Vinyl floors come in different shapes and forms. Two of the most used vinyl floor types are; planks and sheets. So, what’s the difference between these two vinyl floors?
Vinyl sheet is designed as vinyl wraps, while vinyl plank is designed as vinyl boards. Since vinyl sheet flooring comes in wraps, the floor is usually thinner than the vinyl plank. On average, sheet vinyl measures below 3mm, while vinyl plank can be up to 8mm thick.
Vinyl planks give you a more realistic 3D style, while vinyl sheets offer only one style per sheet. However, the broad nature of vinyl sheet means it offers better coverage and moisture resistance than vinyl plank.
Vinyl Sheet vs Vinyl Planks
The vinyl sheets are designed with PVC and fiberglass backing. The top layer is a design layer that carries the flooring’s pattern, color, and appearance. In addition, the top layer is covered with a clear wear layer that protects the floor from moisture, scratches, and dents.
Vinyl sheets are thin and have a thickness of 1.5-3mm, they come in large 6 to 12-foot rolls. The roll is cut based on the size of the floor. To install it, you must lay the sheet down and glue the vinyl to the subfloor. They don’t have a locking mechanism, so you must use vinyl glue to keep the floor in one place.
Vinyl sheet is limited in terms of style and appearance. Though they come with intricate designs, the sheets are usually limited to one print style. However, they withstand moisture perfectly since there are no seams, locks, or gaps on the floor. This means water won’t pass through and get underneath the floor.
Sheet vinyl also offers good coverage and is ideal for large floors. However, sheet vinyl can’t withstand much weight or traffic due to its thin nature. The strength of sheet vinyl largely depends on the thickness and material of the underlayment.
You can use sheet vinyl to:
- Make the floor waterproof.
- In low-traffic areas of the home, like the bedroom.
- Over other types of flooring since it’s easier to install.
- Sheet vinyl is also used on vertical surfaces like walls.
Vinyl plank is formed by arranging several planks side-by-side. It has a synthetic makeup, with over 80% of the flooring’s volume being man-made. The synthetic makeup makes the floor scratch and moisture-resistant.
The back layer of vinyl planks is made of fiberglass and PVC. Also, it has several layers of composite materials; polyvinyl chloride resins, plasticizers, and wood fiber that are compressed using pressure to form a rigid vinyl plank. The top layer of the floor is covered with plastic sheeting made from urethane compounds. This makes the floor dent and scratch-resistant.
Each plank is designed with a tongue and grooves (locking mechanism) that allow the planks to slide into the next (stick). To install it, you can use the locking mechanism, glue to planks down, or both. However, due to the gaps between the planks, vinyl planks aren’t waterproof. The flooring is ideal for busy areas and not high-moisture rooms.
You can use vinyl planks:
- To protect the subfloor.
- In busy areas because the planks are thicker and studier.
- Outdoor Floors.
- Low-moisture areas of your home, such as the living room or bedroom.
The Style and Appearance
What does the vinyl flooring look like?
Sheet vinyl is known for its limited appearance. The floor can be printed to match any color or pattern, but the vinyl sheet is limited to one style. This means you get the same look and pattern but in different colors. Also, since sheet vinyl carries a printed design, you can always tell it apart from a real floor.
Vinyl planks are known for their versatile appearance. You can get planks that match a hardwood, stone, ceramic, or laminate look. They also come in a 3D style, making the plank look more realistic.
Also, luxury vinyl planks (LVP) mimic the look and texture of the floor.
Vinyl plank flooring has a more realistic appearance than sheet vinyl. This is because the planks can be printed to match any look and texture of any floor. On the other hand, the vinyl sheet has a printed layer that you can always tell it’s not a real floor.
How well does the finish hold moisture?
Vinyl sheet flooring is almost waterproof because the floor can’t be penetrated by water since there are no gaps (or seams). The top layer is sealed with a waterproof sealer and the floor is glued to the subfloor. So, there’s no space for water to get underneath it.
Vinyl sheets can’t be damaged by water. Even if you submerge it in water, the sheet will come out the same way. If the floor is affected by moisture, you must remove the water, leave the sheet to dry, and you can re-use the floor.
Vinyl Plank Flooring
Vinyl planks have a waterproof top layer that repels liquid. However, vinyl planks aren’t waterproof because water can get underneath the floor through the locks and gaps between the planks. If the water gets underneath, the water will damage the floor. So, they are waterproof on the top layer but not on the back layer.
If they develop white or dark water rings, it’s because of moisture damage. Also, if vinyl planks are waterlogged (affected by water), you can’t re-use them again and need to replace them.
