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Vinyl Plank Flooring Buying Guide

Searching for vinyl plank flooring? We’ve got the deets. With all the information out there, vinyl plank flooring can be a confusing subject. That’s why I’ve compiled the best information we have on vinyl planks. That way you can do less research, and way more shopping. Let’s get started!

Okay, so obviously vinyl planks are the hottest flooring on the market right now. No really, they are. Many people are ripping up their carpet and putting down luxury vinyl planks for a lovely wood look in their home.

Nowadays you can get a wood-look flooring without the expense and maintenance of actual hardwood. Let’s be honest, if you have a family, kids, and a pet, you don’t want hardwood. It’ll be roughed up in no time under all that stress. That’s where vinyl planks come in.

Vinyl planks look like real hardwood, but they can hold up under the abuse of a 120lb animal and a few kiddos too. It’s easy to install and even easier to clean.

Intrigued? Me, too! Let’s take a closer look at vinyl plank flooring.

What is Vinyl Plank Flooring?

TritonCORE Pro 7 Rigidcore Vinyl Planks

There are so many types of vinyl plank flooring, that this question becomes a little difficult to answer. After all, you have peel and stick vinyl planks, rigid core, luxury vinyl planks, and waterproof vinyl planks.

These all share the commonality of vinyl, but they are comprised of varying amounts of layers and features. Like I said, it gets complicated.

The good news is, I’m going to break it down further shortly, but for now, here’s a good introduction on vinyl plank flooring:

Related Content >> Vinyl Flooring Installation Cost Guide

Vinyl Plank Flooring Thickness

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Why does plank thickness matter? Well, because the thicker the plank, the sturdier it is. Thicker planks are denser and more substantial beneath your feet. A thicker plank can also cover up a less-than-stellar subfloor.

Of course, every home is different and you may not need the thickest plank possible for your home. Some of the thickest planks are certified for commercial use, after all. Here are our most popular vinyl plank thicknesses:

  1. 2mm
  2. 2.5mm
  3. 3mm
  4. 3.2mm
  5. 4mm
  6. 5mm
  7. 5.5mm
  8. 6mm
  9. 8mm

Vinyl Plank Flooring Wear Layer

layers of wpc vinyl flooring

Why is the wear layer important? Well, it’s what protects your vinyl flooring from surface scratches and stains. It’s the second half of the durability equation: thick vinyl + thick wear layer = higher quality.

If you’re using vinyl planks for a low-traffic area, you might not need the thickest wear layer. However, if your vinyl flooring will be in the midst of your rough and tumble life, then definitely thicker is better.

After all, the wear layer is basically a bodyguard for your flooring. You’re gonna want the beefiest bodyguard, right? Right. Take a look at our wear layer options:

  1. 6MIL
  2. 8MIL
  3. 12MIL
  4. 20MIL
  5. 22MIL
  6. 28MIL

 Related Content >> Vinyl Plank Flooring Pros and Cons

Types of Vinyl Plank Flooring

TritonCORE wood-look vinyl planks

Here I want to cover three big categories of vinyl plank flooring. Yes, there are three. Your choices are indeed vast and scary.

Hopefully not too scary after I narrow this down for you. But probably still vast, which is okay because choices are a good thing!

Anyway, there are three main types of vinyl plank flooring: luxury vinyl planks, waterproof vinyl planks, and rigid core vinyl planks.

Luxury Vinyl Planks


Mohawk Batavia II Luxury Vinyl Planks

LVP stands for luxury vinyl planks.

These planks typically have a rigid construction and they’re made to be very durable. They’re higher quality than the ol’ peel and stick variety, but nowadays, there are even a few peel and stick options that are considered luxury!

However, let’s focus on the planks with a more rigid construction. These planks can stand up to the abuse of high traffic, kids, and pets. They’re made of pretty tough stuff.

It’s worth noting that there isn’t a defined industry standard for the word “luxury.” Usually, though, a luxury vinyl product includes a thick, durable floor, multiple layers, a realistic image, and a tough wear layer. If not, then it might not be as high quality as it claims.


