Laminate and vinyl flooring can both mimic the look of wood or natural stone at a fraction of the price. Vinyl is a better option for basements as it’s 100% waterproof, while laminate is popular for living rooms and bedrooms.
What Is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate is synthetic flooring made of four layers: wear, design, core, and backing. It comes in many design styles, often mimicking the look of natural wood.
- Resistant to natural wear and tear
- Suitable for DIY projects
- Prone to water damage
- It can’t be refinished
What Is Vinyl Flooring?
Vinyl flooring is a synthetic flooring made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or other vinyl polymers. Vinyl flooring is available in sheets, tiles, and planks.
- Many types and grades to choose from
- 100% waterproof
- Low maintenance requirements
- Low-quality vinyl is susceptible to peeling
Laminate vs. Vinyl Flooring: Key Differences
Laminate floors feature a high-definition photographic layer below the transparent wear layer, creating the appearance of real wood, tile, or stone.
Laminate flooring comes in different colors, textures, and finishes. The varieties include hand-scraped, rustic, reclaimed wood, multi-tonal, natural finish, whitewashed, and multi-length.
LVP vinyl flooring is known for its realistic appearance, but not all have this effect. Thicker solid-core vinyl flooring can resemble wood due to deeper embossing.
Best for Appearance: Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring offers a more realistic option. It has a closer resemblance to hand-scraped hardwood, stone, ceramics, and other materials.
Laminate flooring costs between $1 to $10 per square foot. The material costs vary depending on the design and luxury upgrades.
Vinyl flooring is cheaper, with an average of $2 to $3 per square foot for tiles and planks. Professional installation costs more but helps avoid pricey mistakes. Vinyl plank flooring costs $7 per square foot, while simple vinyl sheet installation costs $3 per square foot.
Best for Cost: Vinyl Flooring
It’s easy to find inexpensive vinyl flooring. Laminate can be inexpensive, too, depending on the brand and type.
Laminate flooring has an impact-resistant design, making it suitable for high-traffic areas. It withstands the impact of dropped objects and can resist dents and scratches
Laminate flooring is durable but isn’t waterproof. Excess moisture or humidity exposure can cause warping and swelling. You also can’t sand or refinish laminate. Laminate flooring lasts 10 to 20 years, depending on care.
Vinyl flooring is durable and suitable for kids, pets, and high-traffic areas. Lower-quality vinyl, however, may peel or delaminate over time. High-quality vinyl planks with a thick wear layer can last up to 25 years with proper maintenance.
Vinyl is a moisture-resistant flooring material suitable for bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. It withstands spills, moisture, and occasional submersion without warping or damage.
Best for Durability: Vinyl Flooring
Vinyl flooring’s greatest strengths are its water resistance and waterproof properties. It’s made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and other synthetic materials that don’t absorb moisture.
Laminate flooring uses a click-and-lock installation method, making it popular for DIY projects. It doesn’t require professional tools or adhesives.
Some laminate flooring products come with an attached underlayment, making installation easier. You can install laminate flooring over various subfloors, including concrete, plywood, or existing flooring.
Installation methods for vinyl flooring depend on the specific product. Vinyl planks use the click-and-lock installation method, vinyl tiles are often peel-and-stick, and sheet vinyl requires adhesive.
When installing sheet vinyl, hire a professional. Sheet vinyl flooring is heavy and large, making it difficult for DIYers to make cutouts.
Best for Installation: Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring uses the floating floor installation method, which interlocks the planks. You don’t need to glue or nail individual planks or tiles to the subfloor. This installation method is best for DIY projects, as it doesn’t require extensive tools or adhesives.
Potential homeowners prefer laminate flooring due to its realistic appearance. Your home’s resale value increases if the laminate flooring is of good quality and pristine condition.
Vinyl flooring has a lower resale value than laminate flooring. The notion is, however, changing due to the availability of thicker and more realistic vinyl in the market.
Best for Resale Value: Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring has a higher resale value than most vinyl flooring types. The resale value depends on the flooring quality, the property’s condition, and buyer preferences.
Laminate has a lower environmental impact than vinyl due to its recycled wood core. But, the plastic melamine wear layer on the surface releases harmful VOCs. For sustainable laminate, look for LEED MR4 status.
Vinyl flooring comprises polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a synthetic plastic material. It’s derived from fossil fuels like petroleum or natural gas. Manufacturing involves energy-intensive processes and the use of chemicals.
PVC production generates hazardous byproducts and contributes to air and water pollution. Also, vinyl doesn’t decompose in landfills and can’t be recycled.
Best for Environment Impact: Laminate Flooring
Laminate flooring consists of a high-density fiberboard (HDF) or medium-density fiberboard (MDF) core. The HDF/MDF core is made from wood fibers from fast-growing trees or recycled wood.