Laminate vs Tile Flooring

Laminate vs Tile Flooring

Today we’ll help you come to a decision on whether you should install tile vs. laminate.

I’ve installed all types of floor coverings over my 6 years as a contractor in the industry. You name it, I’ve installed it.

In this business, many people I meet ask the same question: “Should I install tile or laminate?”

I’m going to clear things up today. We’ll compare various factors that you can use to make your decision.

In this guide, we’ll explore:

Side-by-Side Comparison

 LaminateTile
InstallationFloating Installation, Easy to RemovePermanently Attached, Difficult to Remove
WaterproofWater Resistant up to 24hrsYes. When sealed properly Tile is Waterproof
DurabilityScratch Resistant, Water Resistant, Pet FriendlyScratch Resistant, Waterproof, Pet Friendly
MaintenanceEasy Cleaning, Low Maintenance Difficult to Clean Grout, Easy to Clean the floor
RepairsDifficult to repair because of the installation processEasy repairs
Demolition CostLow cost for removal, DIY ProjectExtremely expensive, Not recommended DIY
Resale ValueLow EndHigh End
Lifespan15-25 Years75-100 Years
Reclaimable If removed carefully it can be reused or resoldNo tile cannot be reused or resold
Flooring GuideLaminate Flooring GuideTile Flooring Guide

Installation

When it comes to installation, laminate is the easiest. It is installed on top of a vapor barrier. This barrier is laid down to protect the underside of the laminate from moisture.

Laminate is installed with a tongue and groove locking system that can easily be connected with a mallet and tapping block. It’s not heavy and installs fairly quickly once you get the hang of it. A homeowner is capable of doing this project as long as they can read a tape measure and operate a table saw.

It doesn’t take a lot of skills or tools to do a small project on your own. You could even do a whole house by yourself if you were committed. We’ll list some tools you might need if you want to try to tackle this project on your own.

  • Table Saw
  • Tape Measure
  • Square
  • Pencil
  • Mallet
  • Tapping Block
  • Tapping Bar
  • Razor Knife
  • Door Jamb Cutter

Tile installation, on the other hand, requires a bit more work. It also requires a certain level of patience and skill. A homeowner may choose to tackle a project on their own, but should note that tile installation requires specialty tools to be completed properly.

Tile is installed on top of a mortar bed and becomes permanently attached to your foundation. When installing tile, you use spacers, ranging from 1/16 inch to 1/4 inch. This is used to create a valley between the two tiles which is then filled with a grout color of your choice to complete your project.

In my opinion, any tile installation is better left to the pros. It is labor-intensive, messy, and requires a minimum of 2 days to complete even the smallest project. On top of that, there are a bunch of tools you will need to complete this type of installation which we’ll list for you below.

  • Wet Saw
  • Grinder
  • Tile Breaker
  • Margin Trowel
  • ½ Flooring Trowel
  • Mud Mixer
  • Buckets
  • Sponges
  • Spacers or Clips & Wedges
  • Tape Measure
  • Square
  • Pencil
  • Razor Knife
  • Door Jamb Cutter
  • Level
  • Laser

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Appearance

Laminate is a beautiful product to install. Laminate comes in a variety of different colors and sizes. It locks together for a tight seal and makes cleaning up your floors a breeze.

Laminate is one of the best choices for your home when it comes to appearance. It’s comfortable on the feet when walking around barefoot and unlike tile, you won’t stub your toes on any lips caused by improper installation.

Tile is also a great product to install when it comes to appearance. Tile has been around for decades and comes in many different colors, shapes, sizes and materials. When it comes to choosing which tile is right for your home, your options are almost endless.

Tile is permanently attached to your foundation and isn’t separated by a vapor barrier or an insulation barrier like laminate. This causes your feet to get cold as you can feel the temperature from the foundation transfer through to the tile. Some people choose to put area rugs in spots where they would normally hang out on their floor, like a living room or an office.

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Durability

When it comes to durability, tile is the winner. When you install tile correctly, it is almost impenetrable.

You should install tile with a layer of mud on the floor and on the back of it. This helps the Tile fully adhere to the floor which creates a suction-like system that makes removal of the tile very difficult once applied.

People think tile is 100% waterproof. That is false. Tile and grout are porous, which means that after so much time water will seep through your tile, into your thinset and on to your concrete. This creates moisture underneath your tile that, over time, will slowly soften up your thinset and pop your tiles right out of the mud.

Why do you think people have problems with their tile showers 6 months down the road? It happens because the tile and grout is porous and the water seeps through. You must seal tile to prevent staining and water damage.

Laminate, on the other hand, is not as durable as tile, but it is a durable product. Some manufacturers have designed laminate to be scratch-resistant, water-resistant, and weather-resistant. This means that you can install laminate almost anywhere in your home.

