Vinyl vs laminate flooring: what are the differences

When appearance, affordability, and durability are your top concerns for new floors, there are two options that often take all the attention: laminate and vinyl flooring.

These styles are easy to install (at least certainly possible for DIYers). Their price tags are similar. And at first glance, they look almost the same.

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Nonetheless, vinyl and laminate floors still have many important differences you should never ignore. They can be big enough to prefer one type over another.

Vinyl is an entirely synthetic material. It comes in tiles or sheets, whose base layers are made of fiberglass coated in PVC.

Manufacturers typically print and emboss another print layer for decorative purposes. On the outside is one or multiple wear layers to protect the whole sheets or tiles.

On the other hand, laminate flooring features cores made from by-products, which are then bonded with resins.

The top wear layer of laminate is a hard plastic that covers a printed layer below, resulting in a thickness between 6 and 12mm.

Many vinyl flooring products can offer a realistic look, especially the newer and more expensive vinyl planks. Their solid cores are thicker and look more like wood, thanks to the deeper layer of embossing.

However, laminate still comes out on top when it comes to appearance. Manufacturers can put it through deep 3D embossing with realistic images of stone, ceramic, and wood.

While vinyl flooring isn't that far behind, laminate can mimic those materials better.

Laminate flooring is low-maintenance and durable. But remember that its layers will eventually delaminate, especially if they're exposed to water constantly.

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And once the wear layer has been damaged, there is no way to repair your floors besides a complete replacement. The delamination of the top layer will enable water to get into lower layers and further tamper with the flooring's structure.

Vinyl flooring is also prone to delamination. However, for thin planks, it becomes less of a problem. They have no other layers in addition to the single PVC layer.

As there is no soft underlayment built-in, water has a harder time entering the inner thin planks of vinyl flooring. Overall, it's a more durable option and can be used even in many commercial applications, where maintenance and durability are crucial.

When cleaning laminate flooring, remember to use dry methods first. Sweep it with a broom or a dry mop. Even when wet-cleaning is necessary, use only damp mops that hold as least water as possible.

You don't need that much attention for your vinyl flooring. Ease of care and maintenance is one of its advantages. Well-maintained floors can be wet-mopped and even vigorously scrubbed with cleaners if needed.

Vinyl flooring is clearly the winner here. It doesn't have strict care requirements and you will have more options to get rid of messes on your floors.

You can make use of a mop to quickly remove stains from vinyl flooring before they cause permanent damage. However, not every mop can work on vinyl flooring.

For more information about which kind of mops are suitable for cleaning vinyl flooring, check out this guide: