Vinyl Plank vs. Laminate Flooring – Which One Will You Pick?

By Fortino Rosas / May 15, 2022 / 56 Comments

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    Vinyl Plank vs Laminate Flooring

    If you are looking to learn about vinyl plank vs. laminate flooring, you have come to the right place! Both promise to be durable, affordable, and easier to maintain than hardwood, but how do they stack up against each other?

    We have thoroughly analyzed 8  key buying factors as well as the pros and cons of each type of flooring to help you make the best decision. We’ve also included the top brands for each type of flooring.

    Laminate vs Vinyl Flooring: Definition, Pros, and Cons

    So what’s the difference between vinyl and laminate flooring? Let’s start by defining what these types of flooring are along with their pros and cons.

    What Is Vinyl Flooring?

    Vinyl flooring is plastic. The creation of vinyl planks does not involve wood. However, manufacturers have used the latest technology to give a realistic look to vinyl. This includes color variations, textures, and patterns that replicate the appearance of wood at a fraction of the cost and with all of the benefits previously covered.

    Vinyl flooring is a terrific choice if you are looking for a floor that is durable, easy to install, and affordable. According to the Statista Research Department, luxury vinyl flooring sales in the United States from 2014-2020 were ~ $5.3 billion dollars which represented about 20% of the total floor covering market.

    Thus, vinyl flooring is much more popular amongst consumers when compared to laminate flooring which represents only ~3.6% of the total market. 

    Pros

    • Easy to install (most are click and lock)
    • Cost: quality vinyl flooring costs at least $3 per sq. ft. (much less than real hardwood)
    • Easy to clean and low maintenance 
    • Variety of styles and designs that mimic the look of wood, tile, and stone
    • WPC and SPC vinyl flooring are 100% waterproof (ensure the brand you choose is waterproof vs. water-resistant)

    Cons

    • Buying a wear layer less than 12 mils may lead to increased wear and the need for a replacement sooner
    • As the material is 100% synthetic, the public perception could lead to lower resale value vs. hardwood flooring
    • Some brands have questionable environmental credentials

    READ NEXT: Vinyl Flooring Buying Guide

    What Is Laminate Flooring?

    Laminate is wood but its design is on top of it, on a photographic layer. Most laminate manufacturers utilize modern printing techniques to give their products a more realistic look and texture.

    While not as popular as other types of flooring, laminate flooring is a great option you should consider if you want the look and feel of hardwood, but at an affordable price point. According to the Statista Research Department, laminate flooring sales in the United States in 2020 were $947 million dollars which represented about 3.6% of the total floor covering market

    Pros

    • Appearance mimics styles found in hand-scraped hardwood and burnished brick 
    • Cost: quality laminate flooring costs at least $3 sq. ft. 
    • After carpet, laminate flooring is a close second for comfort
    • Easy to clean and low maintenance 
    • Available in wood designs that are more realistic
    • Newer laminate options are more waterproof

    Cons

    • Not all brands are waterproof so laminate is not recommended in bathrooms or the kitchen 
    • Cannot be refinished 
    • Primarily require only dry cleaning methods
    • Lower return on investment (ROI) as it is less popular than vinyl flooring
    • Similar to vinyl flooring, some laminate brands have questionable environmental credentials such as not being biodegradable
    • Can be noisier than alternate options

    READ NEXT: Laminate Flooring Buying Guide

    Side-By-Side Comparison: Key Differences Between Laminate and Vinyl Flooring

    Vinyl PlankLaminate
    Appearance & Design – Larger selection of products and SKUs on the market.
    – Available in a variety of wood styles, including oak, mahogany, and cherry.
    – Better, more realistic appearance and styles.
    – Available in a variety of wood styles, including oak, mahogany, and cherry. Also available in travertine, ceramic, and stone styles.
    Sizes– Typically 4-inches to 12-inches wide.
    – Lengths are usually up to 48 inches.
    – Can be cut to size using a utility knife.
    – Widths start at 4 inches and can reach up to 16 inches.
    – Lengths range from 36 to 48 inches.
    – Can be cut to size using a handsaw or circular saw.
    Durability & Quality– Great for pets and high-traffic areas.
    – Better for areas with moisture such as bathrooms and kitchens.
    – Can feel cold if directly installed on the subfloor without insulation.
    – More prone to fading.
    – Prone to scratching over time. May also chip at the corners with extensive wear.- New waterproof products just hitting the market.
    – More comfortable than a vinyl floor. Underlayment helps minimize sound.
    – Less prone to fading.
    Pet-FriendlinessBetter equipped for pets than LaminateWaterproof options are better for pets
    Price$1 sq. ft. to $6 sq. ft. or more (material only).$1 sq. ft. to $6 sq. ft. or more (material only).
    Installation– Floating click and lock, peel-and-stick.
    – Best for any room.
    – Floating click and lock (need underlayment).
    – Avoid using in bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms (if not waterproof)
    Cleaning– Can be cleaned using steam mops or wet mops.
    – Non-abrasive, mild cleaners should be used.
    – Can be cleaned with laminate-specific products (dry to the touch).
    – Wet mops should never be used.
    – Acetone can be used to remove difficult stains.
    Maintenance – No wax should ever be used on vinyl.
    – No polishes can be used to restore shine.
    – Laminate-specific products can be used to restore shine.
    – Products can be used to repair scratches and chips as needed.
    Health & Environmental SafetyMany are made from phthalates (plasticizers); look for phthalate-free productsMade from adhesives that release formaldehyde gas, look for low VOC products
    Resale ValueHigher quality options can provide a higher resale valueHas a higher resale value compared to vinyl and is best for low to mid-range houses.
    Our Picks for Top BrandsProximity Mills
    Mohawk
    Shaw
    Karndean
    COREtec Plus
    Other brands
    Quick Step
    Newton
    Mohawk
    Shaw
    Tarkett
    Other waterproof brands
    Flooring GuideVinyl Flooring GuideLaminate Flooring Guide

    Vinyl Plank Flooring vs Laminate – We Pick Our Winner Across 8 Categories

    1. Appearance & Design

    We’ll start our vinyl plank vs laminate comparison with the appearance and available styles of flooring for these two.

    What Does Vinyl Flooring Look Like?

