Vinyl flooring has always been a superstar of home improvement. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t changed over the years. This unique flooring option has evolved over time, and with each new version, vinyl became a more attractive option for homeowners. Let’s take a look at vinyl’s fascinating past and learn how the modern incarnation of this discount flooring can transform your home’s interior.
An Accidental Invention
In the 1800s, the main flooring options weren’t exactly hard surfaces. There was something missing in the flooring market, but it just hadn’t been discovered yet. Vinyl was the perfect material to fulfill that need, but it was actually developed by accident.
In 1872, European chemist Eugen Baumann was experimenting with a gas called vinyl chloride. He decided to combine the gas with other substances, and the result was a rigid material. At the time, there was no clear use for it, so it was simply set aside as an accidental discovery.
Then in 1926, American inventor Dr. Waldo Semon was attempting to bond metal with rubber. He decided to give vinyl chloride a try and mixed it with other chemicals, creating a series of gases and near-explosions. But after experimenting a bit more, he came up with polyvinyl chloride (PVC), better known as vinyl.
Initially, it was used in shock absorbers and to create synthetic tires. During World War II, vinyl was even used to insulate wires. But then after the war, it made the transition to the use it is perhaps most famous for: flooring.
A Big Debut
Vinyl came onto the home décor scene in a big way. It was featured at the “A Century of Progress” Exposition in Chicago in 1933, giving it a big stage on which to showcase its many benefits. At the exposition, the vinyl composite tile was described as affordable, resilient, and easy to install, all characteristics that continue to be present in vinyl today.
Unfortunately, vinyl was still fairly rare at the time. That meant that this new flooring style didn’t really catch on in a big way until the 1940s. Production of vinyl tiles was increased after World War II. Of course, around this same time, thousands of soldiers returned home, married, and bought homes, so it was an ideal time for a new type of flooring to take off. At the same time, it was also becoming a popular choice for larger spaces, including commercial and institutional flooring.
New Variations on Vinyl
Vinyl flooring quickly became immensely popular. It was the ideal choice for a busy home since it stood up well to traffic and was easy to clean and maintain. The affordable price didn’t hurt either.
In the 1960s, vinyl flooring manufacturers decided to improve upon the initial design to make the product even more attractive. During this decade, some of the most exciting vinyl flooring technology was developed, including “no-wax” floors and cushioned vinyl floors.
The developments continued into the 1970s with the introduction of the first vinyl plank flooring. This created a wide variety of new décor options in the home since users could get the benefits of vinyl with the stylish look of wood flooring. And even though it had a realistic look, the cost was still a fraction of the cost of real hardwood floors.
A Healthy Transition
During the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, vinyl flooring became the favorite flooring material among homebuyers and homeowners alike. But a problem detected in the 1980s actually threatened to end vinyl’s reign. It was revealed that almost all vinyl tiles contained some asbestos. This was becoming a major health concern at the time, so it made vinyl flooring a real issue for homeowners.
Fortunately, new vinyl flooring without asbestos was quickly developed. And since vinyl continued to be a cost-efficient flooring option, many homeowners were able to replace their old tiles with a newer, health-conscious version.
It’s important to note that any vinyl tile flooring installed before the mid-1980s should be removed only by a professional. This will ensure that the asbestos is removed from your home safely and completely.
Vinyl Flooring Today
Of course, vinyl continues to be a top option for homeowners today. It still has the same benefits it’s had for years, and issues that once arose (like the asbestos content) have been easily solved. As a result, vinyl is currently one of the most popular flooring options for the home, particularly in the kitchen and in the bathroom.
Meanwhile, new versions of vinyl flooring give you additional options for upgrading your spaces. Many people are choosing luxury vinyl tiles and planks to add an upscale look at a fraction of the cost of other flooring options. Here are some exciting new features that vinyl can offer:
Waterproof: Many of today’s vinyl floor options are 100 percent waterproof. This makes it even easier to clean and maintain and eliminates the issues of staining or corrosion. It’s especially great for homeowners who want the look of wood without the challenges of caring for wood floors.
Slip-resistant: Newer versions of vinyl floors often feature a slip-resistant coating that allows for a sleek, shiny look without creating a hazard in the home.
Static conductivity: This is a fairly recent development in vinyl flooring that conveniently reduces the static electricity in a home’s interior environment. Essentially, the tiles or planks channel this static charge away through the floor.
Eco-friendly: With 100 percent vinyl materials, many homes are able to meet green building standards. This material is better for the environment than some other flooring options.
Scratch-resistant: Some vinyl floors include a specialized wear layer that protects against scratches and scuffs. Depending on the manufacturer, this protective layer may also protect against dents and stains.
Versatile: Vinyl is now available in more colors and patterns than ever before. Designs can mimic natural materials (like wood) and can be made in a variety of shapes and sizes. It’s easy to get a look that matches your home’s existing style with a pre-designed option. Those who want a custom appearance can easily combine patterns and shades to create a one-of-a-kind flooring effect in their home.
Cost-effective: While this has been a mainstay feature of vinyl flooring, the fact that this flooring option is still economical even with some of the upgraded vinyl options available nowadays is noteworthy.
The list of vinyl flooring advantages is almost never-ending. Homeowners can’t seem to get enough of this affordable, durable, and attractive flooring option. Whether you want to go with vinyl tiles or vinyl plank flooring, there are plenty of stylish designs that could be a great fit for your home. You can visit BuildDirect.com to order free samples and find the perfect vinyl flooring for your home.
Do you have any questions about vinyl flooring? Let us know in the comments section below.