Material Comparison

Comparing Ceramic Tile and Vinyl Sheet Flooring

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Tile vs. Vinyl Sheet Flooring

Popular for its up front financial value, vinyl sheet flooring is available in many different styles, colors and designs. It is difficult to install, however, so the installation of this type of flooring material is best left to the professionals.



Vinyl sheet flooring provides an excellent imitation of other materials such as wood and stone. Lower quality vinyl still provides a capable representation, but the farther up the quality ladder you climb, the more photorealistic the finished look will be.

For all of the different styles, colors, and material imitations available, the design options are rarely limited, and can be achieved at a much lower initial cost than other materials.


Financial Differences

Vinyl sheeting provides a relatively low cost alternative to the materials that it imitates. While this can mean a decent short term investment, the material’s short life span averages only 15 years, has a miserable environmental footprint, and risks significant health concerns.

Installing Vinyl Sheet Flooring

In this example we’re using an area of 100 square feet area to compare the initial costs and maintenance costs. The initial installation of vinyl sheeting costs:

  • $0.50-8 per square foot for material, averaging $4.25 per square foot.
  • $2.78-3.75 per square foot for installation, averaging $3.27 per square foot.

Therefore, it will cost an average of $7.52 per square foot to install vinyl sheeting, and that comes to $752 total for a 100 square foot area.

Installing Ceramic Tile

The initial cost for ceramic tile installation, providing that you use the same visual quality and style, is more expensive but pays itself off in time.

  • $5-15 per square foot for materials, averaging $10 per square foot.
  • $6-8 per square foot for installation, averaging $7 per square foot.

A 100 square foot tile installation would cost on average, $17 per square foot for a total $1,700 investment.

The initial cost of vinyl sheet is significantly lower than tile, but again, it has some important drawbacks.

Cleaning a vinyl sheet floor is simple; just do a daily sweeping or vacuuming followed by a weekly gentle mopping using a cleaning solution that’s specific to vinyl materials.

Vinyl’s lifespan is only 10-30 years, so it will sustain an average of 15 years before it’s time to completely replace your vinyl sheet flooring.

At (Lifetime) Ceramic Tile Vinyl Sheet
Initial Cost $1,700 $752
15 years $1,700 $1,504
30 years $1,700 $2,229
45 years $1,700 $2,981

It takes nearly 30 years for the financial benefit of using vinyl sheet to run dry in comparison to ceramic tile. Once you count in the potential effects it has on your health, however, vinyl becomes much less appealing.


Health & Safety

Vinyl sheet has been found to contain two toxic chemical risks; PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and VOCs

PVC contains both organotin and phthalates, both of which are toxic in high enough concentrations. PVC is used as a resin that increases the flexibility and heat stability of the materials it binds together.

The health effects of VOCs include

  • Nose, throat, and eye irritation
  • Damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system
  • Headaches, nausea and loss of coordination
  • Cancer

Ceramic tile, however, is free of both of these chemical risks, ensuring better health and safety.


Environmental Sustainability

Vinyl Sheet Flooring

Vinyl is one of the least environmentally friendly construction materials available. During production it’s manufacturing, installation, use, and even the end of its life cycle, vinyl sheet holds the potential to harm both to the larger environment and your own personal space. Vinyl contains carcinogenic dioxins. Many vinyl producers defend this stating that dioxins are natural. Just like mercury, however, just because something is natural does not mean that something is safe.

This material is nearly impossible to recycle, and is not biodegradable, so once vinyl has outlived its usefulness it simply sits in a landfill. And that happens more quickly and extensively than you might have thought before learning that vinyl’s average lifespan is just 15 years.

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is much more environmentally sustainable. It is naturally sourced, free of dangerous chemicals, and consistently meets IgCC and LEEDv4 certification standards. In fact, ceramic tile, if properly cared for, can last for hundreds of years; there are still functional tile floors in England that are over 200 years old.

Extra Resources

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