Comparison Guide To Vinyl vs. Laminate Flooring: Pros and Cons, Costs, Differences, Similarities

When you want to install flooring, there are several factors you should consider. Given that flooring options are many, you have to work within your budget and go for the type that you love.

Choosing flooring types can be challenging. But if you go for either laminate or vinyl, you won’t regret it since they’re cheap and easy to maintain. Not forgetting that they offer value

Both Vinyl and laminate have their differences and resemblance. Differentiating their features can be hard and can take your time. But don’t worry. Read along to get a deeper insight into vinyl vs. laminate flooring to enable you to go for the best.

What Is Laminate Flooring?

Laminate flooring is a type of synthetic flooring consisting of four layers. The layers undergo a particular process to bind them together. The synthetic materials comprise wood with a top layer consisting of other materials. The manufacturers then expose the materials through a high heat of not less than 300-degree F. 

The manufacturing technology used to make the laminate flooring is direct-pressure laminate (DPL).

The first layer of laminate is wear or overlay. Wear gives laminate the shine and the uniform surface. It’s got many characteristics that can contribute to your floor’s durability. The overlay gives the flooring a coating that prevents damages like scratches.

The damages can result from friction either when you pull a chair on it or your pet clawing. It also protects the decorative paper coat from possible damage like sunburns. When you expose laminate flooring to excess sunlight, they’ll fade, giving them a bad look.

The second layer is the high-quality decorative paper. It contains great design, making laminate flooring unique. The design can give the flooring a real wood-like, stone, or marble look with different colors and décor. It can also produce a natural real look of grass, leaves, or artwork.

Laminate flooring third layer is the HDF core. The board is a high-density fiberboard (HDF) plus a medium-density fiberboard (MDF). The boards are of softwood, which is split then mixed with wax and glue. Then the boards undergo heating under high pressure to form the panels. You should note that HDF is stronger and more durable than MDF, so it will make the laminate last.

The bottom layer of laminate flooring is the backer paper, which helps the board balance. It covers the bottom of the laminate board, protecting it from moisture or water. 

When you opt for laminate flooring, you won’t regret it since it’s cheap with great design. It’s also durable, meaning it will last longer if you maintain it in good shape. Installing laminate flooring is also easy, so that you can do it by yourself. It can also repel stains and will not give you a hard time while cleaning. 

To install laminate flooring, you can use the fold and lay method, but that’s after you lay a subfloor. With laminate flooring, you’ll give your floor a new beautiful look that’s attractive.

What Is Vinyl Flooring?

Vinyl flooring is a synthetic floorboard consisting of polyvinyl chloride plastic (PVC). The process of making vinyl flooring involves heating tiny pieces of PVC materials. Afterward, they undergo pressing to make thin layers that attach. The thin layers then form pliable vinyl sheets. With vinyl flooring, you can change the color and texture to look like wood or ceramic.

Most people confuse vinyl with laminate flooring. But laminate comprises natural materials, unlike the synthetic components of vinyl flooring. Vinyl flooring has four layers, each with a function. The wear layer is a clear coat of urethane that makes vinyl flooring strong and waterproof. To know how strong the wear layer is, look at its thickness, which you can measure. 

Between 0 to 12 mil is average traffic, which you can use on the floors of your home with fewer activities. Then there’s the higher traffic. It ranges between 12mil to 20mil, which suits a home with kids and active pets. The heavy traffic is over 20 mils suitable for floors of busy business premises.

The second layer is the print layer. It’s responsible for the beautiful design you see on vinyl flooring. The layer has decorations and patterns which are visible through the top layer.

Vinyl flooring’s third layer, known as the core, is both flexible and rigid, depending on each kind of core. The rigid core is the strong board that is waterproof. The core can be of stone plastic composite (SPC). The rigid core is much stronger, heavy, and firm. Wood-plastic compact (WPC) is also another material composition of the core layer.

The bottom layer of vinyl flooring is the underlayment. The layer comprises fiberglass, rubber, and foam. It gives vinyl flooring protection from sound and moisture and also makes it durable. The underlayment comes in two forms. Either when it’s pre-attached with vinyl flooring or as a separate material. 

