Vinyl vs Laminate Flooring

Vinyl and Laminate floors have the same appearances but compared to other factors like cost, bi-products, and the areas for application of both floor finishes, which are different. You can use Both in place of the other, but not always.

Vinyl vs. Laminate Flooring

Is Vinyl the Same as Laminate?

They are not the same; Vinyl is made from synthetic fiber, while laminate is made from wood by-products. Both are, however, good alternatives for hardwood flooring at a lower price.

What is Vinyl Flooring?

Vinyl floors

They are made of polyvinyl chloride(PVC) material which gives it an elastic and firm quality and are coated with a urethane top layer to increase the lifespan/durability of the floor by providing chemical, slip and stain resistance.

Initially, acrylics were used as coatings in a process known as Waxing. It had to be done again after 2 to 3 months.

After Waxing 3-4 times, you must remove and reapply to avoid the growth of a thick layer.

Because of the repetition involved in Waxing, it has been replaced by Urethane because it lasts over ten times more, making it a better alternative.

Vinyl flooring comes in two forms, i.e., Planks and Tiles:

Planks: They are long with rectangular shapes and designed to be glued or snap together like traditional hardwood floors.

Tiles: They come in various dimensions and are designed for easy installation. They resemble stone, granite, and concrete.

What is Laminate Flooring?

Laminate floor is made up of wood by-products hence the name Composite. They closely resemble and feel like a hardwood floor as compared to Vinyl.

It is remarkably realistic, feels like wood when walking on it, and is durable. It is scratch and stain resistant, making it one of the easiest floors to maintain.

Laminate floors are installed as floating floors, meaning the boards interlock/connect but are not attached to the subfloor, making it easier to install than hardwood, which needs nailing down.

Comparison Between Vinyl and Laminate Flooring

The following features give a clear overview of both floors, which makes it easy to choose the floor finish that suits you the best.

Installation areas

Because of the differences in compositions of Laminate and Vinyl, sometimes one floor will do better in certain areas than the other.

RoomVinyl FloorLaminate Floor
BathroomYesNo
KitchenYesNo
livingroom/LoungeYesYes
BedroomYesYes
Home officeYesYes
Powder roomYesNo
Dining roomYesYes

Vinyl vs. Laminate flooring installation areas

Vinyl vs. Laminate Flooring – Cost, Differences, and How to Choose

Below is a summary of the differences between Laminate and Vinyl flooring

VINYL FLOORLAMINATE FLOOR
100% WATERPROOF and ideal for moisture-prone areas like bathrooms and kitchenDirect exposure to moisture for a long causes mold and rotting.
Relatively cheaper to purchase and installSlightly more expensive to purchase and install than the vinyl floor.
Not sunlight and heat resistantIt is heat and sunlight-resistant.
It fades when directly exposed to sunlight.It is heat resistant and therefore does not fade on sunlight exposure.
It has a synthetic nature and therefore looks slightly artificialMade from wood and has a very appealing look just like a hardwood floor
Vinyl Flooring is thin and therefore not comfortable when standing for long.It is thick and has an underlay making it comfortable to stand for long hours.
It has a lifespan of 15 years plus if well installed and taken care ofIt can last up to 20 years plus. It is very durable
Easy to install. It’s a matter of peel-and-stick.Professional know-how is needed in installing the underlying material and cutting the planks.
Wet mop, steam mop, and vacuum cleaners can be used.No use of wet mops.
Vinyl vs. Laminate flooring differences

Cost

Laminate flooring is more expensive compared to vinyl.

It costs $1 to $6 per square foot and an installation fee of $1 to $4. However, some high-quality laminates can go up to $7 per square foot, which is high compared to the price of vinyl which ranges between $.50 to about $5, and an extra  $1 to $2 installation fee per square foot.

Conclusion: The cost of buying and installing laminate flooring is higher than that of vinyl floors.

Durability

  • Vinyl is softer than laminate. It is likely to get torn when heavy furniture is dragged on it. Unlike Laminate flooring, Vinyl will likely fade when exposed to direct sunlight or heat over long durations.
  • During installation, if a urethane top layer is applied, it gives the vinyl floor a 15-year durability guarantee. It protects the floor from pet scratches and abrasion, creating a stain-resistant layer and making it easy to clean.
  • A laminate floor can do over 20 years and does NOT require extra vanishing or top layer. It has a wear layer that protects it from damage; however, heavy furniture should be lifted when moving on both floors to prevent indentation and scratches.

Conclusion: Laminate Flooring is more durable than Vinyl. It has a higher heat resistance and thus won’t fade, and its overall durability is greater than vinyl flooring.

Maintenance and Cleaning

The process of cleaning both vinyl and laminate floors is easy and does not require extra precaution as compared to hardwood floors.

Can you use a steam mop or a wet mop on vinyl or laminate floors?

A wet mop or a steam mop can clean Vinyl floors without too much water. Too much moisture weakens the adhesive used on the planks, peeling them off.

Steam mops, brooms, and dust mops with soap-free cleansers that are specially designed for laminate floors are ideal for cleaning laminate floors. A wet mop should never be used.

It is safe to clean. Stains from ink, oil, or paint can be removed using acetone and nail polish remover on laminate floors but it is good to consult with the manufacturer if not sure.

