Laminate vs. vinyl flooring is actually a common comparison. If you’re like most people, you probably confuse laminate flooring with vinyl flooring (especially vinyl plank flooring). The terms are often used interchangeably. This isn’t your fault, however, because most flooring companies market both of these floors in the same ways because they are both low-cost, durable flooring options.
However, when comparing laminate and vinyl flooring, the differences are certainly more noticeable. In this flooring comparison, we’ll go in-depth to show you the differences between laminate and vinyl flooring.
The difference between laminate and vinyl flooring
At the core, the biggest difference between laminate and vinyl flooring is the material in which they are constructed. Vinyl is made of 100% plastic while laminate is made of 99% wood product. This means that vinyl has a better moisture resistance than laminate because the plastic is 100% impervious to moisture. Laminate flooring can also be very moisture resistant as long as the planks are properly connected–although not 100% like with vinyl.
The best choice of flooring for your home will depend on several factors, to include available styles and colors. For bathrooms, kitchen, and other high-moisture areas, we recommend using vinyl. However, for other high-traffic areas that aren’t as susceptible to water, laminate provides a much better look overall.
Here, we look at the pros and cons of laminate vs. vinyl flooring in a few comparable areas. We will make a recommendation in each category but your exact situation will determine which flooring type is right for you.
Ease of installation
Winner: No clear winner.
Sheet vinyl comes in large rolls and is often a very tedious and despised installation process. However, with the introduction of vinyl plank flooring, the installation process has become much simpler for vinyl floors. Vinyl planks can be snapped together and cut around areas with ease. More importantly is the fact that if you were to make a mistake with vinyl planks, compared to sheet vinyl, the replacement is very quick and easy to do.
Laminate flooring is comparably easy to install. The first step is to lay down an underlayment of moisture-wicking material (such as tar paper), then install the laminate wood planks on top. The laminate flooring snaps together and can be installed with ease. Cutting and fitting laminate flooring is painless and oftentimes only requires a table saw.
Winner: No clear winner. Between $0.50 and $3.00 depending on style.
The costs of vinyl flooring range between $0.50 for basic styles and $3.00 per square foot for premium. What you end up paying will depend on your style preference and geographical location.
Laminate flooring costs about the same as vinyl flooring. $0.50 for oak-look laminate flooring and $3.00 for long-plank oak-look boards.
Winner: Laminate flooring
Vinyl flooring is often installed directly on sub-floor or an underlying concrete floor. This makes for an uncomfortable (and sometimes cold) walking surface.
Laminate flooring is also installed directly on the subfloor (with a moisture-wicking layer beneath), but the thickness of laminate flooring allows for extra impact absorption and a warmer feel on your feet.
Winner: Laminate flooring
Vinyl flooring, depending on the price range of your house, is not out-of-place in kitchens and bathrooms. However, vinyl flooring is not highly valued when it is installed in living rooms or other high-traffic areas. The best advice is to limit the installation of vinyl flooring to those high-moisture areas where they are most commonly placed.
Laminate flooring, while not offering as high of a value increase as hardwood or engineered hardwood flooring, still comes out on top of the vinyl. Laminate flooring is more eye-catching than vinyl and is found in many homes–in both high and low moisture rooms of the house.
Winner: No clear winner.
Both vinyl and laminate flooring are fairly simple and easy to maintain. Their smooth surfaces allow for easy sweeping and mopping, and most hard-surface vacuum cleaners work well on these floors.
However, laminate flooring, being 99% wood, is more susceptible to scratching than vinyl flooring. If you have pets or move your furniture often, you may find that vinyl resists scratches much easier than laminate flooring does. That being said, laminate flooring is more durable than vinyl flooring, so you should expect more dents and dings in vinyl flooring than laminate.
Have pets? Vinyl flooring may be a better choice. Carry heavy objects around? Laminate flooring may be better for you. The difference is minimal, so there is no clear winner assigned here.
Both of these flooring types, laminate, and vinyl, are great in their own way. The similarities make them interchangeable in most conversations, but the differences, as you see, are quite unique. Choosing the best flooring type is going to boil down to what room you are considering having it installed, and what style you are looking to install.
Additionally, your location is going to determine how fast and how costly a flooring installation would cost.