Have you been searching the web, looking for the best flooring for your home, only to come across vinyl planks and laminate and end up scratching your head wondering what the difference is between them? If so, you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll be discussing the differences between vinyl plank vs. laminate flooring and which one is best.
Both laminate and vinyl plank is a type of fake wood flooring. They share various strengths and weaknesses that make them more practical than their natural elder brother, natural wood. They’re cheaper and yet mimic real wood patterns to such a high degree that you’d be challenged to identify which is which.
Still, for all their similarities, there are some key differences between them. They’re constructed differently and perform better in different rooms within the home. We’ll compare vinyl plank vs. laminate flooring and cover the following topics:
- how much they cost
- what they’re made of
- and much more
By the end of this article, you’ll know everything you need to make your decision on which is the right flooring for you.
What Is Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring?
Go back 70 years and sheet vinyl was all the rage. It’d recently been introduced to the masses and was waterproof, cheap, and could literally be used anywhere in the house. It required little maintenance and was made from a type of plastic (PVC).
But it had its shortcomings too. It could be scratched easily and its colors soon lost their vibrancy. Since then, new technologies have progressed enough for a new form of vinyl flooring to be offered to the public: Luxury Vinyl Planks and Tiles.
While Luxury Vinyl Tiles have the appearance of ceramic tiles, Luxury Vinyl Planks have the appearance of wood flooring. When you take a closer look at them, it’s very difficult to tell the real item from the fake one! Luxury Vinyl Flooring has progressed so much that the only similarity between it and its ancestor now is the fact they’re made from vinyl.
Vinyl Plank Has Multiple Layers
There’s a pretty big difference between how vinyl plank and laminate are produced.
This is how vinyl plank is constructed:
- A base layer creates the foundation and soft feel beneath your feet. It can be rigid or flexible, depending on the product you buy.
- Then comes what is known as the “design layer” which mimics the characteristics of hardwood or tile.
- Finally, the wear layer is placed on top, which gives the vinyl its much-needed protection from scratches, water, light, and anything else thrown at it.
Sometimes the final plank comes with an extra layer pre-installed called the underlayment, other times you need to buy it separately.
What Is The Difference Between LVP (Luxury Vinyl Plank) And LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tile)?
It’s very easy to get confused with all the abbreviations and letters that get thrown around when talking about luxury vinyl. But explaining the difference between Luxury Vinyl Plank and Luxury Vinyl Tile is very easy.
Luxury vinyl describes all the multi-layer flooring types we discussed earlier that are made of vinyl. In short, LVP and LVT are identical except for their look and feel. Luxury Vinyl Plank refers to flooring that looks and feels like hardwood flooring in all its various designs and colors, while Luxury Vinyl Tiles looks and feels more like tiles. It’s important to bear in mind that these 2 forms of flooring are made the same way. The only difference is how they look and feel underfoot.
What Do SPC And WPC Mean?
These are terms often used to describe different types of vinyl plank.
SPC: Stone Plastic Composite
To increase the vinyl planks’ stability and durability, limestone is ground up and added to the base layer.
WPC: Wood Plastic Composite
Wood is ground up and added to the base layer.
A reasonable question would be, So what’s the real difference between SPC and WPC? The answer is simple: minuscule.
These items are only really marketing ploys to make you hand over more money than necessary! Don’t let the slick salesman con you into purchasing a more expensive Luxury Vinyl Plank based on these characteristics alone as they’re essentially the same!
How Thick Should Vinyl Plank Flooring Be?
Vinyl plank generally comes in thicknesses of 2 and 8mm. The key takeaway? Make your decision based on the amount of traffic your vinyl plank flooring is likely to experience.
Higher traffic requires a greater thickness. Low traffic areas, thinner vinyl layers.
Now that we’ve discussed some of the features of Vinyl Plank Flooring, let’s take a closer look at laminate.
What Is Laminate Flooring?
The main difference between vinyl and laminate construction is that laminate flooring uses High-Density Fiberboard (HDF rather than vinyl). In the design layer, laminate has a photorealistic printed image whereas vinyl has an embossed layer.
Back in the 70s, laminate had a bad name. It looked fake and cheap, but modern developments have made it more affordable, durable, and it looks fantastic.
Vinyl Plank And Laminate Flooring Construction
Laminate has a similar, but different, construction:
- Its base layer consists of HDF that creates the foundation and feeling of wood underfoot.
- The design layer contains the photorealistic image.
