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Renovation & DIY Tips

Vinyl vs Laminate Flooring

Bathroom 101 - Vinyl vs Laminate Flooring Pros and Cons

What do you do if you’re looking for cost-effective flooring that’s easy to care for? Wood can be high-maintenance, tiles are a big job to lay and repair, and both are expensive. So, they’re out of the question. As an alternative, vinyl and laminate flooring are well worth considering.

If you’ve done some preliminary exploring, you might know that the pros of vinyl and laminate can make it difficult to choose between them. But if you take a closer look, you’ll find that one may be more suitable for your home than the other. It also helps to know about the cons of these flooring options.

Let’s unpack the pros and cons of vinyl and laminate flooring so you can make the best decision for your home.

Vinyl Flooring – The Basics

Made from one of the most versatile plastics in the world, vinyl flooring is available in a variety of colours and designs. Some types are completely waterproof, which makes them a popular choice for bathrooms and kitchens. It’s also a good choice for sheds and summer houses. Rigid Core or stone plastic composite (SPC) vinyl, Wood Plastic Composite (WPC) vinyl, and Vinyl Plank are the three most common options. 

Waldo Semon created Vinyl, also known as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), in the 1920s. It’s often used to manufacture items such as shoe heels, golf balls and cling film.

Pros of Vinyl Flooring

  • Aesthetic appeal—There was a time when it wasn’t necessarily the most attractive option, but now there are vinyl laminate planks that have the colour of, and a similar texture to, materials such as stone and wood.
  • Uncomplicated maintenance—A water-resistance type of vinyl with a thick wear layer is a great combination that doesn’t require too much maintenance. A regular damp mop and the occasional vacuum are usually all that’s required.
  • It’s comfortable underfoot—Compared to floors of wood, stone, or tile, vinyl is softer underfoot, which means it’s more comfortable when you need to stand for a while.
  • Easy to install—Vinyl flooring generally comes in the form of tiles or planks, which makes it easy to install without the help of a professional.
  • Waterproof—Some types of flooring made from vinyl are completely waterproof. There are different classes of vinyl suitable for different areas in the home.

Cons of Vinyl Flooring

  • Higher price—Good-quality vinyl flooring is one of the pricier of the budget-friendly options.
  • Cheap vinyl doesn’t last—Poor-quality products dent, scuff, and scratch with ease (and that’s with average household foot traffic).
  • Doesn’t feel like wood or stone—Better-quality options may look like wood or stone, but they don’t feel like them. The texture remains that of vinyl, no matter how convincing the appearance.

Laminate Flooring – The Basics

A Swedish company called Perstorp invented laminate flooring in 1977, using waste wood products, chemicals, pressure and heat. Once regarded as one of the cheapest options, laminate flooring has risen in many homeowners’ estimations in recent years. It’s still one of the best budget-friendly buys, although these days you’re getting a better product for your money.

Laminate flooring is made by covering a particle board wood base with an image layer and a clear wear layer. The product is suitable for rooms where it won’t be exposed to moisture regularly or for long periods, such as hallways, dining rooms, kitchens, and bedrooms.

Pros of Laminate Flooring

  • Looks attractive—The image layer allows manufacturers to produce laminate flooring in a variety of styles and colours, many resembling hardwood or stone. Some are textured, and others are smooth.
  • Hard-wearing—Good quality products are hard-wearing in typical household traffic, although it’s generally not as durable as vinyl. The wear layer used with good laminate flooring usually is resistant to dents, staining, scratches, and other wear and tear.
  • Easy installation—Like most vinyl flooring options, you can install laminate flooring just as easily as a floating floor, which relies solely on its interlocking design to keep it secure.
  • No waxing needed—Laminate is easy to keep clean with a little know-how, bucket and mop. Unlike hardwood floorboards, there’s no need to wax laminate.
  • Compatible with radiant heating systems—Unlike several other options, you can install laminate flooring over radiant heating systems without worrying about it warping.
  • Seriously budget-friendly—The option really is friendly on the pocket.
  • It’s comfortable—Like vinyl, laminate flooring is softer underfoot than floors of hardwood or stone. It’s even better if your floor includes an underlayment. That said, laminate feels warmer than vinyl.
  • New products can resist topical moisture—Thanks to advances in laminate flooring manufacture, most new products offer some resistance to topical moisture.

Cons of Laminate Flooring

  • Can be noisy—Badly installed laminate flooring can be noisy. Rather than the warm sound you might hear if you tread on a hardwood floor, the product can sound hollow.
  • Poor water resistance—Laminate flooring doesn’t handle moisture well, and that’s no exaggeration. If your subfloor has a problem with damp or moisture, you’ll need to install underlay and a vapour barrier before laying the flooring.
  • Replace after 10 years—You’ll need to replace most laminate floors roughly 10 years after their installation.

Make The Best Decision

If exposure to moisture isn’t a problem, it can be incredibly difficult to choose between vinyl and laminate flooring. The following points may help:

  • Environmental friendliness—You can find environmentally friendlier versions of both flooring options. Choose laminate with a LEED MR4c 4.1-4.2 (recycled content) status, or vinyl with a LEED credit for low-emitting material.
  • Price—Although there isn’t a huge difference between the prices of vinyl and laminate, the latter does tend to be a little cheaper, although it doesn’t last as long as the former.
  • Easy to install and maintain—If your flooring project doesn’t require various underlayers, vinyl and laminate are easy to install, and they require little by way of maintenance.

If the style or look of the floor is more important than its ability to resist moisture, or if you’re more concerned about comfort than lifespan, consider choosing laminate. If you want a floor that’s waterproof and long-lasting, choose vinyl, which usually lasts twice as long as laminate.

Now that you know the pros and cons of the two options, you’re better able to make the right decision for your home.

Guest Published by Mara Sampson