Since its debut in the 1970s, vinyl plank flooring has continued to soar in popularity amongst all major commercial market segments. Today, with the introduction of revolutionary technology such as Stone Plastic Composite (SPC), vinyl plank flooring is set to become even more dynamic and versatile.
SPC Flooring Explained
While there’s no “V” in the name, SPC flooring is a form of vinyl. Short for stone plastic composite, SPC is designed to identically replicate traditional flooring materials such as stone, ceramic or wood, while providing many more practical benefits. By using realistic photographic prints along with a clear vinyl top layer, SPC opens the door to a wide variety of design concepts.
SPC Flooring composition
SPC flooring generally comprises the following four layers:
- Wear layer – Playing a crucial role in the lifespan of the planks, this layer uses clear coatings such as aluminium oxide to keep the floor from rapidly wearing.
- Vinyl top layer – Certain premium types of SPC come manufactured with realistic, 3D visuals that can be installed to identically resemble stone, ceramic or wood.
- Rigid core – The core layer is where one gets the most bang for your buck. Here, a high density, yet stable waterproof centre, provides rigidity and stability to the plank.
- Backing layer – Otherwise known as the flooring’s backbone, this layer provides the planks with added sound installation, as well as being naturally resistant to mould and mildew.
How is SPC flooring made?
To go the extra mile in understanding SPC flooring, here’s a summary of the six primary processes in the manufacturing of SPC:
To begin, a combination of raw materials is placed into a mixing machine. Here, the raw materials are heated up to 125 – 130 degrees Celsius in order to remove any water vapour inside the material. Once complete, the material is cooled inside the mixing machine to prevent early plasticisation or processing auxiliary decomposition.
From the mixing machine, the raw material goes through an extrusion process. Here, temperature control is crucial for the material to plasticise correctly. The material runs through five zones, the first two being the hottest (around 200 degrees Celsius) and slowly declining throughout the remaining three zones.
Once the material is fully plasticised into a mould, it is time for the process known as calendaring. Here, a series of heated rollers are used to compound the mould into a continuous sheet. By manipulating the rolls, the width and thickness of the sheet can be controlled with precise accuracy and consistency.
Once the desired thickness is reached, it is embossed under heat and pressure. Engraved rollers apply the textured design onto the face of the product which can be a light “tick” or a “deep” emboss. Once the texture has been applied, the scratch and scuff topcoat is added and the material is sent to the drawer.
The drawing machine, used with frequency control, is connected directly to a motor that is a perfect match to the production line speed and is used to deliver the material to the cutter.
Here, the material is crosscut to meet the correct guideline standard. The cutter receives signals via a sensitive and accurate photoelectric switch to ensure clean and equal cuts.
Automatic plate-lifting machine
Once the material has been cut, the automatic plate-lifting machine lifts and stacks the final product into the packing area for pick-up.
6 benefits of choosing SPC vinyl flooring
SPC flooring not only offer design versatility, it also often outweighs the durability of the traditional material flooring solutions. The key benefits include:
SPC can be easily installed in two ways, either with glue or as a loose-lay floor. With the newer loose-lay systems, it possible to use SPC with minimal surface preparation, reducing flooring installation costs, as well as installation time.
One of the largest benefits of choosing SPC vinyl flooring is that it is completely waterproof. With its rigid PVC core layer, these planks can withstand liquids and spills, unlike many of the flooring products that it mimics.
Style and comfort
SPC has a softer surface than other flooring materials such as wood or stone. It is also quieter and more comfortable underfoot, which is a very important trait for many facilities.
Choosing SPC can help your facility earn LEED certification, as many of the materials used in its production are from renewable sources, have recyclable content and are low-emitting.
Want flooring that is waterproof, scratch, stain a fade-resistant, yet won’t break the bank? Look no further. SPC vinyl flooring is generally less expensive than the luxury floors that it mimics such as hardwood or stone.
SPC never has to be sanded or sealed, making it much easier to maintain than other luxury floors. Since it is completely waterproof, just grab a damp mop and you’re set!
Our thanks and appreciation to www.floorclarity.com for the use of some of the information contained in this article.
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