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Vinyl vs Laminate Flooring

So, you’re buying a new house or planning your next renovation project – it may be the right time to replace the flooring if the current one is damaged or you’re not satisfied with it for some reason. We won’t lie to you – it is not an easy task. After all, this is something you would like to do properly and forget about for the next several years. The floor needs to be both pleasing to the eye and practical. That’s why it’s crucial to do thorough research, and we are here to help you with that part – and the ones that follow as well, all the way to the final touches!

In this article, we will compare two popular types of flooring that not everyone can distinguish – laminate vs vinyl floors. You will learn their pros and cons, as well as other characteristics, so that you can make a well-thought decision based on your needs and requirements. Remember that your preferences are of vital importance too, so be sure to take advice but listen to yourself first and foremost.

Quick Overview – Laminate Flooring vs Vinyl Flooring

To understand the difference between vinyl and laminate flooring, one first needs to learn the basics about each type.

A vinyl floor, also called a vinyl plank flooring or a luxury vinyl plank, is a plastic (mostly fibreglass and PVC) flooring that comes in long, narrow strips, not tiles. It is usually made up from multiple layers, which makes it different – better, thicker and more resistant – from popular sheet vinyl, and is specially designed to mimic hardwood floors. However, contrary to the latter, luxury vinyl flooring is more affordable, easy to install and maintain.

A laminate floor is a synthetic product that consists of several layers but, unlike vinyl flooring, contains actual wood by-products. It is very often chosen as an alternative to wood flooring because of its genuine similarity in looks, ease of installation and lower price. Though its water resistance properties have been significantly improved in recent years, it is still not recommended to choose a laminate floor for places with a lot of moisture.

As you can see, both types are cost-effective and provide easy DIY installation and maintenance, with the laminate flooring being a bit less water-resistant. However, that’s not the only difference. Let’s dive a bit deeper to help you choose the best option.

Vinyl vs Laminate Flooring – Pros and Cons

Luxury Vinyl Flooring – Pros

  • Lower costs
  • Easy to clean
  • Water-resistant
  • Easy installation
  • Low maintenance
  • More sound-absorbent
  • More heat resistant

Luxury Vinyl Flooring – Cons

  • Can’t be repaired
  • Shorter lifespan
  • No influence over resale value

Laminate Flooring – Pros

  • Low costs
  • Looks more like natural wood
  • Easy installation
  • Longer lifespan
  • Fade-resistant
  • Influence on resale value

Laminate Flooring – Cons

  • Susceptible to water damage
  • Harder to feel (but more like actual wood)
  • May contain chemicals
  • Harder to clean than vinyl

Durability & Comfort – Laminate vs Vinyl Flooring

When it comes to durability, it doesn’t really matter whether you choose laminate floor or vinyl, as long as either is properly installed and then maintained. Both are widely recognised for their longevity, with vinyl lasting up to twenty years and laminate potentially five years longer.

However, moistness is one of the crucial factors influencing the life of your chosen flooring. While vinyl is virtually not affected by a bit of moisture, laminate is not as water-resistant. When it gets wet, it softens and swells, and its core is not capable of resuming to the original state after it has dried. Once that happens, a laminate plank can’t be repaired and needs to be replaced. Vinyl planks are not only water-resistant but waterproof.

So, if we’re talking about a bathroom or a kitchen, laminate floors are not recommended, as their durability would be significantly reduced there. However, you can use them, for example, for a living room.

When it comes to heat resistance, vinyl planks are also the way to go.

Moreover, since these are two completely different products (despite the similar visual aspect), laminate and vinyl flooring can feel differently. It’s true that both are made to mimic natural wood, but laminate flooring actually contains some wood by-products. Therefore, it simply feels better than vinyl, which is more prone to getting cold. Each coin has two sides, though, as laminate, like wood, may also be louder when stepped on.

Aesthetics – Vinyl Flooring vs Laminate Flooring

Though many people have problems with telling the difference between vinyl flooring and laminate planks, it is relatively easy when you know what you are dealing with.

It is true that both have a photographic layer designed to mimic real wood, sometimes stone. However, the execution of this concept differs significantly in these two cases.

Both are chosen by people who would love to incorporate hardwood into their interior design but don’t have enough budget or find real wood too impractical, as it’s difficult to maintain and easy to damage.

Due to the wonders of technology, both vinyl and laminate flooring can provide a pleasing visual effect. However, laminate planks contain actual wood by-products, which doesn’t only make them look slightly better but also allows you to feel more like you’re walking on the hardwood. Vinyl planks are made of plastic, and besides their quite authentic look, they are entirely different when you touch them or look from a closer distance.

Installation – Laminate vs Vinyl Flooring

When it comes to project implementation, both vinyl and laminate flooring is recommended for DIY installation, with luxury vinyl planks winning this race only slightly.

Laminate flooring uses the click-and-lock installation method. No glue is required for this method, with the planks interlocking by clicking the two planks together. Vinyl planks do not have an interlocking system and are required to be glued down to your floor.

However, vinyl is much softer and more flexible than laminate, so you can easily cut it (even with a regular knife) to adjust the material to your space.

With laminate flooring, on the other hand, in case you need to cut it, you will need a circular or table saw. It will also require you to install it as a floating floor over a thin foam underlay.

Maintenance – Vinyl Plank vs Laminate Flooring

Both laminate and vinyl flooring are relatively easy to maintain in good condition, especially compared to hardwood floors that they mimic. However, the latter wins this competition, mostly due to its water resistance.

With vinyl plank flooring, you can simply mop it with some soap and water to get rid of any dirt or stain and keep the floor clean. If you mop and vacuum regularly, you won’t even have to wax your vinyl, and it will be shiny anyway.

Compared to vinyl, laminate demands you to bear several things in mind. Sweeping and vacuuming are harmless, as long as you don’t use a beater bar – laminate is not scratch resistant. However, as you already know, this material doesn’t do well with water, so while you can use it for cleaning, you need to make sure to dry the floor immediately afterwards. Otherwise, you risk much quicker damage to the flooring. Therefore, it’s best to avoid mopping.

What to Choose – Vinyl or Laminate Flooring?

Laminate or vinyl? We are not here to provide you with a definite answer – we can’t say that one type of flooring is better than the other, as it is for you to judge. Your decision should be based on your needs and preferences only. So, for example, vinyl flooring is indeed much more water-resistant than the laminate, but if you aren’t looking for the kitchen or bathroom floor, these properties don’t really matter.

We have provided you with an in-depth comparison of laminate versus vinyl flooring so that you can make the right decision. However, if you have any further questions or doubts, you can always contact us through our website, email or simply give us a call. We have a friendly team of flooring experts who will help you determine the best choice and happily guide you through the entire purchase and installation process.