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What Is the Difference Between Laminate and Vinyl Flooring?

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Laminate and vinyl flooring are among the most popular options at the moment. Many homeowners who want the hardwood look without investing in the cost of hardwood flooring choose one of these. However, deciding between them can be a challenge, and to do so, you must understand the difference between these two options.

One of the major difference between laminate and vinyl flooring is that laminate is made of wood byproducts, while vinyl contains synthetic material. Additionally, vinyl is better in terms of appearance, placement, and cleaning, while laminate is better for environmental impact.

The rest of this article will look at the differences between laminate and vinyl flooring in detail and help you determine which is the right option for you.

The Difference Between Laminate and Vinyl Flooring.

The Difference Between Laminate and Vinyl Flooring

There are a few distinctions between laminate and vinyl flooring, including the materials each flooring option is made out of and their appearance. 

Let’s consider the differences in more detail:

Laminate

Laminate flooring offers the realistic look of wood flooring. It’s thick and made of four layers of material: 

  • The back layer
  • The core layer
  • The design layer
  • The wear layer. 

These layers help protect the floor underneath the laminate and also make it comfortable under your feet.

A combination of these factors makes laminate a popular option amongst homeowners looking to remodel their floors. Additional positives include its affordability and water resistance. 

However, homeowners should keep in mind that laminate is not entirely waterproof.

Vinyl   

Vinyl flooring consists of synthetic materials such as plastisol and polyvinyl chloride. Like laminate, it is constructed in layers, which makes the final product durable and waterproof. 

Each board has a vinyl core with a hard, printed vinyl layer at the top. 

This flooring option is available in a multitude of designs and styles, and you’ll be able to choose from a range of looks, including options that resemble wood, stone, and ceramic. 

Additionally, vinyl flooring is thick, and luxury vinyl measures 5 mm (0.20 in) in width. Depending on the designs you choose, it can pass for natural wood, stone, or ceramic flooring.

Which Is Better, Laminate or Vinyl Flooring?

Both vinyl and laminate flooring are excellent choices. However, when it comes to what you need for flooring, one option might be better than the other.

Vinyl is better if you want flooring that’s easy to clean and fits anywhere in the house. However, if you’re looking for a floor that’s comfortable under your feet, you should consider laminate. Both floorings are aesthetically pleasing and are available in multiple styles and colors.

This section will examine each option in detail and see how laminate and vinyl compare against each other.

Affordability and Pricing

One of your biggest concerns is likely how much you’ll have to spend on either flooring.

Vinyl is very affordable, and prices start at roughly $2 per square foot (0.09 sq. m). This means you likely won’t have to spend tons of money to install vinyl in your room.

Laminate is also similarly cheap to install. The average project cost for laminate is around $3.80 to $4.80 per square foot (0.09 sq. m).

Keep in mind that prices will always vary depending on where you buy the flooring and the brand that created the flooring.

RESULT: There’s not much difference when it comes to affordability. Both vinyl and laminate are low-cost options for homeowners, and you won’t have to worry about breaking the bank for your floors.
vinyl and laminate flooring installation

Installation

You’re likely looking for a flooring solution that’s easier to install, and you’ll get that with both of these options.

You can install vinyl flooring without professional help, thanks to the interlocking design of the boards. The interlocking installation also gives off the illusion of a floating floor. 

However, be wary of luxury vinyl as it can prove to be a little more complicated.

Laminate flooring is also simple to fit. Like its vinyl counterpart, laminate flooring installs through an interlocking installation method. Again, you won’t need to call in a professional to help you, and you’ll be able to manage with minimal effort.

RESULT: Because both vinyl and laminate flooring offer easy DIY installation, there’s no real winner here.

Appearance

When installing new flooring, you want it to look good. So you’ll be looking for flooring that’ll wow your guests and is aesthetically pleasing each time you enter the house.

Both vinyl and laminate flooring are available in various designs and styles.

Vinyl can resemble wood, stone, and ceramic and is available in numerous colors and designs. No matter whether you’re looking for a dark-colored hardwood plank look for your floor or a floor that looks like marble, you’ll find what you need.

Laminate flooring was specially created to resemble wood at a more affordable price and is mainly available in such designs. However, you’ll be able to find laminate that resembles almost any style of wood you can imagine, with the look being realistic and consistent between boards.

