What is the difference between vinyl & laminate flooring?

Choosing the right kind of flooring for your house or commercial space is important. Not only does it have to look aesthetic and pleasing, but it should also serve its purpose.

Fortunately, there are innumerable materials and designs to choose from, and the numbers are growing every year. In fact, the global flooring market was valued at a whopping $277.67 billion in 2023.

Both vinyl and laminate are excellent options for flooring. However, they do have some fundamental differences that you must be aware of before making a decision for your home. So come on, let’s get started!

1. Basic difference

Laminate is a synthetic material that homeowners opt for if they want to make their floor look like hardwood. A high-density core board serves as the foundation layer of laminate flooring, and a melamine wear layer acts as a scratch-resistant coating on top of it. Laminated flooring is a fantastic option for everyday wear and tear since they are sturdy but they are not resistant to moisture.

On the other hand, vinyl is also a synthetic material used to mimic the effects of ceramic, stone, or tiled floors. It is not only scratch and abrasion-resistant but can also withstand moisture much better than laminated flooring. Today’s vinyl flooring uses a floating technology where the vinyl sheet or tiles can float on top of the subfloor through a lock-and-key mechanism.

2. Appearance

When it comes to appearance, laminated floors are the clear winner. Average laminate is of higher quality, which gives the floor a better gloss when the installation is done. Laminate is also thicker than vinyl flooring, around 6 to 12 mm, whereas vinyl is only about 5 mm.

If you get in touch with a flooring professional, you’ll get to know that vinyl sheets are embossed with patterns and designs of your choice. However, laminated sheets usually contain a resin-based seal, which increases their thickness.

3. Lifespan

The lifespan of all floorings depends on how well and how often you clean it. For both vinyl and laminate, you should ideally start with dry cleaning methods to get rid of initial dirt and grime. Use a dust brush or a vacuum for this.

For more stubborn dust and dirt stains, go for damp mopping with a mild detergent. However, remember that vinyl flooring can be wet-mopped, but laminate flooring cannot.

If you maintain your floor well, the average vinyl floor will last somewhere between 10 years for thin ones and 25 years for thicker, more premium sheets.

Well-maintained laminated flooring has a lifespan of about 15 to 25 years. If the floor hasn’t been installed or maintained well, the lifespan will drastically reduce to 5 to 10 years.

4. Cost

Although both vinyl and laminate are long-lasting and low-maintenance, their prices are competitive. However, more commonly, vinyl is more affordable.

If you go for the 7 mm thin versions of glue-down vinyl flooring, it’ll cost just about $1 per square foot. Luxury vinyl planks cost about $5, which is also quite budget-friendly.

If you want to opt for the most affordable kind of vinyl material, you’ll have to pay only about $0.65 per square foot, but the quality of the vinyl sheets might not be that great.

On the other hand, Laminated floors cost slightly more, from $1 for 7 mm thick laminate planks to $5 for 12 mm thicker ones.

5. Installation

No matter what sort of flooring you wish to install, it’s always best to ask a professional for help. But if you wish to do it on your own, here are some tips to help you.

Vinyl tiles can be loose-laid or bonded to the subfloor. Premium planks or tiles that are affixed with unique adhesives make up adhered vinyl flooring. Vinyl planks are attached side-to-side but not to the subfloor.

On the contrary, all laminated floors are of the floating type. Just like vinyl planks, laminated flooring is also attached side-to-side. Since laminated floors offer more friction and protection, the material won’t shift or slip. Moreover, laminate can be easily cut off or separated using a knife.

6. Environmental factors

The biggest reason so many people opt for vinyl flooring is because it’s completely waterproof. So, no matter what you spill, your floor won’t get soggy or damaged for years! However, vinyl is affected by heat and is also sensitive to extreme temperatures.

Laminated floors have a wooden core, which is why they can get damaged with water, but they are heat-resistant.

Over to you…

These are some of the basic parameters to keep in mind while choosing between vinyl and laminate flooring. While vinyl is best for rooms with higher humidity, like kitchens and basements, laminate is more suited for areas where food traffic is high, such as living and dining rooms.