Laminate vs Vinyl Flooring: Differences and Which One is Better

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Are you in the market for durable, water-resistant, long-lasting flooring options? Wondering what’s the better option between Laminate and vinyl flooring?

Laminate and vinyl are some of the best available engineered flooring options. They are manufactured in the same way even if the composition varies. Laminate is made from wood composites (HDF-recycled wood) while luxury vinyl is made from synthetic products (polyvinyl chloride). Vinyl floor is versatile, moisture resistant, pet friendly, and better at soundproofing

Laminate on the other had is cost friendly, DIY friendly installation and better in in preventing fire. Both flooring are durable, have great appeal and with better radiant heating system floring both they do off gas toxic fumes.

However, that’s as far as the similarities go, as these two materials are different from each other in numerous ways which we shall explore in this blog article.

What is Vinyl Flooring vs Laminate Flooring?

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring is also made from synthetic flooring material usually PVC (polyvinyl chloride). Various compounds are added to the PVC to add features like flexibility, color, hardness, sheen, and luster. Luxury vinyl flooring is Scratch-resistant, spill-resistant, and stain-resistant which makes it ideal for wet areas like bathrooms, kitchens, laundry rooms, and basement floors.

The luxury vinyl floor provides one of the durable, affordable, and easy to install. It’s worth noting the newer vinyl comes with underlay attached. However, you may also add one of the underlayments for vinyl flooring if you have the older model.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is a synthetic product made of several layers that are sealed together during the manufacturing through the lamination process. The flooring offers affordable, durable, easy to clean, and maintain floors. Its made of four distinct layers/components; backer, the core, decorative, and the wear, where each of these parts has its distinct role.

However, it’s worth noting that laminate is made of fiberboard core, a part of wood product. It’s excellent for areas that are not prone to wetness, water moisture, and flooding since it does deliminate and get damaged.

Laminate vs Vinyl Flooring Differences and Comparison

Vinyl and laminate flooring are manufactured in a similar way since they are engineered flooring although the composition is totally different.

Vinyl or Laminate flooring has its own differences in terms of cost, installation, water resistance, manufacturing, environmental, resale value, comfort, and sound, look appeal and feel, durability, and lifespan.

1. Aesthetics

Vinyl flooring planks have a printed layer, usually beneath the outer, wear layer. Meanwhile- laminate floorboards, have deep realistic emboss with images of stone and wood. While both may get even deeper embossing to look like real stone or wood as possible, Laminate flooring has better appeal than Vinyl due to its close mimic.

2. Moisture Resistance and Heat Tolerance

Vinyl flooring is water-resistant and waterproof and thus may be installed in the basement, bathrooms, or any areas prone to water moisture. However, laminate is more susceptible to water damage; buckling, separate, delaminate and lift. Vinyl boasts fiberglass construction, which ensures that it’s resistant to both moisture and mold.

Meanwhile- laminate is somehow better heat resistance compared to vinyl flooring. As such, it’s less likely to bear the effects of heat damage as it won’t burn or emit toxic fumes as readily as vinyl sheets when a hot substance drops on them.

3. Longevity

Laminate flooring has a significantly longer lifespan of between 15 to 30 years depending on quality, foot traffic, and if it was professionally installed. Vinyl flooring- on the other hand- has a 15-year life span.

Despite its long lifespan, laminate tends to show signs of wearing more ages since you cant buff or use a polishing machine on it. Exposure to moisture will reduce its life significantly. Vinyl does maintain its shiny appearance up until the outer layer wears out to expose the core.

4. Costs

The laminate flooring costs about $2 for medium quality to about $5.50 for premium quality per square ft. However, it’s good to know some laminate products come with an underlayment attached which increases the price but saves in long term the cost of getting separate underlayment. Manufacturers like Armstrong, Mohawk, Shaw, Quick-step, Pergo- laminate, Mannington, and Bruce offer different quality products at different prices for both basic and premium collections.

Vinyl plank flooring on the other hand costs almost the same as laminate with a price range between $2 to $7 per square foot. In addition, the expensive options come with underlayment attached which helps to save you a bit of cash that would otherwise have purchased the underlayment separately.

Hiring a professional installer for laminate and vinyl can cost anywhere between $2–$10 per square foot depending on the type, quality, and area of installation.

5. Installation Requirements

Laminate is installed as a floating floor, and can’t be nailed or glued down. Vinyl on the other hand is glued down onto the subfloor. In case of damage, laminate can be repaired or replaced easily unlike vinyl which demands a lot of work. Laminate comes with a click and lock system that makes it DIY-friendly. The click and lock system allows expansion and contraction as a way of responding to humidity fluctuations.

