Laminate vs Vinyl Flooring (Which One Do You Need?)

When in need of an affordable floor that is strong, user-friendly, and attractive, you’ll be advised to go for a laminate or vinyl floor. But what’s the difference between both types of flooring?

The main difference between laminate and vinyl flooring is the thickness level. Laminate planks measure an overall thickness between 6mm and 12mm while vinyl floors rank between 2mm and 8mm. This makes laminate flooring thicker.

Also, laminate planks have a more natural than synthetic makeup since the planks are made from wood fibers and other wood by-products.

Vinyl flooring on the other hand has a more synthetic makeup. The synthetic makeup of vinyl flooring also means that the floor has better moisture resistance than laminate flooring.

This post reveals more differences between laminate and vinyl flooring including a guide to show which of the two floors will be best in different rooms. So, let’s dive in.

What is Laminate Flooring?

What is Laminate Flooring?

Laminate is a floating floor that is formed by assembling several laminate planks together on an underlayment or subfloor. Laminate flooring usually comes in planks that are designed with locks that need to be arranged properly to allow the laminate planks to click in place.

Laminate planks usually range between 6mm and 12mm making the planks sturdy and strong enough to support weight and traffic. The planks also have multiple layers of a protective coat on them to shield the planks from scratches and dents.

You should know that laminate floors usually give a limited range of design choices. This is because the print layer of laminate flooring is commonly designed to mimic or match the appearance of a hardwood floor. Laminate flooring is also not great and withstanding moisture.

What Is Laminate Flooring Used For?

  1. A laminate floor is commonly used in residential spaces
  2. The flooring is used to mimic or match the design of a hardwood floor
  3. Laminate flooring is commonly used on busy surfaces since the floor is strong and sturdy
  4. Laminate flooring is also used on areas that aren’t exposed to moisture like bedrooms.

What is 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 sometimes wood by-products.

The synthetic makeup of vinyl flooring gives the floor advanced features from other floors such as improved moisture resistance and durability. Vinyl floors are also designed with plastic sheeting on the floor to protect them from scratches and dents.

Additionally, vinyl floors have a wide range of design choices to choose from. Vinyl flooring comes in sheet, plank, luxury, composite, and tile vinyl. Each type of vinyl floor can be given a design pattern of any color or appearance. This is why vinyl flooring is common among homeowners who fancy room décor.

What is Vinyl Flooring Used For?

  1. Vinyl flooring is used to mimic and match any appearance on the floor
  2. Vinyl is used to make floor water resistant
  3. Luxury vinyl flooring provides stability and support
  4. Some vinyl floors like stone plastic composite vinyl can even be used outside
  5. Vinyl floors have good soundproofing

Next, let’s compare both types of floors to see which comes out on top.

Comparing Laminate Flooring vs Vinyl Flooring

To compare both types of floors, we’ll use their features and see which of the two floors is better. Let’s start with the:

Style and Appearance

What does the floor look like when it’s finished?

Laminate Flooring

A laminate floor reveals a hardwood-like appearance after the flooring has acclimated. This is because laminate floors are designed to mimic the appearance of hardwood flooring. Laminate flooring can also mimic the appearance of stone or ceramic flooring.

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring offers different shades and appearances. A vinyl floor can look like sheet flooring, tiled floor, or hardwood floor. You can even get vinyl flooring to look like laminate flooring. It all depends on the design pattern of the vinyl floor.

Best in Style and Appearance: Vinyl Flooring

The best flooring in style and appearance is vinyl flooring. This is because vinyl flooring gives you a broad range of finishing choices to choose from so you can easily match or mimic any appearance. Laminate floors also offer choices in appearance. But, these choices are usually limited to hardwood and stone appearances. Vinyl on the other hand can even mimic a tiled floor.

Cleaning and Maintenance

How easy or difficult is it to clean and properly maintain the floor?