    Vinyl Flooring in a Living Room

    There are many types of vinyl flooring:

    • Sheet vinyl – Comes in large sheets and is more water-resistant than other vinyl flooring types
    • Luxury vinyl plank (LVP) – Long, narrow planks that mimic hardwood and are usually made of Polyvinyl chloride (PVC); thicker and more durable than sheet vinyl
    • Luxury vinyl tile (LVT) – Constructed like LVP, but come in tiles that mimic ceramic, porcelain, and stone
    • Wood-Plastic Composite (WPC) planks – 100% waterproof luxury vinyl planks
    • Stone-Plastic Composite (SPC) planks – Also waterproof planks but are tougher than WPC

    In terms of styles and colors, vinyl plank offers something for everyone. From whitewashed oak for the shabby chic interior, cherry or mahogany for a classic look, or even black for modern rooms, there is no shortage of styles and colors to choose from.

    Vinyl-plank flooring is also available in multiple lengths and widths:

    • Sheets are usually 6 or 12 feet wide and up to 100 feet long.
    • Planks are generally 4 to 12 inches wide and between 36 and 48 inches long.
    • Tiles come in sizes between 16” x 16” and 18” x 36”

    Vinyl flooring thickness typically ranges between 2mm and 8mm. More durable SPC options are often found in 7mm vinyl plank flooring.

    Also, because it is soft vinyl, you can easily cut it into smaller sizes using a utility knife.

    What Does Laminate Flooring Look Like?

    Laminate Flooring in a Kitchen

    If your criteria is only appearance, our flooring experts give the edge to laminate flooring. With advancements in printing technology, laminate flooring has some very realistic-looking styles and colors.

    While various colors and types of wood are available, laminate goes beyond just wood. Laminate designed to mimic the look of travertine, ceramic tile, and stone are also options with this type of flooring. 

    Laminate offers widths of about 4’’ to 16’’. Lengths vary from 36 to over 48 inches and widths range from 6mm to 12mm. Like vinyl plank, you can also cut laminate to size but because it is wood, it is not quite as easy to cut.

    How to Tell the Difference Between Vinyl and Laminate Flooring

    “Do I have laminate or vinyl flooring?”

    This is another common question asked by many people since both look very similar.

    But while vinyl is available in several formats (sheets, planks, and tiles), laminate only comes in click-lock planks. Also, laminate resembles hardwood more closely through its realistic embossing, unlike vinyl which has an artificial-looking textured surface.

    Floor Critics Winner: Tie

    Laminate is your best option if you prioritize appearance as it is more realistic. However, if you are looking for the largest selection of products, vinyl flooring has the clear edge. On our team’s recent trip to a big box retailer, we found that vinyl flooring had 2X the selection of laminate flooring products.

    2. Durability & Quality

    Laminate vs Vinyl Flooring Durability and Quality

    For laminate vs vinyl flooring comparison, one of the most crucial factors to consider is durability and quality.

    Consumers often turn to vinyl-plank or laminate flooring to get the look of hardwoods without the risk of scratches, dings, and other flaws that can be time-consuming (and expensive) to repair.

    One of the primary benefits touted by both vinyl plank and laminate flooring is durability. How do these two types of flooring hold up when put to the test?

    A. Lifespan

    If a higher wear layer is purchased (12 mils or greater), the vinyl flooring could last 20 years or more. Lower quality ones can only last up to 10 years.

    On the other hand, laminate can last around 15-25 years with poorly maintained flooring lasting only 5-10 years.

    B. Construction

    The capability of each flooring type to withstand damage depends on its construction. Vinyl and laminate both come in four major layers:

    • Wear Layer – A transparent coat that prevents fading, scratches, and stains.
    • Design Layer – The printed layer that uses design techniques to mimic stone or wood looks.
    • Core Layer – The major component of the flooring material and is the thickest layer.
    • Base Layer/Underlayment – An optional layer that helps in reducing wear, insulation, and sound absorption.
    What Is Vinyl Plank Flooring Made Of?
    Vinyl Flooring Construction

    Vinyl flooring is made of synthetic materials.

    • Sheets – Most vinyl sheets are made using a fiberglass base layer with PVC vinyl coating and plasticizers. The wear layer is often coated with UV acrylic and they have a foam layer to make them softer underfoot.
    • LVP and LVT – Vinyl planks and tiles also have PVC-coated fiberglass layers but they have multiple wear layers instead of a single one. They are often coated with polyurethane.
    • WPC – WPC is made of wood plastic composite which makes it quieter and softer underfoot than SPC.
    • SPC – Made of stone plastic composite which makes it more resistant to dents and scratches.

    Traditional vinyl planks and tiles have vinyl cores, but more rigid and waterproof options have WPC or SPC cores. Both WPC and SPC planks are stable and durable, but SPC is denser overall because of its stone composition.

    In addition, vinyl planks come in different wear layers. The higher the wear layer thickness is, the more durable the flooring will be:

    • Good: 6 mil (Residential use)
    • Better: 12 mil (Residential to light commercial)
    • Best: 20+ mil (Commercial use)
    What Is Laminate Flooring Made Of?
    Laminate Plank Flooring Layers

    On the other hand, laminate cores are made from medium-density fiberboards (MDF) or high-density fiberboards (HDF) which make them partly natural.

    Laminates do often come with an aluminum oxide-coated wear layer which lasts longer and is more scratch-resistant than polyurethane. They also come with a foam underlayer and are thicker compared to vinyl which makes them softer and warmer to walk on.

    In addition, laminates are primarily measured in millimeters, but take note that thicker doesn’t mean more durable. However, thicker laminates are more resistant to other conditions such as warping.

    C. Padding or Underlayment

    • Vinyl flooring, specifically luxury vinyl, doesn’t usually need underlayment because they come with base layers which make the addition of underlayment pointless. The base layer helps your vinyl flooring to be more durable and comfortable underfoot.
    • As for laminate flooring, installing underlayment is a must, but take note that not all laminates come with pre-attached underlayment. Not installing an underlayment first will cause your laminate flor to shift and move as it doesn’t have support.

    In case your flooring doesn’t come with pre-attached underlayment, foam and cork are the most popular options. Installing quality underlayment for vinyl and laminate can make both flooring quieter.

