Both laminate and vinyl are great flooring options. But between laminate vs vinyl flooring, which one is more cost-efficient for your specific needs?
It depends on what you expect from your flooring and how you’re going to use it.
Laminate vs. Vinyl Flooring Cost
The cost of laminate vs vinyl flooring is almost the same, and it highly depends on the quality of the material you choose. There are lower quality cheaper flooring options available in both vinyl and laminate.
Both vinyl and laminate floors range from $0.80 per square foot and can go up to $6 for higher quality applications.
On average, expect to pay $3 per square foot for each flooring option.
After all, the cost for both materials depends on the style and type you’re after.
Both laminate and vinyl are two of the most affordable flooring options available on the market. The price can depend on the thickness of the material, as well as the design.
Simple glue-down sheet vinyl solutions start from around $1.
Luxury planks can cost $5 per square foot. The increase in price is also an improvement in value since you also get premium features like a thicker wear layer and waterproof core.
Laminate in white or red oak or maple wood is the most affordable and can be found for $0.70 per square foot. You can expect to pay a bit more for hickory and other higher-quality materials.
Non-wood laminate flooring falls in the same price range. Laminate cost increases for premium features like waterproofing or custom design.
|Cost per Square Foot||Material|
|$0.50 – $5||Vinyl|
|$0.40 – $8||Laminate|
What Is Vinyl Flooring?
Vinyl is a four-layered flooring type that has been around since the 1970s. Vinyl composite tiles (VCT) and sheet vinyl were two of the most popular options for years and are still so today.
Modern-day shoppers can also choose from luxury vinyl tiles and planks (LVTs and LVPs) that are more similar to laminate flooring than the original VCTs or sheet vinyl.
It may look like vinyl is a homogenous, solid material, but it actually comes in layers.
Both LVP and LVT are made in layers. They consist of a performance wear layer, a design layer, a core, and a backing.
In the beginning, the cores were made of vinyl. Today, the manufacturers use wood or stone polymer composites (WPC or SPC), which are both known for their added rigidity and moisture-repellent features.
What Is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate flooring dates from the 1970s as well, but it was the first known alternative for manually-made hardwood floors.
Homeowners who appreciate the appeal of hardwood floors can benefit from the laminate flooring and not cash out a fortune on the flooring material.
Laminate has a thick composition, and it’s very pleasant to walk on. It works perfectly in most living spaces and hallways.
Similar to vinyl flooring, laminate’s construction is made of synthetic materials that resemble the actual hardwood.
Laminate flooring layers come from different material types.
Laminate flooring features a wood-based core board with decorative images topped with a wear layer. The wear layer is known as “overlay” and helps protect the floor.
As far as moisture is concerned, laminate does a poor job. You can find water-repellent options on the market, but vinyl flooring options still provide a higher level of protection.
Did you know? You can install laminate on top of any floor. As a floating floor, you can install it without glue or nails that damage the bottom floor.
Laminate vs. Vinyl Flooring: How Are They Alike?
Laminate and vinyl are similar in many aspects. They are both affordable flooring options and are relatively straightforward to install. They are available in various colors, styles, designs, and patterns, so they can match just about any home perfectly.
Both vinyl and laminate flooring options are resistant to stains and offer an underlayment option (the underlayment is built differently, though).
Laminate vs Vinyl Flooring: How Are They Different?
The vinyl and laminate floors are different in many ways.
As far as design and appearance are concerned, laminate flooring has a higher quality than vinyl. The laminate flooring embossing is more realistic, so it resembles natural hardwood.
Vinyl can have embossing that resembles wood, but the result is most realistic on expensive thicker core options.
In terms of materials, vinyl is made from synthetic materials, where the base layer is fiberglass with a PVC vinyl and plasticizer coating. The structure is then embossed and finished with a protective layer like no-wax polyurethane.
Laminate flooring’s core is made from byproducts of wood cutting. Then, the structure is sealed using resin.
Laminate flooring’s top layer, or the walkable surface, is actually a transparent layer made from plastic that protects the surface against wear and tear. The plastic section goes on top of the design or pattern layer.
Also, laminate flooring is slightly thicker than vinyl. This makes it warmer and soft when you stand or walk on it.
As far as cleaning is concerned, vinyl can be cleaned with a wet mop, while laminate flooring doesn’t use mops.
What Are The Pros And Cons of Vinyl vs Laminate Flooring?
Both vinyl and laminate flooring come with benefits and disadvantages that make one or the other more suitable for different uses.
Vinyl Flooring Pros and Cons
- Variety of patterns and designs
- 100% waterproof
- Easy to install
- Less natural look than laminate
- Can’t be refinished
- Not eco-friendly
Laminate Flooring Pros and Cons
- Easy to install
- Natural hardwood look
- Soft and comfortable
- Affordable investment
- Not waterproof
- Can’t be refinished
When it comes to vinyl flooring, some of the most popular brands include CoreTEC, Armstrong, Karndean, Cryntel, Metroflor, and Mannington.
The most notable laminate flooring brands are AquaGuard, Armstrong, Mohawk, Dream Home, Shaw, and Pergo.
Which Flooring Is Best?
Durability-wise, vinyl is a better flooring option than laminate flooring.
Vinyl is more resistant to water and scratches and has a longer lifespan under normal use.
However, if you’re after natural looks, you’ll appreciate laminate flooring more.
So, there’s really no unique answer to this question. It’s a matter of personal preference and functionality above all, given that both flooring options are affordable and modern-looking.
Best Flooring by Room
Different rooms benefit from distinct flooring options. The room’s function and traffic can affect the choice of the flooring.