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring tends to absorb stains over time, especially white and dark water stains. This is due to the wood structure of the laminate planks. So, you’ll need to wipe and clean your laminate flooring regularly.

You should also know that you can’t use a damp mop on laminate flooring because the floor doesn’t hold up well to water. So, the cleaning methods you can try on laminate floors are only dry methods such as wiping stains off with a cloth. This will prove difficult with stubborn stains.

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring doesn’t attract or absorb stains because the floor has a synthetic formula. This means you wouldn’t need to clean your vinyl flooring as much as other floors. Asides from this, vinyl floors can also be cleaned using any floor cleaner or soap mixture since the vinyl floor is moisture-resistant. This makes it easier to remove stubborn stains since you are allowed to dissolve the stains with solvent.

Best in Cleaning and Maintenance: Vinyl Flooring

The best flooring in terms of cleaning and maintenance is vinyl flooring. Since you can use solvents and water to wipe stains off of a vinyl floor, the floor becomes easier to maintain than laminate floors where you have to wipe through the stain.

Water Resistance

This checks how well the floor repels moisture.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate floors are not waterproof because the laminate planks have a fiberboard core made from recycled wood fibers. Since laminate is made from wood fibers, the planks become automatically porous and will swell if exposed to moisture for extended periods.

However, you should know that laminate flooring still offers an average level of moisture resistance. This level of moisture resistance is only ideal for low moisture areas of the home like walkways, bedroom floors, and hallways.

Laminate planks can’t be used in high-moisture areas since laminate planks are not waterproof. Also, you need a waterproof underlayment before installing laminate floors to prevent water from reaching the laminate planks from the subfloor.

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring offers a great level of moisture resistance due to the synthetic formula of vinyl flooring. Regular vinyl flooring like sheet vinyl has the seams of the sheet sealed to improve the moisture-resistant qualities of the flooring.

Luxury plank vinyl and luxury tile vinyl are tagged as being waterproof. Also, the bottom and top of the vinyl planks are usually sealed with waterproof sheeting.

Best in Water Resistance: Vinyl Flooring

The best flooring in terms of moisture resistance is vinyl flooring. This is because vinyl flooring is synthetic and as such, the flooring doesn’t absorb water like the natural wood fibers in laminate planks. Also, some types of vinyl flooring like luxury vinyl are waterproof.

Strength and Support

How strong is the flooring?

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is considered to be very strong and able to support high traffic and heavy furniture. This is why laminate flooring is common in commercial spaces.

The reason for the increased strength and support is the rigid structure of the laminate floor. Laminate planks can measure up to 12mm in thickness level. At this thickness level, the laminate planks will be able to support the weight and traffic that it is exposed to.

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring is strong but the support from a vinyl floor largely comes from the underlayment underneath the vinyl. Before you install a vinyl floor, you’ll be required to install an underlayment to give extra support to the vinyl flooring.

Without an underlayment, vinyl flooring will not be as strong as it should. The main reason for this is the structure of vinyl flooring.

On average, vinyl floors measure about 4mm in thickness level. At that thickness level, you need an underlay to make the vinyl flooring stronger.

Best in Strength and Support: Laminate Flooring

The best flooring in terms of strength is laminate flooring. This is because laminate has a sturdier base and thickness than vinyl flooring. As such, a laminate floor offers superior strength and support.

Installation Method

How is the flooring applied?

Laminate Flooring

Laminate floors are usually designed with a tongue and groove locking mechanism that allows each laminate plank to slide and fit perfectly into the next plank.

By sliding and inserting the planks, the laminate floor is installed. You should also know that you need underlayment for laminate planks. However, most brands of laminate planks in the market today come with pre-attached underlayment.

Vinyl Flooring

You can apply vinyl floors either by using the click and lock mechanism that laminate floors use or by using vinyl adhesive to glue the floor to the subfloor.

Sheet vinyl especially is usually glued down to the subfloor. The purpose of the glue is to prevent the vinyl flooring from shifting out of place when you walk over it.