    NOTE: Always check with your manufacturer if you can install underlayment for your vinyl flooring as the wrong underlayment can void your warranty.

    D. Stain Resistance

    While they are made of different wear layers, both laminate and vinyl have durable top layers that can do a great job in protecting your flooring against stains.

    E. Scratch-Resistance

    Is laminate more scratch-resistant than vinyl? The answer is no.

    Laminate is more prone to chipped corners and scratches compared to luxury vinyl. That’s why you need special cleaning tools and detergents to clean laminate floors– because the surface of the planks tends to scratch easily. You have to use microfiber mops and non-abrasive cleaning aids on laminate flooring.

    But while vinyl is more scratch-resistant, it is more prone to tearing and denting.

    F. Water & Heat Resistance

    One of the drawbacks of hardwood is that it can’t get wet or it will be completely ruined. Vinyl-plank flooring and laminate both offer the look of hardwood, but how do they compare when exposed to water?

    • Vinyl flooring, specifically, vinyl planks (WPC and SPC), are 100% waterproof and are less likely to scratch. Also, vinyl sheets have no seams and can also a great job in moisture-prone areas as liquid can’t seep through.
    • On the other hand, you should not expose laminate to water. The two main drawbacks of laminate flooring (susceptible to water damage and the inability to refinish the floor if the top layer is damaged) can greatly impact its durability.

    Most laminate flooring is made of a fiberboard core that will change its form when exposed to water. Standing water or high moisture levels in a room can lead to buckling, gapping, separating, and warping.

    But, take note that HDF is more water-resistant than MDF. Although this is the case, they can’t still withstand prolonged exposure to water as they are only water-resistant, not waterproof.

    While not a common complaint, some laminate owners have experienced mold and mildew, which was almost always because of exposure to moisture. This is not a concern with vinyl flooring unless you installed it in a home that had this problem prior to installation.

    Waterproof Laminate Flooring vs Vinyl Plank

    Because vinyl flooring is virtually waterproof, it is the winner in comparison to laminate flooring in terms of water resistance.

    However, note that many large brands such as Shaw and Mannington have now started to produce waterproof laminate products. So when it comes to waterproof laminate vs vinyl plank, the gap could be closing.

    Compared to water-resistant laminate flooring, waterproof laminates are supposed to be impervious to water. They have higher quality cores like wood fiber with wax-sealed joints for water resistance. Make sure to always use waterproof laminate flooring for bathrooms and other wet areas.

    But again, laminate is still made of a wood core layer. Thus, there’s still a possibility that it can swell and expand when it gets wet.

    G. Fade Resistance

    One upside to laminate flooring is that they don’t fade as much as vinyl can. However, laminate may be more prone to fading when exposed to UV rays. So make sure you install your laminate floors in a room that doesn’t get a lot of sunlight.

    H. Comfort & Sound

    When comparing the two types of flooring, laminate is our winner when it comes to comfort.

    Anyone who has stood on bare flooring for hours knows just how tough it can be on the legs, knees, and back. When installing new flooring, it’s important to consider just how comfortable the flooring will be.

    Because you install vinyl flooring directly on a concrete subfloor, it’s often not the most comfortable flooring. It can also feel cold because there is no insulation underneath.

    Laminate flooring, on the other hand, is traditionally more comfortable. It is much thicker than vinyl, immediately making it more comfortable. Using a foam underlayment underneath can also add to the comfort level and reduce the sound impact.

    All bare flooring can get cold depending on the temperature of the room, but laminate – especially flooring installed with a thick underlayment – is warmer than vinyl. Underfloor heating systems can also be installed for an additional cost to further warm up these floors.

    Floor Critics Winner: Vinyl Flooring

    Vinyl wins in the majority of the factors we have considered for durability especially when it comes to scratch and water resistance. But while vinyl wins overall, laminate has the edge in terms of comfort.

    3. Price

    Vinyl Plank Flooring Vs Laminate Price

    When it comes to vinyl plank flooring vs laminate cost, both types of flooring typically range from $1 sq. ft. to $6 sq. ft. or more.

    • Bargain: <$1 sq. ft. (peel and stick products)
    • Moderate: $1 to $3 sq. ft.
    • Quality: >$3 sq. ft.

    Note the costs above are just material costs. Install costs can range from $2 to $5 sq. ft. and costs of removing old flooring sales tax, etc. would add on further. 

    In addition, another key consideration when it comes to price is the long-term costs. Vinyl flooring will provide a higher ROI than laminate flooring for the following reasons:

    • Public perception: sales of vinyl flooring are almost 6X the sales of laminate flooring so consumers seem to prefer vinyl flooring
    • Durability: while both can last many years, laminate flooring has a greater probability of needing to be replaced sooner than vinyl flooring.

    READ NEXT: See our detailed vinyl flooring and laminate flooring cost guides for more information.

    Floor Critics Winner: Vinyl Flooring

    With the cost being about the same, the advantages above push us to give the nod to vinyl flooring. 

    4. Warranty

    Laminate Vs Vinyl Warranty

    Both vinyl and laminate flooring warranties are similar. Length varies by brand, but on average, bargain products like peel and stick will have a 1 year or less warranty while high-quality brands will offer 20 years to a lifetime. 

    Many customers are upset to learn that a warranty does not cover some key items or can be voided. For example, deep scratches or dents caused by moving furniture or from high heels are not covered. In addition, not following proper cleaning instructions or issues caused by the installer can void a warranty.

    Our advice is to do the following: 

    • Clearly read and understand the warranty (don’t gloss it over)
    • Hire a trusted installer who has worked with the brand before (consider the cost savings of doing it yourself vs. coding the warranty if something goes wrong)
    • Avoid very inexpensive products where the warranty is less than 10 years

    Most product issues or customer complaints arise not from the product itself, but instead from the installation. 

    Floor Critics Winner: Tie

    Warranty rules for both vinyl and laminate are similar.

    5. Installation

    Laminate Vs Vinyl Flooring Installation

    Many homeowners choose to tackle flooring installation themselves in order to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars on installation costs. With the right tools and a little know-how, homeowners can install both vinyl plank flooring and laminate, but which is easiest?