You can’t install laminate in a shower, but you can install it in bathrooms. Laminate is a great product, in my opinion. I recommend that all of my customers consider this option because it is almost as durable as tile, and cheaper.

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Maintenance

Maintaining your laminate is probably one of the easiest things to do. Laminate has no grout lines which makes sweeping or vacuuming your laminate floors hassle-free. No more dirt getting stuck in those grout lines.

You can sweep and mop your laminate as long as you don’t use too much water, but you should use a Swiffer WetJet to do this task as it is designed to spray an even coat of cleaning solution and wipes up dirt immediately with the dry cloth. It’s never been easier to clean floors.

Tile is a pain to maintain, in my opinion. Tile has grout lines that tend to catch a lot of dust and grime, which is why grout lines change color over time.

You will have to clean your grout lines monthly to keep them looking new. Keep in mind, you will have to use a toothbrush to clean the lines.

You can sweep, vacuum and mop tile with no issues. Unlike laminate, tile is almost impervious to spilled water and can hold water for some time before it starts to seep through the grout lines, under your floor.

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Repairs

Repairing tile is way easier than repairing laminate. You install tile in individual pieces and grout it together to create a complete floor.

That means if you want to replace a tile that’s chipped or cracked, you can easily do so by breaking out the one tile, replacing it, and re-grouting the area.

Laminate, however, is a totally different story. You install laminate wall to wall. Then, you interlock every piece together from the sides and lips.

If you had a piece of laminate that somehow got damaged in the middle of your living room, you would have to start by removing the laminate at the closest wall and all the way back to the damaged piece.

This would mean if you had one damaged piece of laminate in a bad spot, you would have to take out half your floor to repair it. You cannot cut a piece of laminate out from the middle of your floor and slap a new one in. If you’re looking for easy repairs, tile is your best bet.

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Demolition

I think everyone forgets about the long term when they are choosing flooring. Everyone seems so caught up in the installation cost that they never really think about the demolition cost.

Tile is probably one of the most expensive floorings to remove. When removing tile, you need a pneumatic jackhammer to bust the tiles out of the mortar and a mortar scraper to get all the mortar off of the concrete. This will also tear up your concrete and you might even need a patch job depending on what kind of flooring your replacing it with.

Tile demolition is expensive, especially if you have furniture in your home. Tile demolition is loud and dusty. You will need to empty or wrap your whole house prior to demolition.

Laminate, on the other hand, is a breeze. All it takes to tear up some laminate is some muscle.

You can start at one wall and unsnap all the pieces of laminate in the whole house within a couple hours. If you take your time, you can also save the laminate for resale. As long as it is still in good condition you can sell it to offset the cost of your new floors.

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Resale Value

Which flooring provides the highest resale value? That’s an easy one.

Tile will bring you the most value compared to laminate. Tile is lavish, beautiful, and elegant. It’s tremendously attractive and people tend to like it because of the long-lasting quality they can expect from it.

Laminate, on the other hand, brings in very little resale value down here in Florida. People tend to look at laminate as a cheaper alternative to hardwood and normally frown upon the longevity of it. Honestly, laminate has had a bad reputation over the years, but it has come full circle.

Manufactures have re-designed and re-engineered laminate to be more durable and water-resistant, which in my opinion qualifies it to bring in some resale value to your home. You should only consider high-quality laminate to be valuable. That means Laminate that is 10 mil. or thicker.

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The Verdict

Tile and laminate flooring are both great options. Tile is one of the most expensive floor coverings to install. Labor will run you a minimum of $2.50 per square foot to install, along with your material cost which usually runs people between $3.00 to 8.00 per square foot.

That’s $5.50 to $10.50 per square foot for installation. Tile removal is another $2.00-$3.00 a square foot. That means that the total cost of tile flooring when also considering demolition ranges from $7.50-$13.50 per square foot.

Laminate, on the other hand, is the cheaper flooring alternative. The labor to install laminate will run you anywhere from $1.00 to $2.00 per square foot. Materials for laminate will cost you anywhere from $1.00 to $3.00 per square foot.

That’s $2.00 to $5.00 per square foot for installation. Demolition of laminate will cost you about $0.50 to $1.00 per square foot, which mean the total cost of laminate flooring when considering demolition costs ranges from $2.50 to 6.00 per square foot.

If you’re in the market for new flooring, make sure to weigh all the pros and cons of both products and consider the cost of the flooring for its entire life. That’s from the time of purchase until demolition day. That will help you make an informed decision about which type of flooring is right for you.

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Anthony M

About Anthony M

Contractor, Writer, Serial Entrepreneur, and Father to two amazing kids. Live everyday like it's your last.

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