When you are looking for the perfect flooring solution for your home, two of the most popular options are luxury vinyl and laminate. With their durability, affordability and easy maintenance requirements, they are both great flooring choices that can stand the test of time.
The laminate vs. vinyl flooring debate is one that has been going on for some time now. While both materials can produce the look of natural wood or stone with unlimited customization; there are distinct differences between them to consider. This guide will provide a general overview of laminate and luxury vinyl flooring so that you can make an informed decision about which type best suits your needs.
What is Luxury Vinyl Flooring?
Luxury vinyl is a synthetic man-made material made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and consists of several layers. The top layer is a clear wear layer that protects the design layer beneath. The design layer is a high-resolution image that is printed in clear film. The bottom layer is called a base or a backing layer and helps provide balance and stability.
Vinyl flooring has been around for a long time. In fact, it’s not surprising that the first iteration of this material was introduced back in 1970s when manufacturers revolutionized its market by introducing Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVT) and Luxury Vinyl Planks (LVP) which had more similarities with laminate floors than standard sheet or even old-fashioned Vinyl Composition Tiles (VCT).
What is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate flooring is made from layers of vinyl or fiberboard that have been bonded together when manufactured with a durable adhesive through a lamination process. It’s composed of four layers: a wear layer, a design or decorative layer, a core layer, and a backing or stabilizing layer.
What Are the Key Differences?
Luxury vinyl and laminate are two popular types of flooring for residential and commercial spaces. The main difference between the two is in their construction. With vinyl flooring be made from multiple layers of PVC vinyl and a protective wear layer on top, whereas laminate is constructed from several layers of high-density fiberboard that has been fused together under high pressure. When it comes to durability, maintenance and installation, there are some key factors and pros and cons to consider when choosing between the two options.
Luxury Vinyl Flooring Pros
- Durable – Luxury vinyl flooring is incredibly durable, making it ideal for high-traffic areas such as kitchens or entryways.
- Moisture-Resistant – LVP/LVT also have superior water resistance and can be installed in damp, wet, or humid areas (like kitchens or bathrooms) without the risk of damage.
- Scratch Resistant – It is highly scratch resistant, making it a practical choice for households with children or pets. Laminate provides a hard wearing surface that can withstand heavy foot traffic and will last longer than some other flooring options—but the vinyl wear layer typically offers more protection against dents, scratches and stains compared to the resin wear layer found in most laminate flooring.
- Easier Installation – Luxury vinyl planks (LVP) and luxury vinyl tiles (LVT) provide easier installation than laminate flooring since they can be installed over existing surfaces like concrete or wood without requiring additional subfloor preparation such as leveling or patching imperfections. It can be adhered to the subfloor with a specialized adhesive or installed as a floating floor and tends to be a quicker and easier process without the additional underlayment material step.
- Simple Maintenance – This type of flooring does not require any special cleaning or maintenance, making it easy to care for.
- Cost-Effective – Luxury vinyl flooring is one of the most affordable types of vinyl on the market today. It’s much more cost effective than other types of flooring like hardwood or tile. However, it is typically a more expensive option than laminate flooring, depending on the type and the brand.
Luxury Vinyl Flooring Cons
- More Prone to Damage – Luxury vinyl flooring is its susceptibility to damage from sharp objects. For example, vinyl planks are generally softer and thinner than other types of floors such as hardwood or laminate, making them more prone to dents, scratches, and tears when exposed to sharp objects. It is important to take extra care when handling items such as furniture and cleaning tools around vinyl flooring to prevent damage.
- Slippery When Wet – Though vinyl flooring is water-resistant – it can also be quite slippery when wet, so it’s important to use non-slip mats in areas that may experience a more excessive amount of lot of moisture.
Laminate Flooring Pros
- Durable – The surface of laminate flooring is usually harder than vinyl and is less likely to show signs of wear and tear over time. The “core layer” that sits in between the bottom layer and the designer layer is made of recycled wood pulp or limestone and helps provide additional durability and cushion.
- Warm and Cushioned – Laminate is a warming material that will help you feel at home in your space. It has the same thickness as hardwood but with an added touch of comfort and beauty, making it perfect for bedrooms or living rooms where people want some softness around them while they’re working on projects all day long!
- Easy Cleanup – Laminate is said to be easier to keep clean than other materials such as vinyl (which can get dirty easily).
- More Affordable – Laminate flooring is generally more affordable than vinyl and it comes in a wide range of colors, styles, and textures.
Laminate Flooring Cons
- Maintenance Requirements – Though laminate has been known as scratch resistant and impervious against water damage; it does have one major drawback: fiberboard core. This means that if you use wet cleaning methods on your newly installed surface then there’s risk of damaging the finish which could lead to early replacement.
- Complex Installation – Like vinyl installation, laminate involves clicking planks together to form an interlocking system, but it also requires an additional underlayment to provide extra cushioning and sound absorption. This makes the installation process slightly more complex than other types of flooring.
- Can’t Be Refinished – Laminate floors can withstand heavy traffic and are resistant to scratches, dents, and stains but it can’t be refinished like hardwood or vinyl, so if the planks or tiles become scuffed or damaged they need to be replaced.
- Not as Water Resistant – Laminate is not as water resistant as vinyl flooring, making it more vulnerable to moisture damage and can warp if exposed to high levels of humidity. Vinyl is typically seen as the better choice over laminate for kitchens, bathrooms or areas with a lot of moisture.
Which Costs More—Laminate Flooring or Luxury Vinyl Flooring?
When it comes to laminate vs. luxury vinyl flooring, on average, the cost per square foot as well as the cost for installation is about the same. Laminate tends to be more affordable than vinyl due to its lower material costs. However, luxury vinyl boasts greater durability over laminate due to its higher resistance to scratching, staining, fading, and general wear-and-tear over time.
Both vinyl and laminate come in a variety of colors and patterns, so you can find something that fits your style regardless of your budget.
The average cost of laminate flooring is $2 to $5 per square foot.
- The total cost of laminate flooring is approximately $4 to $9 per square foot.
- The average cost of installation is $2 to $4 per square foot.
Luxury Vinyl Flooring:
The average cost of vinyl flooring is $2 to $6 per square foot.
- The total cost of vinyl flooring is $4 to $11 per square foot.
- The average cost of installation is $2 to $5 per square foot.
As you can see, there is very little difference in the cost of laminate and luxury vinyl flooring. Determining which choice is best for you really depends on your needs and preferences. To find the high-quality brands at discounted prices, a discount flooring warehouse can offer the best prices for all types of flooring while offering expertise on which features will work best for your home and lifestyle.
Even though laminate flooring and luxury vinyl tile both have longer lifespans than other flooring types, you still need to care and maintain the flooring to keep it in tip top shape. With proper maintenance, both flooring types can last for decades. So be sure to protect your investment by asking an expert about the right cleaning techniques and safe products to use.
How Do You Choose Which is Best for You?
Overall, both luxury vinyl and laminate flooring are attractive options for many homeowners with unique advantages depending on your needs. Both are great look-alike alternatives to more expensive materials such as hardwood, tile or stone—but they’re not interchangeable.
It’s important to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision. Be sure to consult with an experienced professional who can guide you in the right direction. The experts at Floor It 41 have the experience to guide you in the right direction. Both of these options, among others, are available to view in our showroom. We sell two types of luxury vinyl flooring—vinyl plank and vinyl tile. We also have a wide selection of affordable laminate flooring to choose from. Contact us today to learn more about our affordable flooring options and our installation services.