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What Thickness to Choose When I Buy Vinyl Flooring?

by Bestlaminate
Published: Updated: 181 comments 10 minutes read

Vinyl plank flooring is available in a number of thicknesses ranging from 2mm to 8mm+ thick. When you buy vinyl flooring it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you.

Just like laminate flooring, the thicker the floor, the sturdier it is, but this is not the main factor in determining durability when it comes to vinyl. When choosing a vinyl flooring thickness, there are a few things to consider. Keep reading to find out what questions to ask and what factors to consider when buying a vinyl floor.

Vinyl Flooring Construction

Let’s start with the basics on the construction of a vinyl plank floor to understand the important layers. You will find 3 to 4 base layers with a vinyl plank floor that will be included in the overall thickness – the wear layer, decor layer, core, and underlayment (if it is attached).

  1. Wear Layer: this is the top layer that is responsible for the vinyl’s durability. This is a clear layer of vinyl that can contain UV protection and additional scratch resistance. Wear layers range from 4 mil to 40 mil. Mil is an Imperial measurement meaning thousandths of an inch. The wear layer will usually be recorded in mil, but it can also be shown in millimeters (mm), or both.
  2. Decor Layer: This is a thin layer that contains the digitally printed design, color and texture.
  3. Core: The core is responsible for most of a plank’s thickness. This will add dimensional stability and rigidness depending on the type of core and the thickness of the core.
  4. Underlayment: Underlayment is sometimes attached to vinyl flooring, and generally accounts for about 1mm of thickness. The underlayment helps with sound transfer and comfort underfoot.

Vinyl Flooring Thickness

The overall plank thicknesses can range from 2mm to 8mm+. Although the wear layer is the most important factor when it comes to vinyl durability, the thickness is still an important factor to consider when you buy vinyl flooring. There are several important questions you must ask yourself when deciding which thickness will be right for you:

  • Where am I installing the vinyl flooring?
  • Will there be a lot of foot traffic in this area?
  • What type of subfloor do I have?
  • What condition is my subfloor in?
  • What type of vinyl do I have?
  • Do I have underlayment attached?
  • What is my budget?

As a general rule, a thicker vinyl will provide more stability and comfort underfoot. So if you are looking for flooring to refresh your low traffic bedroom, a thinner vinyl plank flooring will work great for you. For areas that have more traffic and usage, such as entryways and hallways, you will want to choose thicker floor.

Another factor that may impact your decision is the flooring and door heights in adjoining rooms. You may need to choose a certain height for doors to close, or to minimize gaps between other types of flooring.

Types of Vinyl Plank Flooring

The type of vinyl plank flooring will also play a role in the thickness. With new advances in the vinyl industry, there are several types of vinyl floors that will impact your decision when it comes to thickness and durability. The main types of planks you will see are standard LVT’s, glue down planks, and engineered vinyl.

Glue down planks are generally less thick from 2mm to 4mms, and will not have underlayment attached. Glue down vinyl are usually the most inexpensive. Standard LVT’s are typically on the thinner side, under 5mm. They will have a higher flexibility and bend, but also a more affordable price point. Floors with an engineered rigid core construction will have a more dimensionally stable core and less bend, similar to a laminate or hardwood.

With the rigid core constructions, you can find floors from 4mm to 8mm+. Although a rigid core vinyl may be 4mm, it will have a solid construction, which differs from the bendable LVT. When it comes to a rigid core vinyl, thickness isn’t as much of a factor, since the core is constructed with durability in mind.

Vinyl Thicknesses for Each Type of Subfloor

Your subfloor is a very important part of choosing the thickness as well. The subfloor is what you will be installing your floors over, whether it’s an existing floor, wood or concrete. If you have an even concrete subfloor, you can get a thinner vinyl flooring. This is because your subfloor is sturdy enough that you don’t need the extra support. With a concrete subfloor, you may want a thicker vinyl solely for the comfort underfoot.

If you subfloor is a thin, creaking hardwood, you should opt for the thicker vinyl for added stability and support. This subfloor would also benefit from an attached underlayment.

The subfloor is an extremely important part of any vinyl flooring installation. Without a properly prepared subfloor, you could experience damage. Be sure to read our subfloor guide before you buy vinyl flooring and install!

