Laminate vs Vinyl Flooring (Which One is Better?)

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Reviewed by
Eral Kadrija

Tony Adams

If you need a strong, affordable, attractive, and user-friendly floor, you can go for laminate or vinyl. But, what’s the difference between these two floors?

The main difference between laminate and vinyl flooring is their formula. Laminate planks have a more natural than synthetic formula since they are made of wood fibers and other wood by-products. On the other hand, vinyl has a more synthetic formula and is made by combining different materials.

They have a different thickness too. Laminate planks have a thickness between 6-12mm, while vinyl floors have a thickness of 2-8mm. The difference in formula and thickness makes both floors have different qualities.

Laminate Flooring

What is Laminate Flooring?

Laminate is a floating floor formed by assembling several planks over a subfloor or underlayment. Planks are designed with locks (at the sides) that help each plank to stick (lock) with each other.

Planks are between 6 and 12mm thick, making them sturdy and strong enough to support weight and traffic. They also have multiple layers of protective coats to protect them from scratches, dents, and moisture.

However, laminate floors have a limited range of design choices. This is because their print layer is designed to mimic (or match) the appearance of a hardwood floor. So that’s the only look or appearance you will get.

You can use laminate floors:

  1. Over residential spaces.
  2. To mimic or match the design of a hardwood floor.
  3. To beautify a floor.
  4. On busy surfaces since the floor is strong and sturdy.
  5. On areas that aren’t exposed to moisture, such as bathrooms.

Vinyl Flooring

What is Vinyl Flooring?

Vinyl is a synthetic flooring gotten by combining several solvents and materials, including vinyl resins, fiberglass, PVC vinyl, plasticizers, and some wood by-products. It also has a plastic sheeting that protects it from scratches and dents.

This synthetic formula gives the floor improved moisture resistance and durability. Vinyl floors have a wide range of designs, such as sheet, plank, luxury, composite, and tile vinyl. Each type has a different appearance, and you can change its design or color.

You can use vinyl flooring:

  1. To mimic or match different types of floors.
  2. To make the floor water-resistant.
  3. On outdoor flooring (some types only).
  4. To soundproof a floor.
  5. To provide stability and support.

Vinyl Flooring vs Laminate

We’ll use their features to compare both types of floors and see which one is better.

Style and Appearance

Vinyl flooring has a better appearance than laminate. That’s because you can choose different appearances and match or mimic any floor with vinyl. For example, you can go for a tiled, sheet, or hardwood look (appearance).

On the other hand, laminate planks offer a hardwood-like or ceramic-like appearance. So, you have limited choices.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Cleaning vinyl flooring is easier because it doesn’t absorb or attract stains. This is because it has a synthetic formula and a plastic sheet on the top layer that repels stains. You can also use any floor cleaner or soap mixture since the floor is moisture-resistant.

On the other hand, laminate flooring tends to absorb stains over time, especially white and dark water stains. This is due to the wood structure. Also, you can’t use a damp mop or liquid cleaning products over laminate because it doesn’t hold up well to water. So, you can only wipe the stains off, which can be difficult with stubborn stains.

Water Resistance

Vinyl flooring has better moisture resistance than laminate. That’s because vinyl has a synthetic formula and a plastic sheet that repels moisture. For instance, luxury vinyl plank (LVP) is waterproof. While other types of vinyl have waterproof sheeting underneath, increasing their durability.

On the other hand, laminate planks aren’t waterproof because they have a fiberboard core made of recycled wood fibers. Since wood fibers are porous, the floor is also porous and will swell if exposed to moisture.

However, laminate flooring still offers an average level of moisture-resistant. This is because the floor is sealed with a sealant that repels moisture (to a degree). But, you can’t use this floor in high-moisture areas such as bathrooms. Instead, this floor is suited for bedroom and hallway floors.

Strength and Support

Laminate planks have a sturdier and thicker base (12mm) than vinyl flooring. Because of this, it can support high traffic and heavy furniture without getting damaged.

Vinyl flooring is also strong, but its strength comes mostly from the underlayment and not the floor. Without an underlayment, vinyl flooring won’t be as strong and can’t withstand heavy furniture or high traffic. Also, it has a thickness of 4mm, which isn’t enough.

Installation Method

Both floors have a locking mechanism that you can use to lock planks. The click-and-lock mechanism is located at the sides (or end) of the planks and helps two or more planks lock with each other.

However, you can also glue the vinyl flooring on the subfloor to prevent it from shifting out of place. You can also glue down laminate planks, but the planks won’t stay in one place due to the thickness and weight of the laminate.

Soundproofing and Insulation

Laminate flooring offers good soundproofing and insulation due to its thick frames and weight. Because of its thick frame, it becomes difficult for sound to travel through the planks.

Luxury vinyl planks also offer good soundproofing and insulation because they come with a thick base and high-quality underlayment. But, sheet or regular vinyl doesn’t offer good soundproofing because it has a thin frame.

Thickness and Weight

Laminate planks are thick, with an overall thickness of 6-12mm. They are also heavier because they are made of compressed wood fibers.

On the other hand, different types of vinyl flooring have different weights. For instance, vinyl sheets have a thickness of 2mm, while combination and luxury vinyl have a thickness of 8mm. Also, vinyl is made of synthetic materials such as PVC, so the flooring isn’t heavy.

Best Flooring For Rooms

Bedroom: If you want versatile flooring that matches your room’s style, use vinyl. That’s because you can choose different designs and colors. Also, the flooring has a wear layer that can handle scratches and friction from the bed frame.

Kitchen: For a kitchen floor, use vinyl flooring. That’s because it offers superior moisture resistance and can cope well with spills and leaks without showing signs of water damage. Avoid using laminate on kitchen flooring because it can’t handle water.

Bathroom: You shouldn’t choose any of these floorings for a bathroom because they can’t handle exposure to constant water. It’s best to use tiled flooring. However, luxury vinyl planks offer superior moisture resistance and can last longer on a bathroom floor compared to laminate flooring.

Living Room: For a living room, use laminate planks. This is because a living room floor isn’t exposed to constant water, but it’s exposed to foot traffic and heavy furniture. So, you need a floor with a sturdy and strong base, such as laminate. You can also use vinyl flooring, but you must install a stable underlayment.

Offices: In offices, you can use a laminate floor or a vinyl floor. If it’s going to be a busy office floor, you need sturdy flooring like laminate. On the other hand, if it’s a restricted office, you don’t need too much rigidity from the flooring and can use vinyl flooring.

Final Words

In summary, laminate and vinyl have similar appearances but have different features. For instance, laminate has a more natural formula and a thicker and sturdier base. In comparison, vinyl flooring has a more synthetic formula but a thinner and less durable base.

Tony Adams

Tony Adams

Woodworker, Interior and Exterior Painter, Flooring Specialist

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about.

Eral Kadrija

Eral Kadrija

Lead Editor, Home Renovator

Eral has a passion for home renovation and repair. Over the years, he has bought, renovated, and sold 7 old homes. Using his experience from different DIY projects he created DIY Geeks.

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