Which is more durable, economical and beautiful, laminate or vinyl flooring?

basement remodeling contractor

Suppose you are looking for a durable, economical and beautiful floor covering (which is good, attractive and cheap ) and can also install it yourself on the existing floor. In that case, two options stand out: Laminate flooring and vinyl flooring.

They are easy-to-install floor coverings as they incorporate the click system in which the slats fit together by pressure; they cost about the same and offer a wide range of attractive aesthetic options. At first glance, they are almost the same.

Is there a difference? Yes. Although vinyl and laminate flooring are similar in many ways, the differences will be decisive when choosing which type of flooring to buy and where to install it.

These are all the differences we “study” when choosing the new floor for our dreamland home. We already told you that our most important issue was resistance to water and humidity. And is that the capacity of each type of floor to resist humidity depends on its materials. Vinyl floors are synthetic, so they fit anywhere, including bathrooms and kitchens. But in general, laminate floors are more resistant. But they have many more differences!

vinyl flooring

Vinyl flooring is a 100% synthetic material. The base layer is usually fibreglass that is coated with PVC vinyl. Vinyl flooring is suitable for outdoors, although it is a cheap alternative.

The vinyl sheet is printed and embossed with a surface print layer. Over this, multiple wear layers and a layer of polyurethane are applied. The life of vinyl flooring is highly dependent on the thickness of the first top layer and the strength of the structure.

Not all vinyl floors have the necessary layer of insulation, although found on many vinyl floors.

The total thickness of vinyl flooring varies from 1.5mm for vinyl sheets to 5mm for adhesive vinyl planks or click-in vinyl tiles, which are the ones we have chosen for our house:

There are two types of vinyl flooring: 

  • Glued vinyl floors:  It is the most economical option. They are sold in rolls several meters long and wide. They need a level and smooth floor for their installation. Other similar options are vinyl tiles and adhesive tiles.
  • Click system vinyl flooring:  This is the most common option for domestic use. Its installation system is the same as that of a laminate floor.

They are 100% hydrophobic, that is, 100% resistant to water. This makes them perfect floors in humid spaces, whether in commercial areas, places with a lot of traffic or in our homes.

laminate flooring

Is laminate flooring parquet? No, a parquet is a wooden floor, which, depending on its treatment, may be more or less resistant, although its maintenance and care will always be much more delicate than other flooring types.

Laminate floors, more resistant than parquet, are characterised by being generally made up of 4 layers: 

  • The cover must be as resistant as possible to wear. Usually, a hard, clear plastic wear layer covers the printed design.
  • The design: is made up of a high-resolution photo that usually imitates natural wood or other materials such as stone, ceramics, etc., with great realism.
  • high-density fibre 
  • Stabilising layer to ensure correct levelling

They are similar to a vinyl tiles in appearance and installation method. Its core is made of pressed wood with resins, reaching a total thickness of 6 mm to 12 mm.

It is easy to clean laminate flooring. It can be cleaned by the dry method by using a broom, or if wet cleaning of laminate flooring is required, a damp cloth that feels almost dry to the touch should be used.

As with vinyl tiles, the necessary layer of insulation is an option included in many laminate floors to make installation easier, avoiding the previous step of “deploying” the insulation before the floor is installed.

Virtually all laminate flooring uses a wood fiberboard core. Because this core is a wood by-product, it will soften and swell if exposed to water. The laminate fiberboard core will not return to its original dimensions once it has dried. Also, wear and design layers sometimes peel off after the core has soaked in water. As a result, water-damaged laminate flooring usually needs to be replaced. Therefore, it can’t be fixed.

Properly installed laminate flooring, with tight joints and good baseboards or trim, can tolerate standing water, but only for a short time. Laminate flooring is a poor choice for family bathrooms or other areas where standing water is likely.