The vinyl flooring market has been dominated by sheet and plank vinyl. But what’s the difference between both types of vinyl floor?
The main difference between vinyl sheet and plank vinyl is that vinyl sheet is designed as wraps of vinyl while plank vinyl is designed as boards of vinyl. Since vinyl sheet flooring comes in wraps, the floor is usually thinner than plank vinyl.
On average, sheet vinyl measures a thickness level below 3mm while plank vinyl can be up to 8mm thick. Also, plank vinyl looks more realistic than sheet vinyl.
With plank vinyl, you can achieve a 3-dimensional style while sheet vinyl offers only one style per sheet. However, the broad nature of vinyl sheet means it offers better coverage and moisture resistance than plank vinyl.
Vinyl Plank Flooring vs Vinyl Sheet Flooring
Sheet vinyl is a printed form of vinyl flooring. The vinyl sheets are designed with a PVC and fiberglass backing. The top layer of the vinyl sheet is a design layer that carries the pattern, color, and appearance of the flooring. The design layer is then covered with a clear wear layer to protect the floor from moisture damage, scratches, and dents. Vinyl sheets are thin and measure between 1.5mm to 3mm.
Sheet vinyl comes in large 6 to 12-foot rolls. The roll is cut based on the size needs of the buyer. To install sheet vinyl, you’ll need to lay and glue the vinyl sheet to a layer of underlayment.
Vinyl adhesive is used to make the sheet vinyl stay in place on the subfloor. Sheet vinyl is limited in terms of style and appearance. Though the vinyl sheets come with intricate designs, the sheets are usually limited to one style of print.
Sheet vinyl has impressive features. The sheets withstand moisture perfectly since there are no seams or locks for water to pass through. Sheet vinyl also offers good coverage and is ideal for large floors. However, you should know that sheet vinyl isn’t strong. The sheets due to their thin nature can’t support much weight or traffic. The strength of sheet vinyl largely depends on the thickness and material of the underlayment.
Here’s where you can use sheet vinyl:
- Sheet vinyl is used to make the floor waterproof
- Sheet vinyl is used in low traffic areas of the home like the bedroom
- Sheet vinyl is commonly used over other types of flooring since it’s easier to install
- Sheet vinyl is also used on vertical surfaces like walls.
Plank vinyl also referred to as luxury vinyl plank flooring is formed by arranging several vinyl planks side-by-side. Plank vinyl has a synthetic makeup with over 80% of the flooring’s volume being man-made. The synthetic makeup of plank vinyl gives it advanced features including scratch resistance.
Plank vinyl comes in different sizes and designs depending on your choice but all vinyl planks have the same makeup. The vinyl planks have a fiberglass and PVC back layer. Several layers of composite materials, polyvinyl chloride resins, plasticizers, and wood fiber are compressed using heat and pressure to form a rigid vinyl plank.
The top layer of the plank is covered with plastic sheeting made from urethane compounds. This is the wear layer of the planks and the wear layer prevents dents and scratches from affecting the vinyl planks.
Each plank is also designed with tongues and grooves that allow the plank to slide perfectly into the next. For application, you can either click and lock the vinyl planks or use vinyl adhesive to glue them down. You should also know that vinyl planks aren’t waterproof. The flooring is ideal for busy areas and not high moisture rooms.
Here’s where you can use plank vinyl:
- Plank vinyl is used to protect the subfloor
- Plank vinyl is used in busy areas because the planks are thicker and studier
- Luxury plank vinyl can be used on outdoor floors
- Plank vinyl can be used in low moisture areas of the home like the living room and bedroom.
The Style and Appearance
What does the vinyl flooring look like?
Sheet vinyl is known for its versatility in appearance. Sheet vinyl can be printed to mimic or match any color, patternn, or shade. Since the vinyl sheet is large, the designs intersect meaning that there are no seams or stops on your flooring. Though if you want sheet vinyl with printed seams, you can get them.
However, you should know that sheet vinyl is usually limited to one style. This means you only get one look and pattern with vinyl sheet flooring. Also, since sheet vinyl carries a printed design, you can always tell it apart from the real deal.
Plank vinyl flooring has versatility in appearance. You can get your vinyl planks to mimic hardwood, stone, or ceramic flooring. You can even get a 3-dimensional style with vinyl plank flooring making the plank look more realistic. Luxury vinyl planks especially will mimic not just the look but the texture of the floor.
Best in Appearance: Vinyl Plank Flooring
Vinyl plank flooring has a more realistic appearance than sheet vinyl. This is because the planks can be shaped and detailed to mimic the look and texture of any flooring, especially hardwood. Sheet vinyl on the other hand is just a printed layer and you can always tell that it’s not the real deal.
How well does the finish hold moisture?
Sheet vinyl flooring is almost waterproof. The vinyl sheets can’t be penetrated by water because there are no seams or adjoined parts on the vinyl sheet. The sheets are also glued to the subfloor so it’s more difficult for water to get underneath the vinyl sheet as well.
Another advantage that vinyl sheets have is that the sheets can’t be damaged by water. Even if you submerge vinyl sheets in water, the sheet will still come out the same way. So even if your vinyl sheet flooring is affected by moisture, you need to remove the water and leave the sheet to dry. Then you can reinstall the sheets without needing a replacement.
Vinyl Plank Flooring
Vinyl planks have a good level of moisture resistance. Vinyl planks have a waterproof wear layer on the top layer so it’s difficult for water to penetrate the planks.
However, water can still get underneath the planks easily through the locks and spaces between the planks and the baseboard trims or walls. This is why it’s not advised to use laminate planks in high moisture areas of the home like bathrooms and laundry rooms.
