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how are vinyl floors made?

Vinyl is a synthetic material, the primary two ingredients of which are salt and fossil fuel. The process for creating vinyl flooring begins like this: chlorine is processed out of the salt and natural gas/petroleum is converted to ethylene. The chlorine and ethylene are then combined, producing ethylene dichloride (EDC). EDC is processed into a type of gas known as vinyl chloride monomer (VCM).

This gas converts into polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin, a fine powder which is compounded with additives. Plasticizers are added to tiles to give them flexibility, stabilizers are added to increase strength and prevent the PVC from degrading in UV light or heat, and pigments are added to make colored vinyl flooring. Vinyl manufacturing is an extremely efficient process – 99% of vinyl becomes part of a finished product. This makes it one of the most efficient plastics produced in terms of the energy used.

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Making Vinyl Flooring

Sheet vinyl flooring, the most common variety, is made up of several layers. The backing layer is made of felt or vinyl. A mix of liquid PVC and filler is applied over the backing layer. This vinyl foam core is topped with a decorative layer, and then a layer of clear vinyl. Then the product is cured in an oven. A surface layer of urethane is sometimes applied to add resistance to scratches, stains, and scuff marks, while also repelling moisture and dirt.

Vinyl tiles can be made by melting the PVC at a high temperature and molding it into shape, or by using a technique known as calendaring. The ingredients are mixed together and sent through rollers which squeeze the vinyl down to the appropriate gauge. If the tiles are to be printed using the rotogravure method, a cylinder will print the inks on top of the core layer. If a pattern is going to be inlaid, a carrier sheet will be applied and vinyl chips laid over it before it's all bonded together. The calendared sheet is then coated for stain and abrasion resistance, completing the process.


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