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SPC Vinyl Flooring vs Laminate Flooring: 10 Key Differences

SPC Vinyl Flooring vs Laminate Flooring: 10 Key Differences

  1. Introduction
  2. SPC Vinyl Flooring vs Laminate Flooring: The 10 Key Differences
    1. Composition
      1. SPC Vinyl Flooring
      2. Laminate Flooring
    2. Appearance
    3. Waterproof Rating
    4. Heat Resistance
    5. Maintenance
    6. Durability
    7. Installation
    8. Lifespan
    9. Comfort and Sound Absorption
    10. Stain and Scratch Resistance
  3. Recommended Installation Areas for Laminate vs Vinyl Flooring
  4. Why Tile Merchant?
  5. Additional Inquiries?
  6. FAQs

Introduction

The two heavyweights of affordable, durable, and realistic wood-effect flooring on the Irish interior design market today are laminate and SPC vinyl, also known as Solid Polymer Core Vinyl Flooring.

Whether you’re outfitting a new commercial unit, redesigning your household interior, or you’re a contractor building a new home from scratch, laminate flooring and SPC vinyl offer two supremely versatile and functional options to choose from.

But which one is better suited to your specific needs, aesthetic taste, and project budget?

In our Tile Merchant interior design guide to wood-effect flooring, we’ll walk you through the 10 key differences between laminate and stone polymer composite vinyl, helping you to make an informed decision and finish off your indoor floors with ease and style.

SPC Vinyl Flooring vs Laminate Flooring: The 10 Key Differences

When it comes to wood-effect flooring, the benefits are countless. Low maintenance, easy installation, affordable price points and eco-friendliness are all part of what make SPC Vinyl and Laminate Flooring so alluring to the modern Irish homeowner, contractor, and interior designer.

Of course, whilst Stone polymer composite Flooring (SPC Vinyl Flooring) and Laminate both look quite similar, there are some subtle differences which make each product better suited to different installs and projects.

In our Tile Merchant comparison guide to Irish indoor flooring solutions, we’ll explore the various unique qualities of laminate flooring and SPC vinyl so that you can make the best, most informed decision possible for your next flooring project.

Comparison Table: SPC Vinyl vs Laminate Flooring
Tile Merchant Blog SPC Vinyl Flooring Laminate Flooring
Composition Stone core, multiple layers,
UV resistant coating.
Wood core, fewer layers,
protective wear layer.
Appearance Superior photorealistic
wood appearance.
Decades of perfected
wood replication.
Waterproof Rating 100% water-resistant. Susceptible to water
damage.
Heat Resistance Doesn't warp in the heat. May warp in heat conditions.
Maintenance Easy to maintain. Easy to maintain.
Durability Supreme durability. Great durability.
Installation Easy to install. Easy to install.
Lifespan Long-Lasting. Long-Lasting.
Comfort Comes with a
pre-attached underlayment.
Some come with
pre-attached underlayment.
Stain and Scratch Resistance Resistant to stains
and scratches.
Resistant to stains
and scratches.

Composition

Kicking off our guide to the differences between laminate and SPC flooring, we’ll compare the makeup of these two stellar interior flooring options.

SPC Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring, also known as SPC, or ‘stone polymer composite’, is made from a mixture of synthetic materials and stone.

Top-quality SPC Vinyl 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.

Stone polymer composite (SPC) Vinyl Flooring in Ireland combines several layers to create a versatile and resilient flooring option suitable for various spaces.

These layers include:

