Vinyl vs. Laminate Flooring: A Comparison Guide for Homeowners
- Luxury Vinyl Flooring (LVT) Vs. Laminate Flooring - 10 Key Differences
- Water resistance
- Heat resistance
- Care and Cleaning
- Comfort and sound absorption
- Stain resistance
- Recommended installation areas
- Conclusion: LVT or Laminate Flooring
- Why Tile Merchant?
When it comes to choosing affordable, highly-durable and photo-realistic wood effect flooring for your home or business, you’ve really only two quality options to choose between: luxury vinyl (LVT) flooring, and laminate.
Both LVT and laminate flooring look very similar, are just as easy to install, and cost about the same, so what’s the difference?
In this guide to interior design from Ireland’s most popular tile and flooring retailers, we explore the 10 major differences between LVT and laminate flooring to help you decide which would best suit your home, your aesthetic, and your budget.
Luxury Vinyl Flooring (LVT) Vs. Laminate Flooring - 10 Key Differences
Among the myriad of options available, luxury vinyl flooring (LVT) and laminate flooring stand out as popular contenders. Both offer a durable, cost-effective alternative to traditional hardwood or tile flooring, but they possess distinct characteristics that make them suited to different needs and preferences.
In this comprehensive comparison, we'll delve into the ten key differences between luxury vinyl flooring (LVT) and laminate flooring, shedding light on their unique qualities and helping you make an informed decision for your next flooring project.
From aesthetics and durability to installation and maintenance, we'll explore every facet of these two flooring options, so you can confidently choose the one that best suits your lifestyle and design preferences. So, let's embark on this journey of discovery and unravel the contrasting features of luxury vinyl flooring and laminate flooring to find the perfect fit for your space.
Let’s start by taking a look at what LVT flooring and laminate flooring are made of.
Vinyl flooring, also known as LVT (which stands for ‘luxury vinyl tiles’), is made from 100% synthetic materials.
Top-quality LVT flooring like ours is composed of several distinct layers, each with its own unique purpose, in order to make a thick and durable plank of vinyl.
Luxury Vinyl Flooring (LVT) in Ireland combines layers to create a versatile and resilient flooring option suitable for various spaces.
When considering LVT for your home or business, keep in mind these composition layers to ensure your flooring meets your specific needs.
These layers include:
- Built-in underlayment: Where available, a built-in underlay gives LVT flooring a luxuriously comfortable, warm, and quiet quality.
- Core: LVT flooring comprises a highly-dense extruded core material for strength and durability.
- PVC layer: PVC provides additional stability and support to the overall tile or plank of vinyl flooring.
- Print layer: The print layer of LVT flooring is what the photorealistic image is printed onto, mimicking the look of a variety of different natural woods, colours, and grains.
- Wear layer(s): Multiple transparent wear layers atop the image layer of vinyl flooring protect it against scratches, stains, and general household wear and tear.
- UV acrylic coating: The final, top layer of vinyl flooring is a UV-acrylic coat which protects the material from the damaging rays of the sun. With this layer, your vinyl flooring’s gorgeous look will never fade!
Laminate flooring is also made up of several different layers, though typically has fewer than LVT.
Moreover, it is not 100% synthetic, but rather includes a core of highly-compressed wood fibres.
- Built-in underlayment: Again optional, a built-in underlay can give laminate flooring a more comfortable, warmer, and quieter quality.
- Core: Laminate flooring comprises a highly-compressed wood fibre core.
- Print layer: The print layer of laminate flooring is what the photorealistic image is printed onto, mimicking the look of a variety of different natural woods, colours, and grains.
- Wear layer: A single transparent plastic wear layer atop the image layer of laminate flooring protects it against stains and general household wear and tear, though not from the sun’s damaging UV rays.
Which looks better?
It’s hard to say which flooring option looks better, or more photorealistic than the other.
Laminate flooring has been around for longer, and so its producers have had longer to perfect the art of
replicating wood floors in a plastic image layer. Undeniably, the laminate flooring we have in stock is of exquisite quality.
However, if we were forced to choose, we’d argue that luxury vinyl flooring just pips laminate to the post in terms of photorealism. Being a thicker board with more room to play with, it is possible to print more extensively on vinyl flooring, giving it a finished wood look which is barely distinguishable from the real thing.
