT wear layer is a transparent layer of virgin or recycled PVC. In fact, it is the most expensive part of luxury vinyl flooring since it is the only protection layer for paper print film. In some products, the wear layer features texture or embossing to make it look more realistic. On top of the embossing, a urethane coating is applied to protect the wear further. The urethane coating also provides the desired sheen for the flooring.
Wear layer coating
Typically, the top of the wear layer is composed of a clear, urethane-based coating with some sort of additive. However, some manufacturers can skip this coating, usually if the wear layer does not feature any prints or embossing. Some manufacturers also use additives such as aluminum oxide, nylon beads, or ceramic beads in the coating. This additional coating acts as the first line of defense against scratches before wear-and-tear reaches the actual wear layer.
LVT Wear Layer Thickness
As mentioned previously, the LVT wear layer plays a significant role in reinforcing and protecting the flooring. But the most important thing to know about the wear layer while choosing flooring is its thickness.
The thickness of the wear layer will determine the longevity and durability of your flooring. Intuitively, the thicker the wear layer, the tougher the floor. The wear layer thickness is typically measured in “mm” or “mil” and directly correlates with its commercial warranty.
Here is a chart that represents the range of LVT wear layer thickness –
|Wear Layer Thickness (mm)||Wear Layer Thickness (mil)||Typical Commercial Warranty|
|0.1||4||None/3 years “light” use|
|0.3||12||5 years “light” use|
Which Wear Layer is Best for You?
When choosing luxury vinyl flooring for your home or commercial space, you need to pay attention to the wear layer thickness to ensure your flooring can handle the daily exhaustion.
Here is a guideline to help you choose vinyl flooring material with the right wear layer measurements:
- 0.3mm for residential areas with light foot traffic: Bedroom, living room, etc.
- 0.5mm for residential areas with high foot traffic: Kitchen, bathroom, hallways, etc.
- 0.3mm for the light commercial duty: Areas like office restrooms or multifamily units.
- 0.5mm for the medium-level commercial duty: Most commercial applications, including retail stores, corporate settings, educational settings, and restaurants and hotels.
- 0.7mm for the heavy commercial duty: Settings with frequent rolling loads, heavy equipment, and high levels of foot traffic.
Luxury vinyl flooring has become one of the most popular flooring options for both commercial and residential applications. However, paying attention to the LVT wear layer before choosing luxury vinyl flooring is essential to ensure it can handle its intended purposes.