Vinyl plank flooring has given laminate flooring a run for its money. It is a style of vinyl flooring that mimics hardwood, using a “plank” format. As a result, the vinyl provides a very convincing alternative to hardwood. It comes in almost as many designs and styles as laminate, allowing you to get the look you love at a fraction of the cost. If you are thinking of installing vinyl plank flooring, here we look at the different types available to help you choose the perfect thickness.
Calculating Thickness for Vinyl Plank Floors
Thickness is important for vinyl plank floors as they consist of three layers:
- Wear layer
When looking at the displays, look for the measurements listed in mm to get the right thickness. The range tends to be 4mm in the lower quality floors and up to 8mm or thicker for higher quality.
Understanding the Wear Layer
The wear layer is below the urethane finish and determines how long your floors will last. If this layer is too thin you will find your floor’s wood-look finish will begin to fade more quickly. Ideally, you should shop for a vinyl plank floor with a protective topcoat that improves the hardness of your planks. The measure of wear is measured in one-thousandths of an inch known as a mil.
This is NOT the same as a mm, or millimetre. When calculating thickness keeps in mind there are about 40 mils in 1 mm. You want a thicker wear layer as it will provide more resistance to damage. You will notice the higher the mils the more expensive the floor as it means you have a better wearing, longer-lasting wear layer. Your best bet is to look for at least 12 mils. The busier the traffic the higher you want to go. Families with pets will want 20 mils or higher.
The Role of Cores and Bottom Layers
When it comes to the core, the higher quality floors have a wood-plastic composite core (WPC). WPCs are preferred as they have healthier materials including wood flour, thermoplastic and calcium carbonates which are phthalate-free. You want a floor with a rigid core as it is more durable and offers better stability underfoot. They are also water-resistant and better at hiding any imperfections of your subfloor.
This is important if you are installing your new vinyl planks over an uneven existing floor. The bottom is always better if it includes soundproofing. Often cork backing is an excellent choice as it is natural, softer underfoot and soundproof. Thicker bottoms offer more cushioning making them nicer for second floors when footsteps can be heard overhead. Also, although there are some bottom layers made of recyclable materials, they wear more quickly which defeats their environmentally-friendly appeal.
All in all, you want a vinyl plank floor combining the thicker wear layer in hand with the best wear level and warranty. While expense is always a consideration, remember that just because a floor costs more, doesn’t mean it is necessarily the better quality.