Luxury Vinyl vs. Standard Vinyl Flooring Comparison Guide

The Most Important Key Differences to Know

Luxury Vinyl vs. Standard Vinyl flooring

Margot Cavin / The Spruce

For years, sheet vinyl flooring was regarded as the best choice for locations where moisture and stain resistance were an issue. Those areas included bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements, and kitchens. But standard vinyl is made from a very thin layer of vinyl printed with a design layer and covered with protective coating. It is prone to gouging and tearing, and it can feel quite hard underfoot, especially if it is installed over concrete.

In response to this, manufacturers created a new form of vinyl: luxury vinyl flooring, or LVF. It is sold in semi-rigid luxury vinyl planks (LVP) or luxury vinyl tiles (LVT). And it is installed using the same click-lock interlocking edges that are found on laminate flooring. In fact, many people are left debating luxury vinyl vs. laminate as second-tier choices if they don't go with higher quality (and more costly) hardwood, ceramic, or stone tiles.

Vinyl vs. luxury vinyl is also a choice many people have to make. There are pros and cons to luxury vinyl flooring just as there are to standard vinyl. And while they are fundamentally the same material, there are key differences between vinyl and luxury vinyl. Here's what you need to know to make the choice.

Standard Vinyl vs. Luxury Vinyl Flooring: Major Differences

Standard vinyl flooring is sold either in flexible sheets or in square tiles. Standard vinyl is made of a thin backing layer of felt or fiberglass to which a thin layer of solid vinyl is bonded. This vinyl layer is printed with a design and then covered with a transparent protective coating. Standard vinyl is flexible and quite thin, with a wear layer of only 10 to 15 mil (10/1000 to 15/1000 of an inch).

Luxury vinyl is a much different type of flooring, though luxury vinyl flooring is made of the same PVC vinyl as standard vinyl flooring. Luxury vinyl is sold in multi-ply planks or tiles with wear layers that range from 2 to 8 mm in thickness (roughly 8/100 to 3/10 of an inch thick). This makes luxury vinyl planks considerably thicker than standard vinyl, giving it a semi-rigid nature.

Moreover, luxury vinyl flooring is made of six to eight layers of material, including a clear top-coat layer to add shine, a clear wear layer to protect the design, a design layer with the printed image, a cushion layer of foam to make the floor comfortable to walk on, a fiberglass backing layer, and solid PVC backing layer to add strength and rigidity. Stone-look luxury vinyl sometimes includes ground mineral content in its composition, usually pulverized limestone.

  Standard Vinyl Flooring Luxury Vinyl Flooring
Cost $0.50 to $2 per square foot $2 to $7 per square foot
Thickness Very thin  Thicker, more rigid construction
Dimensions 6- or 12-foot rolls; 6- to 18-inch square tiles 4.5 by 48-inch planks; 12- to 18-inch square tiles
Installation Method Usually uses full-glue-down bond Usually uses click-lock edge joints; floating installation
Durability Prone to scratches Fairly scratch-resistant
Real Estate Value Seen as "bargain" flooring Considered more prestigious 
Water Resistance Good waterproofing, especially vinyl sheets Good waterproofing
Seams Sheets have fewer seams Planks/tiles have many seams
Lifespan Lasts 10 to 15 years Can last up to 25 years


Standard Vinyl

Standard vinyl sheet flooring or tiles traditionally have aimed at resembling ceramic or stone tile. But there are many designs patterns and colors available, including those that look like wood. However, because the wear layer is a smooth, solid surface with few seams, the simulated cracks between "planks" are usually not very convincing with standard vinyl flooring.

Standard vinyl detail
Margot Cavin / The Spruce

Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl planks (LVP) are usually designed to simulate the look of wood, as is most laminate flooring, while luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) are usually designed to simulate stone or ceramic tiles. The newest forms of luxury vinyl are quite convincing, sometimes making the choice between luxury vinyl vs. laminate difficult when you want to mimic the look of wood. Hundreds of colors and styles are available as well.

Luxury vinyl detail
Margot Cavin / The Spruce

Best for Appearance: Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl planks are better than vinyl sheets to mimic the look of wood. Luxury vinyl also mimics the look of stone and ceramic better than standard vinyl.

Water and Heat Resistance

Luxury vinyl and standard vinyl are both good when it comes to waterproof flooring. They make good choices for bathrooms, kitchens, and other wet locations.

Standard Vinyl

Vinyl sheeting is a highly water-resistant material. The sheets have fewer seams than planks or tiles that might allow water to penetrate through to the subfloor.

Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl is a completely synthetic material that it impervious to water damage. However, one of the few problems with luxury vinyl tile is the seams between tiles (or planks) make it possible for water to seep down to the underlayment.

Best for Water and Heat Resistance: Standard Vinyl

Standard vinyl sheet is slightly better than luxury vinyl planks when it comes to waterproofing.

Both types of vinyl flooring tolerate normal heat, such as direct exposure to sunlight, but they do not do well under extreme heat. This is not a good flooring material to place beneath a water heater or near a furnace, and beware of dropping hot skillets or heating appliances onto a vinyl floor.


Watch Now: 7 Things To Consider Before You Get Vinyl Flooring

Care and Cleaning

Both standard vinyl and luxury vinyl are cleaned using the same methods. Sweeping or vacuuming should be done daily, and spills and stains should be wiped up immediately. Once a week or so, damp mop the floor with warm (not hot) water mixed with a mild soap. Unlike old resilient linoleum floors, vinyl floors do not require sealers or waxes; they can dull the shiny wear layer.

