What is Rigid Core?
Like luxury vinyl, Rigid Core is a layered product. Its construction consists of four layers: a wear layer, image layer, resilient polymeric core, and attached underlayment. The main difference is its solid polymer core, which is sturdy and rigid, unlike vinyl planks that are more flexible.
To encourage standards for this rapidly growing category, ASTM International developed Standard F3261 that sets minimum criteria for both commercial and residential applications. It standardizes areas like product material and performance requirements with the goal of providing buyers and consumers with confidence in the product category.
Construction of Rigid Core Flooring
- Wear Layer: Protects the image layer. When combined with the coating, it provides scratch, stain, and scuff resistance. For example, Rigid Core Vantage features a 20 mil wear layer with a urethane coating.
- Image Layer: A highly detailed, printed layer that gives flooring a natural visual, like hardwood or stone.
- Resilient Polymeric Core: The dense, solid polymer core is responsible for increased stability, durability, dent resistance, and waterproofing.
- Attached Underlayment: Helps to prevent subfloor irregularities from telegraphing. Also adds an acoustical benefit to absorb sound.
Why is Rigid Core a Good Option for Commercial Spaces?
The unique construction of Rigid Core flooring can really benefit commercial projects — for spaces where time is money, and durability matters. Here are three reasons why Rigid Core flooring could be the right product for your project.
- Superior Dent Resistance & Excellent Durability
Commercial spaces take a beating from heavy rolling loads, foot traffic, falling objects and more. Rigid Core products feature a dense, solid core that provides superior resistance to indentation. While many flexible LVT products can handle scratches — as can Rigid Core Vantage with its 20 mil wear layer and urethane coating —resistance to dents is an important consideration where Rigid Core flooring holds a distinct advantage. Whether it’s day-to-day home living in apartment complexes, or a retail location that must hold up to foot traffic and falling objects, Rigid Core flooring solutions address a variety of needs in commercial spaces.
- Acclimation & Telegraphing Benefits Ease Installation Process
When time is of the essence, product acclimation can be a large downside during installation. Product acclimation is the process of allowing flooring to reach the same temperature and humidity level as its surroundings before installation. For example, if flooring is stored in cold temperatures and immediately installed in a 70-degree space, it risks swelling as the product acclimates to its warmer — and permanent — conditions. Because of the unique construction of Rigid Core products, the risk of failure due to inadequate acclimation is significantly reduced. There’s rarely a need for a multi-day acclimation period, so installers can get to work sooner, and install faster.
When it comes to the actual installation, if a flexible flooring product is installed over uneven subfloors, the irregularities show through. This is known as telegraphing. It’s visually unappealing, and fixing this issue post-installation is typically not a viable option. The thick and sturdy composition of Rigid Core products – the combination of polymer core and attached underlayment – hides minor subfloor imperfections easier than flexible products.
- Plays a Positive Role in Sound Blocking
Controlling acoustics inside a commercial space is always an important consideration, but perhaps none more so than in Multi-Family spaces. U.S. Building Codes for new or remodeled Multi-Family dwelling units require a measure of sound insulation between floors of Multi-Family dwellings, specifying a minimum rating of 50 STC (Sound Transmission Class) and 50 IIC (Impact Isolation Class).
Rigid Core Elements helps prevent airborne sound (e.g. voice, music) as well as impact noise (e.g. footfall, rolling cart) from being transmitted between building floors. With a Delta IIC of 21, Rigid Core Elements can block almost as much sound as a 6” slab of concrete. For this reason, Rigid Core Elements can improve sound blocking in spaces where noise transmission reduction is critical — like Multi-Family spaces, and hotels. When tested on a 6” slab of concrete, Rigid Core Elements has an IIC rating of 51, which meets building code requirements. Because the Rigid Core structure includes an attached underlayment, there’s no need for an additional underlayment to meet building codes.