Related Content >> Waterproof Vinyl Flooring Buying Guide

Waterproof Vinyl Planks

TritonCORE Pro 7" Rigidcore Vinyl Planks


Waterproof vinyl flooring (also known as WPC vinyl flooring) is luxury vinyl that is 100% waterproof.

Yes, you heard that right. It’s 100% waterproof flooring for your home.

Waterproof vinyl flooring typically features a four-layer construction that includes a waterproof core. This core is what sets this luxury vinyl apart from the rest.

Waterproof vinyl planks can be installed basically anywhere. It’s typically thick enough to be installed over imperfect subfloors and can be installed in basements, kitchens, living rooms and more.


Rigid Core Vinyl Planks

vinyl plank flooring with books, herbs, and a glass bottle

Rigid core vinyl planks (also known as SPC vinyl flooring) are also 100% waterproof.

At this point, you might be wondering what the difference is between rigid core and waterproof core. I have an answer!

Rigid core luxury vinyl flooring has a stone-plastic composite core. That means its core is super dense and basically practically indestructible. Seriously. It’s really tough stuff.

Because rigid core is so tough, it’s perfect for high traffic areas and commercial buildings. In fact, it’s certified to handle commercial areas. Because of the ultra-dense core, it’s not likely to dent under heavy furniture. Consider SPC vinyl flooring a Superhero.


Related Content >> Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Flooring: SPC vs. WPC

Styles of Vinyl Planks

vinyl plank flooring with hat, black dress, and sunglasses

Okay, now that the technicalities are out of the way, you probably are interested in what wood-look vinyl flooring actually looks like, right? I mean, you can get the thickest, sturdiest flooring out there, but if it makes you think “yuck,” it’s no good to you.

Luckily our options won’t inspire the “yuck” reflex.

Wood-Look Vinyl Planks

blond wood-look vinyl planks in a bathroom setting

So you want vinyl planks that look like wood. Don’t worry, we’ve got plenty of options. Everyone wants the look of wood, without having to deal with the finicky nature of real wood.

Best yet, we have wood-look flooring that hits all the modern trends. Do you want gray floors? We got that. Do you want textured floors? We got that too. Dark wood or light wood? I think you know the answer.

Wood-look vinyl planks come in all the colors and finishes as real hardwood floors. If there’s a look you want, you’ll definitely find it.


Stone-Look Vinyl Planks

stone-look vinyl plank flooring in entryway

Most people get stone-look flooring in tile format, but as ceramic plank flooring becomes more popular, I’m guessing we’ll be seeing more vinyl stone-look planks come into play.

Concrete, travertine, and slate are very popular when it comes to stone-look vinyl planks. Guess what? We totally have those looks too. Vinyl planks have a lot of those looks, in fact. From a light beige travertine to a dark gray slate, we got your stone-looks covered.


Related Content >> Vinyl Tile Flooring Buying Guide

Installing Vinyl Plank Flooring

Vinyl plank flooring has a ton of installation options. Every home is different and one installation might work better than other installation types. That’s why we carry vinyl planks with four main types of installation: interlocking, peel and stick, glue down, and loose lay.


vinyl plank flooring with scrabble tiles

Interlocking installation is similar to the “tongue and groove” installation you may have heard of. Vinyl planks are simply locked together in order to create a floating floor. Basically, the floor does not adhere to the subfloor, but the weight of the floor holds it in place.

You’ll find that most vinyl is interlocking. It’s super DIY friendly and requires only a few extra tools like a rubber mallet and a utility knife. Here’s a short video about the interlocking method of installation:


Peel & Stick

vinyl plank flooring with candles and flowers

This installation method is so easy it’s in the title.

Yes, that’s right, you just peel… and stick. Each tile has an adhesive back already applied. All you gotta do is peel off the backing exposing the adhesive, and press it onto the surface you’re installing on.

It’s super easy!

This installation is good for low-traffic areas since typically peel and stick vinyl isn’t as durable as other types of luxury vinyl flooring.


Glue Down

vinyl plank flooring rustic swatch

Like I said before, permanent and high traffic areas usually need a flooring with a super secure hold. That’s when the glue down method comes in.

