The Definitive Guide to Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring has come along way in durability and style. Take a look at today's options. 



Tough, durable, and waterproof, vinyl flooring (AKA resilient flooring) is the shape-shifter of flooring. In one guise it’s inexpensive and plain, in another it’s expressive and chic. It doesn’t fit every situation, but it comes close.

So you know, vinyl flooring is often called resilient flooring because of its ability to bounce back after being compressed underfoot. This resilience gives vinyl flooring a slight cushiony feel. Some types of resilient vinyl flooring have a layer of extra cushioning for added comfort. Others in the resilient category include cork and linoleum.

The durability of vinyl flooring depends largely on its wear layer. The wear layer is a clear plastic film that’s applied to the top of the flooring. The thicker the wear layer, the more long-lasting the flooring. Typical wear layers are 6, 12 and 20 millimeters thick. If you’re installing vinyl flooring in a room with low foot traffic, a thinner wear layer—and less expensive product—will probably work just fine.

Vinyl flooring comes in a mind-boggling array of colors and patterns. Some are made to look like real wood and stone. All vinyl flooring products are low-maintenance and clean up easily.

Vinyl flooring needs to be installed over clean, blemish-free subfloors. For retrofits, you can install vinyl directly over existing wood and concrete that’s free of bumps and other imperfections that could show through. In some cases, you can avoid tearing out old flooring by first installing a layer 1/8-inch plywood to create the smooth surface needed for vinyl.

Types of vinyl flooring include:

Sheet vinyl flooring comes in 6- and 12-foot-wide rolls. Because installations are almost seamless, sheet vinyl is a good choice for bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms where splashes and spills are likely. Sheet vinyl can be tricky to install and it may be worth it to hire an experienced pro to get the job done right. A pro charges $1 to $3 per square foot for installation, depending on the complexity of the project.

Vinyl tiles—sometimes called vinyl composition tile (VCT)—are great for DIY projects. The tiles usually are 12 inches square and easy to handle. Peel-and-stick vinyl tiles include adhesive so you don’t have to apply adhesive. Because the individual tiles have many seams where moisture could seep through, they aren’t a great choice for kitchens and bathrooms.

Solid vinyl flooring tile (SVT) has a higher vinyl content than regular vinyl tile, and is also more durable. The high vinyl content allows tiles to be made with embossed surfaces that give the tile a textured surface.

Luxury vinyl flooring tile (LVT) is on the high end of the vinyl flooring quality spectrum and is used to replicate the look of natural stone, wood, concrete, metal and other materials. Popular vinyl plank flooring comes as individual “boards” and does a great job of mimicking real wood flooring.

Next Up

The Definitive Guide to Cork Flooring

Cork flooring has many specialized attributes — but is it the right choice for you?

Guide to Selecting Flooring

Which flooring is right for you? Hardwood, laminate, tile, vinyl or eco-friendly choices like cork or bamboo? Our experts explain the 8 most popular types to help you choose.

Your Guide to Parquet Flooring

This age-old flooring has a few modern tricks up its sleeve.

Eco Flooring Guide

The pros and the cons of the most popular flooring materials on the market

Flooring Buyer's Guide

Given the wide array of flooring options available, you're bound to find one that fits your lifestyle and budget. Learn about 10 popular flooring types to find your match.

Your Guide to the Different Types of Wood Flooring

The enduring good looks of hardwood flooring come in many types and styles to fit different needs and budgets.

Under Foot: Outdoor Flooring Buyer's Guide

What's the best material to build your driveway, deck or patio? We look at five outdoor flooring choices and the cost, pros and cons, and ideal locations for each.

How to Paint Old Vinyl Floors to Look Like New Tile

This easy, budget-friendly paint project will have your floor looking fresh and modern in just a couple days.

Tips for Cleaning Tile, Wood and Vinyl Floors

Get expert tips, techniques and recipes for cleaning all types of floors, from ceramic tile to hardwood.

What to Know About Vinyl Decking

Find out all you need to know about one of the most cost-effective and low-maintenance decking materials: vinyl decking.


Get Social With Us

We love to DIY. You love to DIY. Let's get together.

Consult Our A-Z Guide

Everything You Need to Know

Browse a full list of topics found on the site, from accessories to mudrooms to wreaths.  

How-To Advice and Videos

Get video instructions about kitchens, bathrooms, remodeling, flooring, painting and more.

Watch DIY Downloads Now

Watch DIY Network LIVE

Don't miss your favorite shows in real time online.