With all the different flooring types available today, it’s very easy to become confused. Quite often people will use flooring terms interchangeably, when in fact they’re speaking about completely different materials. One common mistake is for people to believe the terms vinyl and laminate are describing the same type of flooring, when in fact they are very different. In this article we’ll go over some points that describe the difference between vinyl and laminate flooring.
What Is Vinyl Flooring?
Vinyl is a synthetic flooring material that can be made to look like a number of other flooring materials such as tile, hardwood or stone. Vinyl flooring can be purchased in sheets, tiles and even planks. It’s typically glued directly to the underfloor.
What Is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate flooring is made to look and feel like solid hardwood, but is actually composed of wood particles that are highly compressed to create a solid core. This core is covered with a thin layer of hardwood or even just a realistic photo of hardwood grain. Laminate flooring typically floats above the underfloor surface and is locked into place through the use of a tight fitting tongue and groove system.
Because laminate flooring is composed of wood particles it’s not water resistant and will pose problems in areas with high humidity or a lot of splashed water. Vinyl, on the other hand, is able to withstand spills and humidity and therefore works well in areas such as the bathroom or basement.
Vinyl is much more flexible than laminate flooring and therefore works well on top of floors that may be slightly sloped or have depressions. That said, if you’re installing vinyl flooring, the floor beneath must be smooth or the imperfections will come through the vinyl. Because laminate flooring is much more solid, it doesn’t lend itself well to floors that are tilted or uneven.
How much it will cost to install your floor depends a lot on the underfloor surface. If no preparatory work needs to be done to the underfloor, laminate flooring will be cheaper to install. However, if the underfloor is uneven, heavily sloped or bumpy, the cost of preparing the floor for laminate can make vinyl the cheaper material.