There are two types of vinyl flooring. The first is the plank vinyl that’s a long thin piece that can interlock, resembling hardwood. The vinyl planks are beautiful, cheap, and easy to fix. The other type is tile vinyl. Tile vinyl has either interlocking or groutable design methods. 

Tile vinyl is a good replacer of ceramic or stone flooring, which is expensive. The vinyl flooring designs include wood, stone, and slate. There’s also ceramic, marble, and porcelain tile vinyl designs.

To install vinyl flooring, you can use the floating method. The method involves interlocking or fitting the planks tight. You can install the planks by yourself because it’s easy to fix. The fixing also doesn’t need any equipment like nails or glue. 

You can also install vinyl flooring by the glue down method that gives the floor a stronghold. When you install through the glue-down method, you need a binder to seal the subfloor’s board. Expect to spend more time while using this method.

The other method of fixing vinyl flooring, peel, and stick, which is an easy method. When you choose this method of flooring, it will come with a binder on the floorboards. So, all you need to do is stick them on the subfloor by pressing them in the right place.

The Similarities

People confuse vinyl with laminate because they have similarities that make them resemble. It can be challenging for you to note the similarities if you’re not careful. Read along to get all the resembles vinyl and laminate flooring.

Beauty

If you’re hoping to choose a flooring that is beautiful between vinyl and laminate, you’ll find it hard. Both floorings are attractive with unique qualities that you can’t differentiate. Manufacturers of these floorings are competing to give their customers the best designs. 

Suppose you love the look of the natural aesthetic of hardwood but can’t afford it. You’ll be having a cheaper option with the same beauty here. For instance, laminate flooring has a wood-like appearance with great patterns and colors. It will offer you a cheap option that will make your floors have a unique look you always long for. 

With vinyl, you’ll have a great choice going by color and designs that will suit any floor with no real natural look.

Easy Installation Methods

You shouldn’t bother looking for a professional if you’re to install either of the floorings. Installing floorings is an easy process that you can do alone. All you need is to prepare well for the installation process to avoid messing. When you install the flooring by yourself, you’ll be saving on costs.

Durable Choice

Whenever you’re installing flooring, you always look for the type that will last. With vinyl and laminate floorings, you’re sure about their strength. Both vinyl and laminate can go for days without scratches or peels. But you have to handle them well. 

The vinyl and laminate features mean you can install them in any room in an area with favorable humidity. You should ensure they fit well to prevent creating space for water leakage.

Less Maintenance

If you have vinyl or laminate flooring, you’ll be saving money that you’d spend to repair them often. This is because they’re strong and durable. Cleaning of vinyl or laminate floors is also easy, meaning you’ll be saving on time. You only need to mop, sweep, or vacuum the floor to have it clean.

Cheap Options

The cost of buying and installing vinyl or laminate flooring is cheaper. You will spend less on both of them than other flooring options. The two are also cheap to install. Both laminate and vinyl are beautiful and durable. Like the other floorings, you won’t go wrong if you go for the cheaper option. The fact that you can install both of them by yourself is a plus to the two flooring options as you’ll cut on costs.

Major Differences

Although people assume both floorings resemble, there’s a major difference between the two. We’ll help you understand the major difference if you want to choose the best type between the two.

Material Composition

There’s a major difference in what vinyl and laminate flooring is made up of. The material that laminates flooring consists of is hardwood pieces. It also has four layers, each with its function of protecting the flooring from wear. 

The layers of laminate flooring form a thick board ranging between 6mm to 12mm. You can place the plank on top of a subfloor using any installation method you prefer.

Vinyl is a PVC meaning it’s more of a plastic than wood, which has a urethane coating. It has four layers, which include fiberglass that has a plastic seal. The layers make vinyl strong flooring, which can withstand any condition. Vinyl planks are about 1.5 mm to 5mm thick. 

Area of Installation

With Vinyl flooring, you can install them in any room, regardless of humidity. Vinyl has a synthetic composition that makes it able to withstand any condition. It means you can fix vinyl flooring in your living room, bathroom, and kitchen. You won’t worry about moisture damaging your floor if you install vinyl.