Vinyl Flooring Wear Layer Thickness

The durability of vinyl plank flooring is determined by the wear layer. When shopping for vinyl plank flooring, pay also attention to the wear layer. Just like the thickness, the thicker the wear layer, the more durable the floor will be. Make sure to choose features of the flooring that’s right for you and your application, using the same questions posed above.

The wear layer is the protective coating on top of the decorative layer of the vinyl flooring. The most popular is a urethane-based layer that protects the floor against scratches, stains, and scuff marks. The wear layer keeps the original look of the floor longer, providing a maintenance-free finish.

Final Tips for Selecting which Vinyl is Best

If you are installing in a high traffic area, it is recommended you choose a thicker vinyl floor as it will provide more sturdiness and support. Thicker vinyl floors are also more forgiving to imperfect subfloors. If you are concerned about your subfloor, choose a thicker floor, however we always suggest installing new floors on a subfloor that is even, clean and dry.

Don’t forget that vinyl plank flooring may require a moisture barrier Visqueen Underlayment, especially if you are installing over a concrete subfloor. This underlayment will prevent any moisture from the subfloor from coming up into your floor. In the case of glue down vinyl flooring, no underlayment is required. Always check with the manufacturer instructions when you buy vinyl flooring to know what is required.

Before you install your vinyl plank flooring, be sure to check our Vinyl Flooring Dos and Don’ts checklist! Another helpful article is how to choose the right vinyl plank flooring for your project!

Still have questions? Leave them in the comments below and we will be happy to answer them!

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181 comments

dave April 25, 2020 - 12:17 am

hi,
I do not want to remove baseboard. the vinyl tile I will be using says leave at least 1/4 in. from all walls. I will use quarter round and bring vinyl as close as possible to edge of baseboard. therefore, I will have at about 3/4 inches for expansion (more than necessary) is this ok?

Reply
Alana Kane April 27, 2020 - 2:36 am

Hi Dave, thanks for the question. Typically we say .5″ or less, but additional space should do no harm.

Reply
Demetrius April 12, 2020 - 2:14 pm

I’m considering 2 floors from Home Depot. One is 4.2mm thick with a 12 mil wear layer. The other is 7mm thick with a 6 mil wear layer. Which would be better? Thanks!

Reply
Alana Kane April 13, 2020 - 11:56 am

Hi Demetrius, the durability is really in the wear layer. You will be better off going with the 12mil option, as it has a higher durability rating.

Reply
Alessandro February 5, 2020 - 5:32 pm

Hello,
I’m a pianist and I really would love to know what would be the best luxury Vinyl for me. My intent is to buy vinyl in my entire house and I’ll have a piano which is a 9’ concert grand with metal wheels. It’s extremely heavy and I’ll use the piano to do concerts at my house.
What do you think would be a good solution??
Thanks so much in advance,
Alessandro

Reply
Alana Kane February 6, 2020 - 1:20 am

Hi Alessandro, thanks for the question. I would go with a rigid core option here. The cores are very strong and stable which will help eliminate any denting that may occur from the weight. Just be sure to add disks or cushion under the piano wheels.

Reply
Karen G April 25, 2020 - 11:16 am

Hi there. I was looking at a floor that is 30 mil which I’m fine with. The mm is 5.8 and I wanted to see your opinion if that is a high enough number. Thanks for your input to use throughout the house

Reply
Alana Kane April 27, 2020 - 2:37 am

Hi Karen, yes, this is a commercial grade flooring. You should have great results!

Reply
Brock February 3, 2020 - 12:29 pm

I saw that Coretec and Shaw offer a LVP that is 12mm thick. Would this extra thickness be worth the extra $.

Thank you

Reply
Alana Kane February 4, 2020 - 11:38 am

Hi Brock, thanks for the question. The durability of your vinyl will be in the wear layer. When it comes to thickness, it’s more personal preference. That is a very thick plank, so you should have a lot of stability. A less thick, rigid core vinyl will give you the same sturdy feel.

Reply
Dennis January 18, 2020 - 7:00 pm

I was told that with a concrete floor, a 3-mm plank will be the best choice because thicker planks will be prone to indentations from furniture. The plank I may choose has a wear layer of 0.55 mm, but I have no reference to know if that is satisfactory or not.

Reply
Alana Kane January 21, 2020 - 6:22 pm

Hi Dennis, thanks for the question. This is a commercially rated top layer that should be very durable. You shouldn’t have many issues with wear, scratching or denting.

Reply
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