This installation method is a bit more involved, as it requires a pressure sensitive adhesive. You glue vinyl planks down as you go. This ensures that each vinyl plank is fully bonded to the floor below it.


Loose Lay

vinyl plank flooring in kids room

Loose lay installation is pretty cool. With loose lay vinyl planks, each plank has a backing that grips the subfloor and keeps it from moving. This means that you can simply lay down the planks and not use any glue to keep them in place. You can do this if the room will not be getting much traffic.

However, if your space is going to have a decent amount of traffic, it’s recommended you use double-sided carpet tape around the perimeter and undeath planks to keep any planks from shifting. If you want something more permanent, glue down the planks.


Related Content >> Vinyl Flooring FAQ

Vinyl Plank Flooring Reviews

Curious about what others think of vinyl plank flooring? Check out a couple vinyl plank flooring reviews.

vinyl flooring in bedroom with dark bedframe and white drawersNew Standard 2 Rigid Core Planks
“Absolutely gorgeous! We went with Tarboro and have been very pleased with our friend’s compliments as they see our new floor. Ready to entertain for the holidays so our family can see it too.”SHOP NEW STANDARD 2 RIGID CORE PLANKS


TritonCORE Pro 7" Rigidcore Vinyl Planks

By now, you probably have a good idea about what type of vinyl floor planks you’ll want for your space. Though, with so many options to choose from, it’s probably hard to pick just one!

Ready to shop?


About Kayla Haas


Kayla Haas is a Phoenix-based writer, flooring expert, and reading enthusiast. Most of her writing specializes in artificial grass, carpet, and vinyl flooring. Her favorite part of writing is the research. If you’re looking for obscure facts or little-known history about flooring, she’s the person to talk to as she stores them away in hopes of impressing people at parties.

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September 27, 2016 2:49 pm

Thanks! This was great info. It helped a lot!!

Ari Ziskin
September 27, 2016 3:23 pm
Reply to  Danette

Glad you enjoyed it, Danette! Please let us know if you have any questions!

donna steffensmeier
donna steffensmeier
October 12, 2016 6:09 am

can you lay VPF on glued down on indoor/outdoor carpet?

Ari Ziskin
October 12, 2016 8:43 am

Hi Donna,

We do not recommend gluing vinyl planks onto carpet. If you’re unable to remove the carpet before installation, you can try a loose lay or “floating” vinyl plank flooring instead, as long as the carpet is flat and not plush.

Thanks for reading!

Lori Johnson
Lori Johnson
November 6, 2017 3:43 pm

Would you put vinyl planks in your upper end dream house ?

Ari Ziskin
November 17, 2017 7:55 am
Reply to  Lori Johnson

Hi Lori,

Absolutely! Not just any vinyl planks, but high-quality, luxury vinyl planks? You betcha. My personal choice would be WPC vinyl because it’s the best of the best.

August 11, 2018 7:03 am

Any thoughts on the difference of what the wear layer is made out of? Urethane vs ceramic bead etc?

Michelle Barichello
August 15, 2018 12:38 pm
Reply to  Karen

Hi Karen, Great question! A urethane-coated wear layer is a great standard for a durable finish, and ceramic bead coating is basically the next level up in protecting your vinyl floor. Ceramic bead coating is essentially a urethane coating with microscopic beads of ceramic that provide an extra layer of protection as well as anti-slip properties. While a urethane-coated wear layer on its own is durable and stain-resistant, wear layers with ceramic bead in the coating provide outstanding resistance to scratching and are known for being far more durable than flooring with a urethane layer alone. Bottom line, both are… Read more »

September 16, 2018 3:27 pm

how to do cut the planks to size? does it have to be professionally installed?

Michelle Barichello
September 20, 2018 2:02 pm
Reply to  Kim

Hi Kim,

Great question! Planks may be cut with a utility knife using the “score and snap” technique, or with the use of a crosscut power saw. Installation is commonly done by our customers using one of the methods described above – interlocking, peel and stick, glue down, and loose lay.

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