Is there more to this topic than what you think? We sure think so….. With certain caveats. When customers ask this question, is Hybrid flooring that’s thicker a better option?; the answer can take some time to explain adequately.

Sometimes, there are distinct and undeniable reasons why thicker is better. But not all hybrid flooring options are created equal, and there are distinct differences between different types of Hybrid within this flooring category. So if you are not a flooring expert, it can leave you confused and sometimes even misled once you realise the truth.

In this article, we reveal all and look into whether thicker hybrid flooring is better and if it isn’t, why not?

  1. Thickness, What Thickness?
  2. Why Thicker is Better is So Many Cases
  3. Core and Ware Layer Ratio
  4. Things to Remeber


Thickness, What Thickness?

We are not talking about what you see from the top (length and width) but rather what you don’t see when the hybrid plank is on the floor. We are referring to the thickness of the product that incorporates the different layers from which it is made, which directly influences its weight per cubic meter.


In Hybrid, Typically Thicker is Better

The square meter weight remains the same, provided the thickness of the boards remains the same. For example, a 7mm thick board weighs more per square meter than a 6mm wide board, provided they have the same thickness of wear layer and underlay.

The main reason thicker is better in most cases is that when it’s thicker, it generally has a thicker core, which lends the product more weight, which helps with the following:

  • The floated floor will sit better with more weight and will be less likely to bounce underfoot and move from its original place.
  • The thickness & weight of the core against the thickness and weight of the wear layer is more stable.

When selecting Hybrid Flooring, you will need to consider a few factors to determine which one is right for you.

Dean Billett

Expert Insights From Dean Billett

28+ Years of flooring industry experience

Thicker can be better in unforeseen circumstances, such as when you want to meet the same height between the flooring and ceramic tiles that have already been laid.

Let’s Take a Deeper Look at the Core and Wear Layer

This information is still inconclusive, and not all professionals agree. That being said, here is our firm, professionally backed opinion, confirmed by other industry experts.

When Hybrid Flooring first arrived in Australia in the SPC format (WPC had been largely ignored up to this point,) an issue quickly became apparent across all suppliers where in isolated areas of the home, the product would balloon off the floor when the sun heated the floor up and then settle down almost as soon as the sun left this area.

As this was a new product category, and there was no case history, it was up to those on the ground to look into this and determine what was happening. There was no diagnosis for this problem, and many suppliers tried to approach the rectification from the viewpoint of product categories they were already familiar with.

The first thing suppliers tried was to increase the size of expansion gaps. However, from the investigations of myself and other reps on the road simultaneously, this would not seem to have made any difference. At Signature, we had specified a ‘Raft Break’ (Expansion Break under a different name) of 5mm. In the cases that I investigated, even when the flooring had sat up off the floor by 40mm or more, there was still a break of 5mm around the perimeter.

This meant that the raft was not growing in the same way a laminate or timber floor would because:

  1. The growth was isolated to a specific point of the floor without engaging the perimeter break, and,
  2. The growth would happen within 20 minutes and then take about 20 minutes to go down after the sun left the area of the floor.

Hybrid takes its name because it uses certain elements common to Vinyl Plank Flooring but installs like a laminate floor. The elements of the floor it has in common with Vinyl Plank Flooring are its picture Film and the wear layer.

One of the issues experienced with Vinyl Plank Flooring is its temperature sensitivity. This meant that the vinyl wear layer of a hybrid floor was also temperature sensitive. This wear layer is so strong that it often carries a wear warranty of 25 years!

When two products are laminated together, and one of them is subject to stress caused by environmental conditions, the stress can cause a change in the stable layer. This, I deduced, was what was happening to Hybrid Flooring.

Side Note: An expansion break is a gap that must be left around the perimeter of a flooring raft when installing the floor. They are sometimes called for in the middle of a floor to allow the flooring products to expand and contract as required due to environmental change. Be sure to follow supplier guidelines about expansion gaps.

I needed to show some evidence to my ‘Conspiracy Theory’ so I didn’t get ‘Fact Checked’. At the time, Signature floors had three different Hybrid ‘Recipes, ’ if you will, all from the same supplier using the same core composition. This meant that I was comparing apples with apples.

The Three Hybrids we had at the time had the following characteristics:

  • 4mm with a 0.3mm wear layer and 1mm underlay
  • 5.5mm with a 0.5mm wear layer and 1.5mm underlay
  • 7mm with a 0.5mm wear layer and 1.5mm underlay

It was the 5.5mm product that was causing the problems. Others in the company did not believe me, so I needed to make my case.

I looked at the core thickness of each of the products and then compared that to the wear layer. The Core thicknesses were 2.7mm, 3.5mm, and 5mm for the products respectively. When I ran the numbers and looked at the ratios, the cores of the 4mm product and the 7mm product were around 150% heavier about the wear layer than the 5.5mm product. This said to me that the .5mm wear layer had the strength to move the core of the 5.5mm product, but for the other 2 products, the core was too heavy for it to move.

What does this mean? After following the scientific method, I concluded that the heavier the core about the wear layer, the more stable the product.

