Vinyl is a type of resilient flooring, a flexible material that feels a bit softer underfoot than rigid wood or tile. It’s made from a layer of PVC (short for polyvinyl chloride) plastic over a layer of felt. Cushioned vinyl has a thin layer of foam as well, making it more comfortable to walk on. Thicker vinyl flooring can have a textured surface to make it look like wood or stone.
Vinyl flooring comes in several forms. Sheet vinyl is a large sheet of flooring that you unroll, cut to size, and glue to your subfloor. You can also buy click-style vinyl planks, similar to engineered wood or vinyl tiles, that you glue in place one at a time. Some vinyl tiles come with a peel-and-stick backing, so you don’t need to add any adhesive before laying them down.
Vinyl is a tough material that stands up to both moisture and heavy traffic. It’s comfortable to walk on and warmer on bare feet than tile. It’s also inexpensive and durable.
Like tile, vinyl comes in a wide range of colours and patterns. It can convincingly simulate the look of almost any other material.
Plank vinyl and peel-and-stick tiles are easy to install, though sheet vinyl can be difficult. You can install vinyl over an existing vinyl floor as long as it only has one layer. Plank vinyl is also easy to repair – just remove and replace a damaged plank – and all types of vinyl flooring are very easy to clean.
Vinyl flooring varies in quality. You’ll have less choice of colour and pattern with cheaper types, and they often have a fake look. Although vinyl is more durable than it used to be, it is claimed to be more likely to scratch than any other type of flooring. Also, if you install it directly over a subfloor with no underlayer, it can have a hollow, echoey sound when you walk on it.