Vinyl, on the other hand, has a tongue-and-groove system and has several installation methods including floating, loose lay, peel & stick and glue down each with varying difficulties. If you decide to glue it down, it will definitely be more challenging and less DIY-friendly than laminate.

6. Durability

Laminate is less durable compared to vinyl flooring, as the solid construction runs throughout the thickness of the planks. In vinyl planks, the solid core layer- made of PVC- is overlaid with a weaker, outer design layer that’s susceptible to wear and tear. You may have to seal or wax your vinyl floor sheets to reduce the rate of wear on this design layer.

Laminate, however, is low maintenance but does delaminate over time or when exposed to water and moisture. In addition, once it delaminates and scratches it’s hard to repair, it requires to be replaced with a new one. In addition, vinyl flooring does wear out as a result of high traffic demands, and peel and stick tiles also loosen with time. Both are prone to damage after some time.

7. Cleaning and Maintenance

Vinyl flooring has fewer maintenance requirements compared to laminate flooring. This is because the former material boasts enhanced stain and moisture –resistance capabilities. Laminate- on the other hand- calls for occasional sealing to minimize the visible effects of scratching and gouging.

For cleaning, the vinyl can either be a wet or dry mop. However, for laminate, it’s best to use a broom, damp mop, or vacuum cleaner. Vinyl flooring Is water-resistant and somehow waterproof.

8. Eco-Friendliness

Vinyl flooring does decompose and releases toxic gasses (hydrogen chloride) which can kill fire victims and firefighters. In such cases of fires, vinyl is very hard to extinguish due to its impermeability. In addition, the manufacturing process entails the use of carcinogenic chemicals. What’s more, there’s no environmentally safe way to dispose of old vinyl flooring tiles.

In sharp contrast, laminate disposable as it is biodegradable.

9. Resale Value

Since vinyl flooring is usually available in a variety of colors and design patterns, it allows for more opportunities to increase your home’s resale value by way of enhanced interior design elements. However, for buyers that can tell the difference between the two, and are aware of the environmental benefits that linoleum flooring offers, a home with linoleum floors is usually worth more.

10. Noise Cancellation

Vinyl flooring is a hard material, especially when laid over a concrete subfloor. You can, therefore, expect it to produce louder sounds whenever substances are dropped onto it, in comparison to linoleum flooring. Despite being noisy, vinyl flooring is significantly less noisy than laminate flooring or ceramic tile flooring.

However, you may take measures like installing underlayment on both floorings to reduce the noise even further. Here a procedure to increase the soundproofing ability for laminate;

  • Leave an expansion and contraction gap,
  • Install an underlay for laminate floor and
  • Leave a transition gap between the floors, doorways, entryways, and hallways. 

11. Pets Friendly

Vinyl vs laminate flooring with pets, which is better? Laminate is scratch resistant but not a good floor for pet urine and messes. However, vinyl is both scratch-resistant, water-resistant, and waterproof which makes it a good choice for you.

Here a video of Vinyl vs Laminate Flooring

Vinyl vs Laminate Flooring: How to Pick the Best Option for Your Home

Vinyl Vs Laminate Flooring Pros and Cons

Vinyl Flooring ProsVinyl Flooring Cons
Affordable flooring.Emits toxic fumes when burned.
Scratch, scuff, and dent resistant.Not a natural wood/stone.
Resilient and durable flooring.Cannot be refinished or polished.
Water resistant and water proof.Prone to fading and discolorations.
Available in different colors, design and style.Non-bio-degradable.
Easy to clean and maintain.Hard to remove especially if glued down.

Read More on Pros & Cons of Vinyl Plank Flooring

Laminate Flooring ProsLaminate Flooring Cons
Cheap inexpensive flooring. Prone to water moisture damage.
Stain and scuff resistant.Noisy and hollow feel under feet.
DIY friendly installation.Off gas toxic fumes when burned.
Non-Allergic flooring.Fake wood and appearance.
 Cannot be sanded and refinished.

Is Vinyl Flooring better than Laminate

Vinyl is better than laminate in terms of soundproofing, water-resistance and waterproof, versatility flooring, pet friendly and somehow adds value or resale value to your house. However, laminate is DIY-friendly, cost-friendly, and better in heat and fire tolerance than vinyl. Both also tie in terms of durability, appearance, feel, and good radiant heating floors.

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Joe McGuinty
I’ve been working with floors for over 12 years. I started as a flooring contractor, primarily in materials selection. Then, I switched careers into accounting, so my wife and I began buying, renovating, and re-selling homes on the side. You’d be surprised how much value you can add to a home simply by adding new floors.

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