If the core is too thin for the relative wear layer, the product is open to this type of phenomenon and the associated damage that this causes to the product. Thickening the core on the 5.5mm to 6mm put enough weight against the wear layer to stabilise the product. .5mm may not seem like a lot, but increasing the core thickness from 3.5mm to 4mm saw an increase of almost 15% in the weight of the core and sorted our problem out.


So, Where Did This Idea Come From?

Vinyl Plank (made up of predominantly PVC) has had issues with temperature expanding and shrinking. The wear layer on a hybrid plank is also made up of PVC (polyvinyl chloride). So the hybrid wear layer was heating up and expanded, still bonded to the core, which caused the floor to lift. There was enough strength in the 5.5mm products wear layer to raise the boards off the floor. The product would return to normal as the sun goes down and the temperature drops. But, the first time this occurs, the flooring joints are irreversibly damaged.



What Can We Learn?

In this case, the thickness of the hybrid is better when the ratio between the wear layer and the core is maintained. You will notice now that most hybrids are 6mm and above. And this was due to some of the investigating we did.

But our work doesn’t end there.


Thickness and Joins

A thicker core gives you more area to machine a solid join into the product. For example, if your product is only 5mm thick with a 1.5mm underlay and 0.5mm wear layer, you are only left with 3mm to machine a join into to hold the floor together. The subfloor will need to be perfect because any movement will cause this joint to break over time. It is not a matter of ‘if’ it will break, but rather ‘when’ it will break.

Side note: Although hybrid is very heavy and hard, this can make it quite brittle, so the subfloor has to be within the supplier’s requirements.

In the case of Terra Maters 9.7mm product, where you have a 2mm backing and a 0.7mm wear layer; you are left with 7mm to machine a join into, to create a strong and durable product.


But is Thicker Better in Every Circumstance?

There is a caveat:

Hybrid is an overarching category. Within this banner, there are two main kinds:

  • Air-rated core (WPC, IPC, Solid PVC and others)

Cross Section of Aerated Core WPC Hybrid Flooring Plank

  • Solid core (SPC)

Cross Section of Solid Core WPC Hybrid Flooring Plank.


An SPC hybrid contains the following layers:

  • Polyurethane wear layer
  • Picture film or Decor
  • A core that comprises at least 80% limestone
  • Underlay

SPC hybrid flooring plank structure.


A WPC Hybrid contains the following layers:

  • Polyurethane wear layer
  • Picture film or Decor
  • A thin sheet of vinyl to protect the porous core
  • A core that varies between wood or stone polymer composites with the addition of PVC and a foaming agent
  • Underlay

WPC hybrid flooring plank structure.


Clem Sturgess

Expert Insights From Clem Sturgess

20+ years' experience in hard flooring

Customer experience & disappointment can occur when a customer is not told the difference between solid core and aerated core hybrid flooring before purchase and later discovers this. Many companies would prefer to sell aerated core, leave this explanation out, and may refer to the product as simply PVC core. This is an opportunity to give people all the information they need to make the best decision for their flooring project.

Thicker is only sometimes better. A competitor of ours advertises both 5.5mm & 8mm hybrid products. On the surface, the 8mm hybrid could be the best option until you realise it’s a WPC air-rated core product. This product has no choice but to be thick. For example, a 5mm product with an air-rated core would not have the strength needed with insufficient weight to hold it in place or insufficient core thickness to machine a joint with any kind of strength into the product. They don’t mention that the product is an “8mm WPC hybrid” and label it as a “hybrid”. That’s a pretty important detail to miss.

Also, remember that an aerated core product has far less weight than a solid core product. This means that the weight-to-wear layer ratio is out of kilter with this type of Hybrid Flooring.

So there are three things to watch:

  • The thickness
  • Solid-Core or Aerated-Core
  • Is the retailer providing all the information?

The air-rated core needs to be approximately 44% thicker than solid core products to have comparable strength.

Side note: We believe Solid Core Hybrid wins every battle with air-rated Core Hybrid, except for acoustics.

Raquel Billett

Expert Insights From Raquel Billett

Interior Décor Expert

Regarding SPC hybrid and freight, we haven't had any issues or complaints from customers. In comparison, timber on a pallet is generally lighter but longer than a hybrid, making freight costs between the two flooring types comparable. This means customers have a general expectation of freight cost subject to the market, and Hybrid generally fits within most people's expectations.

Sometimes retailers will try and sell WPC hybrids (air-rated core) over SPC (solid core) because they are lighter and easier to move around, so freight costs are lower. This is not a strong enough reason to give Aerated Core preference, and we strongly favour Solid Core Hybrid form a reputable supplier such as Imagine Floors in almost all cases.

In collision: When it comes to hybrids, thicker is better, depending on what you compare it to. SPC at 5.5mm is likely just as strong as an 8mm hybrid in a WPC.

A thicker SPC Hybrid floor may provide more support and sturdiness if you are installing in a high-traffic area.


Clem Sturgess

Clem is our resident expert on hard flooring. Clem has been in the flooring industry for over 25 years, and has a wealth of knowledge about timber, bamboo, laminate, hybrid, and even in flooring acoustics.