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When choosing affordable and durable countertops, both laminate and vinyl are great choices. However, there are a few key differences between these materials. Luxury vinyl products are waterproof and reasonably tough, while laminate planks are slightly cheaper and easier to care for.
On This Page:
- What’s the Difference Between Laminate and Vinyl Flooring?
- Laminate vs. Vinyl Flooring: Which Is Better?
- Moisture Resistance
- Environmental Impact
- Radiant Heating
- Resale Value
- Laminate vs. Vinyl Flooring: Which Is Best for Your Home?
- Laminate vs. Vinyl vs. Other Materials
- Top Engineered Hardwood and Laminate Flooring Brands
What’s the Difference Between Laminate and Vinyl Flooring?
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Both vinyl and laminate are composites that share many similarities. However, there are a few important differences. Notably, laminate utilizes more natural products than vinyl and tends to be slightly more durable, while laminate is more affordable and easy to maintain.
Laminate flooring consists of a water-resistant base layer and a multi-layer core of high-density fiberboard. The core is often entirely synthetic, but it may also consist, at least in part, of wood waste, helping to reduce its environmental impact. The next layer is a photographic print, with various designs available, including designs that mimic materials like stone, wood and tile. The final layer is a coat of resin on top of the print. To install laminate flooring, you can glue it to a subfloor, float it or nail or glue it down.
Luxury vinyl is entirely synthetic, consisting of multiple layers of polyvinyl chloride, or PVC. It has a tough urethane topcoat that acts as a wear layer. Vinyl is suitable for snap-and-click, peel-and-stick, glue-down, and floating installations.
Luxury Vinyl Plank, or LVP, is the material of choice for those wanting to mimic natural wood floors on a tight budget. They’re available in smooth or textured options to look more realistic. Luxury Vinyl Tile, or LVT, does a better job of resembling a wider range of materials, particularly natural stones and concrete. The tiles come in a greater selection of widths and sizes, so joints are less frequent and not as obvious.
Laminate vs. Vinyl Flooring: Which Is Better?
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Laminate and vinyl flooring share many similarities, including when it comes to installation method, cost and appearance. They’re both solid choices for affordable flooring throughout your home.
Both laminate and vinyl flooring have similar appearances. Homeowners can customize the top layer of laminate flooring to depict any type of material, and there are different textures available to provide traction and a more natural-looking finish. However, laminate flooring often still looks synthetic due to the unnatural shine of the material and the photographic print.
Vinyl flooring also comes in a wide variety of textures and can mimic any material, including wood or stone. Like laminate flooring, vinyl flooring often looks synthetic when compared with more natural materials.
Laminate flooring costs an average of $1 to $5 per square foot, not including installation, while vinyl flooring costs about $3 to $7 per square foot.
Laminate flooring tends to be slightly easier to clean. It doesn’t trap dust and dirt, and general daily cleaning with a broom or vacuum is fast and easy. Commercial cleaning sprays are a simple solution for deep cleans. However, you should keep in mind that excess moisture can seep between cracks and cause damage underneath.
Vinyl flooring is also pretty easy to clean. It typically only requires sweeping and vacuuming for general tidiness, and is easy to deep clean with a cleaning spray. Unlike laminate flooring, however, vinyl flooring can sometimes trap dust and dirt.
Both vinyl and laminate flooring are extremely durable. Laminate usually lasts for up to 20 years, while vinyl flooring typically comes with a 15+ year warranty. However, you can’t refinish or reseal laminate, while you can add extra layers of urethane to vinyl flooring to extend its life.
Laminate and vinyl flooring are both relatively easy to install. However, unless you have adequate experience and knowledge, it’s usually a good idea to use a flooring professional for the best possible results. Laminate flooring can lay over an existing floor and uses a foam underlayment to add insulation and control noise. Vinyl flooring can float over an existing floor without nails and glue or attach directly to a subfloor.
Laminate flooring is the better choice for moisture resistance. This type of flooring is 100% waterproof and is still safe and usable if submerged. Laminate flooring can offer moderate moisture resistance with proper installation and a vapor barrier, but it’s not 100% waterproof.
Both vinyl and laminate flooring are easy to repair. While laminate flooring is fast and fairly easy to remove for replacement, it’s impossible to repair it. You can extend the life of your vinyl flooring by applying extra layers of urethane, but you can’t sand or refinish this type of flooring.
Laminate flooring has the edge when it comes to overall environmental impact. Laminate reuses some wood byproducts, and some brands also use recycled materials. However, laminate flooring does emit VOCs (volatile organic compounds), while vinyl flooring does not.
Vinyl flooring is a good choice for homes with pets. Vinyl is 100% waterproof, scratch-resistant and easy to clean. That said, laminate isn’t a bad choice for your furry friends. While not completely waterproof, the material is water- and scratch-resistant, and dander and pet hair are easy to sweep.
Vinyl flooring is a better choice if you plan to install radiant heat. While not all types of vinyl are compatible, vinyl efficiently conducts heat, which can help to make sure your floor is toasty in the winter. Only specialized laminate is suitable for use with radiant heat systems, and laminate is not an effective conductor.
Laminate and vinyl both have negligible effects on the resale value of your home. High-quality laminate flooring can increase property value slightly, but neither laminate nor vinyl has a particularly good reputation when compared with other materials, like hardwood or stone.
Laminate vs. Vinyl Flooring: Which Is Best for Your Home?
Depending on what area you’re considering, vinyl or laminate flooring may be a better choice.
Which Is Best for Bathrooms?
Vinyl is a great option for your bathroom since it’s waterproof and slip-resistant. High-quality, textured luxury vinyl is a good choice. Since it’s 100% plastic, it doesn’t incur water damage and is easy to clean.
Which Is Best for Kitchens?
Vinyl is also good for kitchen flooring. Moisture resistance is a key factor in the kitchen too, so when it comes to laminate vs. vinyl for the best kitchen floor material, luxury vinyl wins.
Which Is Best for Living Rooms?
Vinyl and laminate are both good choices for living room floors. These materials are cost-effective and come in a wide variety of styles and color options.
Which Is Best for High-Traffic Areas?
Vinyl tends to last longer In high-traffic areas. This is because you can add extra urethane layers to increase durability, which you can’t do with laminate.
Laminate vs. Vinyl vs. Other Materials
Laminate and vinyl are both popular, affordable flooring products, but they’re not the only types of flooring material you should consider. Other popular options include linoleum and wood.
Linoleum is often confused with vinyl, but linoleum is a natural composite made from linseed oil, sawdust, cork powder and ground stone. It’s recyclable and often contains recycled materials, so it’s a reliable, affordable, environmentally-friendly option. It’s similarly priced to vinyl and laminate and has a high tolerance for moisture, so it’s a great choice for kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms. It works well in high-traffic areas, homes with pets and kids, requires minimal maintenance and is easy to clean.
Hardwood and engineered wood floors are more expensive than laminate and vinyl, but they have a much longer lifespan and an aesthetic appeal. You can refinish these floors multiple times, and wood floors typically give a home a higher resale value.
Top Engineered Hardwood and Laminate Flooring Brands
Some of the most popular hardwood and laminate flooring brands include:
|Top Laminate Brands||Top Vinyl Flooring Brands|