Durable vinyl floors are a good economic alternative to wood, tile and laminate flooring
These days, vinyl flooring is nearly indistinguishable from some of its more expensive counterparts, such as ceramic or stone. Vinyl is highly resilient, providing a supple cushion that gives under weight for greater comfort, and then springs right back into form. It is available in both sheets and tiles for versatile installation options.
Vinyl flooring is available in a wide range of colors, from light to dark. Depending on how you plan to decorate the rest of the room, lighter colors can help create a more expansive feel while darker colors can bring intimacy to larger rooms.
Look for vinyl with large patterns for bigger rooms and smaller, more intricate patterns for smaller rooms. Large patterns can overwhelm smaller rooms, so keep that in mind when making your selection.
This buying guide highlights the different types of vinyl floors, along with information on the wear layer and installation and care tips.
Choosing between vinyl sheets and tiles is simply a matter of taste and installation preference
Sheet vinyl works best in larger rooms while tiles are easier for smaller, do-it-yourself jobs. In either case, you will be able to choose from an array of different patterns and colors to find the perfect fit for any room. Modern vinyl designs can mimic stone, ceramic and even metallic elements at prices that won't break the bank.
Sheet Vinyl: Sheet vinyl often comes in rolls measuring 6' or 12' wide, which enables you to quickly and easily cover large rooms. There are two different kinds of sheet vinyl, inlaid and rotogravure. Inlaid vinyl sheets feature a color pattern that goes all the way through the entire sheet. They may require a larger up-front investment, but they provide higher durability. Rotogravure is a more economical choice that consists of a foam base that is printed with ink and covered with a wear layer. Once you have decided which type of sheet vinyl you would like to install, you may need to choose between perimeter bond and fully bonded.
You will also have to select a type of backing. Felt-backed sheet is the most common. It features a felt layer that adds strength and cushion and requires the entire floor to be covered with adhesive. Vinyl-backed sheets are glued at the edges and are generally professionally installed. Modified loose-lay sheets feature a fiberglass backing that adds strength and stability, doesn't require adhesive and is the easiest to install.
- Inlaid vinyl is thicker and has richer colors
- Inlaid floors easily hide nicks and scratches
- Rotogravure sheets are also referred to as printed or soft-good vinyl
Rotogravure vinyl offers a wide range of patterns and designs
Perimeter-bond vinyl must be glued around the outside edges
Fully-bonded vinyl requires adhesive to be applied to the back of the entire sheet
Tile Vinyl: Tile vinyl is usually purchased in 12-inch squares that feature adhesive backing. The thicker the tile is, the better it will hold up over longer periods of time. Installing tile is an ideal project for do-it-yourselfers, particularly in smaller rooms. When purchasing, make sure all of the tiles you purchase are from the same dye lot. Dye lots determine the color and pattern of vinyl tile. It is important to purchase all tiles from the same lot because, while other lots may be labeled as being the same pattern and color, slight differences in shade may occur.
- Tile is appropriate for both residential and commercial uses
- It often features peel-and-stick backing, making it easy to install
Choose a sturdy wear layer if tile is being installed into a high-traffic area
- Line up tiles at room edges and make precise cuts to ensure proper fit
Choosing the right finish for the wear layer will help ensure high-quality, long-lasting performance
The wear layer is crucial to ensuring the longevity of vinyl flooring, helping to protect the surface and enabling it to withstand scuffs, dents, scrapes and stains. Thicker layers tend to provide better protection. Thickness is measured in mils, with 1 mil being approximately equal in thickness to a page in a telephone book. It may cost a bit more to purchase a thicker wear layer, but the increased durability can save you money later on.
Consult the chart below to learn about the different types of finishes available for wear layers.
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If you plan to install vinyl flooring yourself, make sure you have the right tools for the job
You may need basic items such as a pry bar, utility knife, handsaw, hammer, scissors, ruler, rolling pin, chalk line and carpenter's square. The floor underneath the vinyl should be perfectly level in order to prevent unevenness, so be sure to fill in holes and smooth out rough areas. Keep a clean, damp rag handy to wipe up excess adhesive during installation and take proper safety precautions, such as wearing gloves and providing proper ventilation. If the wear layer becomes dull, use an electric buffer or renewing solution to restore its shine.
- Install an underlayment to ensure floor beneath tile is level
- Sweep frequently and mop only occasionally to avoid dulling the tiles shine
- Avoid over mopping tile vinyl, as water can seep between tiles and weaken adhesive
Save extra tiles after installation in case you need to repair a broken tile later