Are you on the hunt for durable, economical, and stylish flooring? There are two flooring options that tick all these boxes: vinyl and laminate flooring.
Both are easy to maintain, cost around the same, and are quite stylish. In fact, it would not be far-fetched to say they look and feel almost the same at first glance.
At The Reno Superstore, we are often asked if there are real differences between the two, and the answer is yes. While vinyl and laminate flooring have many similarities, there are also crucial differences, which can influence your buying decision.
So which should you buy? Let’s have a look.
What Are the Differences Between Vinyl and Laminate Flooring?
Each flooring material has its pros and cons. That is why it is always a good idea to understand the material you are planning to install for the best results. Let’s have a look at what each has to offer.
Vinyl flooring is 100% synthetic, with a UV acrylic coating that prevents sun damage. Typically, standard sheet vinyl and vinyl tiles have a fibreglass base layer coated in PVC and plasticizer. This increases durability and water resistance.
Vinyl flooring usually has a thick core layer with multi-layer PVC vinyl. Luxury vinyl comes in planks and tiles that come with an interlocking technology that offers quick installation. They come in two forms: wood-plastic composite (WPC) or stone-plastic composite (SPC).
Laminate flooring resembles vinyl flooring planks in both looks and the method of installation. The main difference lies in its composition. The core layer is made up of wood byproducts reinforced with resins. The surface is hard, with a transparent plastic wear layer that covers the printed design layer.
The average thickness of laminate flooring is 6 to 12 mm. Underlayment is definitely something to consider when installing laminate flooring, especially if it is not built-in.
Now that you know a little more about laminate and vinyl flooring, let’s compare them.
Since you are investing so much in your new floors, you want the end result to be pleasing to the eye. Laminate floors allow deep, realistic 3D embossing on their surface. The image of the imitated material (which can include wood, stone, and ceramic) is accurate and realistic.
On the other hand, the most realistic vinyl flooring is found mostly in luxury vinyl plank flooring. Solid core vinyl flooring has a better chance of deeper embossing, owing to its thickness. Sheet vinyl is not as realistic
Verdict: Laminate flooring wins. Laminate flooring and vinyl flooring are generally comparable looks-wise, but laminates mimic real hardwood flooring more closely than most vinyl flooring.
Budget is an important consideration when choosing flooring. It is highly recommended that you be realistic about your budget and make pragmatic choices. When it comes to price, laminate and vinyl flooring cost more or less the same.
However, this depends on the quality and thickness of the product. Vinyl sheet flooring holds a slight edge in this department, as it tends to be super affordable. It is significant to factor in the cost of materials and labour and the area of installation when planning your budget.
Verdict: Vinyl flooring wins. There are many types of vinyl flooring, which can accommodate a wide range of budgets. If budget is your primary concern, then vinyl flooring is a great solution for your Mississauga home. There is not a great difference in cost between laminate flooring and vinyl, so if you have your heart set on the former, it is still doable.
At The Reno Superstore, we always offer both vinyl and laminate flooring in a wide range of budget and style considerations.
3. Water and Heat Resistance
Depending on the area of installation and your lifestyle, these factors are directly responsible for the longevity of your floor.
Laminate flooring has a wooden core, which has a tendency to soften and swell when exposed to water. Once this happens, there is no repairing as the laminate plank will not go back to its original dimension after it has dried. In case of severe damage, laminate flooring will need to be replaced.
In the case of heat resistance, there are two things to consider. One, the top layer could burn if something extremely hot is dropped on it; for instance, burning wood pieces from your fireplace. Secondly, if there is constant temperature change in the room, it will cause the laminate to expand and contract.
On the other hand, vinyl flooring is completely waterproof and does not shrink or expand in temperature fluctuations. However, burning embers or other extremely high temperature may cause damage.
Verdict: Vinyl flooring wins hands down. No matter whether you choose sheet vinyl, vinyl tile, or luxury vinyl, they are all waterproof and can be installed in high moisture spaces.
Installing the right floor for both you and your pets is an important choice. This means you need to pick a floor that is built for high-traffic areas. This also means that the floors need to be scratch resistant to an extent.
Laminate floors are perfect for active households but tend to be slippery and may be noisy thanks to dogs with large nails. Vinyl flooring is scratch-resistant and non-slippery, meaning it is ideal for your pets.
Verdict: Vinyl flooring is definitely more pet-friendly than laminate.
5. Durability and Maintenance
No matter your budget, flooring is an investment that needs to last. Laminate flooring is durable and low-maintenance, but its lack of water resistance is definitely a concern. Plus, once the veneer is damaged, the flooring will need to be replaced.
On the other hand, vinyl is extremely resilient and tough. If you want complete water protection, it is best to choose thin sheet vinyl, as it offers the most moisture control. Thicker vinyl flooring comes with a built-in underlayment that offers better protection than laminate flooring under high moisture conditions. But, like laminates, once vinyl is damaged it cannot be repaired and needs to be replaced.
Verdict: Vinyl is the clear winner as it is completely waterproof and affordable. That’s not to say laminates are bad, but they have certain drawbacks, just like any other flooring.
6. Care and Cleaning
Homeowners love low-maintenance flooring. Laminate can be cleaned with a dry mop, broom, or vacuum. It is best to avoid liquid or water cleaners. A damp mop is the next best thing if you want to wet clean your floor.
Vinyl flooring is also a breeze to clean and care for. If your vinyl floors are in good condition you can use a wet mop, broom, and vacuum; just avoid harsh cleaning products. Learn how to clean your floors properly before using any product. That way, your floors will last longer.
Verdict: Vinyl flooring is definitely lower maintenance and easier to clean.
7. Resale Value
If you are planning to get a good resale value for your investment, changing your floors is a great way to go about it. Laminate flooring can add resale value to your home, provided it is in good condition.
Vinyl flooring can bring a decent resale value, too, if it is from a major brand and is in good condition. Inferior vinyl flooring will not bring any resale value.
Verdict: Tied. Homeowners can expect decent resale value if both laminate and vinyl flooring are from a good brand and in relatively good condition.
Proper installation is the key to long-lasting floors. If laminate or vinyl flooring is not installed well, it will invariably lead to future flooring issues, costing you time and money.
Laminate and vinyl flooring are both relatively easy to install and may or may not require an underlayment option, depending on the state of your subfloor.
Do not attempt to complete your flooring if you have no prior experience. Instead, get in touch with professional installers in Toronto and Mississauga, like The Reno Superstore, who can finish the job the right way at the best price.
Verdict: Tied. Both vinyl and laminate flooring offer quick installation and have advantages and disadvantages when it comes to the ease of installing it.
Still wondering which is the best option for your home? It is important to know that laminate and vinyl flooring are quite similar; neither is better or worse. It all boils down to your needs and lifestyle. For dry areas, laminate flooring is a better solution. If you require waterproof flooring for your mudroom, wet bathroom, or laundry room, vinyl flooring is definitely the better choice. If you are still not sure, consult the experts at The Reno Superstore in Mississauga and Toronto.