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Vinyl Tile vs. Vinyl Plank Flooring

The title of this post suggests that there might be many great differences between tiles of vinyl flooring and vinyl plank flooring. One reason you may find very little on the internet covering this topic is that not much separates them. Both are waterproof. Both can be installed either as floating floors or via adhesive. They can both go above or below grade. They can have the exact same levels of scratch and wear resistance. They each come in varieties of thicknesses, and can bear the full range of finish looks from matte to high gloss. The discount flooring available at Floors To Your Home includes both at great savings, and usually you even get your flooring with free shipping. Vinyl plank, tile and sheets, taken together as a team of flooring options under the broad group “vinyl,” come in as the second most popular kind of flooring, just after carpet.

So what does separate the two? Really it’s just aesthetics, the look of the flooring. It’s not too much of an oversimplification to say that the big difference between tiles and planks is that tiles are shaped like squares, and planks are shaped like rectangles. What these shapes lead to is where you’ll find the biggest factor in your choosing one over the other. It has to do with the types of flooring vinyl tiles and planks are made to resemble.

(all images can be clicked for larger versions)

Vinyl Plank Flooring

Washington Cherry Colorado Oak
Sugar Maple Exotic Cherry

The plank shaped vinyl products are made specifically to resemble hardwood flooring in the same way that laminate flooring planks were originally designed to do. Laminate came to the US in the 90’s as a way of getting a hardwood look with some different durability factors. It tended to be more scratch resistant, and less affected by environmental changes, for instance.

Vinyl Plank Flooring has been developed to cover the last major issue with home flooring – water. However well some hardwoods and laminates can handle moisture, neither of them are fully waterproof, and vinyl, to put it simply, just is. With vinyl plank, you can continue the hardwood look you have established for the rest of your house all the way into your basements, bathrooms and kitchens without worry of steam expanding your boards, or spills eventually seeping between planks.

Distressed Kempas Distressed Oak
Distressed Pine Rustic Hickory

Vinyl Tile Flooring

Casa Cream Waterproof Self-Adhesive Vinyl Tile Casa Gray Waterproof Self-Adhesive Vinyl Tile

Vinyl tile flooring has usually been designed to resemble slate and stone floors, which also usually come in square cuts. The advantage you get with the vinyl is that if you drop something heavy, like a serving dish or a rounded stone, the vinyl floor will not crack or chip away.

Casa Cream Waterproof Self-Adhesive Vinyl Tile in a Room Casa Gray Waterproof Self-Adhesive Vinyl Tile in a Room

Vinyl tile can also come in basic colors or abstract patterns, so you can have your floor just be one solid color, or a pattern, calm or striking. Think of the looks you could achieve . . .
Black Lodge
. . . oooh. All we need now is a backwards dancing, eerie host.


– – – –
David is a Writer at Floors To Your Home (.com), as well as the PPC Manager, a Marketing Strategy Team member, a Researcher, Videographer, Social Strategist, Photographer and all around Resource Jitō. In my spare time I shoot and edit video, explore film history, mix music (as in ‘play with Beatles multi-tracks’) and write non-fiction for my friends. Connect with me on W. David Lichty’s Google+

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David is a Writer at Floors To Your Home (.com), as well as the PPC Manager, a Marketing Strategy Team member, a Researcher, Videographer, Social Strategist, Photographer and all around Resource Jitō. In my spare time I shoot and edit video, explore film history, mix music (as in 'play with Beatles multi-tracks') and write non-fiction for my friends. Connect with me on W. David Lichty's Google+

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12 comments on “Vinyl Tile vs. Vinyl Plank Flooring
  1. Sharon Wagne says:

    I have been searching for months now and can not find out if viynl wood planks come in high gloss, or is that only found in laminante? We had it in germany,where no wood grain showed, it was like glass put on with heat, only the wood was real. My husband says there is no such thing. Is he correct? Have I lost the battle and the war? lol.
    Kindest regards,
    Sharon W.

    • David says:

      Hi, Sharon,

      Bad news. Battle and war are both in the tank, I’m afraid. There is, for now, no vinyl plank on the market which is also high gloss.

      Let’s say “for now” though. Flooring technology is pretty surprising in its speed. Some developer out there knows that there are people who want this. In just the past 50 years we’ve seen the introduction of engineered hardwood flooring, and the invention of laminate flooring, a close cousin of vinyl plank as far as development goes, as well as the introduction of laminate stone & tile looks, glueless installation systems, and a 200% increase in abrasion resistance coinciding with distressed, handscraped and “embossed in register” surface technologies.

      These people move pretty fast. Maybe it’s only the battle that has been lost today.

