Flooring has a significant impact on the look and feel of a home, which is why it is important to carefully consider what material will greet your feet upon stepping into a room.
Vinyl and laminate are both worthy suitors due to their versatility, durability and reasonable price tag. In fact, the materials have come a long way in serving as realistic imitations of more desirable – and costly – substances such as hardwood.
While there are many similarities between the two, they also have their differences. Some of which may mark one a clear winner over the other for inquiring homeowners.
If you’re unsure of what route to take, check out these six factors worth examining when choosing either laminate or vinyl for your flooring project.
Assessing the Look and Feel of Vinyl and Laminate FlooringTable of Contents [show]
If you love the look of hardwood or stone flooring but are seeking an easier and less expensive option, laminate is a great choice. The material’s computer-generated images can realistically reflect the detailed grain in wood planks or the specks of colour that give stone its textured appearance. With an endless selection of patterns and colours, you’re sure to find the perfect match for your home.
Laminate also has the added bonus of feeling fairly warm underfoot due to its thickness and layered composition.
While vinyl is thinner and may not offer the same degree of warmth, it is a lot more inviting to walk on than harder substances such as ceramic or stone tile, which can become quite cool in chilly temperatures. It is also softer, giving your toes a more cushioned feel. Keep in mind, however, that this yielding characteristic makes it more prone to damage from heeled shoes or heavy, pointed objects.
Furthermore, while the vinyl of yesteryear may be associated with somewhat of a tacky and cheap appearance, the material has come a long way in the style department. Just as with laminate, it is available in countless patterns and colours to complement any décor. And with the exciting innovation of vinyl-plank flooring, homeowners can now use this material to achieve the feel and appearance of real wood.
With that being said, laminate’s convincingly realistic looks may still be the winner in regards to overall aesthetics, especially when covering large areas such as living rooms or hallways.
Laying It Down – Installing Vinyl and Laminate FlooringVinyl and laminate can be fairly comparable when it comes to ease of installation. In fact, both of these options can be do-it-yourself projects for homeowners who don’t mind donning the tool belt.
Tools – including adhesives, staples and nails – aren’t even required for laminate installation, as the material uses an interlocking system in which pieces are simply clicked together.
Vinyl-plank flooring can similarly be done in a snap, with pieces usually being pressed together for a seamless end result.
However, vinyl’s other forms – sheet and tile – can be more arduous when they involve the use of adhesives or double-sided tape.
But no need to despair, as there are many retailers and private companies that offer in-home installation for those methods that are a bit daunting to the average handyman or woman. We at Diverse Flooring offer installation services so keep that in mind!
Whether you take on the job yourself or hand it over to professionals like my brother Todd and I and the Diverse Flooring team, a quick and easy installation means less work and more time to enjoy your new floors.
How It Holds Up — The Durability of Vinyl and Laminate FlooringTraditionally, vinyl flooring has been a go-to option for high-traffic rooms that can come in contact with moisture, such as bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms. It’s easy to see why, with the seamless sheet in many cases being water-resistant or water-proof. Even water that pools around tubs, sinks, washing machines or dishwashers are no match for this protective material.
While laminate doesn’t offer the same level of defence, it is still durable and water resistant due to its transparent and stain-resistant finish, called the wear layer. Because of this, it’s not uncommon to also see laminate in rooms prone to dampness.
Let It Shine — Cleaning Vinyl and Laminate FlooringNot only are both these materials a cinch to keep clean, but there are multiple options for having them look their best. Mop, vacuum, homemade cleaners and some chemical solutions can work well on either flooring.
Because vinyl is often softer, it may be more resistant to scratches than laminate, which is something to keep in mind if using stiff-bristled brooms.
As far as maintenance, neither option has the refurbishing qualities of a material like hardwood, as they cannot be sanded. Once they wear through, there is very little one can do to bring them back to life. It is also generally suggested to avoid the use of waxes and polishes in an attempt to maintain the fresh look they had when first purchased.
Dollar Signs – The Cost of Vinyl and Laminate FlooringLaminate and vinyl are also comparable when it comes to initial expenses, with some options ranging from one to three dollars per square foot, excluding installation costs. Because price is dependent on quality, some luxury products could cost closer to ten dollars per square foot.
There may be more of a discrepancy between the two materials when it comes to value, however.
For some, the word ‘vinyl’ comes with preconceived notions of a dated and cheap material that has a shiny, plastic look. While vinyl is making a comeback with a more high-end appearance, it still has some work to do to shed those conceptions. Because of this, laminate flooring may be a bigger selling point when showing a home to prospective buyers.
Lifespan – How Long Your Flooring Can LastHow long your flooring lasts has less to do with whether it is vinyl or laminate and more to do with the quality of the product, how it was installed and the amount of traffic it experiences. Manufacturer’s warranties range greatly, with some set at 10 years and others at 30.
So if longevity is a factor when trying to decide between vinyl and laminate, it may be better to first consider the differences in appearance, durability and value between the two materials, and then choosing a product that guarantees a desired lifespan.
Final ThoughtsWhether you choose vinyl or laminate for your flooring needs, chances are you are going to get a great look and durable product for a reasonable price.
For those unsure which way to lean, the decision may just come down to personal preference and the circumstances of individual renovation projects.
But with so many patterns, colours and forms to pick from, you’re sure to find the perfect match for your home.
About Shawn Farina — Flooring Expert at Diverse FlooringShawn Farina operates Diverse Flooring, a family-run business in Maple Ridge, with his younger brother, Todd. He has been in the flooring industry for 18 years. Shawn is passionate about design and feels flooring has been a great avenue to help others make the best decisions for their homes.
“Flooring is something we all will at one time or another have to purchase. It’s really satisfying feeling to see when a client is truly happy with their choice in both the new flooring and our company.” – Shawn Farina