  • A built-in underlayment: Where available, a built-in underlay makes SPC flooring softer underfoot, more comfortable, warmer and a better insulator for the home, and even reduces the noise of foot traffic across the Vinyl floor. Underlays also allow you to install SPC Vinyl Flooring directly on top of hard surfaces like concrete.
  • SPC Core: At the core of Vinyl floors is a highly-dense extruded core material of stone-plastic composite, greatly enhancing the strength and durability of the floor tiles, and providing competitive stability and support to the overall vinyl floor.
  • Print layer: The print layer of SPC flooring is what the photorealistic image is printed onto, mimicking the look of a variety of different natural woods, colours, and grains to an unmistakably realistic degree.
  • Wear layer(s): Multiple transparent wear layers atop the print layer of vinyl flooring protect it against scratches, stains, and general household wear and tear.
  • UV acrylic coating: And finally, all of our SPC vinyl flooring is finished with a UV-acrylic coat top layer, protecting the wood-effect design and core materials from the damaging rays of the sun. SPC Vinyl Flooring is made to last a long time, its stunning aesthetic incapable of fading in sunlight.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring is also made up of several different layers, though it typically has fewer than SPC Vinyl, hence the difference in price, which we’ll discuss later.

Perhaps the biggest difference between laminate and SPC, however, is that laminate flooring includes an internal core of highly-compressed wood fibres, rather than stone.

  • Built-in underlayment: Again optional, a built-in underlay benefits laminate flooring in the same way it does SPC Vinyl.
  • Core: Laminate flooring is built around a core of highly-compressed wood fibres, making it durable but arguably a little less so than SPC, not to mention being slightly less eco-friendly.
  • Print layer: Laminate flooring’s print layer is capable of mimicking to exacting standards the natural colours, finishes, grains and overall appearance of various materials, including real hardwood.
  • Wear layer: Finally, a single transparent plastic wear layer tops off the laminate boards, protecting it against stains and general household wear and tear, though not from the sun’s UV rays, meaning that the lustre of your laminate may fade gradually in time.

Appearance

Time to assess the overall look and feel of these two sterling flooring options for Irish interior redesigns and renovations. Of course, we rightly feel that both laminate and SPC vinyl flooring look superb in any number of installations, but here it’s our job to explore whether one pips the other in terms of aesthetic appeal.

For a start, it’s worth noting that laminate flooring has been in use in Irish and international interior design for much longer than SPC Vinyl floor tiles. As such, laminate manufacturers are building on many decades of production knowledge, and so have had longer to perfect the art of replicating wood floors in a plastic image layer.

We believe that the laminate flooring we have in stock is of exquisite quality.

However, if we are to choose between the two, then we’d have to say that SPC vinyl flooring just pips laminate to the post in terms of photorealism.

As a thicker board with more room to play with, manufacturers are able to double-down on the photorealistic wooden appearance of the print layer with SPC Vinyl, compared to laminate. This gives SPC flooring a finished wood look barely distinguishable from the real thing.

Waterproof Rating

Regardless of where you plan to install your new wood-effect flooring, resistance to water is a factor which should not be overlooked. From naturally damp and messy rooms like the bathroom and kitchen, to utility cupboards and more, Ireland’s wet climate means that water resistance will often play a key role in deciding which flooring material is right for you.

And when it comes to waterproof ratings, there is really only one winner: SPC Vinyl.

Because whilst both vinyl and laminate floorboards are made of mostly synthetic materials, only SPC vinyl flooring uses stone instead of wood in its composite core, therefore making it 100% water-resistant.

Laminate wood-effect flooring, on the other hand, is potentially susceptible to water damage due to the compressed wood fibres making-up its core.

SPC Vinyl Flooring is, therefore, the better choice of flooring in rooms prone to damp or in need of regular mopping—rooms in the Irish home such as bathrooms, kitchens, basements and garages.

Heat Resistance

Whilst both laminate and SPC would make fantastic choices for your next Irish indoor flooring job, neither of them are 100% heat resistant. Thankfully, in a country like Ireland with an average temperature of 10°C, this shouldn’t prove too much of a problem.

If you are still worried about the impact of heat exposure on your flooring, however, e.g., you’re worried your laminate or vinyl floors may shrink or expand under extreme temperate fluctuations, then SPC vinyl is your best bet. It won’t warp in heat as much as laminate has the potential to.

The good news, and probably more pertinent to most Irish homeowners, is that when properly installed, both laminate floors and solid polymer core vinyl can be installed on top of underfloor heating (provided temperatures are kept below roughly 26°C).

Maintenance

When it comes to choosing the ideal flooring for your home or business, the amount of care and cleaning the material requires can play a big part in your decision-making process.

