Laminate Vs. Vinyl Flooring: How To Choose

Flooring is an extremely important part of your home. It may just be the most important not structural part of your home. Not only does it have a huge effect on the overall design and aesthetic, but it can change so much more.

laminate vs vinyl flooring

Tile floors are high-end, easy to crack, and cool to touch. Hardwood is easy to scratch, also high-end, and can fit any design style. But what about cheaper options? Let’s look at the difference between laminate and vinyl flooring.

Which Is Better: Vinyl Or Laminate Flooring?

Both vinyl and laminate flooring have many benefits for those who use them. But finding the difference between vinyl and laminate flooring before you buy isn’t always easy. Just like hardwood vs. engineered wood

Vinyl flooring is synthetic flooring made in layers. It starts out with felt that has adhesive on it or at least holds adhesive well. After that, it’s PVC plastic, which is the primary flexible part of the flooring.

Like vinyl, laminate is also synthetic but it is made to mimic wood, or sometimes tile. The materials used vary greatly and are always tightly compressed. Laminate can be used as a top layer or as a complete product. 

Laminate Vs Vinyl Flooring

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Two of the cheapest types of flooring options are vinyl and laminate. But a lot of people get the two confused and with good reason. They are very similar and if you choose plank flooring for both of them, they look almost identical. 

Waterproof: Vinyl

One of the biggest differences between laminate vs vinyl flooring is that vinyl is waterproof. This is also one of its biggest sellers because having waterproof flooring is necessary for bathrooms and sometimes kitchens. 

Laminate is hardly ever waterproof. If it is made waterproof, it will cost a lot more than standard laminate. Sometimes, you can’t even mop laminate floors. So this is a huge win for vinyl, but it’s not the only one. 

Durability: Laminate vs Vinyl flooring

Laminate is more durable and can withstand more foot traffic if properly installed than vinyl. The boards aren’t as flimsy or thin as vinyl. So this is a win for laminate, especially in houses with larger families.

Laminate is great for kids because it is also easy to get rid of spots with vinegar or nail polish remover. However, again, mopping isn’t ideal and should only be spot mopped unless otherwise mentioned by the manufacturer. 

Easy-of-Installation: Vinyl 

Vinyl is quite a bit easier to install than laminate. Especially if you choose the right kind of laminate. While some vinyl installs just like laminate does there are more options for vinyl because it is so flexible.

Peel and stick vinyl installs easily like a thick contact paper. It just might be the easiest type of flooring to install. It takes patience but it is easy to correct mistakes and goes down very quickly even as an amateur. 

Higher-End: Laminate 

Let’s face it, laminate is just a little higher-end than vinyl. But to be fair, vinyl is unfairly looked down upon when it is one of the best affordable options for bathrooms, second only to tile. But tile is expensive and difficult to maintain. 

As far as laminate goes though, you can get a high-end look for a fraction of the price of the real thing. It is considered high-end after it is finished and some laminate can be quite pricey and very high-end. 

Price for Vinyl vs Laminate flooring

Vinyl is cheaper than laminate most of the time. Though you can find laminate on sale that is cheaper than full-priced laminate, on average, vinyl is cheaper. If you get rolled laminate, you can save even more. 

The type of laminate or type of vinyl you get plays a huge role in the price. You can get either for under a dollar per square foot but you can find some very expensive laminate but you can’t find as expensive vinyl. 

Mimicry: Laminate 

Both laminate and vinyl are good at mimicking many different types of flooring. Both can mimic tile, wood floors, and even marble. But only one can be considered better than the other at mimicry.

Laminate is considered just a little better at mimicking textures than vinyl. It may be the thickness, the printing methods used, or the actual texture of the laminate that makes it better at mimicking than vinyl. 

Laminate Floor Installation

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Installing laminate flooring isn’t difficult after you learn how to do it. It is actually fairly simple, though if you get a bad batch, it can cause trouble. That’s why it is important to check each box before you start.

If you find bad boxes, return them and get ones that aren’t damaged or messed up. It will be worth it even if you have to wait another week or so for more boxes to ship out where you can pick them up. 

Step 1: Clean The Floor

The first step in installing a laminate floor is important. You need to clean the floors and clean them well. If there is gunk or the floors need to be sanded, do that now. Everything needs to be smooth and clean. 

Step 2: Place The Underlayment 

After the floors are clean and smooth, you need to install an underlayment. This consists of thin foam, or some similar material, the underlayment that will keep the plants from breaking and offer a sound barrier. 

Step 3: Lay First Row

Laying the first row in a laminate flooring project can feel very nice. It needs to be done all in one row. If the floor is wider than ten feet or so, you will definitely need someone to lend a hand to secure it at the same time. 

Step 4: Start Cutting

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If you know your way around a saw, cutting laminate is a breeze. It consists of one quick cut. A miter saw is probably the easiest one to use as it will give a quick and straight cut. However, most other saws will work too. 

Step 5: Follow A Pattern

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Following a pattern can be very useful. But for the most part, you want to do one row at a time. Do one row and then another. Keep at it until you finish the floor. Stairstepping usually doesn’t work out. 

Step 6: Lightly Tamp

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You actually want to tamp each row after you put it down and tamp the row behind it afterward. But you also want to tamp the entire thing after you finish. Do this by using a roller or simply walking over the floor barefoot. 

Vinyl Floor Installation 

Vinyl flooring Installation View in gallery

Installing vinyl flooring is even easier than installing laminate flooring. While there is such a thing as rolled vinyl flooring, today we are going to talk about rolled vinyl flooring. We are doing this for two reasons.

First of all, if you are trying to find the difference between vinyl and laminate, you probably want planks. But also because laying rolled vinyl is so easy it’s like laying linoleum. All you do is clean the floor and roll it out. 

Step 1: Clean Floor

Again, the floor needs to be very clean and in this case very dry. Don’t forget to use wood filler if there are any places in the plywood that need to be filled. It could cause damage later if you level them be. 

Step 2: Prime Floor

Most vinyl floors need to be primed. This will make it much easier for the adhesive to stick. Dry plywood won’t allow the vinyl to stick too well and neither will tile. So make sure you use a good primer. 

Step 3: Lay Planks – Dry

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You probably want to lay out your pattern without taking the sticker off the back of the boards first. This will help you make adjustments if you need to. It is a good idea to start in the center to get a symmetrical pattern. 

Step 4: Stick First Plank

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This can be a little scary but it needs to be done. Stick down that first tile or board. It needs to be in a corner and it should be a full piece. Just take the sticker off the back and slowly lay it down on the primed floor. 

Step 5: Continue A Pattern

Make a mistake? Use a hairdryer on warm to unstick the adhesive and try again. Just be careful when pulling it up not to damage the plank. The adhesive should still be sticky. If it isn’t, then use a new board. 

Step 6: Cut Boards 

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Unlike laminate which needs a saw to cut it properly, vinyl flooring can be cut with scissors or a utility knife. It can actually leave a straighter cut to lay the board down on a surface you can cut on, mark it, and then slice. 

Step 7: Finish Laying Planks

Lay all the planks out, being careful around corners. You can use the hairdryer technique to make the planks more pliable and fit around corners better. This can work any time and can be used for many different reasons. 

Making The Final Choice

Now that you have dedicated yourself and learned how to install both laminate and vinyl, it’s time to make your choice. Look at the winners in each category and go from there. If you find a pattern you love, then choose it.

It doesn’t matter which one you choose if it isn’t in a room with a lot of moisture. So most people end up choosing based on price and on the look of the flooring. This is probably your best bet, so go fall in love!