Laminate vs. Vinyl Flooring: Which is Better?

If you’re looking for an easy-to-install, attractive, and durable floor for your home, turn to laminate and vinyl flooring. These two look almost the same, but they have some major differences. Before heading out to a flooring store near you, read this article to learn more about their pros and cons.


The Basics

The major distinction between laminate and vinyl flooring is the materials used to create them. These materials play a significant role in moisture and heat resistance, durability, and floor maintenance.

Laminate Floors

The top layer of laminate flooring is a printed image of the design covered by a protective wear layer made of transparent plastic. The photo is glued to a fiberboard core created from wood byproducts bonded with resins. This bottom layer is treated to prevent moisture damage.

Vinyl Floors

Vinyl flooring is made of 100 percent synthetic material. The design printed on the top layer is protected by multiple wear layers and a polyurethane finish that doesn’t need waxing. Then, the surface layer is attached to the base layer made of fiberglass coated with PVC vinyl and a plasticizer.


Installation

Laminate Floors

Laminate flooring is available in tiles or planks. It is designed to snap together, making it perfect for DIY installation. No need for glue or nails! DIY installation in an average room can take a whole afternoon, but professional installers can do it in an hour.

In the click-and-lock installation method, the tongue of one plank is attached to the groove of another plank creating a “floating floor.” And then, these interlocking boards are laid atop a foam underlayer. This underlayer helps eliminate the hollow sound produced when stepping on the floor and provides additional comfort to the feet.

Vinyl Floors

Vinyl floors used to come in heavy, unwieldy sheets, but developments in the flooring industry have made this flooring type easier to install. It comes in “self-adhesive” boards, where you simply remove the backing and place it on the subfloor.

To install vinyl floors, you start by leveling and smoothing the subfloor—well-sanded plywood is the best choice for a subfloor. And then, remove the backing and lay down the planks. Make sure there is a tight seam between the boards. You can use a utility knife to trim the planks and a hand roller to flatten them to the subfloor. 


Appearance

Laminate Floors

Laminate flooring imitates wood floors very well, but it is also available in ceramic, stone, or even metal. Looking from a distance, the high-resolution image printed on the surface is a realistic, three-dimensional portrayal of your chosen design. 

But, the illusion disappears when you look closer. That’s when you will start to see pattern repetition. Normally, five to 10 different patterns are printed for most brands, but cheaper products only have three board patterns. During installation, you must not lay down the same pattern next to each other.

Vinyl Floors

Just like laminate floors, vinyl flooring can look realistic. It is available in a wide range of patterns, colors, and designs that can be easily matched to the aesthetic of your home. For a more convincing look, consider installing luxury vinyl planks and tiles—a thicker, more prestigious form of vinyl flooring.

Standard vinyl flooring is good for kitchens and bathrooms, but it can look cheap in living rooms. In more formal rooms, choose luxury vinyl floors because they can add value to your home.

On the downside, vinyl floors fade over time. Low-quality versions can even turn yellow as the years pass by. Additionally, fading and discoloration speed up when the planks are exposed to direct sunlight.


Durability and Resilience

Laminate Floors

Laminate flooring has an extremely tough wear layer, making it resistant to scratches, dents, and especially stains. But this flooring type is not water-resistant. Once laminate flooring is damaged, it must be replaced; repair is not an option.

When the fiberboard core is exposed to water, it will soften and swell, peeling away the wear and design layers. So, laminate flooring is not the best flooring option for wet areas such as bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms. 

Vinyl Floors

Vinyl flooring is highly durable, making it perfect for high-traffic areas. Additionally, all types of vinyl floors are completely waterproof. So, consider installing them in wet and damp locations, such as bathrooms and basements. The protective wear layer also provides excellent stain resistance. But, just like laminate flooring, vinyl floors need to be removed and replaced once damaged.

The Bottom Line

Laminate and vinyl floors have promising characteristics that make them suitable options for your flooring project. Both are cheaper alternatives for other flooring types like solid hardwood and engineered wood floors. They are also durable, long-lasting, easy-to-install, and attractive options. The conclusive factor is the part of the house in which you will install them. To help you decide, consult a professional from a flooring store near you.

Laminate vs. Vinyl Flooring: Which is Better? Laminate vs. Vinyl Flooring: Which is Better? Reviewed by John Thomas on May 01, 2021 Rating: 5

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