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Vinyl vs Laminate Flooring

These days, you have a wide range of vinyl and laminate flooring options to choose from. That can make picking the right one a daunting task. In this post, we break down the differences between vinyl vs laminate flooring based on 5 key categories, so you can confidently select the best material for your home.

Both LVP, or Luxury Vinyl Plank, and laminate flooring are popular alternatives to natural hardwoods when it comes to home remodels or for those simply looking to upgrade some of their existing floors. So how do you know which is the better choice for your home? Let’s look at vinyl vs laminate for the following 5 categories:

  • Durability
  • Water resistance
  • Aesthetic
  • Price
  • Environmental impact

Durability

If you have kids or pets, or if your new flooring will simply be going in a high traffic area of your home, durability is going to be an important factor. You want to make sure your floors can withstand dings and dents that may be thrown at them.

While both vinyl and laminate are durable, LVP is slightly less so. It’s a softer product than laminate so it will scratch a bit more. Laminate on the other hand is a harder, denser product and will generally do a better job of resisting scratches and scrapes.

For example, if something heavy is dropped on vinyl, it will likely leave a dent or gouge. A laminate product will be harder to damage, but if it happens that heavy object may chip the surface rather than dent through to the core of the material. Both will likely require a colorant to repair, but fixing the laminate will be easier.

Better option: Laminate

vinyl vs laminate flooring: evoke vinyl
Evoke Vinyl Flooring
vinyl vs laminate flooring: evoke laminate
Evoke Laminate Flooring

Water resistance

When it comes to water resistance, both vinyl and laminate are great options. They’re designed to withstand water leaks and other damage for lengthy periods so you don’t have to worry if something is spilled on them in the morning and you don’t notice it and clean it up until that night.

Since LVP is 100% vinyl, it’s very water resistant. If a water leak springs in your kitchen for example and gets beneath your vinyl floors, chances are you can pull up that flooring, dry the area underneath, put the flooring back down, and see no damage.

Laminate floors can be a bit more complex because they come in different quality grades. On the low end, you essentially have a wood composite product with a paper type surface material, so if you get water on, it can disintegrate, swell, buckle or a combination of all three.

vinyl vs laminate flooring: laminate water damage
Laminate flooring water damage / photo credit

The good news is that on the higher end, most manufacturers have moved to more water resistant laminate products that come with extensive protections.

For instance, Mohawk offers a lifetime water warranty on some of their laminate products and Evoke offers a 100 hour water warranty on their line of Surge laminate flooring — meaning it could be submerged in water for 100 hours and not suffer damage. The respective manufacturing processes play a large role in their ability to repel water.

The Evoke laminate is made with a wood core and organic resins which makes it 100% waterproof throughout.

Evoke laminate cross-section

The Mohawk product includes a waterproof paper surface which helps spills evaporate before they can cause damage. However, the core is not water resistant. So in order to make it waterproof throughout your space, you’d need to calk the edges of the room with silicone and be careful not to chip the surface.

Mohawk laminate cross-section

Better option: Vinyl and higher end Laminate about equal

Aesthetic

Today’s vinyl and laminate flooring options look a lot different than they did 20 years ago. And by different, we mean better! The poorly printed reproductions of wood surfaces have been replaced by more realistic-looking-and-feeling materials. So which is better: LVP or laminate?

As a general rule of thumb, laminate will look a bit better than vinyl because it’s easier to match real-life wood grain patterns on laminate products. You can check this yourself by looking to see whether things like knots or cathedrals (a sort of wavy area meant to mimic natural wood grain patterns) appear realistic on your flooring samples.

Knot and cathedral on laminate flooring

With vinyl, the printing technology has improved dramatically over the years, but generally it’s still not able to match wood print and grain patterns as closely as it can be done with laminate, so the visual print may not be as representative as the texture.

Better option: Laminate

Price

When looking at price for vinyl flooring, the way it’s installed is often a factor. So, if you’re doing a glue-down install, that’s usually going to be on the lower end of the spectrum. If you’re doing a click-together installation, that will likely cost more. The latter gives you a more even result and vinyl flooring using that install method will typically fall somewhere in the $3.50 – $5.50 per square foot range.

Laminate floors have a wide range if prices, but if you restrict it to just the water-resistant models, then it will usually cost between $2.50 and $4.50 per square foot. So, you may save a bit on vinyl flooring, but it may not be a significant amount unless you’re buying it in large volumes.

Better option: Vinyl and higher end Laminate about equal

Environmental impact

So is vinyl or laminate more environmentally-friendly?

In terms of manufacturing material, laminate is primarily a wood-based product, whereas vinyl is mostly petroleum and plastic-based. That means laminate is generally more renewable, easier to manufacture, and easier to recycle.

On the other hand, vinyl is harder to recycle and less environmentally-friendly manufacture. That said, if we look at all the vinyl manufactured in the world, it’s not a significant contributor to environmental damage globally. But if environmental factors are important to you when choosing flooring, laminate may be the better fit.

Still, you’ll want to check the manufacturer, where they’re sourcing their materials, and what types of resins they’re using to make it waterproof to make sure those materials are sufficiently renewable and sustainable for you.

Better option: Laminate

Are you thinking about a home remodel or upgrading your existing flooring. We’re happy to discuss your project. Simply schedule a conversation with us!

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