Furthermore, laminate flooring is available in other designs and styles as well. Like vinyl, you can find laminate floors that resemble stone, ceramic, wood, and different kinds of floors.

Laminate and vinyl have a lot to offer in terms of design. Both provide numerous options to choose from, and you’ll likely find your preferred design in each of these flooring styles. 

RESULT:  There’s no real competition between them in terms of whether they offer certain styles. Additionally, as they’re both affordable and available in high-quality options, you won’t have to worry about price differences.

Flooring Placement

If you’re buying vinyl or laminate flooring, you’ll also have to consider whether the flooring style is appropriate for any given room.

RESULT: Both vinyl and laminate flooring needs careful consideration when it comes to placement.

Where can vinyl flooring be placed?

Vinyl flooring can be placed virtually anywhere in the house. So no matter whether it’s in the kitchen, bathroom, living room, or bedroom, vinyl will keep its look and durability.

Since vinyl is waterproof, it’s perfect for bathroom and kitchen floors. You won’t have to worry about the occasional spills or wet spots ruining your vinyl flooring.

Vinyl can also work great with pets in the living room or bedroom. This option is highly durable and can withstand scratches from pets. Additionally, its water-resistant properties mean that you don’t have to worry about an inopportune accident from your pet ruining your floors.

Where can laminate flooring be placed?

Laminate, however, is limited in placement. It’s neither waterproof nor water-resistant, meaning there will be rooms in which you cannot install laminate, including:

  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom
  • Dining room
  • Mudroom

Laminate will also not fare well in areas in your house where pets may roam. While it may be able to withstand scratches and other wear and tear, pet accidents may cause long-lasting damage.

However, laminate can be placed in most other areas of the home, including your bedroom, living room, office space, and other rooms where there’s no risk of water spillage.

RESULT: Given the concerns regarding water resistance, vinyl flooring is your best option if you’re looking for a flooring option that can be placed anywhere in your home.

Cleaning

When you buy flooring, you’ll want to purchase flooring that’s easy to clean and maintain. After all, floors are what get dirty the fastest in homes. They get walked on, we drop and spill things on them, and our pets sometimes leave behind hair and have accidents on our floors.

Both vinyl and laminate flooring are easy to clean, though cleaning methods are different.

Cleaning vinyl flooring is relatively easy. You start by sweeping any dust, dirt, hair, or broken items with a broom. 

Once your floor looks clean, you should then mop it with water and an all-purpose cleaner such as the Fabuloso All-Purpose Cleaner Degreaser . This product is environmentally friendly and effectively cleans through grime and grease that leaves no visible residue. Additionally, it requires no rinsing, so you don’t have to spend much time cleaning up after using it.

FABULOSO Professional All Purpose Cleaner & Degreaser Gallon Refill, Lavender, 4 Gallons Total (128 oz Bottle | Case of 4), Multi Purpose Cleaner, Bulk, Bathroom Cleaner, Floor Cleaner, Toilet Cleaner

Vinyl floors are waterproof and durable, so you don’t need to worry about causing damage to them while cleaning.

Laminate floors will need to be cleaned differently. You’ll first need to sweep the floor, then get a damp mop that has been squeezed of as much water as possible. Use it to give your floors a once-over. 

Most laminate floors aren’t waterproof or water-resistant, so you want to be sure that you use as little water as possible. Some people find solace in using a Swiffer to clean up their floors rather than a wet mop. 

The Swiffer Sweeping Kit is perfect if you need a product that can act as both a broom and a mop and fit in tight spaces. It can be assembled easily and is safe to use on most types of floors.

Swiffer Sweeper 2-in-1, Dry and Wet Multi Surface Floor Cleaner, Sweeping and Mopping Starter Kit, Includes 1 Mop + 19 Refills, 20 Piece Set
RESULT: When it comes to ease of cleaning, vinyl wins over laminate floors. Vinyl is mainly waterproof and easy to clean as it only takes sweeping the floor with the broom and a damp mop to get the cleaning job done. It’s also very durable and won't get damaged if you use water or an all-purpose liquid cleaner.
While laminate floors are manageable, you have to be extremely careful to use as little water as possible. This can lead to more time spent cleaning them to your satisfaction.

Environmental Impact

Today, many people take the environmental impact of interior decoration choices into account before making a decision either way, including when it comes to flooring options. 

That said, both vinyl and laminate floors are viable options if this is a concern. However, there are still certain factors you’ll need to consider, such as how long the floors last and whether they’re recyclable.

