When you need flooring that can hold up to spills, sheet vinyl has always been an excellent choice. While not as popular as it was a few decades ago, the best vinyl sheet flooring can brighten up a room without breaking the bank. The ability to repel water is only one perk of this type of flooring, however, and our guide will tell you everything you’ll need to know in order to make an informed buying decision.
Vinyl Sheet Flooring Explained
Vinyl sheet flooring can be made in many ways, but there is always a backing layer which is covered in vinyl and a plasticizer. This multi-layered sheet is topped off with a wear layer and top coat to protect the vinyl and can be embossed depending on the style.
Their closest relative in the flooring family tree are vinyl tiles although there are considerable differences between the two. If you’re curious about how vinyl sheet flooring is manufactured from start to finish, check out the video below.
The Pros and Cons of Vinyl Sheet Flooring
If you’re interested in vinyl sheet flooring, it’s a good idea to know what you’re getting into before you begin to think about brands or styles. While this style of flooring is fairly common, you may be surprised by some of the advantages and drawbacks of vinyl sheet flooring.
Vinyl Sheet Flooring Pros
Consumers with a tight budget will appreciate the cost of vinyl sheet flooring. The price varies depending on the style and quality, but it’s far cheaper than engineered flooring or linoleum in some cases.
Are you concerned about seams or need something resilient for the bathroom? Well, you can’t go wrong with a thick sheet of vinyl, and the styles have changed significantly over the years. You are no longer stuck choosing between solid shades or dated patterns. You can choose vinyl sheets that look like wood, tile and a variety of other materials as well.
Water-resistance is only part of vinyl sheet floorings charms however as it’s difficult to stain with common household liquids – cleaning chemicals aside. The sheets are easy to maintain compared to similar styles of flooring and some even have warranties that rival engineered hardwood floors.
Vinyl Sheet Flooring Cons
Tiles and floating floors are extremely easy to install, whereas sheet vinyl can be tricky. For bathrooms, you’ll need to consider toilets, tubs, and sinks, so things may not be as seamless as you think unless you hire a pro.
That can raise the overall cost of vinyl sheet flooring and so can pricey subfloor repairs. If your floor is uneven or has damage, it will show through that shiny new sheet eventually, if not immediately. If there is damage, it can be difficult to repair. Trust us when we say you don’t want a vinyl sheet patch on your floor…
Discoloration is another factor but can depend on the overall quality of the product. Rubber and latex rugs can also alter the shade of your floor, so use caution with bath or toilet mats.
Vinyl Sheet Flooring Buying Guide
Now it’s time to discuss a few key areas you’ll need to be aware of when purchasing vinyl sheet flooring. While not as complicated as tiles or hardwood, you should still be aware of certain specifications along and a few certifications that could affect your health down the road.
Types of Sheet Vinyl
All forms of sheet vinyl are essentially the same aside from the design and thickness. From an installation point, things are a bit different. There are actually two types of sheet vinyl to choose from with glue down and loose lay.
The only other vinyl sheet style to note comes from companies that market their flooring as luxury vinyl sheets. Just how luxurious these products are varies, so keep that in mind as vinyl is still vinyl at the end of the day.
What’s your favorite color? Regardless of the hue, there’s a strong chance you can find vinyl sheet flooring that matches if you look hard enough. Linoleum manufacturing may have decreased, but that isn’t the case with vinyl. That means there are a lot of styles and textures to choose from, so we’re going to break down the most common.
Wood look vinyl is relatively new compared to other styles, but popular and can be surprisingly realistic. It doesn’t hold up to vinyl plank flooring in that regard, but there are a wealth of grain patterns and shades available. Stone is more realistic than wood, and you’ll also find unique patterns to go along with standard squares. Common textures for vinyl sheet flooring include smooth, textured, and embossed, but you’ll need to keep an eye on pattern repetition regardless of the surface.
Two other variations you may need to consider is inlaid vinyl sheet flooring and homogeneous vinyl flooring. Inlaid flooring will have a pattern and backing, but that pattern may only be a few millimeters deep and not to the backing. It’s cheaper, but not popular as heterogeneous vinyl, which is also backed but is constructed in several layers.
Vinyl Sheet Flooring Layers
Unless you’re buying solid flooring, it generally has two or more layers – sealants aside. It’s common with engineered flooring, glazed tiles, and even vinyl although there are only two layers you need to remember with sheet vinyl flooring
Vinyl Sheet Sizes
Vinyl tiles come in a half-dozen sizes, and it’s not uncommon to find narrow and wide planks if you want oak or hickory hardwood in your home. With vinyl sheet flooring, things are a bit more clear cut both literally and figuratively.
If you pick up sheet vinyl from large hardware stores like Lowes or Home Depot, they can probably cut your to size while you wait. Most online retailers have a set selection of sizes as well although it’s highly unlikely you’ll find anything other than 6’ or 12’ widths.
If you do want a narrow strip for a closet or need and 8’ wide piece of vinyl, a flooring store should be able to fulfill your needs. You can find widths from 4’ up to 13’ and a few manufacturers have lines of flooring measuring 13.2’.
As for thickness, that varies considerably and the thicker the product, the more expensive it is. When considering the thickness of your flooring, think about the layers in the sheet itself, not the wear layer or top coat.
Vinyl Flooring and VOCs
Vinyl is useful, but it isn’t one of the safest substances for a few reasons. Vinyl chloride and other harmful VOCs can be released by PVC over time. From flame retardants to cadmium, studies found a host of unhealthy chemicals in the flooring of old.