- The wear layer helps protect the laminate flooring as per vinyl.
Not all laminate is built the same. Some companies will offer more layers, but the general construction will be the same as listed above.
Are Laminate And Engineered Wood The Same?
The short answer is no.
The longer answer goes like this: Although engineered wood and laminate share the same shallow level of construction — that they consist of fiberboard layers — they’re actually completely different types of floor. Engineered wood has a thick layer of real solid wood — or even multiple layers clamped together — which automatically removes it from being referred to as fake wood flooring. For this reason, engineered wood is often more expensive than laminate.
What Are The Similarities Between Vinyl Plank And Laminate?
Vinyl plank and laminate are both cheaper than solid wood or engineered wood.
They’re easy to install and don’t need a professional to fit them. This is what makes these types of flooring so popular.
Vinyl and laminate flooring can often be glued down or clicked together without ever really being attached to the subfloor below in what is referred to as a “floating floor.” Still, if you insist on fitting your flooring yourself, it’s good to know the basics before you get started. Both flooring types are easier to care for than hardwood.
Which Flooring Adds More Resell Value To A House?
It really depends on the quality of the flooring you’ve bought. Cheap luxury vinyl or laminate are always going to add less value to your home than the higher band products. They each come in an endless variety of patterns and colors, so you’re never left having to choose between just a handful of designs.
What Are The Advantages Of Vinyl Plank And Laminate?
Vinyl plank is often waterproof, whereas laminate is only water-resistant. This is largely due to vinyl being of manmade construction. It makes it ideal for use in rooms that see a great deal of moisture. Still, if not properly fitted, water can seep into the vinyl plank’s seams. Just ensure to clean up any spills as quickly as possible.
Vinyl Plank Is Stronger Scratch-Resistant
Both flooring types are somewhat scratch resistant but laminate often has a thicker protective layer, which means it can withstand the sharp claws of dogs and other pets. Due to its waterproof ability, it makes it more suitable for pets.
Is Vinyl Plank Better Than Laminate For Dogs?
Laminate is less durable than the vinyl plank. There’s a big difference between good and bad quality on either end of the spectrum but generally, for the same amount of money, vinyl can take more punishment than laminate. Laminate flooring can still live up to the demands of day-to-day living but if you have multiple dogs or particularly boisterous children, vinyl might be the way to go.
What Are The Weaknesses Of Vinyl Plank And Laminate?
Although they are both great flooring options, they’re not perfect. Here are some of their weaknesses:
Vinyl Plank Is Less Eco-Friendly Than Laminate
Vinyl flooring often cannot be recycled and so is not the most eco-friendly of flooring options. When it comes time to replace it, vinyl will sit in a landfill or be burnt in an incinerator. Either way, not too good for the environment. However, there’s also a flip side to this.
Because vinyl flooring is so durable, it can often outlast many other flooring types that need to be replaced multiple times within the same timeframe. Combine the environmental impacts of that, and vinyl flooring may actually be the more eco-friendly option!
Laminate Flooring Releases Fewer VOCs Than Vinyl
When new floors are fitted, they can sometimes give off something known as Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs) that can be harmful to both pets and people. It’s possible to find floors that don’t do this, though it’s not the norm. It’s often easier to find laminate flooring with low or no VOCs than vinyl.
Laminate Flooring Can Be Quieter Than Vinyl
It’s not a huge issue for most people, but laminate is actually quieter and has a greater noise dampening effect than vinyl. Still, there are many vinyl options out there that can almost match laminate in this regard.
Vinyl Plank And Laminate Price Comparison
Generally, they’re priced similarly. Laminate can cost anywhere between $1-10 per square foot, while luxury vinyl plank costs between $1-14 per square foot. There will be massive distortions in these prices depending on the brand you choose.
Key Differences Of Vinyl Plank And Laminate Flooring
To summarise, here are some of the key differences:
- Laminate should be only used in rooms that won’t see much moisture. Vinyl can be used in virtually any room.
- Laminate is more eco-friendly than vinyl, but neither is exactly a saint when it comes to polluting the Earth.
- Vinyl is easier to clean and very durable. Laminate shares these features but vinyl is just a little bit more.
- They’re both sold roughly at the same price, but vinyl can also sell for greater sums.
Is Luxury Vinyl Plank Or Laminate Better?
Laminate and vinyl plank flooring has so many subtle similarities and differences that the only real way to know which is better for you is to speak to a local professional who will ask you a bunch of questions to ensure you’re making the right choice for your needs.