Luxury Vinyl vs. Vinyl: What's the Difference?

by ACWG | December 23, 2022

Homeowners frequently choose vinyl flooring as an alternative to stone, tile and hardwood. It's durable, cost-effective and beautiful, often offering the look of other flooring choices for less money. Understanding the differences between luxury vinyl and sheet or standard vinyl can help you decide which is best for your home.

1. Types

When it comes to the types of each flooring you can find, luxury vinyl flooring comes in planks or tiles, while standard vinyl comes in sheets, tiles or planks. Further, traditional vinyl flooring often resembles ceramic or stone but can look like wood, while luxury vinyl commonly mimics the appearance of wood but can also replicate stone or tile.

Both types of flooring feature several layers:

  1. Base layer: This layer supports all the other layers. It may include backing so professionals can install the flooring on the subfloor. Standard vinyl backing is thinner than the backing for luxury vinyl.
  2. Fiberglass layer: Sheet vinyl has a fiberglass layer that keeps the sheets flat.
  3. Core layer: The core of luxury vinyl is a wood polymer composite or stone polymer composite. Vinyl typically contains a stone polymer composite, which creates a rigid floor. Wood polymer composite reduces sound and offers warmth.
  4. Cushion layer: Only luxury vinyl has a cushion layer to make the floor softer underfoot.
  5. Decorative layer: Vinyl and luxury vinyl flooring get their appearance from the decorative layer. It features different patterns and colors to give it a realistic appearance.
  6. Wear layer: A primary difference between vinyl and luxury vinyl is the wear layer — luxury vinyl has a thicker wear layer.
  7. Shine layer: Luxury vinyl has a clear top coat to make it shine.

2. Cost

An essential consideration when debating between luxury vinyl vs. vinyl is cost. Different brands have different prices, but sheet vinyl most often costs less than luxury vinyl. Luxury vinyl tends to range from $1-$2 per square foot. Sheet vinyl usually starts at 75 cents per square foot.

Installation Cost

The installation cost will vary depending on whether you employ a contractor or do it yourself. You can request free estimates from contractors you're interested in hiring to get a better idea of how this expense might fit into your budget. Note that installation methods for the flooring types differ — standard vinyl glues down, while luxury vinyl has interlocking edges.

3. Quality

Standard and luxury vinyl are both high-quality flooring options. However, you may find that one fits into your lifestyle better than the other based on the following factors.

Durability and Maintenance

Standard vinyl has a soft surface that's more prone to scratches, dents and tears. Damage can be challenging to repair, often requiring you to replace that flooring section.

Luxury vinyl is thicker than standard, so it has better durability. It's also easier to repair. If a plank becomes damaged, you can replace the plank without removing the entire flooring section.

Both types of vinyl can fade if exposed to too much direct sunlight. Make sure to use shades if the flooring is in a room with windows.

Ease of Cleaning

Vinyl is one of the easiest floors to clean. You simply need to sweep, vacuum or dust mop it daily to remove dirt and debris.

Try to mop the flooring weekly with a damp microfiber mop. All vinyl flooring surface layers are water-resistant, but too much exposure to water can damage them. Additionally, water can seep through the cracks of luxury vinyl and damage the subfloor. Avoid waxes or polishes, as these can dull the finishing coat.


While both floors are water-resistant, sheet vinyl is waterproof. It lacks seams, preventing water from penetrating the surface and damaging the subfloor. This ability makes standard vinyl a better option for areas with high moisture, such as bathrooms.

Both floors tolerate some heat well, but they can't handle high heat. Don't have them installed near a furnace or under a water heater, avoid dropping hot pots and pans on them and don't use items like steam mops.

Luxury and standard vinyl are also scratch- and stain-resistant, thanks to the wear layer. Since luxury vinyl's wear layer is thicker, it's more resistant to scratches and stains.

Life Span

As durable flooring options, vinyl and luxury vinyl last for many years. Luxury vinyl can last longer because of its more durable layers, but the life span of the flooring varies overall depending on maintenance and daily wear and tear.

Comfort and Sound

Because sheet vinyl is thinner, it can be hard and cold underfoot, especially if you install it over concrete. Luxury vinyl is softer underfoot and can better absorb sound.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Each Flooring Type

Here are some of the other advantages and disadvantages of standard and luxury vinyl:

Standard Vinyl

The advantages of standard vinyl include the following:

  • Unaffected by temperature: Temperature fluctuations don't cause vinyl to expand or contract.
  • Stability: Vinyl is a high-quality, stable flooring option.
  • Designs: Like luxury vinyl, standard vinyl has numerous design options for colors and patterns.

The disadvantages of standard vinyl include the following:

  • No insulation: Sheet vinyl flooring isn't a good insulator, as it doesn't absorb sound or retain heat.
  • Requires glue: Unlike luxury vinyl, standard vinyl requires glue to attach to the subfloor.
  • Not as long-lasting: Standard vinyl doesn't last quite as long as luxury vinyl.

Luxury Vinyl

The advantages of luxury vinyl include the following:

  • Affordability: Though it might cost more than standard vinyl, it's still a more affordable flooring option than hardwood, stone or tile.
  • Designs: Many design options are available. The colors and patterns create beautiful replicas of hardwood, stone and tile. It can have various textures to give it the look and feel of hardwood.
  • Insulation: Some luxury vinyl flooring options have a foam insulation layer for sound and temperature.

The disadvantages of luxury vinyl include the following:

  • It's not entirely damage-proof: Despite its durability, heavy furniture and appliances can scratch or scuff luxury vinyl.
  • Installation prep: You may have to prep the subfloor before installation, especially if it's uneven.
  • No long-term value: Especially compared to hardwood, luxury vinyl flooring won't boost the value of your home.

Explore Luxury Vinyl and Sheet Vinyl Flooring From American Carpet Wholesalers

Some determining factors for luxury vinyl vs. vinyl are cost, installation and appearance. It's essential to consider the following questions:

  • Where do you want the flooring?
  • What does your budget look like?
  • How are you installing it?
  • What style do you prefer?

Are you still not sure which option would fit your home and lifestyle best? Let us help you find the perfect flooring for your needs. American Carpet Wholesalers works with various manufacturers to offer you the lowest flooring prices. We stock many styles and types of luxury vinyl and vinyl sheet flooring, so you can compare them and make a confident decision.

Browse our website to find your dream flooring today!