Laminate is great to achieve that natural look and a softer feel in living rooms and bedrooms, as well as other rooms that has a minimal moisture exposure.
Basements, mud rooms, and similar spaces where water spills can happen often are much better with vinyl flooring.
|Dining Room||Laminate, Vinyl|
|Living Room||Laminate, Vinyl|
What Is Better – Vinyl Or Laminate Flooring?
Both vinyl and laminate flooring have great features that make them some of the most popular flooring options on the market today.
However, whether vinyl or laminate flooring is better depends on your specific needs. Each flooring type’s respective features make them more or less suitable for particular uses.
When Is Laminate The Better Choice?
If you’re after a natural look for your interior space, laminate flooring offers a more realistic experience than vinyl.
The patterns in laminate flooring designs resemble those of hardwood more realistically than vinyl.
Laminate flooring also has the upper hand for eco-friendly homeowners.
Given that top brands manufacture the laminate flooring material from recycled materials, there is less waste created. Also, the wood-based core of the laminate can decompose in landfills, which isn’t the case for vinyl.
Finally, laminate flooring can be softer and more comfortable than vinyl when installed with appropriate underlayment. That’s why laminate flooring is often a go-to solution for bedrooms and living rooms.
When Is Vinyl The Better Choice?
Even though vinyl lacks authenticity, it does win over laminate flooring for specific uses.
If you’re looking for flooring solutions for the bathroom, laundry room, or any space that has increased amounts of moisture, then vinyl flooring is a better choice.
Vinyl has excellent waterproof abilities and can handle moisture over prolonged periods of time. This can’t be said for laminate that is not made to repel water.
Vinyl flooring is also a better option for homeowners with pets, given that it’s more resistant to stains than laminate flooring.
If you’re a DIYer, you’ll find it easier to cut vinyl with a knife than laminate, which must be cut with a saw.
Finally, you may find vinyl to have a wider design selection than laminate flooring, so you can match it better according to your preferences.
Which Is More Scratch-Resistant: Laminate Or Vinyl Flooring?
Laminate flooring is usually better at scratch resistance than vinyl.
Still, both flooring options offer excellent durability and wear-and-tear protection in the short term.
Both materials are more resistant to scratches than natural hardwood.
Did you know? You can prevent scratches on vinyl floors by cleaning them with a hard-wood mop and vacuum. By removing grime and dirt, you prevent the tiny items from scratching the surface.
What Is Cheaper: Luxury Vinyl Or Laminate?
Vinyl comes with a slightly more affordable cost than laminate flooring, although both flooring options are relatively budget-friendly.
A square foot of vinyl floor ranges from $0.50 to $3.90, while the same amount of laminate flooring is from $0.40 to $2.90 at discount stores.
Branded solutions for laminate flooring start at around $3 and can go up to $8 per square for 12-mm thick laminate planks.
Note that vinyl can be more expensive for designs that use luxury material.
What Is More Waterproof: Vinyl Or Laminate?
Water resistance is a major difference between vinyl and laminate flooring.
Vinyl is a clear winner in terms of water resistance.
Modern vinyl flooring solutions are manufactured from pure polymer materials. This makes them suitable for handling a large amount of water.
You can immerse vinyl in water and use it as if nothing happened.
Also, when you install vinyl, you can use a single sheet for the whole room. This doesn’t leave any seams where water could seep through.
As far as laminate flooring is concerned, this material can only handle moisture up to some levels.
The fiberboard core that most laminate flooring products feature can soften or swell when exposed to moisture for too long. As a result, the top layer of laminate flooring can start to peel away.
So if you plan to install new flooring in the bathroom or laundry room, laminate flooring is definitely not a good idea.
Which Is More Durable Flooring: Laminate Or Vinyl?
Laminate flooring is durable and strong. However, they are prone to water damage.
The scratches that can appear on the laminate flooring surface can’t be removed or repaired in most cases.
The average lifespan of laminate flooring is from 10 to 25 years. The number can be much smaller or larger depending on maintenance and care.
Vinyl is a very resilient and durable flooring that’s often considered lower-quality because of the affordable price.
Still, vinyl stands great even in high-traffic spaces and can last for more than 20 years.
Pro Tip: Refrain from using wax, oil-based, polish, or strong ammoniated cleaning products for your flooring to prolong its lifespan.
Vinyl vs Laminate Flooring With Pets
If you’re a pet owner, you’ll be pleased to know that vinyl flooring is easier for pets to navigate.
Vinyl flooring has more give and is also more resistant to water spills, stains, and accidents.
Still, vinyl flooring is slightly susceptible to scratches. You should take extra care of your flooring, whether it’s laminate or vinyl, in order to prevent scratches, keep the shine, and prolong its lifespan.
You can use vacuum cleaners designed for hard floors to remove debris and pet hair from the floor and mop the surface weekly for a deeper clean.
Which Floor Should You Buy?
Both vinyl and laminate flooring choices discussed in this article are great options for your house. Just remember to use the appropriate type for different rooms.
Also, consider your design preferences, budget, and functionality.
Again, vinyl is best used in rooms with excess moisture, while laminate flooring offer a more realistic wood appeal and may look better in living rooms and bedrooms.
If you plan on flooring your entire apartment, you can get vinyl for the bathroom and basement and use laminate flooring for the rest of the space, as long as this aligns with your budget and preferences.
Understanding The Difference Between Laminate vs Vinyl Flooring
Both vinyl and laminate are durable and beautiful alternatives to natural hardwood flooring.
They are affordable and easy to install. However, be mindful about using appropriate flooring in different rooms.
If you’re a pet owner or want to install new flooring in rooms with constant moisture, vinyl is the way to go. For all other uses, you can go with laminate flooring.