What’s Multilayer Flooring?

What’s Multilayer Flooring?

The impact of multilayer floors (MLF) can’t be overstated. At its heart, an MLF product is just what it sounds like: a flooring material composed of layers.

Harlan Stone, president of the Multilayer Flooring Association and CEO of Halstead International/Metroflor explains:  “Multilayered flooring, according to the definition by our association, is any plank or tile format hard-surface flooring product made up of multiple layers of different material that are assembled together, provided that the middle layer is a polymer-based material.  This would include   WPC, composite core, rigid core , engineered LVT and solid core products.”

A drawing of the multiple layers of a floor

Multilayer floor diagram from Floor Covering Weekly.


MLF technology has taken great strides toward solving some of consumers’ most common flooring conundrums. More durable than traditional vinyl, MLF floors are also better at resisting dents and impact damage. Stability goes hand-in-hand with durability for a real one-two punch of quality. MLF floors are great for commercial areas and busy homes; they’re designed to handle heavy foot traffic not only from people, but also from pets! The high level of scratch and impact resistance found in MLF floors like rigid core and WPC makes them a very sound choice for families with bigger dogs. Floors and pets really can get along!

In addition, MLF floors are all waterproof! They’re ideal for all areas of the home, including kitchens, bathrooms, basements, laundry rooms, and other moisture-prone areas.


While the products do possess some similarities like moisture imperviousness, structural stability, and strength, there are some fundamental differences, primarily in the core itself.



WPC stands for Wood Plastic Core (or Wood Composite Core - I know, it blows one of the letters. Odd business, this flooring industry). The core is made of wood or bamboo dust mixed with PVC. Unlike laminate’s core board, which swells when exposed to moisture, WPC’s wood plastic core is 100% waterproof, and dimensionally stable. You could call WPC the love child of laminate and vinyl; it highlights the best of both materials. Click here to read more about WPC floors.

What’s the Difference Between WPC and Advanced Rigid Core?

These are two very similar materials. The difference comes in the construction: WPC has a layer of vinyl between the core and the decorative layer. Advanced rigid core floors do not.

Both WPC and advanced rigid core floors may also be referred to as IWP, or Impervious Wood Planks. IWP is a less common term but it is used from time to time.


Unlike WPC, composite core does not contain any wood or fibrous materials. Instead, it mixes PVC and other materials with some limestone filler (calcium carbonate). It’s light, tough, and 100% waterproof like WPC.


Solid PVC cores are similar to composite core floors, but with a different ratio of materials. PVC resin is mixed with calcium carbonate to make a very rigid and sturdy core.


Mineral composites are the mountains of MLF floors: stone-based, strong, and inflexible. They’re inorganic, using a stone or cement base instead of plastics or polymers.



Another great thing about MLF floors? Ease of installation. The rigidity of the core material compensates for many common subfloor imperfections and reduces the amount of subfloor preparation needed prior to installation. Unlike traditional LVT or sheet vinyl, MLF floors don’t transmit subfloor imperfections or unevenness. The core takes care of that for you!

That’s not to say no subfloor care is needed anywhere – always check your manufacturer’s specifications prior to installation.

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David has written and made videos about flooring products and installation since 2011 at Floors To Your Home (.com), where he is also the PPC Manager, a Researcher, a Website & Marketing Strategy Team member, Videographer, Social Strategist, Photographer and all around Resource Jito. In my spare time I shoot and edit video, put together a podcast, explore film history, and mix music (as in ‘play with Beatles multi-tracks’). Connect with  W. David Lichty


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