    Installing Vinyl Flooring

    There are two ways to install vinyl plank flooring, depending on the type that you purchase:

    • LVP flooring with a tongue-and-groove design easily clicks together. Because vinyl is a softer material, you can cut and score pieces by simply using a utility knife.
    • The other type of vinyl plank flooring is peel-and-stick. As the name suggests, this floor has a backing that is peeled off to expose adhesive and each plank is then applied to the prepared subfloor underneath. You can easily cut planks with a utility knife for the perfect fit.

    Refer to the video below for a more detailed guide on how to install vinyl plank flooring for beginners:

    Installing Laminate Flooring

    Like vinyl plank, homeowners who like to tackle DIY projects can install laminate flooring. However, the installation of this flooring requires more tools, including a hand saw or circular saw to cut each piece. If you are going to install the laminate below-ground, such as in a basement, you will also need a vapor barrier to protect against moisture.

    Before installing laminate, an underlayment will need to be applied over the subfloor. This is a type of padding that is used to not only fix any minor deviations in the subfloor but to also improve acoustics. Some laminate comes with the underlayment already attached.

    Similar to vinyl plank flooring, laminate has a tongue-and-groove design so that you can install it as a “floating floor” without the need for glue or nails. Installation can be time-consuming, but most homeowners can tackle a room in just one day.

    Here’s a video on how to install Pergo laminate flooring along with some tips:

    Best Flooring by Room: When Is Vinyl or Laminate the Better Choice?

    Vinyl plank has grown in popularity because it is resistant to water. This means it can be installed in areas where there’s moisture without the worry of warping or buckling. It is completely waterproof and will not succumb to damage, provided you have installed it correctly.

    Below are the recommended installation areas for vinyl and laminate flooring:

    RoomVinyl FloorLaminate Floor
    BasementYesWaterproof Laminate
    BathroomYesWaterproof Laminate
    MudroomYesWaterproof Laminate
    Laundry RoomYesWaterproof Laminate
    KitchenYesWaterproof Laminate
    Dining RoomYesWaterproof Laminate
    Powder RoomYesWaterproof Laminate
    Living RoomYesYes
    BedroomYesYes
    Home OfficeYesYes

    Floor Critics Winner: Vinyl Flooring

    When comparing vinyl flooring to laminate flooring, it is a close race as to which is easier to install. However, the installation of vinyl plank requires fewer tools and steps, so it is the superior choice in this category. Installing peel-and-stick vinyl plank flooring is easier than tongue-and-groove flooring, and even beginners can tackle this DIY project.

    6. Care & Maintenance

    Vinyl Vs Laminate Care And Maintenance

    Many consumers opt for vinyl or laminate flooring because care and maintenance is so simple. After all, they don’t have to tackle refinishing (which is usually best left to the professionals) or take special precautions when cleaning the floor the way they would with hardwoods or other types of flooring.

    For laminate versus vinyl cleaning and maintenance, vinyl flooring is easier to clean as it allows for virtually all cleaning methods while laminate flooring is best done with dry methods:

    Cleaning Vinyl Flooring

    Vinyl flooring is one of the easiest floors to clean. Below are cleaning tips we can give you:

    • A wet mop can be used, but it’s important to note that pouring water or otherwise drenching the floor isn’t recommended on peel-and-stick planks because the water can get underneath seams and edges and break down the adhesive.
    • Harsh cleansers aren’t needed to clean vinyl planks. A mild cleanser will sufficiently clean up even the biggest messes.
    • A traditional mop and/or a dust mop (but not a steam mop) can be used to effectively clean vinyl flooring.
    • While regular cleaning will help vinyl flooring retain its shine, you can easily restore floors that appear dull by using a polish or product designed for no-wax floors.

    Maintaining Vinyl Flooring

    • The biggest concern with vinyl flooring is dents caused by heavy furniture. You can purchase Floor protectors online or from a local big box home improvement store to prevent dents and damage to the floor. 
    • Vinyl floors also don’t require waxing, as using wax will result in a buildup that requires stripping.
    • It’s also important to remember never to drag furniture or appliances, and instead lift when able or use plywood sheeting to prevent scuffs or scratches.

    Cleaning Laminate Flooring

    Laminate flooring is also easy to clean and maintain, but there are a few precautions to take to avoid damaging these floors:

    • For daily cleaning, a broom, dust mop, or vacuum cleaner designed for use on laminate floors can tackle everyday messes.
    • You should always wipe up any water or other spills immediately.
    • You should never use a wet mop on laminate.
    • Only use soap-free cleansers. In addition, always use products designed for laminate flooring. You can spray these on the surface and wipe them off with a cloth or dry mop.
    • Steam mops are generally NOT safe for use on laminate, with few exceptions.
    • You can tackle tough spots like oil, paint, markers, or inks using acetone or nail polish remover. These are generally safe for use on laminate but consult with the manufacturer if you’re unsure.

    Maintaining Laminate Flooring

    • Laminate flooring does not require waxing. It generally retains its beauty and shine over time.
    • You can restore floors that look dull using products specific to laminate.
    • You can also repair scratches and chips using specialty markers, putties, and other products.

    Note: Dog or cat urine may damage your LVP or laminate floors if left for a long period of time. Just as you would with hardwood, be sure to clean up any accidents or spills as quickly as possible. Not doing so could lead to mold, mildew, or other damage to your flooring.

    In addition, shades or blinds should be used with both types of flooring in rooms with a lot of sunlight, and area rugs can also be used in brighter spots that may be more apt to fade.

    Floor Critics Winner: Vinyl Flooring

    Although both types of flooring are easy to care for, vinyl plank has the edge when it comes to ease of care and maintenance. You don’t need specialty cleaners. You can also wet-mop the floor. That makes it easier to care for when compared to laminate flooring.

    7. Health & Environmental Safety

    Vinyl Plank Flooring Vs Laminate Safety

    Both vinyl and laminate flooring is made from materials that could be toxic to your health. It is worth spending some extra time learning about the product before you buy.

    Vinyl flooring is made from phthalates (plasticizers) which make plastics more durable. Per the CDC, the exact effect on humans is not fully clear.

    When looking for vinyl flooring it is best to seek brands that advertise low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) flooring that is phthalate-free. In addition, try to find flooring that is nail-down or that interlocks vs. glue down flooring which can emit VOCs.