But, with laminate flooring, you have limitations. You can’t fix it in areas or rooms with high humidity or water because it can’t resist moisture to some extent. Laminate flooring will disappoint you if you install it in your bathroom or mudroom.

How They Appear

They’re a great difference in how laminate and vinyl appear in the human eye. Laminate flooring gives you a deep 3-D wood-like look that seems so real. The design is so great that if it’s a stone or ceramic look, that’s the exact picture you’ll see.

Vinyl, though, can give a realistic look. It won’t match that of a laminate look unless the core is thick.

Resistance to Water or Heat

Laminate flooring comprises wood materials at its core. Meaning it’s prone to getting soft or swell if it comes to contact with water. Once it absorbs water, it will not keep its original size after it dries up. 

The top layer of laminate flooring can even peel after it stays longer in water. And when it spoils, you have to replace them. The same applies when you expose laminate flooring to extreme heat. It will wear off, causing damages.

Vinyl flooring has plastic coatings, which makes it water-resistant. So, you can have vinyl in water for a long time and get no damages implying that you can re-use it.

Buying and Installation Cost

Installing vinyl flooring

Although both vinyl and laminate are cheap, there’s a difference in their pricing. The cost varies according to size and thickness. For vinyl, low quality goes for $2 for each square foot. The medium quality will cost you $5 per square foot. And the high-value vinyl costs $7 for each square foot. You’ll spend $3 to $10 per square foot to install vinyl.

Laminate lowest quality goes for $1 per square foot. Expect to spend $2.50 to $5 per square foot for medium laminate while high quality will cost at least $5 per square foot. The cost of installing laminate stands between $3 to $10 for any quality per square foot.

Quick Comparison

DescriptionVinylLaminate
DurabilityVery durable though excess pulling of heavy items can spoil it Durable although scratches over time.
WaterproofIt’s waterproofNot waterproof
MaintenanceIt would help if you didn’t use wax on vinyl flooring, nor can you use wax polish to maintain its shineYou can get back laminate shine by applying particular products that are for that use only. 
Color variationThe colors include white, black, and dark or light wood finish.Color ranges from gray, black, and white

Which Is Better, Vinyl or Laminate Flooring?

Use

Both vinyl and laminate have their uses depending on their features and your choice. For instance, you can install vinyl flooring on any floor since it’s made of PVC materials. The synthetic materials make it resist water and moisture. 

Laminate is not water-resistant, meaning if it gets into contact with water, it will spoil. You cannot install laminate in your bathroom or mudroom.

The best flooring which you can use regardless of the environmental condition is vinyl. You can fix it in your kitchen, bedroom, or bathroom.

Sizes

Vinyl and laminate floorboards come in various sizes; that vary in length and width. The board’s width ranges between 4-8 inches, and their length falls between 36-48 inches. Since vinyl is soft, you can sub-divide it into smaller pieces. 

Laminate has a measuring of around 4 to 16 inches wide, and it’s 36 to more than 48 inches long. Going by their sizes, laminate offers the best flooring size. 

Styles

If you want to look at the best flooring between vinyl and laminate in style, vinyl will stand out. Vinyl flooring has great designs with various color combinations and touch than laminate. It also includes cool patterns with beautiful stripes.

Appearance

Most homeowners prefer flooring that gives them a real wood-like look. The reason why they opt for the two floorings is that both meet their demands and are cheap. In this relation, vinyl doesn’t contain wood. However, its manufacturers try to incorporate a realistic look through technology. If you want the best flooring going by appearance, choose laminate. Laminate will give you a 3D look with a photographic layer, which is attractive.

Waterproof

Laminate is permeable to water, so if you expose it to it, they’ll spoil since it’s a wood byproduct. But vinyl is a PVC that can repel water. Meaning it can survive in water without swelling or peeling. Vinyl is the best choice of waterproof flooring owing to its characteristics.

Heat Resistant

When you’re planning to install flooring, you should go for one that won’t disappoint. Laminate flooring can swell when you expose it to high temperatures damaging it. But because it’s a wood byproduct, it can withstand the heat of up to 86 degrees. Vinyl flooring has plastic material compositions, which is a poor conductor of heat. So, both can be better heat resistant.

