The backing forms the important base of any PVC floor because it is this which establishes the technical quality of the floor. The backing may be made of pure PVC (the most expensive but best composition, because it is dimensionally stable and reliable) but may also include additional recycled material from untraceable sources. That means lower costs but also lower reliability. Often a fibreglass layer is added to give the product a little more stability. A strong odour often gives away the fact that the product incorporates impure recycled ingredients.
The middle film layer is responsible for the appearance of the floor. Because its absorbency is low, printing on PVC film is particularly sharp and vibrant. This is not the case where the printing is on paper (as in the case of laminates), or on to a PVC gel-coat as in the case of PVC floors produced by continuous technology (see below). This deeper and more natural look is one of the reasons for the increasing popularity of PVC flooring. Various designs and colours are possible. A number of things play an important role here:
“Open designs” or exclusive designs: open designs can be used by anyone and therefore you tend to see these used much more often than specially developed films.
The quality of the print technology used: some films give a much flatter (and less natural) appearance than other designs.
The repetition of the design: you often see particular patterns repeated in the design. This “repetition effect”, as it is known, makes for an artificial look. Certainly, in nature everything is unique and is never repeated exactly. Advanced, more expensive films, printing technologies and production technologies make for a more natural appearance.
The top layer serves to protect the product from wear and tear caused by use of the floor. Protective layers are available in a variety of compositions and thicknesses; 0.3 mm is commonly used for domestic applications (overall thickness generally 2 mm) and 0.55 mm for commercial applications (overall thickness generally 2.5 mm).
In addition, the top layer can also be provided with an extra protective layer of polyurethane (PU). In particular this provides protection during transport. All mFLOR floors feature a protective layer of matt polyurethane as standard.
In addition the top layer can also be given a particular texture, known as “embossing”, which makes the PVC floor look even more realistic. The latest development of “embossing in register” makes for the most realistic appearance, because here the texture of the top layer follows the design of the film layer exactly. In short, if you see knots, with “embossing in register” you can actually feel them.