    Laminate is made from adhesives that release formaldehyde gas. According to the CDC, most humans don’t have any health issues when exposed to low levels. However, it could irritate the skin, nose, and throat. Similarly to vinyl floors, you should look for floors with low VOCs. You also look for products that are GreenGuard certified.

    Reach out to our team of experts and they can help you make an informed decision.

    Floor Critics Winner: Tie

    Both types of flooring can emit toxic substances that can harm your health. Better choose options that are certified to emit low VOCs such as those that are GreenGuard-certified.

    8. Resale Value

    Vinyl Plank Vs Laminate Resale Value

    “A nice laminate is going to go a long way in a low- or mid-range house.” – Realtor.com

    Although both high-quality vinyl and laminate flooring can give you higher resale values compared to low-quality ones, laminate flooring will give you higher returns compared to vinyl.

    Laminate planks are often chosen as alternatives for more expensive solid and engineered hardwood flooring as they can mimic a lot of different wood species at lower price points. They offer more advanced features such as better imaging and embossing.

    Note: As luxury vinyl planks and tiles continue to catch on, they might be able to close the gap when it comes to resale value.

    Floor Critics Winner: Laminate Flooring

    Laminate flooring ranks below engineered and solid hardwood for resale value.

    Samples / Where to Purchase?

    The Floor Critics team of experts can help you with questions about your flooring needs. Our in-house team of experts and our 2,000+ local flooring partners are ready to help and provide you with free, honest advice and connect you with the best local flooring store!

    Get the Help of a Professional to Help You Choose Which Is the Better Flooring for You!

    Buying flooring is not a straightforward process and can leave customers very overwhelmed and confused. Our main goal at Floor Critics is to help lessen those obstacles by providing you with free educational resources and access to our experienced team and partner network of flooring experts.

    If you have any questions as you read, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our in-house team of experts and our 2,000+ flooring partners are ready to help!

    FAQs

    Is Vinyl Better Than Laminate?

    Vinyl plank flooring is considered the superior choice because of its durability. Since vinyl planks are made with 100% plastic, they are moisture-resistant. Therefore vinyl flooring is ideal to install in bathrooms, kitchens, and basements.

    Another aspect to remember is that there are three types of vinyl flooring: WPC flooring, rigid core, and standard vinyl. The WPC is a wood-plastic and polymer composite. Rigid core planks are made with limestone powder, stabilizer, and polyvinyl chloride. The rigid core planks are more robust and are suitable for outdoor decking.

    On the other hand, laminate flooring is not suitable for outdoor areas and isn’t as durable as vinyl. That said, homeowners tend to pick laminate flooring because they’re more aesthetically pleasing and come in more colors and designs.

    You’ll also love how easy it is to maintain vinyl flooring. You can use steam mops, brooms, and any type of mop when cleaning your vinyl floors. Laminate flooring requires special cleaning aids and tools to keep the surface clean.


    Which Is More Durable: Laminate Or Vinyl Flooring?

    Vinyl plank flooring has a longer lifespan than laminate flooring and is less prone to getting scratched over time. This is ideal if you have pets with long claws. Additionally, vinyl floors hold up well under pressure so they won’t crack or split under heavy furniture.

    You’ll appreciate how well vinyl holds up in areas with heavy foot traffic. Since vinyl is not affected by water, you can install them anywhere in your home and they won’t warp or snap. The way you install your vinyl floors will have a major impact on durability, so ensure that you follow the instructions carefully.

    Laminate flooring is also durable but the surface scratches easily. That’s why it’s important to select quality laminate planks from reputable brands such as Shaw or Mohawk. Some brands offer laminate flooring that has a high scratch-resistance rating.


    Is Vinyl Plank or Laminate Cheaper?

    Pricing is pretty similar for vinyl and laminate flooring. You can expect to pay between $1 to $6 per square foot or more.  This excludes installation costs, which will set you back an extra $2 to $5 per square foot if you’re hiring professionals.


    Are Vinyl And Laminate Floating Or Stick-Down Flooring?

    Vinyl flooring comes in both floating and peel-and-stick installation types. Laminate flooring requires floating installation.

    Floating floors mean that the planks fit and lock together, similar to how puzzle pieces fit together. This prevents moisture from getting under the floorboards. This installation type is sturdier and creates an even surface.

    Peel-and-stick vinyl flooring comes with an adhesive backing that allows you to simply stick your planks down. Most people don’t use peel-and-stick flooring because it’s difficult to remove when it’s time to renovate or replace your vinyl flooring.


    What Is Easier to Lay Laminate or Vinyl?

    Both types of flooring are easy to install and you can do it yourself. However, vinyl plank installation will require fewer steps and tools compared to laminate. If this is the basis, vinyl is faster and easier to install.


    Which Is More Toxic Vinyl or Laminate?

    Both types of flooring are made with harmful chemicals that can endanger your health. While vinyl can release toxic chemicals into the air, some laminates have been discovered to emit formaldehyde. What you can do is make sure that you are buying low-VOC flooring to ensure safety.


    Is Laminate Or Vinyl Better For Dogs and Cats?

    While both types of flooring can withstand daily use, kids, pets, and heavy traffic, vinyl flooring is superior. It is extremely resistant to damage and will not have to be refinished over time like traditional hardwoods.

    Although scratches and chips can occur over time, vinyl’s high resistance to fading and overall durability make it the top choice for anyone looking for flooring that can last for years to come. Plus, it is easier for dogs to navigate.

    Vinyl Plank vs. Laminate: The Verdict

    Vinyl planks and laminate each have their benefits and drawbacks. They are both also a cost-efficient alternative to hardwood and other types of flooring.

    Laminate has a more realistic appearance. It comes in many styles and colors to perfectly complement any home. It is durable and will retain its beauty for many years when properly maintained.

    On the other hand, vinyl flooring is best in bathrooms or other rooms where moisture accumulates. Beginners looking to tackle an easy DIY home improvement project will also find that it’s easier to work with and maintain vinyl planks.

