Vinyl Flooring Thickness Guide: How To Choose?

Choosing the right thickness is important when opting for a vinyl floor. So, what thickness should you choose?

It’s generally advised to choose a vinyl floor that has a wear layer between 6mil and 10mil for low-traffic areas like bedrooms and living rooms in your home. But, for high traffic areas and outdoor floors, you should choose a vinyl flooring with a wear layer of at least 18mil.

You should go for an overall thicker vinyl flooring when installing the floor in an area that will see high foot traffic and heavy furniture.

Also, if the subfloor is patched or uneven you should install a thick vinyl floor. In these cases, a thicker vinyl floor will be ideal because the flooring will provide more stability and support in busy areas.

Why Does Vinyl Flooring Thickness Matter?

The thickness level of vinyl flooring matters because it determines the support and comfortability of the vinyl floor. The thickness of the vinyl flooring also matters in terms of how long the pattern of the vinyl and the vinyl floor itself will last on your floor. Thicker vinyl floors are known to offer more support and comfort than thin vinyl floors. The thicker the wear layer of the floor, the more durable the vinyl flooring will be.

When shopping for a vinyl floor, the thickness of the flooring and the wear layer matters for different reasons. The main reason is the support that the vinyl floor offers. Vinyl floors that have a thicker overall structure are known to give more support than thin vinyl floors. Thicker vinyl flooring will be able to support heavy furniture and weight better than a vinyl floor with a thin overall structure.

The thickness of the flooring also matters in terms of soundproofing. Thicker vinyl floors offer better soundproofing as it is difficult for sound to travel through the floor due to the thick frame. The durability of your vinyl flooring is another reason why the thickness of the wear layer matters. Vinyl floors with a thicker wear layer are known to withstand high foot traffic and constant use without getting damaged.

Also, the comfort, cleaning, and maintenance needs of the vinyl flooring depend on the thickness of the floor. Thicker vinyl floors are known to be easier on the feet and knees than thin vinyl planks, they are easier to clean and maintain too.

How is Vinyl Flooring Thickness Calculated?

How is Vinyl Flooring Thickness Calculated

The thickness of a vinyl flooring is calculated in mm (millimeter) and mil. Many people think both terms mean the same thing so they confuse mil with mm. However, these terms have very different meanings. MM is an abbreviation for millimeter and one mm (or millimeter) is equal to 39.37 (approximately 40) mil.

Mil on the other hand is a unit of measure and is not the same as a millimeter. MM (or millimeter) is used to measure the thickness of the vinyl floor while mil is used to measure the thickness of the wear layer.

To further understand how vinyl thickness is calculated, let’s take a brief detour to know how a vinyl floor is constructed:

Vinyl flooring comes in either plank, tile, or sheet vinyl with plank vinyl being the most common type used in homes. The vinyl floor is designed by compressing several layers of PVC, hard plastic, vinyl resins, and recycled wood together.

The number of compressed layers in the vinyl floor determines the thickness of the floor. This thickness is measured in mm (or millimeters). So, when you see vinyl floors measured in mm, the measurement is a reading of how thick the floor is. Vinyl floor thickness ranges from 2mm to 8mm.

After the vinyl plank has been compressed, the layers are then sealed with a waterproof and protective plastic sheeting known as the wear layer. This wear layer is what determines the durability of the vinyl floor. The thickness of this wear layer is measured in mil and it ranges between 1 mil and 40 mils. So, when you see vinyl floors measured in mil, it’s a reading of how thick the wear layer is. This is how the thickness of a vinyl floor is calculated.

Does a Thicker Vinyl Mean More Durability?

A thicker vinyl doesn’t mean more durability. This is because the durability of the vinyl floor isn’t determined by the thickness of the floor but by the thickness of the wear layer.

When a vinyl floor is thicker (in mm), the floor will support more weight and have more stability. But when a vinyl floor’s wear layer is thicker (in mil), the floor will handle more traffic without being damaged leading to increased durability.

Durability means the ability of a vinyl floor to handle wear and tear without showing signs of damage. This feature is determined by the wear layer of the floor and not the floor itself. As explained earlier, the wear layer is the protective sheeting that is designed on the top layer of the vinyl floor.

When you walk, stomp, drop items, scratch, and dent the vinyl floor, it’s the wear layer that takes all of these and not the vinyl floor itself. So, if the wear layer is thicker (in mil), it means that the vinyl floor will be able to handle more traffic, scratches, and friction without showing signs of damage.

If you opt for a thick vinyl floor (in mm) that has a thin wear layer (in mil), the floor will not be durable because the thin wear layer will fade quickly. When this happens, the vinyl planks and the design will become exposed to factors like shoe soles and scratches that will damage the flooring. This tells you that in terms of durability, a thicker vinyl floor has very little significance.

However, a thicker vinyl floor will be able to handle more weight even with a thin wear layer because the thicker frame will be sturdy. Now you get the idea.

