Are you looking to put down a new floor into your house or office space, but seem to be stuck on choosing between vinyl flooring and laminate?
This decision can be difficult, as both of these materials are relatively inexpensive, easy to install and represent durable flooring options.
There are, however, several key distinctions between the two, which should be taken into account when taking your pick.
In order to make the most informed decision, it is important to understand the main features that make both of them unique.e.
As such, we’ve provided an overview on the individual qualities of both floor types, and then compared them both against a number of criteria to establish which one comes out on top.
What is Vinyl Flooring?
Vinyl flooring is made completely out of plastic, though it can sometimes appear otherwise.
As such it is significantly more resistant to moisture than many other floor types. In some cases of flooding, where vinyl flooring has been soaked for days, it has experienced no significant damage.
Whilst many of us might associate vinyl flooring with the kind of dated tiles that were the hallmark of a typical 70s kitchen, vinyl is used to replicate many contemporary and classic floor types.
As a result of its durability, versatility and commonly found ‘one-click’ installation process, vinyl has seen a major resurgence in recent years and is now one of the most popular choices when it comes to installing a new floor in homes and office spaces.
What is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate flooring is primarily made up of wood veneer or wood product, sealed between two layers of plastic to create the effect of looking like a hardwood floor but at a fraction of the price and with much easier installation.
Whilst laminate flooring is not as moisture resistant as vinyl flooring, it is still relatively good on this front - but only if it is properly installed.
It will not, however, stand up to the same kind of tests that vinyl flooring will, which is something to bear in mind if you are installing a floor in an area where there is a reasonably high likelihood of flooding.
Laminate flooring can be found in many homes and offices, and was revolutionary at the time of its inception as it was essentially the first easily-installed floor type that resembled wood.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Cost and Value for Money
The first and often the most pressing question people tend to have when installing a new floor is ‘how much will it cost?’
This is a very fair question, particularly if you’re trying to cover a large space. Thankfully neither of these floor types are likely to break the bank per square meter.
Whilst there are naturally varying levels of quality, both vinyl and laminate flooring are rarely found at the top end of the price list, though they add less resale value to a property than hardwood flooring.
Typically you can expect to pay slightly north of £20 per square meter for both vinyl and laminate, making them as good as eachother in this respect. With that said, vinyl is more durable so in the long run could potentially be argued to be better value for money.
The choice between installing a vinyl or laminate floor can be be affected by where you will be putting it. Naturally certain styles and designs lend themselves to particular environments.
Because of their ability to withstand water, both vinyl and laminate are common choices for kitchen and bathroom floors.
As vinyl has the edge on laminate in terms of moisture resilience, naturally it is a slightly better option for a bathroom floor. This is not as important in a kitchen, though sometimes people prefer to install vinyl in their kitchens to stay on the safe side.
The fact that vinyl is as cheap and looks almost as good as laminate means that it makes perfect sense to have it in your bathroom, so it can deal with any water spillages and moisture.
For the rest of your house or office space though, laminate is often considered to look slightly better than vinyl and so might be a better option as you won’t need to worry about it being exposed to more water than it can handle.
Eco - Value
Increasingly, people are becoming aware of the environmental impact or consequences that might result from the type of floor they choose.
As such, certain types of flooring have to fulfill certain criteria and meet various ecological standards in order to achieve certain ratings.
This means that both vinyl and laminate are fairly like-for-like in terms of eco-friendliness and you can install either without having to worry too much about the long term environmental damage.
Appearance and Feel
In terms of how these floor types can replicate the ‘real thing’, this is a crucial aspect to consider, as this is essentially why both of these floor types were invented.
Over the years, manufacturers of both vinyl and laminate flooring have significantly improved the appearance of their floors.
When they first started to emerge on the market, both vinyl and laminate flooring were revolutionary in their ability to recreate the appearance of a classic hardwood floor. After a while though, people weren’t so impressed with their appearance and soon they became increasingly limited in their use.
Nowadays, both vinyl and laminate can be created using 3D printing technology, allowing manufacturers to produce flooring that is almost identical to hard wood, stone or tile - but at a fraction of the cost.
With that said, laminate flooring is widely regarded to look more like wooden flooring, which is only natural considering that it’s primarily made using wood product. As such, laminate also feels slightly more like wood, whereas vinyl has a far more plastic-like feel.
Maintenance and Installation
Both vinyl and laminate flooring are fairly easy to install, especially compared to other floor types such as hardwood and stone.
Vinyl, especially in its plank form, can be installed by layering sections over one another and then clicking them into place.
Laminate can sometimes be a bit more difficult, as it often needs to be cut - though this is rarely a very difficult process.
If you are unable to install your own floor, then it is relatively quick and inexpensive to have a professional install a vinyl or laminate floor for you.
Source: John Loo
So Which is Better?
It’s fair to say that vinyl and laminate are pretty evenly matched across most of the criteria. There are however, subtle differences that should affect your decision.
If you are looking to install a floor in your bathroom, basement, or any other room that will, at times, be subjected to standing water or high amounts of moisture, then vinyl’s water resistant qualities undoubtedly make it a better option.
If, however, this isn’t a problem, and you are after a cheaper alternative to hardwood or stone that looks authentic and costs a fraction of the price, then laminate flooring is probably the best thing to go for.