When it comes to choosing new flooring for your home, there is no shortage of options available. If you’re planning to remodel on a budget, vinyl and laminate are both a great solution that can add beauty and durability to any space. If you’re not sure whether laminate or vinyl is better, it’s important to understand the pros, cons, and differences between these two flooring types. Read on to learn more about vinyl vs laminate so you can decide which option is right for you.
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Major Differences: Vinyl vs Laminate
If you want new flooring in a bathroom or kitchen, it’s crucial to choose a material that won’t warp or loosen after exposure to moisture. While some laminate has water-resistant features, it can still become damaged if water is allowed to sit on it for a long amount of time. Vinyl is much more water-resistant, which makes it a better choice if you want new flooring in moisture-prone areas of the home. The difference between laminate and vinyl is significant in many ways. When it comes to looks, most homeowners prefer laminate. While vinyl and laminate are both available in a myriad of colors and styles, laminate is embossed into the material, giving the flooring a realistic appearance. It’s a better choice in areas of your home that people will see, such as the entryway, dining room, and living room. Let’s explore more of the various aspects of these types of flooring so you can determine which features mean the most to you.
Care and Maintenance
To care for laminate flooring, it’s best to use a dry mop or broom and avoid using liquid cleaning solutions whenever possible. A damp mop that’s almost dry to the touch is a good way to clean your laminate floors without causing damage. Vinyl floors are much easier to clean since they can be maintained and kept clean using a wet mop without issue. You can even scrub your vinyl floors, as long as you’re using cleaning products that are deemed safe for this material. Both flooring types are fairly easy to keep clean, but laminate has several top “wear layers” that can cause the floors to become loose or damaged if they’re exposed to too much moisture. If the top layer of your laminate gets scratched, it’s not repairable and will result in permanent marks and other issues.
When it comes to maintaining laminate or vinyl plank, vinyl is much more durable and easier to care for. In fact, vinyl is referred to as resilient flooring and is often used in commercial applications. Scratching your vinyl floors may not look great, but it also shouldn’t result in permanent damage as it will with laminate. Overall, vinyl is much easier to maintain and keep looking new for years into the future. Since you can clean vinyl floors with a wet mop, they’re easier to clean and maintain over time.
When it comes to installing vinyl or laminate, both floors are pretty easy to install in most parts of the home. However, if you’re not familiar with this material or you want to make sure the job is done right, it’s always best to consult with a professional flooring installation company. You can find laminate and vinyl sold in planks, which lock together to form a floating floor. This format is ideal if you’re planning to install your new floors DIY. You can cut your vinyl or laminate flooring using a saw or utility knife. Just make sure you’re measuring everything correctly and cutting the material so it forms a smooth, even edge. Sheet vinyl is more difficult to install for DIYers. If you choose this option, you may do better hiring a professional to ensure proper installation. Both floors are easy to install, so when it comes to vinyl vs laminate in this arena, it’s a tie.
The cost of your new laminate or vinyl flooring depends on the brand, the thickness, and the design. Most laminate flooring ranges between $1 and $5 per square foot. Vinyl is available for as low as $1 per square foot, too. The cost increases when you opt for luxury vinyl planks or a premium brand, which may bring your price closer to $5 per square foot or more. Shop online and compare prices of different options and consult with a local flooring company to ask about discounts on installation and materials. Both of these flooring choices are affordable if you’re looking for a way to update your home on a budget. Sheet vinyl is typically the cheapest option, and no matter what, they’re both less expensive than a material like hardwood or tile.
Of course, you want your new floors to last which is why it’s important to consider the lifespan of luxury vinyl plank vs laminate. Most laminate flooring comes with a warranty that ranges between 10 and 25 years. For vinyl, luxury plank brands can include a 20-year warranty or more. Overall, both floors should last a minimum of 10 years with proper care and maintenance. Keep in mind that laminate requires a lot more care, which means it might not last a long as vinyl. Keep your laminate flooring dry and clean it regularly, and it should last almost as long as vinyl. Homes with pets or heavy foot traffic may see their flooring lifespan shortened. Scratches and water exposure can make both laminate and vinyl wear out much faster.
If you’re searching for eco-friendly floors, look for products that qualify for the LEED MR4 (recycled content) status. One caveat: laminate always contains a plastic wear layer on the top, which uses melamine resins that can off-gas chemicals and other emissions. Vinyl has come a long way when it comes to having a positive environmental impact. Some brands are offering vinyl that has a LEED credit EQ4.3, which means it emits a much lower level of gases and chemicals. However, vinyl is still a synthetic product and can create toxic chemicals when it’s burned. It’s also not biodegradable and cannot be recycled so it’s certainly not the ultimate eco-friendly choice. Laminate uses a natural wood core, which means it’s slightly better in terms of sustainability and eco-friendly properties.
It’s important to keep your floors looking new, so stain resistance is an important component of choosing vinyl vs laminate. To make laminate flooring, the material is pressure-laminated using several layers with a clear aluminum oxide top layer. This wear layer resists stains quite well, making laminate a great choice if you’re concerned about unsightly marks or permanent stains. Vinyl is also coated, but it uses a transparent urethane layer to keep it protected. In all, both of these flooring materials do a great job of protecting against stains. While the material used to make each wear layer is different, they’re both excellent at protecting your floors.
Comfort and Sound
When you walk on your floors, they should feel soft and comfortable underfoot. Laminate tends to be thicker than vinyl and includes a wood core that can make it warmer and softer than vinyl. If you install thin vinyl, it may feel cold and hard under your feet when you walk on it. Laminate should be the preference in bedrooms and living spaces where comfort is key. If a quality underlayment is installed, both vinyl and laminate are fairly quiet. Choose a thicker material to ensure that your new floors are comfortable, quiet, and soft to walk on.
When you’re weighing the vinyl vs laminate flooring pros and cons, don’t forget to consider how this flooring will affect your home’s resale value. In terms of style, laminate tends to be more favorable since it’s offered in a wider range of designs and colors than vinyl. It’s best to install luxury plank vinyl when selling your home since it offers better quality and a great variety of colors and styles. Choose floors that come with a long-term warranty you can transfer to the new homeowners. This will ensure that you’re getting more return on your investment and may help your home sell faster. Families may prefer laminate for its sound-reducing qualities, while vinyl is more durable and can be installed in the bathrooms and kitchen.
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So, what is better laminate or vinyl plank flooring? As you decide between vinyl plank flooring vs laminate, it really comes down to which features are most important to you. If softness and style are at the top of your list, laminate is a great choice. If durability is more important, you may lean more toward vinyl. As long as you choose a quality product and utilize professional installation, both vinyl and laminate can be a budget-friendly, long-lasting flooring choice for your home.