If you’ve decided that you want an alternative to tile or hardwood flooring… and you found yourself deciding between laminate or luxury vinyl plank (lvp) / luxury vinyl tile (lvt)… then you’ve come to the right place.
We know the choice can feel like a big one. Thankfully, we are here to break it down for you so you can make the best decision for your home!
There are so many differing opinions out there, but these are ours. Read on if you think we know what we are talking about!
Quick breakdown Of LVP And Laminate Floors
Laminate and LVP/LVT floors CAN be good alternatives to tile and hardwoods, especially in terms of pricing and DIY installation. However, you can find that some products of each can be just as expensive as tile and hardwoods.
Laminate flooring is generally much thicker than vinyl and tends to look and feel more like real hardwoods. It also has a nice solid feel on your feet when you walk on it.
However, the biggest downfall with most laminate floors is that although they’re described as being water “resistant”, they are not waterproof!
LVP/LVT floors tend to be more thin, and can have a “plasticky” look and feel to them. While most vinyl floors don’t have that solid or real feel, they are 100% waterproof!
Laminate floors are essentially composed of 4 primarily layers.
A bottom moisture barrier layer that’s usually a cork or foam pad. If it doesn’t have this, you must purchase an underlayment and install it separately. The best quality, will make a big difference in how the floor feels and sounds.
Then, laminate has a core layer with a melamine resin and fiberboard (think compressed cardboard).
Followed up by a design layer which is a photograph printed on your floors with the style you like.
Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP)/ Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT):
Luxury vinyl floors (not sheet vinyl) are composed of the same identity as laminate with 1 big difference: the 4 layers include the bottom moisture barrier.
Meaning, most come with the underlayment padding attached and you do not need to purchase and install it separately.
This type of flooring too has layers: a core layer composed of PVC (plastic) which is why its called vinyl, a design layer with the print and design, and a wear layer.
The biggest separator is the core layer which is made of plastic and is thus completely water proof.
Laminate Vs Vinyl Comparison
Laminate is generally water “resistant” while vinyl is “waterproof”. Some laminates claim to be waterproof, but this is only the top layer. If water gets underneath… it doesn’t end well.
If you have water/liquid that sits atop your floors for a long period of time, laminate will likely be ruined, while vinyl will be fine. If you have a leak, such as a cat turning on the faucet as you leave for the weekend (…seriously, we have been told of this story) you will have to have your floors removed either way.
The laminate floors will likely swell up and be completely ruined, while the vinyl floors will be perfectly fine to reinstall once everything dries out. Vinyl wins this one.
Laminate is generally much more thick and therefore usually more durable. However, a big contributor to durability comes down to the wear layer or AC rating. Both of these terms are used to identify the thickness of the protective coat on the top of your floors.
Either way, the higher the number, the better your floors will hold up to scratches and scuffs.
We recommend investing in something that is going to hold up to more than you need it to, so for vinyl, we recommend a minimum of a 20mil wear layer. This is recommended for light commercial foot traffic, but will hold up well with kids, pets, and active lifestyles. For laminate, we recommend a minimum of AC3 which is high foot traffic areas for a home setting.
We recommend no less than 6mm for vinyl and 10mm for laminate. This makes installation easier, gives it a good solid feel on your feet, and usually means it is going to be a higher quality floor.)
Your floor’s durability depends on the wear layer or the AC rating. We give a slight advantage to laminate as it’s generally thicker.
Both products are usually very DIY friendly at first sight, but once time passes, you’ll see the difference between a professionally installed floor and one installed by someone with no experience in flooring.
Sure, you can look up some YouTube videos and make it happen, and if you’re lucky (and skilled enough) you might end up with a beautiful floor that’s sure to last for years.
Our biggest tip: make sure your floors are prepped well – meaning they are level and clean. Make sure to follow the installation requirements for the specific flooring you purchase. We’d also recommend installing it in a random pattern!
Both of these options are fairly quick and simple to install. This is a close tie.
To ultimately decide which product you should go with for your home, you have to ask yourself what you need in your home.
We often tell our clients, if you have pets, kids, or an active family lifestyle you may want to opt for vinyl floors. If you aren’t worried about spills and are concerned about a real wood look, then the door is wide open for laminate.
Which ever option you choose, make sure you love it! It will be one of the best investments you have ever made!
Here at Remodeling Journey, you’ll work with some of the best flooring experts in Central Wisconsin. We offer a complete remodeling service that also comes with the best floor installation around here!