      – David

  2. Mike says:

    I have a nice man cave that was just devasted by rain flood so I am trying to do a “do over”. It is in the basement and does take water in severe instances. I just finished it and so my budget is smaller. I am looking for flooring that will look super but not break the bank. Would vinyl planks fill the bill or will it have a not so great look?

  3. David says:

    Hey, Mike,

    My guy Eric looked into this, and sent me the following.

    Vinyl planks would definitely fill the bill for this application! I would suggest going with our Tuff Guy Freedom, or Supreme Click Elite products. Both are 100% waterproof, look great, and are very easy to install. Since you have an issue with moisture in the area I would absolutely recommend going with a waterproof product. You can see our pictures of each style, and since we keep everything on hand in our warehouse, you can also order samples of anything you want to see up close.

    Here is a link to the Supreme Click Elite:

    and the Tuff Guy Freedom Loose Lay:

    Take a look and contact me if you have any questions or would like to place an order. You can reach me at the places below. I hope that I have helped to answer your questions have a great day!

    Thank you,
    Eric Woods
    CHAT on https://www.floorstoyourhome.com/
    A+ Rating BBB

    I would add, Mike, that we have a few videos on both of these, if you want to look at how they’re installed, or verify their waterproof-ness.

    Supreme Click Elite Waterproof Click Together Vinyl Plank

    basic overview –

    Install demo –

    Our “Aquarium Test” –

    Tuff Guy Freedom Loose Lay Vinyl Plank

    Overview –

    Temperature test (will it expand or contract) –

    Thanks for the question, sir!

  4. Greg says:

    When installing these vinyl planks, if you’re trying to match the direction of a wood flooring in an adjacent room, and install the long side of the tile parallel with the short dimension of the room, do you run more risk of edges or corners peeling up? I’m worried about placing the long edge perpendicular to the main traffic direction will increase this risk? I’d prefer this install for the aesthetic of matching the flow of other wood in the house.

    • David says:

      Hey, Greg!

      From one of our installation experts: “The direction that the vinyl plank is running will not matter as long as the subfloor in smooth, flat and level.”

  5. Melissa says:

    Would you recommend vinyl flooring over laminate for a basement? I am finishing my basement and need help deciding what type of floor to use. My house is only 9 years old and I have never had a problem with water except when my boiler leaked. Please help me to decide.

    • David says:

      Hi, Melissa,

      I would absolutely recommend vinyl over laminate for a basement. As far as the looks, they match each other – you can get the same quality of look with either one. The issue with a basement is not just the inherent, natural moisture issues which may be (but in your case seem not to be) present, but also the fact that washing machines and boilers are frequently there, as is a lot of pipe for the plumbing. For people with even infrequent, but still recurrent, water issues such as the regular appearance of dampness in some area, to use a laminate one would need to have a moisture barrier underneath it, and while that would protect the floor, it would also trap the moisture, leading to mold and mildew. If there is any kind of bad event, any standing water for more than a couple of hours is going to soak into any wood based flooring. In cases more like yours, there is a 95% chance your floor would always be fine, whichever you choose. The problem comes if that boiler leaks again, or for someone else if a washing machine overflows or a pipe bursts. Whichever floor you have, you still have a big mess to clean up. The differences are that the soaked laminate flooring will not be reusable, and even if you only lose some of it, it may be hard to exactly match the color when you buy replacement planks. The wet vinyl flooring will be immediately reusable. You can put the same planks right back down once the main event has been managed. Another good factor, if you happen to choose loose lay planks, is that they can be taken out of the way so quickly, which might make the mop up faster and easier.

      I hope that helps!

  6. Debbie Mc says:

    I have put down the vinyl plank flooring and loved the way you just overlap the sticky parts, I was hoping there was some TILE or TILE LOOK planks… but seem everything needs adhesive and I really do not want to go that route.

    • David says:

      Hi, Debbie,

      Just last September we got in a new lock together vinyl tile product to try out. Of the three colors, one was sold out by January, one in April and one just last month. We are getting more, because people really seem to have liked it. The link above goes to the page I wrote about it when it came in, and there is some video showing it off too. I wonder if this wouldn’t be just the thing? Let me know what you think.

      Thanks for asking!

  7. Janice O'Shea says:

    Would you recommend vinyl tiles or vinyl planks over an existing vinyl sheet floor.
    The old floor has some imperfections.
    We do not want to remove the old floor but cover it.

    • Meredith says:

      Hi Janice! You’d be fine with either planks or tiles, since you can float both over your existing floor. Keep in mind, though, that your old floor needs to be well-secured (since it’s sheet vinyl we’re assuming it’s glued down) and any serious imperfections that impact its smoothness need to be repaired before putting your new floor down. A level surface is key! You can fill in those imperfections with leveling compound available at your local hardware store.

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