Vinyl sheets offer better water resistance than vinyl planks. That’s because they have no gaps on the floor, so water can’t get underneath the floor. On the other hand, vinyl planks have gaps between the planks where water can get through and damage the floor.
Cleaning and Maintenance
How easy or difficult is it to clean the vinyl flooring?
Sheet Vinyl Flooring
Vinyl sheet is easy to clean because stain and grease won’t stick due to the wear layer on the floor. This means you can wipe stains off the sheet with ease. Also, you can use cleaning liquid products since the sheet is waterproof.
However, the vinyl sheet is hard to maintain. That’s because if a part of the floor is damaged, you must replace the entire floor. If you cut the affected part and replace it with a new sheet, the new sheet will look different and make your floor look bad. So, repairing it is almost impossible without replacing the entire floor.
Vinyl planks are easy to clean and maintain because they have a wear layer that prevents stains from sticking. So, you can remove stains and dirt by sweeping and wiping the floor.
Also, if one plank is damaged, you can replace it with a new one without replacing the entire floor. This means you only change the damaged plank.
However, you can’t use a liquid cleaner to clean vinyl planks because the liquid can get underneath the floor through the gaps. If the cleaner liquid gets underneath the floor, the floor will get damaged.
Vinyl sheets are easier to clean, but vinyl planks are easier to maintain (or repair).
How well does the flooring withstand wear and tear?
Vinyl Plank Flooring
Vinyl planks have a thick wear layer that makes the floor durable. Since the planks are sturdy, they can be coated with multiple coats of urethane compounds to serve as the wear layer. For instance, luxury vinyl planks can have a wear layer thickness of up to 40 mils, making the flooring durable.
Sheet Vinyl Flooring
Though vinyl sheet is designed with wear layers, these layers are thin and can show signs of dents and scars. This means the floor isn’t durable and shouldn’t be used on busy floors.
Vinyl planks are more durable than vinyl sheets because they have thicker frames and wear layers.
Strength and Support
How much weight can the vinyl floor handle?
Sheet Vinyl Flooring
The vinyl sheet isn’t designed for strength and support. On average, vinyl sheets can’t support more than 300 pounds per square inch. However, the strength and support depend on the underlayment’s material and thickness.
For instance, if you use a cork or combination underlayment, the floor will support up to 400 pounds per square inch. But, if you use a foam underlayment, the floor won’t support more than 300 pounds per square inch.
Vinyl Plank Flooring
Vinyl planks can support up to 500 pounds of weight per square inch. That’s because they have a thicker frame (up to 8mm), and the additional support of the underlayment makes the planks stronger.
Vinyl planks can support more weight per square inch than vinyl sheets. That’s because they have a thicker frame.
Sound and Insulation
Is the vinyl floor soundproof and warm?
Vinyl sheet offers poor insulation and soundproofing. The thin nature of the floor means the sound is amplified. Also, the thin sheets are affected by room temperature, so the floor will be cold in the winter.
Since vinyl planks are thicker, it becomes harder for sound to pass through or be amplified. So, they have good soundproofing. Also, the underlayment makes the floor warmer and more comfortable during cold months.
Vinyl planks have better soundproofing and insulation than vinyl sheets because the planks are thicker.
How is the vinyl flooring installed?
Vinyl sheets are installed by gluing the vinyl wraps to the subfloor (or underlayment). The thin nature of the sheets can cause the floor to move out of place. To prevent the movement of vinyl sheets, you must glue them down on the subfloor using vinyl adhesive.
Vinyl planks are installed by using the click-and-lock mechanism. When the tongues and grooves of the floor intersect, the planks will stay in place. However, for patchy subfloors, you must glue them.
Vinyl planks are easier to install than vinyl sheets. That’s because they are smaller and easier to control and have a locking mechanism that is easy to use. On the other hand, installing vinyl sheets is harder because you must know where to pour the glue and wait until the glue dries.
Best By Room:
Here is a chart that identifies the best type of vinyl flooring per room in the home or office:
|Sheet Vinyl||Plank Vinyl|
|Bathroom||Yes, but there are better options||No|
|Office||No (can’t deal with office traffic)||Yes|
|Outside Floor||No||Yes, but there are better options|
Vinyl sheets and plank are two great choices for your floor. The vinyl sheet comes in a large sheet that you need to cut based on your floor size. On the other hand, vinyl planks come in planks that you need to lock with each other.
So, if you need to cover a large subfloor, use a vinyl sheet floor to cover more space in less time. On the other hand, if you need a durable floor that supports more weight, use vinyl plank flooring.
Also, vinyl sheet flooring offers better moisture resistance than vinyl plank because the vinyl sheet is a large wrap without patches, locks, or seams.
Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about,