How To Choose The Thickness of The Vinyl?

Choosing the right thickness for your vinyl flooring is not a tough task. The right thickness for your floor will depend on two main factors. Here they are:

1. The Condition of the Subfloor

The first thing to consider is the condition of the subfloor. If the subfloor is patched, rough, or weak, then you need a sturdy vinyl floor to prevent the flooring from giving way.

In this case, you should go for a vinyl floor with a least 6mm in thickness level. But if the subfloor is strong, then you don’t need the vinyl floor to be very strong too. You can go for a mid-level thickness but ensure that the wear layer is thick enough.

You should also know that strong subfloors like concrete don’t need too much vinyl floor thickness since the subfloor is already strong enough to support the weight on the floor. However, subfloors made from wood and other delicate materials will need a thick vinyl floor since the subfloor is not very strong.

You should also ensure that the subfloor is clean, and carefully prepped before laying a vinyl floor over it.

2. The Room or Space You Want to Install the Floor

The room you want to install the vinyl floor also determines the thickness to go for. In bedrooms, you don’t need the vinyl floor to be very thick because bedrooms don’t see heavy traffic or weight. So, for a bedroom floor, you can go for a floor thickness of about 4mm and a wear layer of about 10mil.

However, for ground floors and outdoor floors that will see high foot traffic, you need a thicker wear layer to give the floor increased durability. You’ll also need the floor thickness to fall between 6 and 8 mm so your vinyl floor can be strong enough to support weight and high traffic.

Here is a chart of the ideal thickness level (in mm and mil) for different floors in the home:

The Type of FloorIdeal Wear Layer ThicknessIdeal Vinyl Floor Thickness
Bedroom floor6-10 mil2-4 mm
Kitchen floor8-12 mil4-6 mm
Ground floor20-28 mil6-8 mm
Living room floor12-20 mil4-6 mm
Outside floor24 – 40 mil4-8 mm

Thickness Of Different Types of Vinyl Flooring

Next, let’s find out the thickness measurements for the different vinyl flooring options.

Vinyl Planks

Vinyl plank flooring is one of the most common types of vinyl floor. The thickness of this vinyl floor ranges between 2mm and 5mm with 3mm being the most common in homes. The wear layer of vinyl planks ranges between 4mil and 20mil.

For vinyl plank flooring, it’s usually advised to go for the 3mm vinyl plank thickness and between 8 and 12 mil wear layer thickness for homes or low traffic areas. For busy and high traffic floors, opt for a vinyl plank thickness between 4-5mm and a wear layer between 16-20 mil.

Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl flooring comes in thicker measurements due to the sturdier structure of the flooring. Luxury vinyl usually measures a thickness level between 4.5mm and 8mm and the wear layer can reach 40 mils.

The luxury vinyl flooring is ideal for high-traffic areas of your home and office. You should also use the vinyl flooring on areas that will support heavy furniture and weight. However, you should also know that luxury vinyl is the most expensive type of vinyl flooring.

Sheet Vinyl

Sheet vinyl is not as thick as the remaining types of vinyl flooring because sheet vinyl comes in wraps or carpet form. Sheet vinyl usually measures less than 6mm in thickness and the wear layer, if designed with one, is usually less than 20mil.

You should only use sheet vinyl in low traffic areas in your home as this vinyl flooring can’t hold up to high traffic or heavy furniture.

SPC Vinyl Flooring

SPC vinyl flooring, also known as stone composite vinyl is another sturdy vinyl floor that is designed using special machines. This vinyl flooring is a hybrid or crosslink of hardwood flooring and traditional vinyl flooring. SPC vinyl measures a thickness level between 5mm and 8mm.

This vinyl floor has a complex structure as it contains not just vinyl resins or wood fibers but hard plastic materials too. This vinyl floor is reinforced to handle high traffic and weight and it’s one of the few vinyl floors that can be used on outside subfloors albeit the floor is shielded from heat and direct UV rays from the sun.

WPC Vinyl Flooring

The measurement of WPC vinyl is usually around the same range as SPC vinyl. WPC boasts of a thickness level between 4.5mm and 7mm and a wear layer that measures a thickness between 10 and up to 40 mils.

WPC vinyl flooring also known as wood-plastic composite vinyl is very similar to SPC in terms of its engineered build. Like SPC vinyl, WPC vinyl is also reinforced to handle traffic and heavy furniture which makes the floor ideal for high traffic and busy areas of your home. The best feature of WPC flooring is its scratch resistance.

Final Words

In summary, you should go for a thicker vinyl floor (in mm) when applying the vinyl flooring on areas of the home that will see heavy furniture and weight.

The thickness of the vinyl floor will provide more support and sturdiness. On the other hand, you should go for a thicker wear layer (in mil) if you’ll be installing the vinyl floor on areas of the home that will see high foot traffic, scratches, and dents.

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