Whilst both laminate and LVT are made of synthetic materials, only luxury vinyl flooring is 100% synthetic and thus 100% water-resistant.
Laminate wood flooring, on the other hand, has a core of compressed wood fibres making it potentially susceptible to water damage.
This makes vinyl the preferred choice in rooms prone to damp, such as bathrooms, basements, and garages.
Neither laminate or LVT flooring are particularly heat resistant, unfortunately, though luckily for us here in Ireland that shouldn’t ever prove much of a problem.
Still, if you’re worried about your flooring shrinking or expanding under extreme temperature fluctuations, then vinyl flooring is your best bet. It won’t warp in heat as much as laminate has the potential to.
Both can, if properly installed, be laid over underfloor heating, provided temperatures are kept below roughly 26°C.
Care and Cleaning
Both laminate and LVT are purposefully designed to be easily maintainable. A simple wipe with a damp cloth is all it takes to remove most spills from these gorgeous flooring options, whilst a regular brush and hoover will catch the rest.
The only point at which LVT flooring trumps laminate is when it comes to mopping. Because laminate is not 100% waterproof like luxury vinyl is, mopping could ultimately warp the material.
Do you know how to clean Laminate Flooring? Laminate flooring adds a touch of elegance to your home. To ensure it remains a source of pride, a little cleaning know-how goes a long way. Don't worry – it's simpler than you think! Discover our handy tips on How to Clean Laminate Flooring (Without Ruining It) and get ready to enjoy sparkling laminate floors that stand the test of time.
Vinyl flooring has an industry name you might be interested to learn. In commercial use, it is called ‘resilient flooring’.
Yes, it really is that durable! With all of those additional wear layers, protective PVC, an added underlayment and its super strong extruded core, LVT flooring wins hands-down when it comes to durability and longevity.
Of course, it’s important to note that laminate flooring is also durable; it is just susceptible to delamination over time with exposure to water (either in the air or via mopping and spills).
It is supremely easy to install both laminate flooring and LVT.
Because vinyl flooring comes in tiles or planks, you could make the argument that it is even easier to install than laminate, but we find this really depends on the room you choose to cover.
Rolls of laminate, though requiring a little more skill to cut to size, can cover strangely-shaped rooms with greater ease. Ultimately, when it comes to DIY Irish home improvement, this one’s a tie.
Both LVT and laminate flooring last a long time – that’s what they’re built to do, after all: to be an affordable yet long-lasting flooring solution for those of us looking for luxury on a budget.
Both laminate flooring and LVT tend to come with long-lasting warranties, as well, often over 10-years long.
If properly installed and carefully looked after, you can expect your laminate wood floorboards to last you somewhere in the region of 15 years, whilst LVT can last over 20.
Comfort and sound absorption
The quality of comfort and sound reduction in laminate and vinyl flooring ultimately comes down to whether or not you opt to install an underlayment beneath the wood-effect floorboards.
Not every room will need an underlay, whilst some flooring options (often including LVT) will already
come with an underlayment attached.
If laying laminate or vinyl flooring over hard and uneven surfaces, like concrete, however, you will want to install an underlay first to avoid your new floors feeling hard and cold underfoot.
At the end of the day, both laminate and vinyl flooring can feel exceptionally warm and comfortable
to walk on, in bare feet, shoes or heels.
Both LVT flooring and laminate are resistant to stains thanks to their various wear layers.
This is one of the major reasons that they have proved so popular among our customers for so long, especially among customers with young children and pets in the home!
Resistance to both stains and scratches makes luxury vinyl floorboards and laminate flooring a winning choice for those traditionally mucky parts of the home, like bathrooms, kitchens, and utility rooms.
When it comes to which is best, both are about equal, however, we think LVT takes home the trophy for "most stain-resistant" because, as aforementioned, it is a little easier to clean than laminate, and can be mopped free of spills
Recommended installation areas
You can install both LVT flooring and laminate flooring in almost any room in the house.
Both options look absolutely stunning, and both are highly-durable. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular recommended installation areas for vinyl and laminate wood-effect floorboards:
- Cafés and restaurants
- Retail showrooms
- Household hallways
- Bathrooms (LVT is recommended here because of its 100% waterproof rating)
- Bedrooms (laminate may offer a little more warmth for those bedtime bare feet!)
