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  • Curated By Callisto

Vinyl vs. Laminate: What’s The Difference?

Vinyl and Laminate flooring are known as the budget-conscious choice for flooring in your home. These are both synthetic composite materials (man-made) and are relatively easy to install yourself as a DIY project.

Luxury Vinyl is the newest form of vinyl flooring and usually comes in either plank or tile formats. Either option is made the same way, with several layers of resistant PVC and a top coat for extra protection. The top layer has a printed pattern and sometimes even texture to imitate natural materials. These tiles can be installed as a floating system, glued-down, or snapped together. The plank format is typically for wood-like patterns, whereas the square or rectangular tiles typically mimic stone or concrete.

Luxury Vinyl Tile or LVT is resistant to scratches and most importantly water and humidity. The composition and waterproof nature of this material makes it a sound choice for areas where moisture and water spills could occur, such as bathrooms, laundry rooms and kitchens. It is important to note that while the surface of these materials is waterproof, liquid can still seep into the cracks in between tiles if gaps occur and damage the subfloor.

Laminate flooring is made up of a wood core and a thin layer of plastic printed surface, laminated together in planks. Typically the surface imitates wood, but it can reproduce any other material such as stone or concrete. The planks are usually installed by snapping together and floating above the subfloor, giving this product a common nickname of “floating floor”. However, laminate can also be glued down to the subfloor if the context calls for it.

Laminate is mainly composed of wood product, therefore has a limited resistance to water and moisture. The surface can withstand liquid for a short period of time, however if water seeps through it can cause warping, deformation and rot inside the planks. This wood composition makes the floor feel softer and provides a more natural feel underneath the feet, making it a nice choice for more lived-in areas such as basements, family rooms and bedrooms.

When it comes to everyday cleaning and maintenance, both products are comparable. Dusting, dry mopping, vacuuming and occasional wet mopping with mild soap and water are all that is required.

Overall, Luxury Vinyl Tile and Laminate flooring are very similar. They are both budget friendly, low-maintenance, and relatively easy to install for the average DIY’er. Luxury Vinyl Plank gets the nudge for durability and water resistance and you can typically find nicer higher-grade tiles in this category. Be careful to balance budget with aesthetics, as these synthetic materials don’t always help bump up the value of a home as much as natural materials like hardwood.

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