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Vinyl Flooring Buying Guide

Vinyl is one of the most resilient, versatile and affordable flooring options you can buy. Depending on the surface you choose, material costs can be much less than other flooring materials. Plus, vinyl is available in more styles than ever before so it's ideal for the kitchen, bathroom, laundry room and entryway.

Vinyl flooring.

Choose from Three Types

Vinyl flooring can be installed as either sheet, tile or plank:

  • Sheet comes in 6- or 12-foot widths cut to measurements or in prepared rolls. The adhesive types and methods will vary by floor style. Sheet vinyl is ideal for high-moisture areas like bathrooms because it can be installed seamlessly.
  • Tile is manufactured to exact dimensions (12- or 18-inch squares) and thickness to give the finished floor a uniform appearance. Some varieties are designed to be laid end to end while others can even be grouted like real ceramic or stone tiles. Self-adhesive tiles are the easiest to install. Precision cut tiles also make replacing damaged tiles easy, and Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT) offers a more realistic look and feel with all the benefits of vinyl.
  • Plank is commonly manufactured four or six inches wide by three or four feet long. It has the look of hardwood but is much easier to install and maintain, and is a lot less expensive.

A Versatile Option

Vinyl floor.

With proper surface preparation, vinyl flooring can be installed over any standard underlayment, concrete, old ceramic tile, wood or non-cushioned vinyl flooring. Stability and water resistance make vinyl a good choice for any room at, above or below grade level.

You Can Count on Low Maintenance

No-wax surfaces and easy cleanup make vinyl flooring even more appealing. Regular sweeping and occasional damp mopping are all you need to keep your floor looking like new. Spills are no problem, simply wipe them away with a damp cloth.

The Importance of Wearlayer

Aside from obvious color and pattern variations, the biggest difference between vinyl tiles is the surface coating, or wearlayer. Tiles are covered with one of three surface coatings to resist dirt, stains and scuff marks:

Vinyl No-Wax is good for areas with light traffic and minimal exposure to dirt.

Urethane is good for areas with normal to heavy traffic. Urethane also resists scuff marks, scratches from sliding chairs and cleans up easily.

Enhanced Urethane is considered the highest quality surface coating. Enhanced urethane holds up to the heaviest traffic, offers the greatest stain and scratch resistance, and maintains its original luster longer than other coatings.


Colors and Patterns

Vinyl floor with pattern.

There are two ways that color and patterns are applied to vinyl flooring:

Inlaid vinyl imbeds color granules into the vinyl sheet for a richer finish. Colors are an integral part of the floor.

Printed vinyl is produced much like a magazine page. Colored inks are printed onto the flooring sheets.


Protective Backing

What you don't see is just as important as what's on the surface. The backing on vinyl flooring provides additional moisture and mildew resistance, ensures the resiliency that vinyl is noted for and determines the type of adhesive required for installation. In general, a thicker floor is a better floor.