- Living rooms
- Utility rooms (vinyl flooring is especially good in rooms like this because it’s so easy to clean)
Conclusion: LVT or Laminate Flooring
Whether you choose to opt for laminate flooring or luxury vinyl flooring is really up to you.
If budget is your priority, then laminate flooring – being cheaper on average – could be just the ticket. Yet both have their merits.
When it comes to overall quality of design, durability, lifespan, versatility, care, cleaning, and stain- and water-resistance, however, there’s simply no denying that luxury vinyl flooring comes out on top every time.
With a small but highly-curated range of LVT flooring to choose from at Tile Merchant, and an even wider range of laminate, you really can’t go wrong. Browse our online flooring ranges today, and we guarantee you'll find something just perfect for your next DIY interior design project.
Thanks for reading!
As you explore the world of flooring options, it's natural to have questions and seek clarity on the choices available.
Luxury vinyl flooring (LVT) and laminate flooring are two prominent contenders in the flooring market, each offering a unique set of benefits and features.
To assist you in making an informed decision for your flooring needs, we've compiled a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding LVT and laminate flooring.
If you find yourself in need of further assistance or have additional inquiries not covered in our FAQs, please don't hesitate to reach out to us.
You can contact us via email at email@example.com, where our flooring experts are ready to provide detailed responses to your questions and offer tailored advice based on your individual needs.
Additionally, if you prefer direct communication, and if you live in Ireland, you can ring us at 01 424 2003.
We're here to assist you in making the best flooring choices for your home or business, ensuring that your space is not only functional but also beautifully designed to suit your preferences and lifestyle.
Fequently Asked Questions
If properly installed, cleaned and maintained, then high quality LVT flooring should last upwards of 20 years, making it a highly-durable and long-lasting flooring material.
Whilst both LVT flooring and laminate flooring are extra durable thanks to their many wear layers, LVT is slightly longer-lasting than laminate. LVT flooring often comes with warranties upwards of 20-years long, whereas laminate flooring tends to be more in the region of 15-years.
You don’t need to purchase underlay or underlayment for LVT flooring, however it is sometimes recommended depending on the subsurface you’re laying the LVT on top of. If you’re laying directly on top of concrete, for example, then an underlay is highly recommended for both comfort and warmth.
LVT flooring is topped with several thick and durable wear layers making it resilient to most sharp objects. Whilst it’s not impossible that your LVT flooring could accrue small scratches over time, it is unlikely.
Yes, LVT flooring is 100% waterproof because it is made of 100% synthetic materials. As such, it cannot become water-damaged. However, you should make sure that the gaps between the luxury vinyl tiles or planks are sealed to stop water permeating the sublayer beneath.
Flooring your Irish home with LVT is a cost-effective and affordable option. Whilst more expensive than laminate flooring, LVT lasts longer and is even more durable. Compared to tiles, LVT is roughly the same price.
There are many benefits to installing luxury vinyl plank and tile flooring in your home, including water-resistance, stain-resistance, and scratch-resistance durability – making it the perfect flooring for family homes and homes with pets. Moreover, LVT is affordable, attractive, long-lasting, easy to install and easy to clean.
Both laminate and vinyl flooring, or LVT flooring, look hyper-realistic, able to mimic the appearance of genuine hardwood exquisitely. However, we would argue that LVT flooring has the capacity to look even more realistic than laminate, thanks to a thicker design which leaves more wiggle-room for printing.
Why Tile Merchant?
We offer extremely competitive pricing on our entire range of tiles and likewise. We stock a huge range of wall and floor tiles and our prices are competitive for retail and trade. Our stock is widely available in our tile stores in Dublin and Ashbourne (Co. Meath) which are open 7 days a week.
Alternatively, if you’d prefer to shop our tiles online, we can supply you with samples delivered for free.
Article written by Calum
Cal Bannerman is a freelance writer, editor, podcaster and voice actor from the Scottish Borders. He runs the storytelling podcast "Stories from the Hearth" and lives in a wee Glasgow Flat with his partner and their cat".