The units of measurement used for laminate and vinyl thickness have similar sounding names. This has been a source of much confusion. The millimeter (mm=1/1000 of a meter) is used for measuring the thickness of laminate flooring. Laminate is typically somewhere between 7mm to 12mm thick. 12mm laminate is just short of a 1/2 inch thick.
The confusion arises from the term “mil.” It is used to measure the thickness of sheet vinyl flooring. This term does not mean millimeter. It is 1/1000 of an inch, and outside the USA it is commonly referred to as a “thou.” However, engineers in the US have started using “thou” due to the confusion with millimeter. It’s origin comes from the days of industrial revolution. It is a unit invented to streamline the tedious work of engineers. Instead of using fractions like 1/8’s and 1/16’s, engineers were able to speak in tenths. Today mils are used to measure everything from aluminum foil to your credit card (and vinyl of course). To give you some reference, a dime is about a millimeter thick, and just over 39mils. See the graphic below for a visual. Vinyl usually runs between 50 to 125 mils thick.
Please remember that the thickness of vinyl and laminate flooring does not necessarily correlate with its quality. Density, construction, and thickness are all details to consider when comparing products.