Best for Care and Cleaning: Tie

When weighing standard vinyl vs. luxury vinyl, neither type holds any advantage regarding care and cleaning.

Vinyl floor cleaning supplies
Margot Cavin / The Spruce

Durability and Maintenance

Standard Vinyl

Standard vinyl flooring is a fairly soft surface that can be susceptible to dents, scratches, and tears. Repairs to a damaged surface are hard to make convincing, and most people end up replacing or covering the flooring once the wear becomes pronounced.

Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl plank is more rigid and thicker than standard vinyl, which increases its durability. Moreover, when a plank becomes damaged, the flooring can be disassembled to replace the damaged plank.

Best for Durability and Maintenance: Luxury Vinyl

There is a thicker wear layer on most luxury vinyl flooring products, giving it more durability. And it's easier to repair luxury vinyl. Both types of vinyl can fade over time if they get too much direct sunlight, so manufacturers often recommend shading windows to prevent this.


Standard Vinyl

Standard sheet vinyl is usually installed with a full glue-down bond that secures the flooring to the underlayment. Some types can be installed with a perimeter glue bond that secures the flooring only around the edges and along the seams. Standard vinyl tile is always secured with a glue-down bond.

Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl planks or tiles are generally installed with a click-clock system by which the edges of the planks or tiles interlock. These floors float over the subfloor with no glue-down bond necessary. But some forms of luxury vinyl offer a glue-down option for certain circumstances.

Best for Installation: Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl is usually easier for DIYers to install. Standard vinyl sheets can be awkward to handle and are normally installed by professionals.


Standard Vinyl

Standard vinyl is quite affordable, with per-square-foot costs for materials ranging from $0.50 to $2 per square foot when purchased at big-box home improvement centers. Professional installation costs for vinyl flooring are fairly affordable because the work generally goes quickly. Plan on adding $1 to $2 per square foot for professional installation.

Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl purchased from the same outlets generally runs $2 to $4 per square foot. Designer styles of luxury vinyl purchased at specialty flooring stores can cost $7 per square foot or even more. Many homeowners choose to install luxury vinyl themselves, as DIY installation is fairly easy.

Best for Cost: Standard Vinyl

Raw material costs are lower for standard vinyl flooring, but the advantage narrows if you choose to install luxury vinyl flooring as a DIY project.


Standard Vinyl

Standard vinyl flooring has an anticipated life expectancy of about 10 years, though better types can last as much as 15 years.

Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl is more durable, generally lasting 20 to 25 years if it is well cared for.

Best for Lifespan: Luxury Vinyl

As a thicker, heavier material, luxury vinyl flooring generally lasts considerably longer than standard sheet vinyl.


Standard Vinyl

Standard sheet vinyl comes in 6- or 12-foot-wide rolls. Tiles are generally 9- to 18-inch squares.

Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl flooring usually comes in either plank or tile form. Typical plank size is 48 inches by 4 1/2 inches. Typical tile size is 16 x 16 inches, though smaller and larger sizes are also available.

Best for Sizes: Tie

There is no notable size advantage when comparing standard vinyl vs. luxury vinyl.

Resale Value

Standard Vinyl

Standard sheet vinyl flooring is usually seen as a bargain flooring material, and it does nothing to improve real estate value.

Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl planks and tiles don't have the cachet of solid hardwood or of ceramic and stone tiles in most instances. But the latest luxury vinyl offerings are at least comparable—and perhaps better—than laminate flooring.

Best for Resale Value: Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl gets the nod over standard vinyl when it comes to real estate value. Luxury vinyl planks and tiles will almost always carry more resale value than standard vinyl flooring.

Comfort and Sound

Standard Vinyl

Sheet vinyl is a very thin material that can be quite hard and cold underfoot, especially when installed over concrete subfloors.

Luxury Vinyl

Because it is a thicker product, luxury vinyl feels somewhat softer underfoot and has better sound-blocking properties than standard vinyl flooring. This is especially true of luxury vinyl with cork or foam underlayment layers built into the product. Top-quality luxury vinyl is often superior to laminate flooring for comfort.

Best for Comfort and Sound: Luxury Vinyl

Luxury vinyl has the edge over standard vinyl flooring when it comes to underfoot comfort and sound transmission.

The Verdict

If you can afford it, luxury vinyl flooring is usually a better choice than standard vinyl by most categories of comparison. But standard vinyl might be preferable if you are on a tight budget, as well as for rooms where its minimal-seam construction makes for a more waterproof floor.

Top Brands

Most major manufacturers of vinyl flooring offer both standard vinyl sheets and tiles, as well as luxury vinyl planks and tiles. Major players in the vinyl flooring category include familiar big names:

  • Armstrong: In addition to a full line of sheet vinyl and luxury vinyl planks and tiles, Armstrong offers a good line of "engineered" tiles, which combine luxury vinyl with pulverized mineral content, usually limestone.
  • Shaw: This company offers a full range of premium-quality standard sheet vinyl as well as luxury vinyl planks and tiles.
  • Mohawk: Offering an impressive selection of nearly 600 styles, Mohawk produces both standard sheet vinyl and luxury vinyl planks and tiles.
  • COREtec: This company specializes in luxury vinyl only, both planks and tiles. These are more expensive products, at $6 to $8 per square foot, but COREtec uses a unique construction that features a cork underlayment layer that provides softness and good thermal insulation. Its products are known for easy installation.