Vinyl plank flooring will give you enough time to get the water off of the planks but if you don’t wipe the water off, it will eventually get into the planks. If you see white water or dark water rings on your vinyl plank flooring, it’s due to moisture damage. The bad thing here is if the planks get waterlogged, you can’t use them again and you’ll need a replacement.
Best in Moisture Resistance: Vinyl Sheet Flooring
Vinyl sheet flooring offers superior water resistance to vinyl plank flooring. This is because the vinyl sheets have no gaps or seams.
The sheet is a wide sheet of vinyl and since there are no spaces or gaps between the sheets, it becomes waterproof. Vinyl plank is not waterproof because water can easily seep underneath the planks through the locks, acclimation gaps, and spaces between the plank and the base wall.
Cleaning and Maintenance
How easy or difficult is it to clean the vinyl flooring?
Sheet Vinyl Flooring
Sheet flooring is very easy to clean. Stains and grease on your sheet vinyl will not stick due to the wear layer on the sheet. This means you can wipe stains off the sheets with ease. You can also use cleaning liquid on sheet vinyl since the sheets are waterproof. So if you need to dissolve a stain first, you can do so with sheet vinyl.
However, sheet vinyl can be a bit tedious to maintain especially when you need to repair the vinyl sheets. To repair vinyl sheet flooring, you need to cut out the affected part and replace it with a cut-out from the same pattern as the existing sheet. Cutting the sheet to fit perfectly is almost impossible. So repaired spots will be obvious with vinyl sheet flooring.
Vinyl planks are easy to clean and maintain. All types of vinyl planks have a wear layer that resists stains so you won’t need to take on much cleaning with vinyl planks. Regularly sweeping and wiping the floor is good enough.
You also don’t need to wax vinyl planks as you would with other floors. Another advantage of vinyl plank flooring is repairs are as easy as removing the affected plank and replacing it. No one would notice a repair on vinyl plank flooring,
However, you can’t wash or use wet-cleaning methods on a vinyl plank floor. This is because vinyl planks are not waterproof and mopping or washing the planks will push water underneath the flooring.
Best in Cleaning and Maintenance: Vinyl Plank
Vinyl plank is easier to repair and maintain over time than sheet vinyl since repairs are easier. But sheet vinyl is easier to clean because you can use solvents or wash the vinyl sheets without worrying about water damage.
How well does the flooring withstand wear and tear?
Vinyl Plank Flooring
Vinyl planks are a bit durable. This is because vinyl planks often have thick wear layers. Since the plank is sturdy, it can be coated with multiple layers 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 which makes the flooring very durable.
Sheet Vinyl Flooring
Sheet vinyl is not very durable. Though sheet vinyl is also designed with wear layers, these layers are often thin since the sheet is not thick. This means that sheet vinyl will show signs of dents and scars easily. This is why sheet vinyl is not common on busy floors.
Best in Durability: Plank Vinyl
Plank vinyl is more durable than sheet vinyl because vinyl planks have a thicker frame and wear layer.
Strength and Support
How much weight can the vinyl floor handle?
Sheet Vinyl Flooring
Sheet vinyl is not designed for strength and support. On average, vinyl sheets ordinarily can’t support up to 300 pounds per square inch.
The strength of sheet vinyl depends on the material and thickness of the underlayment. With cork or combination underlayment, sheet vinyl can support about 400 pounds per square inch. But, with foam underlayment, the sheet vinyl can’t support that much weight.
Vinyl Plank Flooring
Vinyl planks can support a weight of up to 500 pounds per square inch because the planks have a thick frame (up to 8mm). The thick frame and additional support of the underlayment make vinyl planks stronger.
Best in Strength and Support: Vinyl Plank Flooring
Vinyl plank flooring can support heavier items than sheet vinyl because the planks have a thicker frame (up to 8mm). Luxury plank vinyl is especially stronger than other types of vinyl floor.
Sound and Insulation
Is the vinyl floor soundproof and warm?
Sheet vinyl offers poor insulation and soundproofing. The thin nature of the sheet means that sound is amplified. Also, the thin sheets are easily affected by the room temperature and weather. Expect your vinyl sheet flooring to be cold in the winter.
Vinyl planks have good soundproofing. Since the planks are thicker, it becomes harder for sound to pass through or be amplified. Also, the use of underlayment underneath the vinyl planks makes the vinyl flooring warmer and more comfortable even during the cold months.
Best in Insulation and Soundproofing: Vinyl Planks
Vinyl planks offer superior soundproofing and insulation than vinyl sheets because the planks are thicker.
How is the vinyl flooring installed?
Sheet vinyl flooring is installed by gluing the vinyl wrap to the subfloor or underlayment. The thin nature of the sheets causes the floor to move out of place when walked on. To prevent unnecessary movement, the vinyl sheets are glued to the subfloor using vinyl adhesive.
Plank vinyl flooring is installed using a click and lock mechanism. When the tongues and grooves of the vinyl planks intersect, the planks will stay in place.
You can also use vinyl adhesive to install vinyl planks. Though the planks intersect using the click and lock mechanism, you may need glue to bond the planks to a patchy subfloor.
Best in the Installation: Vinyl Planks
Vinyl planks are easier to install than sheet vinyl because the planks are smaller and easier to control than large vinyl sheets. Also, plank vinyl is designed with a tongue and groove locking mechanism that allows each plank to slide into the next.
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|
In summary, vinyl and sheet vinyl are both great choices of flooring to use in your home and office. The best one for you will depend on your needs. If you want to cover a large subfloor, you might be better off with sheet vinyl because you can purchase wide wraps and cover more space in less time.
On the other hand, if durability and support are what you need, you should go for plank vinyl. You should remember that sheet vinyl offers superior moisture resistance to plank vinyl because sheet vinyl is a large wrap without patches, locks, or seams.