Laminate Vs Vinyl Flooring
Vinyl or Laminate Flooring?
Oftentimes when homeowners think about long-lasting, durable floors for their home renovation projects and new home builds, two flooring solutions are top of mind: vinyl flooring and laminate flooring. These floors are popular as they realistically mimic the look of natural hardwood and stone floors without the hefty price tag. Although these flooring options have been described before as “faux wood flooring” or “fake hardwood flooring,” laminate and vinyl both feature technological innovations that make each an outstanding choice, respectively. Whether you’re looking to give your home a traditional, rustic look or open up the space with contemporary light wood floors, vinyl, and laminate floors are two dependable, budget-friendly surfaces worth exploring!
Now comes the hard decision: vinyl or laminate flooring? What are the advantages and drawbacks of vinyl vs laminate flooring? And, when thinking about luxury vinyl vs laminate, what are the most important factors to consider?
Let’s start with the basics —their material compositions. Laminate flooring is often made from melamine resin and fiberboard material to form a multi-layered synthetic product. Designed to imitate the look of real hardwood, the top layer of laminate has imprinted texture imaging to mimic wood grain patterns and knot detailing. Vinyl is also a 100% synthetic material, but it’s made from polyvinyl chloride with various compounds added to influence the color, flexibility, hardness, and sheen of the product.
No matter what type of flooring product you end up choosing, ultimately, you need the style factor you desire to also handle everyday life in an active home. Resilient flooring products have grown tremendously in recent years, and there are unlimited options for affordable and easy-to-install designs. Depending on your performance needs, budget and climate, vinyl plank might be more suitable for your home design than laminate. So, which one is best for your home? Here are some points to help in your buying journey!
Difference between laminate and vinyl?
|Style||Endless Options||Endless Options|
|Format||LVT, Tile, Sheet, Plank||Plank; Wood and Title Looks|
|Durability||Good-Extreme Durability||Good-Great Durability|
|Stability||Reliable Stability||Reliable Stability|
|Humidity||Suitable For High Moisture||Suitable For Topical Moisture|
|Subfloor||Glue; Floating Capability||Floating Capability|
|Cost||Affordable To Higher Price||Affordable To Higher Price|
|Maintenance||Low Maintenance; Mopping||Low Maintenance; No Mopping|
|Installation||Easy Installation; DIY Capability||Easy Installation; DIY Capability|
|Sealer||No Sealer Needed||Most Require No Sealer|
While a quick view will show that these are somewhat comparable hard surface products, there are nuances to each that will help determine which style you bring home. Let’s take a deeper dive into the major difference points for each type regarding key factors:
Both laminate and vinyl will provide the look and durability of wood flooring in rooms not suited well for genuine wood. In addition to handling high foot traffic well, both options are a great fit for active homes with pets because they are resistant to scratches, water, and stains when quickly cleaned up. These characteristics mean that both vinyl and laminate can be used for dining rooms, living rooms, bedrooms, and offices. However, it should be noted again that while some laminate products are water-resistant, vinyl is completely waterproof. In the rooms where moisture protection is needed the most such as kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and mudrooms, waterproof vinyl selections such as Invincible™ H2O™ Luxury Vinyl, the Invincible™ LVT collection, and Invincible XT™ Luxury Vinyl Solidcore will lock out the liquid and be the best fit. Some laminate products are suitable for these areas, but they need to have testing guarantees and product warranties that back up their water-resistant claims. Any room where standing water is likely to occur is not a good fit for laminate flooring! Appropriate laminate products are suitable in areas that may experience spills, but those will need to be quickly cleaned if they occur.
Both laminate and vinyl will offer much greater ease of installation than wood flooring. Laminate flooring can generally be installed as a floating floor for quick installation, where the planks easily ‘click’ together, and don’t require nailing to a subfloor. In fact, laminate can be installed yourself over almost any other flooring material and is easy to repair if needed. LVT is not only a great fit for high moisture, high traffic, and below-grade areas, but it’s also easy to install in any room in your home. If you are attempting to install your first DIY floor, LVT is an excellent option. With easy-to-use locking systems for floating floor installations, putting down LVT will not displace rooms in your home like installing a wood floor will. Use wider, longer LVT planks to create the feel of a luxurious genuine hardwood floor when installation is complete. With all DIY installations, make sure to follow instructions carefully to ensure that you do not void your warranty. Check online for manufacturer and retailer instructional videos to help your installation process!
When it comes to ease of maintenance, laminate and LVT will offer homeowners easy, effective clean-up in less time than it takes to maintain a sparkling wood floor. With laminate floors, sweep, dust, mop, or vacuum your floor daily using the hard surface setting to prevent the accumulation of grit from dirt that can potentially scratch the surface. Standing water on laminate flooring can cause swelling and warping, so it’s important to wipe up spills quickly. Since laminate floors are not completely waterproof, you will not have the option of wet mopping your floors. Waterproof LVT floors do offer the luxury of wet mopping! In addition to providing a rigid texture for durability, your LVT surface can handle mopping with warm water. Sweep or vacuum your LVT floor as often as possible for easy preventative maintenance. Occasionally when needed, treat your floor with a cleaner made especially for laminate care or vinyl care. Should either your laminate or vinyl flooring get damaged, both types of floors can be easier and quicker to repair than almost all other types of flooring.
