Home Vinyl FlooringBasics What is the Wear Layer for Vinyl Flooring?

What is the Wear Layer for Vinyl Flooring?

by Bestlaminate
Published: Updated: 42 comments 3 minutes read

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.

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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Ron May 12, 2019 - 6:48 pm

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 May 13, 2019 - 2:17 pm

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.

Jill Elaine Banfield April 23, 2019 - 4:27 pm

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 April 26, 2019 - 10:45 am

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.

Pamela C Leavins April 23, 2019 - 2:34 pm

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.

Alana Kane April 26, 2019 - 11:11 am

Hi Pamela, thanks for the question. We typically see floating vinyl put in residential homes, but if it is a large, open space – such as a basement, we usually recommend a glue down. With a floating floor, you have more options for underlayment and comfort under foot. Thickness isn’t as important as the wear layer mil. I would recommend going with a rigid core vinyl that will give you a stable feel, but maybe not as thick. You can find up to 8mm, but 4mm+ with a rigid core is completely fine. Rigid cores with attached underlayment are very comfortable under foot and very durable. You can shop our SPC vinyls here: https://www.bestlaminate.com/vinyl-plank-flooring/search-by-construction/spc/ and our WPC vinyls here: https://www.bestlaminate.com/vinyl-plank-flooring/search-by-construction/wpc/. Feel free to give us a call at 800-520-0961 if you need some more help!

Stephanie Reid April 2, 2019 - 11:57 am

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 April 2, 2019 - 3:14 pm

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.

Donna Doucette March 8, 2019 - 6:46 am

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 March 10, 2019 - 6:28 pm

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.

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