Vinyl Sheet vs. Vinyl Tile Flooring: What’s the Difference?

The two varieties of standard vinyl flooring, sheet vinyl and vinyl tile, are fairly comparable in terms of composition and performance. Both are composite materials consisting of a thin PVC plastic core affixed to a felt or fiberglass backing layer, topped with a printed design layer and a durable, transparent wear layer. Both materials are relatively thin, with a thickness of as little as 1/16 inch. (Luxury vinyl planks, on the other hand, can be up to 1/3 inch thick.)

Sheet vinyl is fabricated in rolls of 6- or 12-feet long, and cuts are made from the roll to meet the customer’s requirements. This wide width makes it possible to cover a room with few or no seams at all, making it one of the best flooring materials for repelling water.

Vinyl tile is effectively identical to vinyl sheets, but is sliced into smaller square pieces and mounted piece by piece, using layout lines drawn onto the subfloor. Tile installation is much simpler for DIYers, but the presence of many seams between tiles makes it possible for standing water to penetrate the subfloor through the cracks.

 Sheet VinylVinyl Tile
DIY SuitabilityUsually installed by prosMuch easier for DIYers
Water PenetrationVirtually impenetrable by waterWater can seep through cracks between tiles
CostAverages $.50 to $1.50 per square footAverages $1.50 to $3 per square foot
Installation MethodUsually glue-down applicationGlue-down or peel-and-stick application
RepairsDifficult to make repairsIndividual tiles can be replaced

Difference for Appearance

  • Sheet vinyl flooring offers greater design flexibility as it seamlessly complements an extensive range of random patterns that do not repeat. This allows you to create a unique and visually stunning space that truly reflects your personal style and taste. Additionally, with sheet vinyl, you have greater flexibility when it comes to customizing your floor design as it can be cut and shaped to fit any room or space. Overall, with its endless design possibilities, durable construction, and easy-to-maintain nature, sheet vinyl flooring is an excellent choice for any modern homeowner looking to elevate their flooring game.
  • Vinyl tile is generally more effective than sheet vinyl at imitating stone or ceramic tile, as the presence of seams between the pieces increases the realism.

Difference for Water and Heat Resistance

  • Sheet vinyl has a significant advantage over tile due to its ability to be installed as one or two unbroken pieces. This eliminates the need for seams and ensures greater moisture barrier protection, especially suitable for moist areas such as bathrooms. When it comes to sheet vinyl, securing the material at the edges of the room and ensuring the bond of adjoining pieces are adequately sealed are the primary considerations.
  • Vinyl tile is highly resistant to water. However, due to the numerous seams present, moisture can seep through the cracks and damage the subfloor.

Difference for Care and Cleaning

  • Sheet vinyl flooring is renowned for its low maintenance and ease of cleaning.
  • Vinyl tile has the same easy-clean profile as sheet vinyl.

Difference for Durability and Maintenance

  • Although it is technically feasible to remove and substitute a small section of sheet vinyl, it is almost always apparent where the repair was made. While cutting the patch along the pre-existing pattern lines can be helpful, it is a challenging skill to perfect.
  • Tile offers a more convenient repair solution compared to sheet vinyl, as individual tiles can be easily removed and replaced. When it comes to removing vinyl tile, heating the adhesive beneath it, pulling it up, and scraping away the bonding agent is typically required. With care and attention, you can replace the tile with a matching one for a completely seamless repair.

Difference for Installation

  • Sheet vinyl is applied using a glue-down method. The adhesive is troweled onto the underlayment and the flooring is carefully pressed into place and compressed with a heavy roller to secure the bond. Proper techniques must be utilized to seamlessly join two pieces of vinyl flooring.

    Although sheet vinyl manufacturers provide a template for cutting, it can be a time-consuming and frustrating process for DIYers. Many who attempt to install sheet vinyl regret not having professionals handle the job. Considering the affordability of professional installation for sheet vinyl, most homeowners find it a wise investment to go with a pro.
  • Ceramic tiles offer an undeniable advantage over sheet vinyl in the perception of home improvement enthusiasts. Once carefully laid out on the underlayment, they can be installed with relative ease by a moderately skilled novice. As for the perimeter tiles, they can be hand-cut to fit the shape of the room.

    While standard vinyl tiles can also be fixed to the subfloor with a troweled-on adhesive, the peel-and-stick technique, where the adhesive is applied beforehand and hidden with a backing sheet, is gradually gaining popularity. Some professionals are skeptical of this method and tend to stick with the trowel-on adhesive for greater reliability. Nonetheless, most big-box home improvement stores tend to stock peel-and-stick vinyl tiles, and those seeking trowel-on adhesive options may prefer a specialty flooring retailer.

Difference for Cost

  • Sheet vinyl is a highly cost-effective flooring material, with prices ranging from $.50 to $1.50 per square foot at major home improvement centers. This is due to the ability to mass-produce it in large rolls.
  • Vinyl tiles that are affixed with an adhesive back typically have a retail price range of $1.50 to $3 per square foot.

Difference for Comfort and Sound

  • Sheet vinyl is a durable flooring option that provides a smooth and comfortable surface underfoot. When installed over a concrete subfloor, such as in a slab-on-grade foundation, it offers excellent durability and resistance to wear and tear.
  • Vinyl tile offers the same level of comfort and sound quality you desire.

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