Vinyl floor tiles were introduced to the public in 1933 at the Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago.
Due to World War II they did not come into popular use until the late 1940s.
European researchers used an earlier discovered gas called vinyl chloride in a mixture, creating what they considered to be a useless rigid material which they could not find a commercial use for it.
In 1926, Dr. Waldo Semon, a researcher at The BFGoodrich Company in Akron, Ohio, began experimenting with the discarded material by combining it with other chemicals and exposing it to heat. The result was plasticized polyvinyl chloride - which we now call PVC or vinyl - a flexible "gel" that had striking similarities to natural rubber.
Vinyl (PVC or polyvinyl chloride) started being used as shock absorber seals resulting in vinyl being used to develop the first American synthetic tires, which we have on our cars today.
These early successes led to further experimentation with vinyl formulations. Vinyl plastisol, a solution of vinyl resin in plasticizer, was first used as a coating to make waterproof fabric for a number of products. Today, vinyl-coated fabrics are used to make everything from durable, lightweight inflatable rafts to easy-to-clean, attractive wallcovering.
Vinyl played a significant role for the armed forces during World War II, addressing severe shortages of natural rubber. As a result of its superior safety and performance as a nonflammable electrical wire coating, vinyl has remained the standard material for wire insulation.
Vinyl's capabilities continued to diversify, as new formulations further expanded the material's physical properties and opened new markets. The most important innovation came when irrigation pipe made from rigid vinyl was introduced to the United States. Now the largest market for vinyl production, PVC pipe is recognized as a less expensive, non-corrosive and more easily installed alternative to metal pipe.
Of the more than 30 billion pounds of vinyl produced worldwide today, about 60 percent is used in the construction industry. Industry projections indicate that this growth will continue well into the future, especially to meet the infrastructure needs of a growing global population. Until the mid–1980s, almost all vinyl tiles contained asbestos.
These asbestos–containing tiles were available in 9x9 and 12x12 sizes with widths of 1/8" or thinner. If your pre–existing vinyl floors date back to the 1980s or before and you plan to remove them before installing new ones, it's important to contact a professional to do so. Vinyl flooring's popularity has remained consistent up to the modern day.
Ongoing advances in vinyl flooring technology like slip resistant surfaces and static conductivity have kept vinyl flooring relevant to the modern flooring consumer. With its easy installation and maintenance, wide selection of color and pattern choices, and long–lasting durability, vinyl flooring is expected to remain at the forefront of the resilient flooring industry for years to come.