Vinyl flooring is a reasonably green option, but it’s made of synthetic material, which can contain some toxic elements when burned. Additionally, while vinyl floors last for up to 20 years, they won’t decompose when disposed of and are usually non-recyclable.

This means that vinyl is an excellent choice if you’re looking for something that’ll minimize household waste. However, the fact that vinyl is non-recyclable can be a concern for many people. 

Laminate flooring is a bit more environmentally friendly than vinyl floors. There are also options available for you to buy floors made of recycled materials. 

It’s essential to keep in mind that these floors are still made of plastic, which can be harmful if burned. Additionally, like vinyl flooring, laminate is made with materials that can release toxic chemicals into the atmosphere if burned. 

However, the toxic chemicals in laminate are still relatively minimal compared to vinyl.

Laminate can last up to 10 to 25 years, but be very cautious when it’s time to get rid of it. While laminate is recyclable, it needs to be handled by specialty programs. 

Check with your waste disposal company to see if they know of a program that can handle laminate floors or get help from the flooring manufacturer. 

RESULT: While both floors are durable, the fact that laminate made from recycled materials is available makes it the better option when it comes to environmental friendliness.

Resale Value

When it comes to resale value and flooring, things can get a little tricky. 

Truthfully, neither laminate nor vinyl flooring has an outstanding reputation when it comes to property value. The reason for this is because both options are cheaply made and affordable, which means buyers don’t have to pay a premium the way they would if you had stone or wooden floors.

However, when it comes down to it, laminate offers better resale value than vinyl, especially higher quality laminate. 

This is because vinyl – especially lower quality vinyl – can lower the value of your house. The biggest challenge with vinyl is that when buyers see that a home has vinyl floors, they believe that the vinyl is low-quality rather than luxury vinyl. 

Even though vinyl has improved as a product, this reputation means that it’s not a popular flooring idea if you plan on selling your home anytime soon. 

RESULT: Laminate has had more time when it comes to building a reputation among homebuyers. When buyers see that a home has laminate floors, they immediately think of it as being premium. 

Should you buy Laminate or Vinyl Flooring?

Laminate and vinyl flooring are both equally excellent options for remodeling your home’s floors. However, if you’re looking for floors that’ll be durable, look great in your home, are manageable, and can be placed anywhere, consider purchasing vinyl flooring.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for a floor that’ll beautifully resemble real wood, is environmentally friendly, lasts for a long time, and is available in many styles, laminate flooring might be what’s best for you.

However, I highly recommend vinyl flooring, as it’s better for all high-traffic areas in your house and wins out over laminate in a head-to-head battle.

That said, vinyl and laminate flooring are both excellent options for floors, and you should make a decision based on your unique needs. 

No matter which one you choose, both of the floors can make your house visually appealing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Vinyl and Linoleum the Same?

Vinyl and linoleum aren’t the same. Linoleum is made of natural materials, while vinyl consists of synthetic materials. You can recycle linoleum, but vinyl must be disposed of. Vinyl is the cheaper alternative of the two.

You can use both in damp or high-traffic areas of the house as they’re near-equally durable. 

Can You Place Laminate flooring over radiant heated floor?

Laminate flooring can be placed over a radiant heated floor. When set correctly, it can help warm up your living space effectively. However, you will need to be careful while doing so, and if you don’t have prior experience, you should call a professional.

To install laminate flooring on a radiant heated floor, follow the steps below:

  1. First, install the heating system. If you’re unsure, call a professional to have it placed correctly.
  2. Let the system work on its own for about four days. This will allow you to see – and fix – any faults before the system is covered up.
  3. By day 2, you can place your laminate flooring over the heating system. Doing this ensures that the system works throughout the room or house and that it’ll then work well with your laminate flooring.
  4. Once the four days are over, you can adjust the temperature to your liking.

It’s essential to be cautious when installing laminate flooring on a radiant heated floor. This is because it could cause damage to the flooring and the heating system if you’re not careful and may even cause injuries to people walking on the floors.

How Can I Remove Stains From My Laminate Floors?

You can remove stains from your laminate floors using acetone. First, dab a bit of the acetone on the affected area, and wipe it clean with a damp cloth or paper towel. Remember, laminate is susceptible to water damage, so you should avoid excess water where possible.

This method should also work for tar, paint, and oil.

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