    About Fortino Rosas

    Chief Floor Critic, 32 years of experience in flooring installation and sales

    Fortino Rosas is an independent flooring contractor with 32 years of experience in residential and commercial flooring installation and sales. He joined the Floor Critics team to share his expertise with our readers. Fortino has acquired vast knowledge and skills in the areas of product selection, space planning, and installation. He has installed flooring in residential, government, and commercial office projects in the Midwest. Visit Website.

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    56 thoughts on “Vinyl Plank vs. Laminate Flooring – Which One Will You Pick?”

    1. I would say vinyl tile, due to the fact that these tiles are:

      They are Budget-Friendly
      They More Durable And Resilient
      They are Water-Resistant And Insulating

    2. I have laminate 1/2″. It’s been down 10 yrs in kitchen. I have 2 cats and a dog. I have washed floor with swiffer. I had some fading by patio door, from sun. I have no scratches. I bought from a liquidator. Im going to do the whole downstairs so I’m removing the kitchen so it matches. I’m surprised that vinyl is the better choice.

    3. I’ve been considering replacing my aging carpet with plank flooring of some kind, and had assumed laminate was the default best-value choice. But not being able to use laminate everywhere brought me to it’s one aspect I like least: The transition pieces/bumps.

      Just yesterday I learned that vinyl plank flooring was even a thing (separate from roll vinyl flooring), and today Google brought me to this awesome article. I really like that I can use vinyl everywhere, and that it is also DIY-friendly (just in case I blow the renovation budget on other things).

      Now I feel ready to start looking at samples and selection. I’m off to the home improvement store!

      Thanks!

    4. We just purchased a new home in Florida. Two of the bedrooms have carpeting. I wish I could keep it, but we have 2 senior dogs who still have minds of their own. We’ve been looking at “waterproof” laminate (vinyl planks don’t do it or me). After reading this article and the reviews, I’m concerned about the laminate. Before I moved down here from NY I had installed porcelain wood-style planks in the kitchen.. I don’t love the “you drop it, you break it” fact of life with those tiles, but I’m more likely to drop pillows than plates in the bedroom. If anyone can tell me a miracle has occurred with waterproof laminate now that we’ve arrived at 2021, please tell me. Decision will be made first week of March!

    5. I have vinyl flooring in my quilt room. I have a Bissell Crosswave Cordless Max. Can I use this on that floor and what kind of cleaning product should I use?

    6. Sir
      I am looking installing luxury vinyl plank in a basement floor
      Will a cold cement floor in the basement cause it to pop up
      I places. Do I need something under the lip to insulate it from. Cold
      Jack

      1. I had LVP installed on a basement floor with glue down. It looked good and wore well but was COLD in the winter. I had to put rugs down. Summer was fine.

      1. Hello Michelle, we recently put in luxury vinyl planks throughout our house. I bought a rig with a jute backing. Do I need a felt pad beneath the rug? I also bought a black chair mat for the computer chair. Is this mat safe for the LVP? Thank you

    7. My husband and I are deciding between vinyl or laminate. We are replacing several floors in our house including kitchen. My dad lives with us and uses a walker to get around and we will be putting up my husbands pool table. I want vinyl, but am concerned about the walker and the pool table damaging the vinyl. Thoughts?

      1. U most definitely would be better off with laminate flooring instead of vinyl,the weight of the pool table with damage the vinyl and most kitchen table furniture is heavy enough to do it as well. In my experience years of installing laminate and vinyl flooring 90% of customers in your situation would go laminate flooring. Hope this helps you and your husband out on deciding which to choose from!!!

    8. Following up more specifically on my 5/24 post: The apartment my partner’s looking at has LifeProof Vinyl Plank Flooring. She has serious environmental sensitivities and is concerned about it containing PVC, which is toxic and outgasses; and that it would have biocides and fungicides that are likely toxic. Could Nikki, or someone with cogent knowledge, address these concerns? Thanks!

    9. Hello Nikki, my partner has pretty acute environmental sensitivities and is wondering if Pergo vinyl flooring is specifically non-toxic. She says that vinyl flooring can be very toxic (made with reprocessed plastic) and can outgas for years.

      Thanks!

    10. I like that you said vinyl plank flooring is extremely hardwearing, waterproof, and pet-friendly. I think this would be a good flooring for the new house I am building for my family. Since we have three kids below ten years old, two dogs, and a cat, we need flooring that could withstand the mess we could all make. Perhaps I’ll have this type of flooring installed since it’s also super easy to clean. Thanks!

      1. I hope you have not proceeded with this purchase. I have had Tegola luxury vinyl flooring through my whole downstairs. It has been down for 18 months and is scratched and impossible to clean. I have two small dogs and grandchildren who visit. This flooring is not hardwearing. I am in a dispute with Carpetright about it who are very dismissive. Apparently I cannot hoover, scrub or steam clean it just sweep and a damp mop. This is despite my telling them I needed to be able to deep clean due to animals and children.

      2. As with anything in life, you get what you pay for. If you’re going to get LVP, make sure you look at the warranty the brand offers. Most LVP of quality are protected with 10-25 year warranties, some even lifetime warranty.

    11. I want to put vinyl planking in my bathroom. Currently the floor has 1″ tile on it. I plan on using an underlayment for a more comfortable feel. But should I remove all those tiles first? Or are there thicker underlayments that can be used right over the tiles?

      1. Much depends on the thickness of the floor if you leave the tile in place. Will there be sufficient space below any doors to allow them to open or close? If not you will have to remove them and trim the bottoms. Also consider the height of the floor outside the bathroom as you will have find a transition piece that will compensate for the height differences. Removing the tile is a major project as it is no easy task to remove the grout and get the surface prepped and smooth.

      2. If seen where underlayment caused the edges of the planks to break . The underlayment is designed for a sound deadening. Vinyl planks are not noisy when walked on . I would use floor leveler compound on the ceramic tile to fill the grouting . JMO

    12. The article gives good info but be sure to check installation/ warranty. I was planning on entire first floor installation but fount that at least 14 transitions would be required, some in very visible places esp. in hallway/foyer. Many installers will disagree but this voids the warranty.

    13. We are about to put vinyl wood like flooring in our kitchen. We just replaced all the kitchen cabinets with hickory cabinets and we are going with a little dark vinyl floor. Thanks for all the information and feedback on the pros and cons of both vinyl and laminate.

