Deciding which tile or pattern you like best may be the most difficult decision you will face when selecting a vinyl floor as there is an amazing variety available. Before you make that choice, you should understand the different options available.

Vinyl Pattern Types – Vinyl’s variety comes from the way colors and patterns are added to it. There are two types of patterned vinyl: printed and inlaid.

  • Printed vinyl is produced by printing a pattern of color directly onto the surface of the vinyl, which is then covered with a protective wear layer. Printed vinyl comes in a wide variety of patterns and colors and it resists wear well, but not as well as inlaid vinyl and therefore is often less expensive than inlaid vinyl.
  • Inlaid vinyl is made by injecting millions of colored granules in a precise pattern directly into a vinyl sheet. The vinyl sheet and color granules are then fused together so that the colors and patterns are an integral part of the material, not just printed on top of the vinyl sheet. The process of injecting and fusing color means inlaid vinyl offers richer, more vibrant and longer-lasting colors than printed vinyl. The inlaid vinyl process is not as versatile as printing and therefore inlaid vinyl comes in fewer patterns and colors than printed vinyl.

Vinyl Formats – Vinyl flooring comes in two formats: sheet or tile. Both are made from the same material, however they differ in size, how they are prepared, and how they are installed. When choosing between sheet or tile formats, the most important issue is the look of the floor. If you prefer a highly patterned design, vinyl sheet may be a better choice. For a checkerboard pattern, vinyl tile will be better.

  • Vinyl sheet comes in rolls either six or 12 feet wide, with each roll containing a single sheet of vinyl- similar to the format of rolls of carpet. The sheet is rolled flat and cut to match the shape of the floor it will cover.
  • Vinyl tile usually comes in 12-inch squares with an adhesive backing. For installation, tiles are laid out one at a time to create your flooring pattern. You can use more than one color to create a checkerboard effect. A finished vinyl tile floor looks very different from a vinyl sheet floor, which has few lines or seams. The regular pattern of lines in a vinyl tile floor is an important part of its design.

Vinyl Wear Layers – Whether you choose vinyl sheet or vinyl tile, you want a floor that will last a long time. How long vinyl flooring lasts or how durable it is, depends on a number of factors, including, but not limited to its wear layer. The wear layer is built into the vinyl sheet or tile itself and plays a significant role in durability. It is an applied coating that protects the surface and gives it a shine. Three kinds of wear layers are available for both vinyl sheet and vinyl tile.

  • Vinyl no wax – A vinyl no-wax coating is stain-resistant and easy to clean. It protects a floor’s colors and pattern and stays shiny so you will not need to polish or buff. However, vinyl no-wax finishes are less resistant to scuffs, stains, and soil than either urethane or enhanced urethane finishes. Vinyl no-wax sheets or tiles are the least expensive option in vinyl flooring.
  • Urethane – A urethane wear layer stays shiny without polishing or buffing. It’s easier to clean, more resistant to scuffs and stains and more durable than vinyl no-wax, keeping its original appearance longer.
  • Enhanced Urethane – An enhanced urethane wear layer outperforms both vinyl no-wax and ordinary urethane. It resists stuffs, scratches, and household stains better, is easier to clean and provides a longer-lasting shine.