You should also know that vinyl floors need underlayment to be installed. However, if there is an existing underlay or cushion on the subfloor, you can install vinyl flooring directly.

Best in Installation: Vinyl Flooring

The best flooring in terms of installation is vinyl flooring. This is because vinyl flooring gives you the liberty to either glue or click the planks on the subfloor. Laminate flooring on the other hand can only be arranged on the surface. Also, the use of vinyl adhesive for vinyl flooring makes the floor stay on the subfloor.

Soundproofing and Insulation

Does the floor offer insulation and soundproofing?

Laminate Flooring

Laminate floors provide good soundproofing and insulation due to the thick frame of the flooring. Since laminate is thick.

It becomes difficult for sound to travel through the flooring. Also, the thick structure means that laminate floors provide better insulation.

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl floors offer good soundproofing but this depends on the type of vinyl floor. Sheet and regular vinyl don’t have good soundproofing.

The thin nature of the sheet vinyl means that sound will be amplified on the floor. The thin nature of vinyl also means that it doesn’t provide good insulation. Vinyl flooring is known to get very cold during the winter months.

Best in Soundproofing and Insulation: Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring offers better insulation and soundproofing due to its thicker nature.

Thickness and Weight

How thick and heavy is the flooring?

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is known to be thick as each plank measures an overall thickness between 6mm and 12mm.

The planks are not only thicker but heavier because the planks are made from compressed wood fibers. This makes the planks heavier than regular floating planks.

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring ranges in thickness. The thickness of vinyl floors is between 2mm for sheet vinyl and 8mm for combination and luxury vinyl.

Asides from the thickness level, vinyl flooring is also lightweight. This is because the core of the planks is made from synthetic materials like PVC so the planks are not heavy.

Best in Thickness and Weight: Depends

The best floor in terms of thickness and weight depends on your needs. If you need thick flooring, then the best floor is laminate as the planks are thicker than vinyl flooring. However, if you need lightweight flooring, then vinyl is the best floor in terms of weight.

Next, let’s check out which of the two types of flooring will be best in different rooms of your home.

Best Flooring For Rooms

Bedroom: The best flooring for the bedroom will be vinyl flooring. Though both types of floors can be used in bedrooms, you’ll want a floor that is stylish to fit your bedroom décor. Also, vinyl flooring has a tough wear layer that can handle the friction from the bed frame and scratches.

Kitchen: For the kitchen, vinyl flooring is the best because vinyl flooring offers superior moisture resistance to laminate floors. So, the vinyl floor will be able to cope well with spills, leaks, and steam in the kitchen without showing signs of water damage. Laminate flooring should not be used in kitchens because laminate can’t handle water.

Bathrooms: You should only use luxury vinyl in bathrooms as this is better than laminate flooring at withstanding water and we all know that bathroom floors are high moisture areas. So you only want waterproof flooring like luxury vinyl in your bathroom.

Living Room: For living rooms, the best flooring will be laminate. This is because the living room is not a high moisture area of the home so a laminate floor can survive with little moisture resistance. Also, living rooms see a lot of foot traffic, heavy furniture, and objects. This means that you’ll need a sturdy and strong flooring to handle such a level of weight and furniture.

You can also use a vinyl floor in your living room but you have to make sure to use a very 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 a sturdy flooring like laminate. If it’s a restricted office, then you don’t need too much rigidity from the flooring. A vinyl floor with underlayment will work in this case.

Final Words

In summary, laminate and vinyl flooring are both great types of floors to use in residential or commercial spaces. The main difference between both types of flooring is that laminate plank flooring is usually thicker than vinyl plank flooring.

Also, vinyl flooring offers more resistance to scratches, dents, and moisture while laminate flooring offers more rigidity and support. You should remember to use vinyl planks in moisture-prone areas of the home while laminate planks can be used in busy spaces.

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