Thankfully, manufacturers have gotten wise to the situation, and there are now products that are safer for your home. That means there are standards for indoor air quality in residential homes and businesses. Products that meet those requirements are certified by agencies like FloorScore, a partnership between the Resilient Floor Covering Institute and SGS Global.
It’s not unusual to see warranties in the 20 to 30-year range with engineered flooring or find aluminum decking that can last a lifetime. Most products come with some form of warranty or guarantee, and it’s not different if you’re shopping for vinyl sheet flooring.
On average, we found warranties for vinyl sheets to be anywhere between 10 – 20 years. With that in mind, budget-friendly products can come in at 5 years, and we’ve seen premium lines with a 30-year guarantee. Tarkett and a few others even have lifetime warranties, and it largely depends on the quality of the product.
A solid warranty may cost more for that reason, so consider how long you plan to keep that flooring before jumping to a higher tier. Sheet vinyl is a popular “quick fix” for a lot of consumers, so a 30-year warranty may not suit your needs if you’re considering hardwood down the line.
Vinyl Sheet Flooring Cost
Vinyl sheet flooring pricing is like any other type of flooring material; it’s going to vary. The factors, in this case, include the quality of the product, thickness, wear layer, and design. Some manufacturers use a Best, Better, Good approach to simplify things, but you’ll have to dig deep into the specifications to find out what’s inside those layers with some brands. Here’s a rough idea of what you can expect from a few of the top manufacturers.
Price sq. ft.
ArmorCore Santa Cruz
CushionStep Better Marble Onyx
Times Square Black
DIY or Hire a Pro?
Whether you should install vinyl sheet flooring yourself depends on one thing – how straight is the room? As mentioned, bathrooms can be tricky, but a wide-open kitchen won’t cause you any issues. You won’t need many tools, and glue is cheap if you need it at all.
On the flip side, if you’re installing sheet vinyl over an uneven or rough surface, you could have a chore ahead of you. Already have carpet down in the room? Well, you’ll need to deal with tack strips and a variety of other issues. If you have a lot of prep work to deal with or have to seal seams said, you may want to check out our tool below to get a quote from a contractor in your area…
The Best Vinyl Sheet Flooring Brands
Congoleum has manufactured flooring out of New Jersey since the 40s, and several of their sheet vinyl products are made in the U.S.A. They’re also keen on environmental stewardship and have two lineups of sheet vinyl with AirStep and ArmorCore.
If you need flooring that can withstand the rigors of daily life with ease, then ArmorCore is a product you should consider. The resilient flooring line is glue-free, which makes it a breeze to install while the wear layer and durable interior can handle gouges and indentions. There are five tiers of ArmorCore available with ArmorCore UR, Pro, Pro UR LC, and regular ArmorCore.
AirStep is made to the same standards as ArmorCore but gets some extra protection from Scotchgard. There are also silver particles which provide antibacterial protection the natural way. Styles are similar between the two series, although AirStep has a wider selection of wood look vinyl. This collection is tiered as well with AirStep Advantage, Evolution, and Plus.
Pricing on AirStep and ArmorCore is comparable depending on the grade and style you choose. Warranties vary between 10 – 25 years, but some lines like AirStep Advantage sport a lifetime guarantee for residential use. You can pick up Congoleum’s flooring through online retailers, local big box shops, and specialty flooring stores.
Armstrong is one of the largest flooring manufactures in the world, and there’s a good chance walked across one of their products in your lifetime. They have a large selection of luxury vinyl tile planks and traditional vinyl tiles, but today we’re going to focus on their massive sheet vinyl collection.
Currently, Armstrong has three collections, although there are several older ones making the rounds through discount retailers as well. Their main lineups are CushionStep and StrataMax, each with a different price point and purpose. You’ll also get an option of quality with those collections through the Best, Better, Good system.
StrataMax has a base layer made of 70% composite stone which adds dimensional stability and can increase the overall life of your floor. There are four layers in the product with felt and ToughGuard II on the bottom. CushionStep is durable as well with a fiberglass layer towards the bottom but softer underfoot thanks to a CushionCore base layer.
From stone and wood to patterned sheets, there are over 250 styles to choose from with Armstrong. Their vinyl sheet flooring is also among the cheapest around but still comes with solid warranties. StrataMax will provide you with a 25, 20 or 10-year guarantee while CushionStep is set at 25, 15, and 10 years depending on the quality you choose. You can find Armstrong flooring at most hardware and flooring stores in the United States.
IVC is a company that specializes in resilient flooring, including luxury vinyl tiles, laminates, and vinyl sheet flooring. They fall under Mohawk’s banner along with Pergo, Karastan, and others, but set themselves apart thanks to three stellar residential collections.
IVC has three collections for residential use along with Flexitec @ Work, which is geared for commercial properties. If you want flooring that resembles distressed wood or worn stone, Flexitec Touch of Comfort is an excellent choice while UpTown Flare brings a contemporary feel to any room. Timeless Traditions is a nice mix of the two but with warmer colors and a more traditional style.
Each collection is broken down by quality, so you’ll have three tiers to choose from with Timeless and Touch of Comfort and two for UpTown Funk. There is a large selection of stone and wood look sheets in each collection as well, along with a variety of patterns and solid, textured shades. They have one of the larger lineups of sheet vinyl overall, and we think you’ll be pleased with the warranties as well.
As you’d expect, the length of coverage depends on the product, but most of IVC’s flooring averages between 10 – 20 years. Most fall into the 20-year range, which is nice, but their price points are a little higher than other manufacturers. IVC vinyl sheet flooring is sold through Home Depot, Lowes and various flooring stores across the U.S.