How Vinyl / Resilient Flooring Is Made

Vinyl is simply a very versatile plastic.  We have vinyl records, shoes, wall coverings and fence posts.  There’s even a documentary film and a record album called Vinyl.  But it is most popular as a floor covering.

Vinyl flooring is made up of layers of material starting with a core of vinyl over a backing of felt or fiberglass.  Decorative designs are printed on the next layer that sits on top of the core.  That decorative design layer is what makes vinyl flooring so versatile.  It can be made to look like almost any material.  The final layer is also vinyl and is called the wear layer.


The key to the many faces of vinyl flooring is the printing process, called rotogravure.  Using a rotary press with photoengraved plates allows manufacturers to create the look of stone, brick, marble, wood and hundreds of other patterns and designs.  And if that wasn’t enough, some manufacturers enhance the design by adding color or colored vinyl chips to the wear layer coating to add more depth to the design.

Wear Layer

Practically speaking, the wear layer, the last one applied, is most important.  This top layer of vinyl is about 10 mils thick on average. (A straight human hair is about 1 mil. thick.)  The thicker the wear layer, the more durable the flooring.  The flooring industry is constantly experimenting to find wear layers that are tougher and more resistant, but still beautiful and practical.  Resilient vinyl flooring offers homeowners these advantages:

  • It’s tough and resists scratching, denting and tearing
  • It cleans easily and doesn’t need to be waxed
  • It resists staining

Fine grit and sand can cause scratches to the surface of vinyl and over time, will diminish the look.  Placing walk off mats at entrances and sweeping frequently will extend the life of your vinyl floor.  Be sure the mats you buy are for vinyl floors.  Some rubber-backed mats may leave stains or marks.  And be sure to read the section on caring for your resilient floor.