Vinyl Plank Flooring vs. Laminate Flooring

One of the most common questions that come up regarding flooring is what is the difference between Vinyl Plank Flooring vs. Laminate Flooring and which one is right for my project. Although Laminate and Vinyl Plank share a lot of characteristics they have some key differences that might impact whether you choose one over the other.

What is Vinyl Plank Flooring?

Vinyl Plank Flooring or Rigid Core is a synthetic material made up of polymers ( plastic ) and gives vinyl its water and moisture resistance. The top layer is a protective layer, followed by a high resolution image, the rigid core center and foam attached underlay. Vinyl Plank ranges from 4mm up to 10mm thick.

What is Laminate Flooring?

Laminate flooring is similar to Vinyl Plank but the core is made of wood products and generally has a thicker layer of plastic on top, the protective layer, a high resolution image to give the design followed by the core. Thickness of laminate ranges from 8mm to 14mm.

Which flooring should I choose for my project?

Below is a look at both laminate and vinyl plank in each category to consider when choosing floors from appearance to durability see how these floors stack up.

Appearance

Both vinyl plank and laminate get their appearance from a high resolution picture which is laminated onto the core and backing. As vinyl plank has become more popular manufactures are making it thicker which allows for deeper embossing for more realistic textures.

Ultimately it comes down to personal preference on colour and feel, both floors have fantastic realistic wood, stone, and pattern appearance. Pro Tip: Look for high counts on pattern repeats for more realistic wood looking floors.

Water Resistance

Vinyl Plank is made of waterproof material, if there is a leak or pool of water the flooring can be wiped clean and re-installed.

Laminate floors have become better resistant to water in recent years with some manufactures offering up to 72 hours of waterproof protection. This makes laminate not ideal for areas where water is common, bathrooms, kitchens and mudrooms.

Heat Resistance

The core of laminate flooring is wood there for it can swell in high heat and high moisture environments. Vinyl Plank floors can also expand if temperatures rise and fall rapidly. Always temperature control your space with air conditioning and use proper window coverings.

Care and Cleaning

Laminate floors should be cleaned with dry mopping and spot cleaning spills. Wet mopping, steam mops and harsh chemicals are not recommended as they can cause delamination. Always follow manufacture cleaning guides to keep your warranty in good standing.

Vinyl Plank Floors can be cleaned many ways and wet mopping is generally used. Most cleaners are acceptable however it is best to check with the manufactures guide to keep warranties valid.

Durability

Both Laminate Flooring and Vinyl Plank flooring are very durable, however; both can delaminate or chip over time, the key difference is in the exposed layer underneath. With Laminate the core is made of wood products which allows water to enter lower layers eventually causing swelling, peaking and gapping. Vinyl Plank flooring if chipped or delaminating can be repaired and due to its plastic core will not absorb water causing further damage to the floor.

Maintenance

Vinyl Plank Flooring vs. Laminate Flooring in terms of maintenance are tied. Both floorings have reasonably low maintenance compared to other flooring types like Tile, Carpet and Hardwood. Keeping them clear of spills, debris, and dirt particles or sand will have your floors looking brand new for years.

Installation

Vinyl Plank and Laminate Floors both use a click locking system. Due to laminates thicker core a table saw is required for installation. Vinyl Plank can generally be cut with a utility knife using a scoring method. Both flooring command similar rates for installation depending on your area. Both require the subfloor to be level within manufactures tolerance, the thinner the product the more levelling required making Vinyl Plank installation sometimes slightly higher. Pro-Tip: Always keep a contingency fund for levelling costs, 10% of your total project for any unforeseen hiccups.

Costs

Laminate flooring has been around longer than vinyl plank therefor you can find some great deals occasionally. Newer laminates have longer water resistance but are more costly. Vinyl plank flooring is popular for home owners, commanding a slightly higher amount per square foot than laminate.

Lifespan

Both Laminates and Vinyl Plank Flooring offer lifetime residential warranties through reputable manufactures. Always check the warranty on sale items and purchase extra if the floors you are buying are being discontinued (as this is when it usually goes on sale.)

Environmental Impact

During the manufacturing process both laminate and vinyl plank produce significant amounts of off gasses, however; once cured both do not release any harmful off gasses. After its life laminate can be recycled where as the synthetic nature of vinyl makes recycling old product sometimes challenging. More manufactures are turning to recycled plastics to create sustainable vinyl plank flooring in the future.

Stain Resistance

Vinyl Plank Flooring has a protective layer like laminate that protects it from stains and spills. Laminate flooring stains generally only come from pooled water that was not cleaned up in time.

Comfort and Sound

Vinyl Floors can feel cold underfoot especially on lower levels of the home like basements. Most luxury brands are radiant heat approved. Laminate flooring can sometimes sound hollow compared to real wood, but trap in hear better for warmer feel.

Resale Value

Great looking quality Laminate or Vinyl Plank that is professionally installed will increase the value of you home. Choosing a cheaper brand of either will lead to prospective buyers having flooring on their list to replace.

Which is better Vinyl Plank flooring or Laminate Flooring?

When it comes to choosing between vinyl plank flooring vs. laminate flooring it does come down to personal preference and budget, however; bathrooms, kitchens and mudrooms vinyl plank flooring is more suited for. As vinyl plank gains more popularity manufactures are coming up with more innovative technology to increase lifespan.

Check out these Vinyl Plank and Laminate Lines we love.

Vinyl PlankLaminate Flooring
FirmFitWood 2 Premium
Ultra MaxPortraits
OmegaFloorpan
VeniceDreamfloor
Curate

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