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Laminate vs. Vinyl Flooring

woman walking on hardwood floor barefoot
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Laminate and vinyl flooring are both excellent alternatives to hardwood, stone and tile when you’re looking for cost-effective flooring solutions. Not only are they both durable, they also feature easy installation and maintenance. When comparing laminate flooring vs. vinyl, there are many factors to consider, including in which rooms each flooring works best, the types of flooring available and the benefits and costs of each. This guide provides an in-depth comparison of laminate vs. vinyl flooring to help you decide which flooring type is best for your project.

Laminate flooring

Learn all about laminate flooring, including what it is, what it’s best for, the different types of laminate flooring available and the benefits and costs associated with it.

What is laminate flooring?

Laminate flooring is an economical and functional flooring installation option that performs well and feels good underfoot. Laminate consists of four layers coated by resin: a top wear layer, a printed, decor layer, a fiberboard layer and a backing layer, and comes in many styles that mimic natural wood and stone. While this product is scratch-resistant and easy to clean, some homeowners find that moisture can cause it to swell and it chips easily. Due to its efficient materials and manufacturing, laminate flooring is relatively inexpensive compared to other flooring products. Where to use laminate flooring. The best rooms to install laminate flooring include higher-trafficked rooms such as dining, family and living rooms. While hardwood will add value to your home, using laminate will mimic the look of this flooring with added durability. You can find styles that look like maple, oak, stone, tile and more. If you need to install laminate over an existing floor, its low-profile design allows you to do so.

Types of laminate flooring

Laminate flooring comes in many styles to match your decor in addition to glue and glueless installations featuring either interlocking planks (known as “floating floor”) or a backing glue layer.  The glue option helps create a seal between the flooring planks, which can be beneficial when installing in spaces where spills occur frequently such as in bathrooms and kitchens.

Laminate flooring benefits

Aside from it being an inexpensive installation that looks remarkably realistic, laminate flooring has a lot of other benefits, including its strength, scratch-resistance and durability. You’ll also find that it’s stain-resistant, there’s a broad range of styles available and it’s an excellent choice for those suffering from allergies.

Costs of laminate flooring

The average total cost for a laminate flooring project ranges between $4 and $5 per square foot. Broken down, that means you can expect to pay between $2 and $3 per square foot for installation. The cost for materials averages $1.50 per square foot, with the underlayment prices averaging $.30 per square foot. If you choose to do the installation yourself, you’ll simply need to factor in the costs of the raw materials, along with any tools you’ll need to complete the project.

Vinyl flooring

Now, let’s take a look at vinyl flooring, including what it is, what it’s best for, the types available and its costs and benefits.

What is vinyl flooring?

Vinyl flooring’s manufacturing process involves synthetic materials that are made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride plastic). Flexible sheets of vinyl develop when small pieces of PVC undergo extreme heat and press into thin layers. These planks can look and feel like a variety of materials, including ceramic tiles, stone and wood. It’s easy to confuse vinyl, linoleum and laminate flooring due to their similarities. The difference is that vinyl flooring composition is entirely synthetic, while linoleum and laminate feature natural materials. That means vinyl has a more straightforward installation and costs less.

Vinyl flooring is best for:

Vinyl flooring is best for many rooms throughout your house including mudrooms, the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry rooms. If you have an enclosed patio, vinyl flooring is also an excellent choice for this area. Because vinyl installs over any surface, this material also works well in basements.

Types of vinyl flooring

There are three main types of vinyl flooring, including vinyl planks, vinyl sheets and peel-and-stick flooring. Beyond that, you also have three choices regarding its structure and grade. These include luxury vinyl planks, which are higher-quality than competing styles due to their thickness and durability, WPC vinyl flooring, which is a waterproof option featuring a four-layer construction, and rigid core vinyl planks, which feature a stone-plastic composite core that’s excellent for high-traffic areas of your home.

Vinyl flooring benefits

Vinyl flooring is easy to maintain, water-resistant, comfortable underfoot, cost-effective and durable. You’ll also find that it’s easy to install and, no matter where that installation occurs, you’ll benefit from vinyl flooring’s stain-resistance.

Costs of vinyl flooring

The price to install vinyl flooring is between $2 and $3 per square foot. Labor for installation has the same cost range, between $2 and $3 per square foot. Again, if you opt to install the flooring yourself, you’ll only need to factor in the cost of the raw materials, along with any necessary tools.

Laminate vs. vinyl flooring

There are differences and similarities when comparing laminate vs vinyl flooring. The best thing to do is determine which room the installation will be occurring in, and then decide which material is best for that room. When comparing laminate flooring vs vinyl, another consideration that may help you decide is whether or not you want to use synthetic or all-natural materials.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are vinyl and laminate the same? Vinyl flooring is available in tiles or sheets; it’s flexible and easy to maintain. Laminate flooring is rigid, has interlocking edges and doesn’t need to attach to the subflooring, while vinyl uses a self-adhesive backing or glue during installation. Both materials mimic the look of ceramic tile, wood and stone. What’s more durable, vinyl or laminate? While vinyl flooring is easier to install, laminate flooring is more durable. It’s damage-resistant and ideal for high-traffic areas and homes with children or pets. Is laminate or vinyl flooring better for bathrooms? Laminate flooring is humidity-, scratch- and stain-resistant and is durable during heavy foot traffic making it a great option. It does need silicone sealing around tubs and toilets to ensure that water doesn’t get underneath. Vinyl flooring, specifically sheet vinyl, is a good choice for bathrooms since the peel-and-stick varieties can be susceptible to water leaks. Should I hire a professional to install my flooring? Depending on your level of experience, you can install laminate or vinyl flooring as a DIY project. If you’re unsure of how to measure the space and calculate how much material you’ll need, it’s a good idea to hire a professional. They know if an underlayment is necessary, whether or not any existing flooring needs to come up, how to cut material and how to assemble rows of planks correctly.

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