The Difference Between Laminate and Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl Flooring Laminate FlooringMany people are confused when it comes to the differences of laminate and vinyl flooring. Even though they may seem like they are the same in many regards, they are drastically different when really comparing the materials, abilities and applications. Today we will be going over the differences of these two flooring options so that you can have a better understanding when it comes to making the right decision for your home.

What is Laminate Flooring?

Laminate is everywhere you turn these days. It can look like many different types of materials, but it mainly replicates hardwood and tile flooring. Despite popular belief, laminate is not made strictly out of plastic materials. It is actually a wood based product, getting the bulk of its construction from recycled hardwood materials. Achieving the look of the material that it is replicating is as simple as adhering a high quality image to the top of each piece. This image is then cover in a protective melamine wear layer to prevent scratches and scuffs.

Vinyl FlooringLaminate flooring can be installed on many sub-flooring variants, granted that the sub-floor is level and smooth. This is due to the implementation of floating floor installation that comes standard on most laminate flooring options. A floating floor clicks together like a puzzle during installation allowing the floor itself to provide its own stability for the most part.

While floating floors can be installed over many sub-flooring options, it is important to do a moisture test on sub-floors like concrete before installation. This is especially important if installing in bathrooms and basements. Because laminate is made from a fair amount of recycled hardwood material, it is susceptible to moisture damage.

What is Vinyl Flooring?

Vinyl flooring is a completely man-made material that is also made to replicate hardwood and tile flooring. It is not as limited however on the replicating less conventional designs. I’ve seen vinyl flooring with polka-dotted designs. There are 2 main types of vinyl flooring:

  • Sheet Vinyl Flooring – This type of vinyl flooring is a solid sheet of vinyl flooring. It usually comes in a roll that is anywhere from 12 to 15 feet in width. The installation of this type of vinyl usually involves an adhesive to glue it down on the sub-floor, although recently I have seen a few vinyls that actually lay flat and do not require a glue down installation.
  • Luxury Vinyl Plank and Tile Flooring – This type of vinyl really blurs the lines of what is real and what isn’t. These are typically much more thicker and textured than sheet vinyl. It installs more like laminate flooring in most cases than a traditional vinyl installation. The added quality reflects in the cost of the material.

Vinyl-FlooringNo matter what type of vinyl it is, it will more than likely be water-proof, as the construction of the vinyl itself makes it impermeable. This however is not the case when using an adhesive. For example if a pipe bursts in your basement and you installed a sheet vinyl by means of adhesive in that room, the adhesive will break down underneath the vinyl when it binds with water.

Cheaper vinyl also has a greater chance of fading the more that it is exposed to direct sunlight. This isn’t so good when you decided to do your kitchen flooring in a black and white marble tile design. So be savvy with your investment for well lit areas of your home and spring for the fade resistant option.

What is the Better Flooring Option?

It may not surprise you, but both vinyl and laminate flooring are exceptional floor covering options that really have specific uses. Depending on your situation, location and home environment, one options will speak to you more than the other, but at least now you know the major differences of laminate and vinyl flooring.

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