The Core Difference between LVT Flexible and Rigid / Multi-Layered Flooring

Freeman Schwabe and schoen+sandt, have supplied the majority of the leading USA and Global floor covering manufacturers with cutting presses & systems for carpet tiles, luxury vinyl tiles & planks.

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Evolution of Flexible LVT to Rigid Core LVT / Multi-Layered Flooring

Understanding the LVT Flooring Market

Map LVT Evolution

“Traditional” Vinyl: uses PVC as a base material that makes a flexible product that can be easily laid down on a floor and printed. Products include sheet vinyl, vinyl tile and vinyl composition tile (VCT).

“Flexible” LVT was really the first mover in the LVT category but the product was prone to telegraphing (imperfections below the surface telegraphing through) and “movement” when subject to heat/cold.

Rigid Core LVT / MLF: Multi Layered Flooring. The layers in a MLF product are slightly different from the flexible products and are typically thicker. These MLFs are also deemed “rigid core” LVT as the core (which can be a WPC core or an SPC core) makes the product rigid.

Extracts from: STIFEL_Building_Products_IndNote_2018-09-04.pdf.pdf


Layers of LVT Flexible Flooring

Layers of LVT Flexible Flooring



Rigid Core


WPC: Wood Plastic Composite.

USFloors (now owned by Shaw Industries, a Berkshire company) is given credit for originating this segment of MLF with its product named COREtec which originally had a wood dust fiber core (somewhat similar to laminate flooring).

In fact, relatively few WPC products use wood fiber today and the WPC name lives on in name only with the “W” now standing for waterproof. 

SPC: Solid Polymer Core. 

This is similar to WPC however the core layers do not contain any foam or air bubbles, making the product more rigid and denser.

Typically the product has a greater mineral content in its core which adds to the rigidity, weight and thickness of the product. 

Extracts from: STIFEL_Building_Products_IndNote_2018-09-04.pdf.pdf

SPC/Rigid Core LVT Layers 

There are different raw materials in the different layers that make up an LVT floor. 

The wear layer is clear and made with vinyl. 

Beneath it is the design layer which is a printed pattern or design on a piece of paper. Below this is a core. 

The key to an LVT core is that it does not have wood fiber like the typical core of a laminate board but has a 100% waterproof core that includes resins, plasticizers, and limestone. 

In the case of a flexible LVT product, the vinyl core is softer or flexible and uses more plasticizers than rigid products. 

In the case of a WPC board, the core has limestone but only 25% PVC and the core is injected with a foaming agent that expands the core and gives it a less dense and thus softer core. 

In the case of the SPC cores, a 50% mix of PVC content and more limestone combined with no foaming agent leaves a denser, heavier and harder core. 

SPC/Rigid Core LVT Layers

SPC Rigid Core

Source: Armstrong Flooring 

Manufacturing LVT?

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