For example, if choosing a wood-effect floor for a hospitality unit such as a café or restaurant, you’ll want one which is easy and quick to clean.

Good news all round, both laminate flooring and SPC vinyl tiles are deliberately designed with ease of maintenance in mind. Cleaning requires little more than a wipe with a damp cloth in order to remove most spills from either of these beautiful flooring options, a regular brush and hoover will catch the rest.

If, however, you’re installing flooring in a room which regularly accrues dirt and spills, such as a commercial or domestic kitchen, a bathroom or dining room, then you’ll need a flooring solution which can withstand regular mopping.

Because laminate is not 100% waterproof like SPC vinyl is, mopping could ultimately warp the material, making SPC Floor your best choice in these situations.

Top Tips: 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 capable of standing the test of time.

Durability

It is, of course, also important to work out which flooring option, laminate or SPC vinyl, is most durable.

Whilst durability isn’t always key to flooring installations, in high foot-traffic areas of the home it certainly comes into play.

Thankfully, both laminate and SPC are generally durable options.

In commercial use, for example, SPC Vinyl Flooring is called ‘resilient flooring’ thanks to its supreme durability. With all of those additional wear layers, an added underlayment and SPC’s super strong extruded core of stone and polymers, it is undoubtedly the more durable of the two flooring options.

At the same time, it is important to note that laminate flooring is also durable, but is just susceptible to delamination over time with exposure to water, and may fade over the years if exposed to direct sunlight for long periods.

Installation

Both Vinyl flooring and Laminate flooring are designed to be easy to install.

SPC Vinyl Floor tiles utilise an innovative, patented installation technology called UNICLIC.

UNICLIC flooring planks require no glue or adhesives at all during installation, and instead snap or click together via a tongue-and-groove design. This makes SPC Vinyl Flooring the amateur DIYer’s go-to choice.

Laminate Flooring, on the other hand, tends to come in rolls, which can require a little more skill to cut to size, but can at the same time cover oddly-shaped rooms with greater ease. Tile Merchant also stocks wood-effect laminate flooring in plank-form, for a similar installation to SPC.

When it comes to DIY Irish home improvement, this one’s a tie. Both laminate and SPC are easy to install.

Lifespan

Both SPC vinyl flooring and laminate are designed to 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 SPC tend to come with long-lasting warranties as well, usually in the range of 10+ years.

If installed properly and carefully maintained, you can expect your laminate wood floorboards to last you somewhere in the region of 15 years, whilst SPC vinyl can last well over 20.

Comfort and Sound Absorption

The quality of comfort and sound reduction in laminate and vinyl flooring ultimately relies on whether or not you choose to pair your flooring materials with an underlayment beneath the wood-effect floorboards.

Not every room will need an underlay, whilst some of our SPC Vinyl Tiles come with an underlayment pre-attached.

If laying laminate or SPC vinyl flooring over hard and uneven surfaces, like concrete, however, you will definitely want to install an underlay first, in order to avoid your new floors feeling hard and cold underfoot.

Ultimately, this category results in another tie. Both laminate and SPC vinyl flooring can feel exceptionally warm and comfortable to walk on, in bare feet, shoes or heels, provided you take care and time over their installation.

Stain and Scratch Resistance

No matter how clean and tidy your home is, accidents happen, spills occur, and who knows what creatures, critters, and children may wind up a part of the household in time.

Knowing which flooring material is more resistant to stains and scratches could save you a lot of stress and money in the long run.

Thankfully, both SPC flooring and laminate are resistant to stains thanks to their various wear layers which is one of the major reasons they’ve proved so popular among our customers across Ireland for so long.

Scratch and stain resistance make SPC vinyl floorboards and laminate flooring a winning choice for those traditionally mucky parts of the home, like bathrooms, kitchens, dining rooms, children’s bedrooms and utility rooms.

When it comes to which is best at resisting stains, both SPC vinyl and laminate are about equal.

However, we think SPC takes home the trophy for "most stain-resistant" because, as we mentioned before, it is a little easier to clean than laminate and can be mopped free of spills without worrying about causing water damage.

