Flooring showdown: vinyl vs laminate

Flooring showdown: vinyl vs laminate

Both vinyl and laminate flooring are popular choices for homeowners. Although aesthetically similar, the key differentiators between the two materials can often be the deciding factor for which one is best-suited for your home.

Let’s compare the main features and properties of vinyl and laminate flooring to determine which product is best for your individual requirements.

Round one: appearance

Vinyl flooring is 100% synthetic, composed of multiple layers of plastic compressed together. Comparably, laminate products have a fiberboard core, with an upper layer made from wood byproducts. Many people feel that the more natural makeup of laminate flooring gives it the edge over vinyl when it comes to achieving a realistic wooden plank appearance.

Round one champion: laminate

Laminate is a great option if a natural wood-look is the main goal of your flooring renovation, such as in homes with existing hardwood or engineered wood floors where you want the new flooring to blend with these as well as possible.

Round two: lifespan

It’s hard to specify an exact lifespan for any type of flooring, as many factors can impact this. For example, flooring in an area of the home with high foot traffic, or rooms where heavy furniture is moved around often, will usually have a lower lifespan than flooring in rooms with less activity.

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Vinyl flooring usually lasts around 10 – 20 years, whereas laminate flooring often lasts 15 – 25 years.

Round two champion: laminate

The expected lifespan of a flooring material is usually an important factor to many homeowners wanting to get the most out of their investment. Laminate is a great option to ensure long-lasting flooring, assuming the floors are maintained correctly.

Round three: water resistance

Laminate flooring is resistant to small spills, as long as they’re cleaned up promptly. Prolonged exposure to moisture can cause the planks to warp, and once this occurs, the entire affected area will need replacing. Comparably, vinyl flooring has a higher water-resistance, with many products being completely waterproof. Spills onto vinyl floors should still be cleaned up quickly, however, prolonged exposure won’t damage the boards themselves, just the adhesive underneath, which is a much quicker and cheaper fix.

Round three champion: vinyl

One of the key benefits of vinyl flooring is its level of water-resistance, making it the ideal choice for applications like kitchens and bathrooms, where spills and excess moisture are common. Households with pets or young children may also prefer the additional security of water-resistant flooring.

Round four: durability

Both laminate and vinyl flooring have an uppermost wear layer that protects the design of the boards against scratches, scuffs and dents. This doesn’t make either product immune to damage, but the overall durabilities of the two are very comparable.

Round four champion: vinyl

The difference between both products’ durability is very small, but if we have to pick one winner it would be vinyl. Vinyl products have a very slight upper hand when it comes to cleaning the boards – due to vinyl’s inherent water resistance properties, it can withstand more cleaning materials than laminate.

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Round five: sound reduction

Vinyl has the best soundproofing abilities of any hard flooring material, with many products being engineered with specific acoustic properties to reduce noise. Comparably, laminate doesn’t have great sound reduction by itself. You can enhance the noise reduction of both vinyl and laminate by installing certain underlays, but this is an additional expense to account for. Thicker laminate boards can have improved sound reduction but are often still a far stretch from vinyl.

Round five champion: vinyl

Vinyl is the ideal flooring material for applications where soundproofing is a priority. For example, apartments with downstairs neighbors, home offices, entertainment rooms and bedrooms. Households with children or large dogs may also prefer the quieter nature of vinyl flooring.

Round six: cost

Most renovations within the home are completed with a budget in mind, so the initial cost of the flooring materials is important. Vinyl flooring can be found for as little as $1 per square foot, but more premium products can retail for around $10 per square foot. Laminate products usually range between $1 – $3.50 per square foot.

Round six champion: laminate

If sticking to a tight budget is the main priority for your renovation, even more premium laminate products can be purchased for a much lower initial price than vinyl. However, the above price ranges don’t take into account the cost of installation, so be sure to get some quotes from local flooring installers to ensure you aren’t caught out!

Round seven: installation

Installing laminate flooring requires the removal of the existing floor, whereas vinyl can be installed directly on top of an existing solid floor.

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Round seven champion: vinyl

If you’re looking for a flooring material that is quick and simple to install, vinyl is the clear winner. Whenever undertaking a flooring renovation, always enlist the help of a professional to complete the installation. Professional flooring installation is not only quicker, but can also ensure maximum safety and longevity of the floors.

The results

Laminate flooring has claimed the top spot for most realistic wood-look appearance, average lifespan and initial cost. However, vinyl flooring champions many of the individual features and properties, like durability, water resistance and sound reduction, as well as ease of installation.

But wait… there’s more!

What if you’re set on finding the most realistic wood-like appearance possible, but need the additional benefits of vinyl flooring? Enter a third challenger: luxury vinyl plank (LVP).

LVP is a premium vinyl product, usually sitting at the top end of the price range (around $10 per square foot). Its expected lifespan is around 15 – 20 years, and it has an expertly realistic wood-look and feel, with all of the additional benefits of standard vinyl products.

There are plenty of flooring options on the market, just remember to take the time to consider which is best suited for your household.


Powerhouse is a full-service home and commercial services company based in Texas.

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