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What is the wear layer for vinyl flooring

What is the wear layer for vinyl flooring?

When shopping for vinyl flooring, all of the terms can be hard to keep track of! One question that gets asked most often is, what is the wear layer of vinyl flooring? This is a very important question to consider when purchasing vinyl flooring.

So What is the Wear Layer?

Put simply, the wear layer is the top surface that provides the durability, stain and scratch resistance of vinyl flooring. The wear layer is usually a clear, urethane based coating that keeps the original appearance of the floor and provides easy maintenance. With new technology, some vinyls now offer added UV or durability layers on top of the wear layer for even more surface protection.

Vinyl flooring cutaway layers diagram

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.

An example: 40mil or 1.016mm. Just keep in mind, this is two ways to express the same wear layer thickness, these are not two separate measurements!

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Which Wear Layer Measurement is Best?

To decide on the best wear layer, you will need to determine the usage of the flooring. If you have pets, kids, or there is a lot of foot traffic in your home or workplace, you should opt for a thicker wear layer.

In short, the thicker the wear layer, the more durable the floor. If you have a space that will need a high resistance to scratches and wear, a higher wear layer, such as a 12 mil or 20 mil, would be best for your application.

Commercial vinyl flooring applications will usually require a 20 mil top layer.

Carbonized Driftwood Vinyl Plank Flooring Wear Layer

If you have more questions on which wear layer is right for you, our flooring specialists are available at 1-800-520-0961!

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  1. Avatar

    Ive seen some vinyl flooring that shows it to be 55 gauge & 10 mil wear layer. Is this pretty good flooring? I have dogs but they are older lazy dogs & no kids at home.

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Rhonda, what type of vinyl is this? It sounds like it could be sheet vinyl. Honestly, it is a thin and not super durable material. The wear layer would be suitable for low traffic areas. If you don’t have much movement in the house, it would be an option for you. If you want a longer lifetime out of your floor, I would recommend going with a floating file plank.

  2. Avatar

    I was shown 110 gauge sheet vinyl. What is that in mils??

  3. Avatar

    I am looking at purchasing a Rigid Core vinyl plank product that is 4 mm thick and has a 6 mil wear layer.
    My application is a laundry room and a basement washroom. There are only two adults in the home and both of these locations would see limited traffic.
    Is the 6 mil wear layer likely to be sufficient for my application?

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Ron, this is a lower mil wear layer, but since you will have limited usage, it should be fine for your application. It will still be durable and waterproof.

  4. Avatar
    Jill Elaine Banfield

    We are just now installing our vinyl flooring. Someone told me that a polish such as Armoral would help protect them and make them a little more glossy. Do you think that is a good idea to use armoral?

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Jill, thanks for the question. We do not recommend using anything with waxes or polish in it, especially a product not designed for flooring. We have had many people reach out with issues when they use polish cleaners and finishers.

  5. Avatar
    Pamela C Leavins

    I need some sound advice on vinyl plank flooring. Whole house. We have dogs, and live in country. This is a new house, first flooring to go down. I have been about these floors, till my eyes are crossing. I was told 8mm 20mil, but it is very hard to find that. The floors will be put over concrete (slab). This is our last house,a s we are going into retirement, and I want it to last and be beautiful. I am also confused about which is best, glue.or locking, and I see alot of different opinions about underlaying/pad. I dont want creaking, want comfortable. Please help me with some good, clear advice. also need waterproof.
    Thank you so much for your help.

  6. Avatar

    Hi, I am shopping for some LVP for my whole house approx. 1300 sq ft total. We have 2 dogs and love the fact that LVP is fully waterproof. What we have picked out is Primco Estates Signature Mix which is a total thickness of 4.5mm and 12 mil wear layer. Do you think this would be scratch resistant enough or do you have any comments on the product? It comes with a lifetime residential warranty. Thanks

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Stephanie, this is not a floor we sell, so I cannot give you any thoughts or feedback on the actual product. With a 12 mil wear layer, you should be good! It is a light commercial grade.

  7. Avatar

    Is there ever a reason because of heat or lack of heat to NOT install Vinyl Planks. I heard it would not work but I do not understand that I have cushion flooring in an area where it is usually quite cold in winter. Thank you.

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Donna, thanks for your question. With typical floating LVT floors, you may see some gaps with a lack of heat due to the planks expanding and contracting. If you go with a glue down vinyl, you shouldn’t have any issue. For a floating vinyl that will not move with temperature changes, look for a WPC or SPC construction. These are engineered vinyls with less chance of movement.

  8. Avatar

    What do you recommend for a kitchen? We have 3 dogs also.


  9. Avatar

    I am planing to install flooring in a 1500sqf ranch home we r redoing,it was all carpet,was thinking about LVP florring throughout the entire house.i have installed several laminate floors in the past but never an entire home.do many peoeple do entire homes in lvp?

    • Tyler

      Jim, this is definitely a trend that we see growing. The fact that it is 100% waterproof and looks/feels like a wood floor makes it much better than laminate!

  10. Avatar

    We are renovating a law office and are considering vinyl flooring that looks like wood. We were shown a vinyl plank by Dalcoure (diamond core lux collection) that has a thickness of 5.7 mm and a wear layer thickness of 0.3or 12 mil. Would this be durable enough or should we look for a higher mill? Thanks

  11. Avatar

    I rarely see vinyl planking with the wear layer mentioned separately. So how do you know what you are getting?

  12. Avatar

    Samples I have are 2.6 mm thick and seem very inflexible. Is this easy to lay in a domestic setting?

    • Alana Kane

      Hi Anita, are you installing a glue-down vinyl? These are easy to install in a home, but the glue down installation comes with a few extra steps. I’d recommend going with a click vinyl that is at least 4 mm. This is the easiest installation.

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