Recommended Installation Areas for Laminate vs Vinyl Flooring

You can install both SPC flooring and laminate flooring in almost any room in your Irish home or commercial unit. Both options look absolutely stunning wherever they are installed, both are highly-durable, and both can be fitted to any size or shape of room with relative ease.

Below is a list of the most popular recommended installation areas for SPC vinyl flooring and laminate wood-effect floorboards:

  • Offices
  • Cafés and restaurants
  • Retail showrooms
  • Household hallways
  • Kitchens
  • Bathrooms (SPC is recommended here because of its 100% waterproof rating)
  • Bedrooms  (laminate may offer a little more warmth for those bedtime bare feet!)
  • Living rooms
  • Conservatories
  • Pantries
  • Utility rooms (SPC vinyl flooring is especially good in rooms like this because it’s so easy to clean)

SPC Vinyl or Laminate Flooring — Which is Best for You?

Whether you choose laminate flooring or luxury SPC vinyl flooring for your next indoor flooring or commercial renovation project is really up to you, but we’ve put together a few final tips to help you decide.

  • If budget is your priority, then laminate flooring, being cheaper on average, could be just the ticket.
  • However, when it comes to overall quality of design, durability, lifespan, versatility, care, cleaning, and stain- and water-resistance, there’s simply no denying that SPC vinyl flooring comes out on top every time.

With a small but highly-curated range of SPC 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.

Delivery available to any home address, worksite or warehouse in Ireland, seven days a week. Thanks for reading, and happy hunting!

SPC vinyl flooring with realistic wood effect

Additional Inquiries?

As you explore the world of flooring options, it’s natural to have questions and seek clarity on the choices available.

Stone polymer composite flooring (SPC vinyl) 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 SPC 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 or come along and pop into one of our three gorgeous showrooms to chat to us in person.

Tile Merchant’s showrooms are located in Coolock, Ballymount, and Ashbourne, Co. Meath.

You can contact us via email at info@tilemerchant.ie, 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.

FAQs

How long does SPC flooring last?

If properly installed, cleaned and maintained, then high quality SPC vinyl flooring should last upwards of 20 years, making it a highly-durable and long-lasting flooring material.

Is SPC flooring more durable than laminate?

Whilst both SPC vinyl flooring and laminate flooring are extra durable thanks to their many wear layers, SPC is slightly longer-lasting than laminate. SPC vinyl often comes with lifespans upwards of 20 years long, whereas laminate flooring tends to be more in the region of 15 years.

Do you need underlay for SPC flooring?

You don’t need to purchase underlay or underlayment for SPC flooring, however it is sometimes recommended depending on the subsurface you’re laying the SPC 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. Just be sure to check that your luxury SPC vinyl floor tiles don’t already come with underlay attached.

Does SPC flooring scratch easily?

SPC flooring is topped with several thick and durable wear layers making it resilient to most sharp objects, scrapes and scratches. Whilst it’s not impossible that your SPC flooring could accrue small scratches over time, it is unlikely to impact its overall appearance or functionality.

Is SPC flooring waterproof?

Yes, SPC flooring is 100% waterproof because it is made of a mixture of stone and 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 properly sealed to stop water permeating the sublayer beneath.

Is SPC cheaper than tiles?

Flooring your Irish home with SPC is a cost-effective and affordable option. Whilst a little more expensive than laminate flooring, SPC vinyl lasts longer and is even more durable. Compared to porcelain, ceramic, or other indoor flooring tiles, SPC is roughly the same price.

What are the benefits of SPC vinyl tile flooring?

There are many benefits to installing SPC 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, SPC is affordable, attractive, long-lasting, easy to install and easy to clean.

Which looks more realistic, SPC vinyl flooring or laminate flooring?

Both laminate and SPC vinyl flooring look hyper-realistic, able to mimic the appearance of genuine hardwood with surprising accuracy. However, we would argue that SPC 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?

Tile Merchant Ireland offers extremely competitive pricing on our entire range of tiles and likewise.

Tile Merchant stocks 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.

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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".