    14. We have had our cortec vinyl flooring for a few years. The mil you choose is the key. If corse you will pay much more. But trust me it’s worth it. I drAg furniture on mine all the time with no damage at all. It indestructible. You get what you pay for. A contractor friend who builds high end homes actually thought it was engineered hardwood. Very warm and easy on the feet. This article needs updating. Many choices on the market now.

    15. A friend of mine had very expensive, waterPROOF laminate installed throughout her house. As careful as she could be, her little dogs still destroyed it within 3 weeks
      I don’t agree that there is such a thing as WayerPROOF LAMINATE.

      1. I have laminate floor for well over 20 years-it is waterproof but has to be dried-does not dry on own and it leaves spots.The problem I had was expanding and shrinking of the seams seasonally. I am replacing my floor not because of wear as it wore fantastically but the seams are now ugly. It’s so old that we had to glue it together not tongue & grove. Been searching for new floor and against all odds I’ve decided the laminate will be my next floor! I also have a floor underneath that turned brown immediately (mannington) so that is my base on a cement floor. I also washed with a wet mop-no problem as the shine is still there! It’s not hard on my feet as underneath is a form type pad that cushions everything and overall easy to install diy, just patience needed. Bought mine at Home depot years ago & now there are other choices in design and stores- Overall I’d say I am pleased with the floor except for the shrinkage at seams & with tongue and groove that may no longer be an issue I hope

        1. I put laminate in my salon in fall 2011, I really thought wet winter boots/shoes dripping would have damaged it long ago, along with everyday traffic, not the case! I purchased it on sale at Rona and it is just starting to look a bit weathered in 2020, wear and tear on some edges around certain stylist chairs,,,and 2 seams that had boots drippings for years are showing signs of wear. I will be replacing with something new in the next year, I was very pleased with it and a professional installer looked at it a week ago and was surprised how well it held up!! I will go laminate again, as we stand all day and it isn’t as hard as tiles.

    16. As someone has already mentioned, this article have some significant inaccuracies.
      1. Vinyl Planks (aka Luxury Vinyl Planks or LVP flooring) DOES come as Travertine, Ceramic and other Tile looks and I have been shopping for flooring for few months and haven’t seen any Laminate that looks like any tile.
      2. Unless you go for Rigid LVPs, LVPs are softer to walk on and easy on feets. It’s also a little better if you have children form injury perspective. One more thing is LVP are are much quieter to walk on and doesn’t squeak.
      3. There are few waterproof and quite a few water-resistant laminates available in market. So far I have seen more variety of Laminate flooring than LVPs in wood look.
      4. Real wood isn’t much more expensive, depending on wood, then other flooring types although they require a little more work to install and hence higher installation cost, but so does tiles.
      Thanks.

    17. We recently had the Mannington Adura Flex Vinyl tile installed in our newly remodeled kitchen. It is the only part of the kitchen that I am disappointed with. It shows every footprint, even from slippers. It always looks dirty, even after using their recommended “Mannington Floor Cleaner”. It is very hard and has no give when you walk on it. I had to buy gel mats just so my back wouldn’t hurt while working in the kitchen. I would not recommend this product at all!

    18. Being that this article was written in just a bit over a year ago, I’m disappointed I found a few things not completely accurate about this type of flooring. Both types of flooring have been around for quite some time, so more research should have been done.

      There is a difference between water-resistant and waterproof. Water-resistant is a product that can resist water up to a point before its damaged. Waterproof is a product that can resist water completely and not damage the product. Mfg has both vinyl and laminate flooring that is water-resistant and some that are 100% waterproof out on the market…and have for quite some time. You just have to do research to find out if the flooring you plan to use is waterproof or not. The laminate flooring that I plan to use in my whole house is 100% Waterproof.

      As far as the installation of laminate, you can also use a jigsaw as well as a laminate floor cutter which is actually the easiest. I’ve seen someone use a utility knife, but it’s a little tricker and not worth even trying (even tho the mfg said you can).

      Now the laminate flooring I do plan to purchase, specifically states NOT to use steam on the flooring. I would not use steam on anything except tiles like porcelain or ceramic. But still, check with the mfg on either to be sure. This flooring mfg also says rotating brushes, floor scrubbers, buffers or jet mops are not to be used either. As far as wiping up spills, the article says to wipe up immediately for laminate. Laminate or vinyl that is 100% waterproof does not need to be wiped up immediately. Water-resistant flooring should be wiped up within a certain amount of time. Check with the mfg on that specific time frame.

      Underlayment is per mfg instructions. The flooring I plan to use, states if I get the model that has an attached underlayment I will void the warranty if I add more underlayment. If it doesnt have an attached underlayment, then you need to add it. I am putting this down on concrete flooring and I am a little confused as to if I can put a moisture barrier under the one model that has the attached underlayment. I do believe the wording states for concrete you have to add it, but I will be asking for clarification before installation.

      Although I did find some things not quite right w/this article, I did learn a few things and thats why I read it in the first place…to learn.

      1. Hi. I’m interested to know who manufactures waterproof laminate? Could you share the name of what you are using? I did not think that waterproof laminate existed! We want to lay laminate in our new residential building but I am being told by several people to go with vinyl for it’s water resistance, but everything I’ve seen in vinyl so far is so ugly! Would greatly appreciate any insight into a more durable laminate. Thank you!

      2. Quite a few years ago we installed a high quality laminate in a church foyer in the far north, approximately 70 feet by 30 feet. During periods of warm winter or spring weather, we would mop up over 3 gallons of water each service. Never did we have any problems with the floors. We have had laminate floors in both northern Canada and southern Arizona, we wash them regularly with water and a floor cleaner. All laminate floors we have had have worked well being washed as you would any floor.

    19. Elaine Zenthoefer

      My husband and I recently purchased a new home where laminate in the great room and halls was the only choice. We also have a rental units. In one we put a tile looking laminate product and the other vinyl plank. The laminate is not the best for a rental as tenants don’t always comply with the recommended cleaning products. The other rental with vinyl plank looks great after 6 years. This tenant has cats and dogs.

      The care is certainly easier with vinyl. It also looks like a rich medium stained oak floor. My tenant is extremely happy with this product. Meanwhile 2 month old wood looking laminate has several chips in it which didn’t require much to damage the surface. It is under warranty so we are considering replacement with vinyl plank. I would appreciate other comments on this.

