Plastic floors: the kings of interior design magazines
PVC has long been a mainstay in the world of floors. It has been widely adopted, in public spaces and in homes. Easy to lay, comfortable, warm to the touch, and hardwearing, PVC floors have all the advantages. Despite these important intrinsic properties, vinyl flooring has had a hard time making a place for itself in high-end venues. For many years, it was restricted to schools, hospitals and cheap housing. Nothing doing, PVC had a resolutely unflattering image. It would have to wait until the year 2000 before being allowed to enter the upper spheres.
PVC seizes its opportunity
PThere were several factors that led to this happening; first of all was the end of the supremacy of carpeting which, in the 1990s, was deemed too dusty, difficult to keep clean and not very hygienic, particularly for those with allergies. Carpets were gradually replaced with affordable (or expensive, depending on the quality) laminated flooring. Vinyl flooring was biding its time while new manufacturing techniques were being tested. New formulations were developed. Floor coverings became shinier thanks to an added layer of polyurethane varnish which also made them more resistant to abrasion. They could now be reinforced with a glass skeleton to make them more stable and more rigid. The machines used to make them also evolved. Calendering machines were fitted with cylinders that enabled an almost infinite number of textures to be reproduced, such as wood, stone and even tile grouting.
Finally, manufacturers deployed jewels of innovation to make the flooring easier to lay. Much like laminate flooring, it can be delivered in slabs or slats which can be clipped or glued together, and easily cut to size with a box knife. In barely a decade, old-fashioned "lino" was replaced by the much more stylish vinyl flooring.
… and winner takes all
And how! PVC floors are by far the most used type of covering, in businesses and in homes. They are the kings of trompe-l’œil, as evidenced by the cement slabs or polished tiles made from polymers that are increasingly found in kitchens and bathrooms. They are resistant to humidity, water, grease, and heat, and they are even anti-slip. And what about those stunningly realistic vinyl parquets? Visually, they offer the most convincing wood effect. Everything is as it should be: the worked texture with never twice the same veining, natural colours, and more. Some even reproduce the famous Hungarian point. As for the feel, it is also amazingly realistic, and as warm as wood would be. Walking barefoot on such a covering is pure bliss. And of course, they reinvent while perfectly imitating ceramics, for fans of old houses.
Resins take the floor
We have all seen those ultra-shiny underground parking lot floors, but few people know that they are plastic floors. Specifically, they are a mix of epoxy resin, a polymer used to make the hulls of yachts, a curing agent, and inorganic fillers to increase their resistance to wear and tear. Until recently, they were only found in the floors of underground parking lots and shopping centres, places with very high traffic! As such places require, the floors must be resistant to abrasion and easy to clean. Resins are perfect for the job. A new trend has seen them leave their underground homes and move into more luxurious accommodation. Decorators and interior designers have increasingly been recommending them to their most demanding, and wealthier customers, as the flooring can cost up to several hundred Euros per square metre. Among these are polycarbonate resins whose fine grain provides a mirror effect of the highest purity.
Resins are the perfect hosts"
Resins are amazing! They are now able to replace the ceramics traditionally used to manufacture shower trays. The resins are composed of a natural stone powder, polyester resin and a surface gel coat containing an antibacterial agent. They are easy to mould into many different shapes and ridged or grooved textures. But that is not their only advantage, the "polymer concrete" is easy to use and enables everyone to have a custom-fitted shower that lives up to their expectations. Architects are its biggest fans when they have to redesign a bathroom whose angles are not always straight, or when they are allowed to give free reign to their imaginations.
Vinyl has its back against the wall
Polymers can be found everywhere: on the floor, the ceiling, and even the walls. There is just one area where wood still takes the lion's share: the space where the floor meets the wall, which is generally covered with a skirting board able to withstand a broom's ministrations. The boring skirting board is not yet considered a decorative object, but things will soon change. Vinyl flooring manufacturers are now selling PVC skirting boards decorated with the wildest designs: imitation bulb plates to create an industrial feel in a loft, a pretty varnished wood for a chalet, pink gingham for a romantic young woman or a striking yellow for a rebel in love with New York. Everything is possible, and skirting boards are sold by the metre, can be cut with scissors, are self-adhesive and particularly cheap. They just have to build their own reputation, and they have a long road ahead of them. But that's nothing new for PVC.