Stain-resistant

It would help if you went for a flooring type that can resist stains, giving you easy work when cleaning. Choose laminate flooring because its top layer consists of an aluminum oxide coat. Making the floor stain resistant. It will resist stains like coffee or wine, and all you need to clean it is a wet cloth. But the best stain resistant flooring is vinyl. Vinyl is waterproof and can repel any liquid spill.

Care

When cleaning laminate flooring, you should dry clean to avoid water contact. Laminate flooring is not waterproof so that that water will damage it. The best flooring which is easy to care for is vinyl. You can use a wet cloth to clean, plus you can scratch it in the process and cause no damage. It’s also water-resistant, so it will give you an easy time caring for it.

Maintenance 

It’s wise to go for flooring that will give you an easy time installing it to maintain it in good shape. Between vinyl and laminate, the one that’s durable and easy to clean should be the best in maintenance. Vinyl will give you an easy time maintaining since it’s durable and resistant to water, so it will not spoil fast. It also takes time before they scratch, so you won’t have to repair the dents often. 

Installation

People prefer flooring that can save them the cost of installation. And if possible, the type of flooring they can fix it themselves. Both laminate and vinyl don’t need much when installing. But then they offer various fixing methods. You can install vinyl through tongue and groove or peel and stick methods, depending on the type you buy. But with laminate, you’ll need more elaborate tools to install, and the methods also take time. The best installation option is vinyl, as it’s not demanding. Fixing it also needs fewer tools.

Cost

To buy laminate flooring, you need at least $1 for each square foot to about $5. Vinyl flooring also goes for the same price range meaning the cost of buying both materials is the same. The cost of installing both floorings is also the same, so none beats the other in their pricing.

Durability

Laminate flooring can last long. However, they start fading and swelling, especially If you expose them to water. With vinyl, the material composition makes it durable. So, vinyl can stay long without spoiling. For the best flooring option relating to durability, vinyl wins.

Lifespan

The lifespan of vinyl flooring can go up to 20 years. At the same time, The warranty for laminate flooring falls between 10 to 25 years. If you compare the two warranties, you’ll realize they’re almost the same. What matters here is how you take care of them. For example, you should keep laminate flooring dry to increase its lifespan.

Environmentally Friendly

For many years’ vinyl had a bad name regarding environmental degradation. But now the manufacturers are trying to work on it. It’s hard recycling vinyl because the PVC material is solid and can’t decompose.

But the laminate is wood which you can recycle to make a new product. It makes the best environmentally friendly flooring.

Pet Friendly

The flooring that will favor your pets between the two types is the one that isn’t prone to getting chips or dents. The dents can harm your pets. Both Vinyl and laminate are perfect for pets. But the superior choice is vinyl since it’s waterproof and scratch-resistant. The pet’s scratches can’t damage the flooring.

Comfort

To achieve comfort in your flooring, go for laminate, which has a thick layer coating that brings comfort to your floors. It also has a foam underlayment, which will double comfort. Laminate beats vinyl flooring in comfort since vinyl fixing is on top of the subfloor, making it cold.

Sound

Ensure the type of flooring you install in your home doesn’t echo back sound. The best flooring that can absorb sound is vinyl. Vinyl flooring has a bottom layer known as underlayment, which protects the floor from the sound.

Resale Value

The type of flooring you install in your home can determine its future economic value. The flooring should attract potential buyers or people who want to rent the building. Go for vinyl, which is capable of giving you unique designs that are attractive. Ensure you go for high-quality vinyl to lift your home resale value. It would help if you understood that laminate doesn’t look appealing to most homeowners, meaning it will reduce the premises’ resale value. 

Top Brands

Consumers go with the top-selling product brand, and it’s the same in the flooring industry. You can go by what most people love for their flooring. In this case, vinyl flooring is the people’s taste making it the top brand. But ensure you go for a high- quality brand.

Verdict

Choosing the type of flooring to install can be hard, especially if you have two to choose from. For instance, if you’ve vinyl and laminate, you’ll have difficulty picking on the best. Both vinyl and laminate have similarities, and most people confuse them. So, you should be keen to note their difference to help you get the best type of flooring according to your taste and preference. Ensure you look at each flooring’s quality, design, and color. Don’t forget to go for the type you can afford.

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