      1. We had vinyl is our first house, which we’ve rented out for the last 5 years. It’s held up amazingly. I loved it so much that we also installed vinyl in our new house. Both have withstood cats and lots of guests as well as furniture dragging, and the vinyl in our current house has held up admirably against our extremely messy toddler. I dropped a burning hookah coal on the laminate in our old house once. It was on the floor for a good 15 seconds and there wasn’t so much as a mark. I’d like to see laminate stand up to that.

        As for the authors opinion on resale value, I disagree. Within the next decade vinyl plank will become ever more popular and I believe it will overtake laminate. Especially for people with children. They’re always spilling something. I’m pretty sure my daughter would have massacred laminate floors if we had them.

        Laminate has a poor reputation for a reason. While it has improved in recent years, if you’re buying a home that had it installed more than 5 years ago you will know because unless it was really high end it will look terrible.

        Personally, I’d recommend just about any flooring over laminate.

        1. Kevin L Bigoness

          Wow. A hot coal puts a hole in a wood laminate floor after 15 seconds on the floor, but the same thing happens to a vinyl laminate floor and nothing happened. I find that hard to believe. I would think a hot coal would melt the plastic and rubber strange.

        2. 15 years ago i put la.inated in my 3 bedrooms , they were on sale for 1.99 regular price 2.99. There is not one scratch. It os amazing. Of course they are in rooms. The warranty was 30 years. My living room and kitchen have tiles. Is time to change. I recommended laminate for bedrooms.

      2. Tina Stout Stout

        My in-laws put wood look vinyl in their mobile home over five years ago. When they first got it, I was like yep that’s what we are putting on our floors eventually. It looked good and was waterproof. I have since changed my mind. Not a good product at all. It scratches easily and takes the color right off. The dark vinyl kept having white spots appearing. My FIL kept saying something had spilled on it. Nope, it was the color coming off the planks. Then later when a family member moved in for a while, he had to get around in a rolling office chair. He further scratched the color off the kitchen floor rolling the chair over the floor.

        We also put this same flooring in one of our rental properties. The renters moved out about a month ago and my hubby said we have to have it replaced as the renters didn’t take care of it at all (even though I put in the contract that furniture had to have protectors under it and how to properly clean the floor). It’s now ruined.

        We currently have laminate planks in our house. We put it in 12 years ago. I wouldn’t get this stuff again as it’s not waterproof or scratch resistant. This time we are going with 100% waterproof laminate flooring. People have had this in their house for years w/out any issues with pets and kids.
        This article was written a little over a year ago. This waterproof laminate flooring didn’t just come out last year. The writer didn’t do her homework. I’m making a new post regarding that as well.

        1. I think the same could be said of vinyl plank. Some are water resistant, others waterproof. Both laminate and vinyl have a wide range of quality, Anything in the under $2/sqft in either type is less durable and more prone to scratching. You see this in the product reviews for specific levels of either product. We are going with a waterproof higher end vinyl plank, hoping it is as durable as the reviews we have seen. Bottom line, nothing is totally bullet proof and you never know exactly how people in reviews are treating or caring for their floors.

        2. Tina, I’m a little confused.. you said “ We currently have laminate planks in our house. We put it in 12 years ago. I wouldn’t get this stuff again as it’s not waterproof or scratch resistant. This time we are going with 100% waterproof laminate flooring“ – are you saying you are going to still do laminate but a different brand type?

    20. Excellent article Nikki! We have had laminate for almost 20 years in our kitchen and it holds up pretty well but has a few chips. Water is not your friend with laminate though… had a sink leak and it did damage the planks. Also, the builder “cleaned” the construction dust off of the floor using a floor polisher… big mistake! Ruined thousands worth of flooring that all had to be redone. Anyway, I’m thinking of going with vinyl planks in a 3rd car garage that we use as an office. Sounds easier for a DIY install with the ability to cut with a utility knife.

    21. Both sound good. Would like to use vinyl but worry about fading in our west facing home. Does the vinyl really fade a lot?

      1. I’d personally read the mfg info about their particular flooring. Many mfg are also active on facebook and can answer questions about the flooring right there.

        I’ve heard the waterproof laminate is fade-resistant, but havent read anything lately on the vinyl flooring. It’s definitely not scratch resistant…at least not the one my in-laws purchased over 12 years ago. Within a few years, the color was coming off and a family member scratched it up even more w/a chair. They may have made the flooring better since then.

    22. The contractor only had a few last planks to cut to complete the install. So disappointing there are several exposed sharp chips that are appearing on the edges of a few of the planks; Some planks have more than one chip. What is happening? We may have gotten a defective box/boxes? A few of the chips are in the middle of my kitchen floor. Please respond ASAP. Thank you.

      1. Great article, thank you. Now I’m sort of torn between the two like reader Shannon mentioned. But wonder living a few blocks from the beach with constant moisture and humidity, plus having a dog that I never know when it will pee on the floor next, I’m thinking Vinyl wins. Am I right in that assumption?

        1. Yes, you are right. As an Interior Designer, I have used many floor products. Vinyl planks are superior in performance and looks in the environment you described. I personally use it in my home because of those wonderful dog companions who accidentally surprise us from time to time. Also had an ice machine malfunction with no permanent damage to the vinyl planks.

          1. Can you tell me what brand you like to use? My head is spinning, as vinyl seems to be the best option for us, but I feel that based on what I read, quality of the flooring is the bottom line…
            Thanks!

    23. Thank you, Ant. I’m torn at the moment between laminate or luxury vinyl on our fixer-upper home but with a budget in mind, two small children, and the amount of floor I have to cover, I really think I’ll be going with vinyl.

    24. I don’t know what vinyl flooring you sampled from. But the ones I purchased from Lumber liquidators “luxury vinyl plank” are much thinker than regular laminates. Also both products require padding underneath when using over concrete.

      1. I agree, but I have seen some vinyl on the market still like my inlaws put in their trailer 12 years ago. It’s very thin and it bends. I think it was peel and stick. The vinyl you’d use now days is about 7mm thick and does require some sort of moisture barrier if being used on concrete.

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