Verdict: Both Laminate and Vinyl floors are easy to clean and maintain.

Ease of Installation

Both vinyl and laminate floors are easy to install. With the right tools, anybody can install either of the floors and save some cash.

How do you install vinyl flooring? There are two ways to install vinyl flooring.

  1. Peel and stick. The backing of the sheet is peeled off, exposing an adhesive part which is then pressed on the prepared subfloor. It is the most common method of installing vinyl.
  2. Floating. The tongues and grooves of Vinyl planks are stuck together without gluing and nailing down.

How to install vinyl plank floors

On the other hand, Laminate planks are sold in pieces that interlock to form a floating floor. The installation costs range from $1 to $4 per square foot. Expansion gaps should be left along the perimeter to allow the floor to swell on exposure to heat and contract when exposed to moisture.

Verdict: Installing a vinyl floor is easier than laminate because it involves peeling and sticking. Beginners can easily handle the vinyl installation compared to tongue and groove laminate planks.

Water Resistance

Vinyl planks are made of 100% PVC, which means they are plastic and 100% resistant to water.

If you’re looking for a floor that can withstand high moisture content levels without warping or buckling, vinyl planks are the best if properly installed. You can, therefore, use it comfortably in bathrooms, kitchens, and other moisture-prone areas.

Laminate flooring is made from wood by-products and cannot withstand high moisture exposure without buckling. This is because although the top part is water-resistant, the bottom parts are made of fiberboards(real wood) that absorb water after a long exposure like flooding.

People with laminate floors installed in their homes often complain about molds because of exposure to moisture. You should not install this type of floor in areas with high moisture content like the bathroom, some kitchens, etc.

Verdict: Vinyl is the best waterproof floor compared to laminate. It is, therefore, a good option for your kitchen and bathroom floor.

Comfortability

Vinyl floor is installed directly on a concrete subfloor, making it cold because there is no insulation underneath. It is generally not the most comfortable floor. 

On the other hand, the laminate floor is more comfortable because of the underlying foam, making it slightly thicker than Vinyl flooring. It is also warmer compared to the vinyl floor because of its thickness.

Conclusion: Laminate floor is more comfortable than Vinyl floor.

Similarities

While these two types of flooring have quite a few differences, they have a couple of similarities that make people confused between them.

Maintenance

Both laminate and vinyl floors are easy to clean and maintain. You only need a mop and wipe immediately in case of any water spillages.

Cost

Their prices and cost of installation are not overly exaggerated. They don’t have a big price difference and are considered two of the most budget-friendly floors without losing the aesthetic value of your home. 

Pet-Friendly

Both vinyl and laminate floors are relatively pet-friendly. Pet hairs and urine can be easily wiped, mopped, or swept away on flat surfaces. 

Ease of Installation

Laminate and vinyl floors come in different designs and shapes but are both easy to install. They can be purchased in planks that interlock (tongue and groove) as floating floors and can be installed on any subfloors. However, in cases where the design purchased requires an underlay material, it is advisable to seek professional assistance. 

Vinyl Flooring Pros and Cons

Pros of Vinyl Flooring

  • Vinyl is waterproof; therefore, it is ideal for moisture-prone areas like kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Easy to install.
  • Relatively not costly.
  • Very easy to clean; a wet mop or a steam mop can be used to clean.
  • It is easy to sweep or vacuum pet hair.

Cons of Vinyl Flooring

  • It’s not the most comfortable floor because it is not relatively thick. Being attached directly to the floor with no underlayment makes winter cold.
  • Its synthetic look makes it look slightly artificial.
  • The textured kind of vinyl makes it slightly difficult to clean between the grooves.
  • It is not heat resistant, and direct sunlight makes it fade away with time.
  • It is not durable.

Laminate Flooring Pros and Cons

Pros of Laminate Flooring

  • It is heat resistant and could last a long time without fading.
  • Because of its thickness, the laminate floor does not conduct cold from the underlying floor. This makes it an ideal floor and a very comfortable floor.
  • Laminate is entirely made of wood. Therefore it is very environmentally friendly. It is recyclable.
  • Maintenance is easy. Once installed, it just needs spraying and wiping with a dry cloth.
  • You can easily sweep or wipe Pet hair because of its smooth surface

Cons of Laminate Flooring

  • Laminate is a little difficult to install and needs technical know-how to join the tongue and groove and set the underlying material.
  • It is not waterproof. Made from wood products and therefore not a good floor for kitchen or bathroom floors.
  • If pet urine sips between the floor grooves, it may bring mold to the floor because of moisture.

Vinyl vs. Laminate Flooring – How to Choose

From the above discussion, both Vinyl and laminate floorings have pros and cons.

The Vinyl floor is a winner in bathrooms and kitchens, but in areas where you want comfortability and a more realistic look, like in the lounge, bedrooms, and corridors, the Laminate floor is ideal.

The laminate floor retains its beauty over the years and provides a more comfortable and stylish look for your home.

Which floor is the most durable? Best suitable for kitchen and bathroom floors? The most comfortable? With the above tips on comparing Vinyl Vs. Laminate floors, I believe you can make an informed decision on which floor best suits your home.

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