Laminate versus vinyl flooring: what’s best?
If you are building, renovating or remodelling your home, your choice of flooring can make a big difference in the overall look and feel of your home. The most popular choices for hard-wearing and cost-effective flooring are vinyl flooring or laminate flooring. But what’s the difference between the two and which one is better for you and your home?
What are the differences between Laminate and Vinyl Flooring?
To a layperson, they could be mistaken as pretty much the same thing. Both of these flooring types are cost-effective options compared to a timber or tiled floor, but their main difference lies in their composition.
Laminate flooring is made by sticking layers together in a lamination process. It has an inner core of wood and this helps to make the floor more rigid compared to vinyl.
Instead of being glued or nailed to the subfloor, the flooring is fixed using a ‘click and lock’ assembly, known as a ‘floating floor’ system.
Vinyl floor is made using PVC (polyvinyl chloride) a 100% synthetic material. The base layer is normally fibreglass coated in a plasticiser and PVC vinyl. The product is then printed and sealed using a surface print layer. This gives the material a strong but elastic composition. With such elasticity, it is considered very resilient because it can compress and expand without cracking after contact. As this product is 100% plastic as opposed to the wood element of laminate, it is often seen as the less environmentally friendly of the two, but as production technology improves, vinyl manufacturers have been able to clean up their manufacturing process which makes vinyl flooring much more eco-friendly. Plus, its properties mean that it can be easily recycled!
Both flooring types can come in a wide range of colours and styles, but recently as the trend for ‘Scandi’ and minimalist-style homes come into fashion, wood-look flooring options have become the most popular. Both vinyl and laminate flooring can replicate wooden flooring very convincingly, but without the cost and upkeep that comes with real wood flooring.
Choosing between vinyl planks and laminate flooring
Reaction to moisture
Vinyl flooring is fully waterproof, thanks to its composition making it a great choice for any part of the home. Laminate flooring on the other hand, is a bit more susceptible to water damage due to its inner-core of wood. If the wooden inner-core is exposed to water (due to a rip or through wear-and-tear) it will soften and begin to swell. This means that flooring in wet areas such as laundry or bathrooms, then using vinyl flooring would be the better option.
Best Choice: Vinyl, thanks to it’s waterproof properties
Durability and Maintenance
Both options are very durable even in high-traffic areas, and are both relatively maintenance free, aside from general cleaning. Vinyl is also completely scratch-proof making it great for families with pets.
Best Choice: Either
Another significant difference between the two floorings is cost. When looking at quotes for flooring, consider the warranty, replacements that may be required, and the initial up-front cost of purchase and installation. Vinyl usually comes with a manufacturer’s warranty of 15 to 20 years, whereas laminate flooring normally comes with a 10 year warranty.
For installation there may be ‘extra’ floor preparation costs when laying vinyl flooring. It is a product that hugs the floor so if a floor has imperfections or is not level, these flaws will show through when the vinyl is laid.
In terms of prices per square meter, there is no significant difference between the two, as most ranges start at about $25-30 per square meter (not including installation price).
Best Choice: Either
Thanks to laminate’s thicker product and inner-core of wood, it can be more comfortable and warmer to the touch compared to vinyl.
Vinyl has more ‘cushioning’ than laminate in the thicker options. These options are obviously more expensive.
Best Choice: Laminate
So, which one should you choose?
Overall, vinyl flooring is a great option for all areas of the home, thanks to its’ longer manufacturer’s warranty and it’s waterproof properties. However, both choices are great options and the final decision can often come down to the look you are going for in your home.
Choosing the right flooring for the right rooms will help to make sure that your flooring lasts as long as you are in your home.