As with many decisions that homeowners must make, the cost will often be the ultimate deciding factor. Since solid hardwood is more expensive, both laminate and vinyl will be cost-effective hard surface options. Generally speaking, vinyl can cost as low as $1.00 or even $.50 per square foot for glue-down vinyl flooring and $3.00 to $5.00 per square foot for LVT planks. Similarly, laminate ranges from $1.00 per square foot for thin planks and around $3.00 to $5.00 per square foot for lower-end 12 mm-thick planks. High-quality thick laminate products with valuable certifications will be more expensive, but will also alleviate the concerns that come with discount laminate from international manufacturers that don’t have to follow stricter US guidelines. Neither vinyl nor laminate flooring will add as much resale value to your home as solid hardwood, engineered hardwood, ceramic tile, or natural stone floors. However, if you need new flooring to make your home presentable before you sell, laminate and LVT will be excellent, quick options to spruce up the property.
Not to be confused with the vinyl flooring options that originally came to market decades ago, today’s vinyl flooring has been revolutionized and has the market growth to prove it! Vinyl falls under the ‘resilient’ flooring category and true to its label, vinyl flooring possesses toughness and the ability to bounce back under pressure. Featuring elasticity that can handle foot traffic with ease and better cushion dropped items, vinyl flooring options are comfortable underfoot and resist dents and cracks admirably. In particular, Luxury Vinyl Tile has delivered on the performance and fashion of both hardwood and stone at a cheaper price tag, while providing the benefits of resilient flooring.
The key to vinyl’s surge in popularity is a winning combination of durability, style, affordability, ease of installation and maintenance, and ultimately, overall versatility. With a variety of formats that make DIY installation easier, builders and designers are using vinyl plank, tile, and sheet to complete projects quicker in both residential and commercial applications. In addition to hardwood, vinyl is also used to emulate the look of natural stone with impressive texture, depth, and realism. Another benefit of designing with vinyl products? They are inherently waterproof! While other flooring types have improved in moisture resistance and protection, vinyl has always been among the best at handling liquid spills. Now that some modern vinyl options have enhanced rigid top layers for greater durability and are suitable for high-traffic areas, there’s a great chance that you will find a stylish vinyl option to fit the needs of your home.
Without a doubt, Luxury Vinyl Tile, or LVT, is officially here to stay in the market and in homes across the world. A far cry from the vinyl and linoleum options that some still think of at the mention of vinyl, LVT is delivering on the design front in a major way: Homeowners are praising LVT for its ability to realistically mimic hardwood and stone in the latest, hottest trends. In addition to authentically capturing the look of reclaimed and petrified wood, LVT can also provide the high-end style of marble and travertine. LVT planks come at a much lower price while remaining easier and quicker to install and repair, warmer and softer underfoot, and versatile enough to handle high moisture and high traffic with ease. It’s safe to say that LVT has a lot going for it!
Designed to give your floors the appearance of hardwood floors without the cost, vinyl planks offer much greater stain resistance and are much easier to maintain than traditional hardwood planks. Even though vinyl plank is engineered as an economical alternative to real hardwood, this format has improved over time to accurately replicate different wood species, colors, and textures. Whereas natural wood is not a water-resistant flooring type, vinyl planks are waterproof and each individual plank can be sealed to help prevent moisture from seeping through the floor.
Widely acknowledged as a more affordable, easier-to-maintain alternative to wood flooring, laminate flooring is technically a composite wood product with durability dependent on the quality of the construction. Typically, a laminate plank is constructed with a bottom layer to provide stability and moisture resistance, middle layers of synthetic fiberboards for strength and durability, and completed with a rigid top layer that’s designed to mimic either hardwood or stone. Laminate planks are coated to protect the printed image and design, which, unfortunately, will prevent homeowners from being able to refinish their floors.
Similar to LVT, the realistic textures and embossing on laminate products have improved over the years, along with the quality of materials and innovation in construction. It should be noted that all laminate flooring options are not created equal: Laminate options on the lower end of the cost range will not perform as well as laminate products with the NALFA (North American Laminate Flooring Association) Certification Seal. Laminate flooring is indeed a budget-friendly choice, but it is wise to spend money on a quality product that can back up its tested claims as opposed to ‘the best deal’ that you find price-wise. For best results, shop for laminate products that are manufactured in the US to ensure the durable performance needed in your home. While exact pricing will depend on factors including the size of your home, where you live, and of course the product selected, installing laminate floors, on average, costs about half as much or less than the cost of installing hardwood floors. However, as noted before, laminate cannot be refinished and therefore, will not generate the strong resale value for a home like real wood does.
When it comes to handling moisture, laminate flooring is indeed water-resistant but not completely waterproof. Laminate is definitely better suited than hardwood to handle liquid spills, but the liquid that permeates below the surface can cause serious damage like mold and warping. If your laminate flooring is damaged by moisture, it has to be replaced. That being said, many laminate products come with a 10-year warranty, and attentive care will ensure that they serve your home in the 15 to 20-year range.
When you are ready to receive a laminate or vinyl cost estimate, you can submit a Free Estimate Request Form to your local Carpet One Floor & Home store and begin creating your new favorite rooms!
So, now for the big question: which is more expensive —vinyl or laminate? Truthfully, both products are pretty comparable in cost as both are less expensive options than other flooring materials like hardwood or porcelain tile. Vinyl can be pricier, though, especially if you’re exploring luxury vinyl options. A good general rule of thumb is as the quality of luxury vinyl products increases, so does the price tag.