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Laminate vs Vinyl Flooring

When it comes to the difference between laminate and vinyl flooring, Flooring America is here to settle the debate! As two of the most durable flooring options, vinyl and laminate floors are popular substitutes for tile and hardwood since they mimic the natural look of these materials but typically cost a fraction of the price. If you're looking for low-maintenance, high-style flooring, you're probably considering these two flooring types as options for your home. You might be wondering, what truly is the difference between vinyl flooring vs laminate?

luxury vinyl samples versus laminate samples


Though wallet-friendly laminate flooring and vinyl flooring have many similarities, there are key differences, as well as pros and cons to both flooring options. When deciding which option is best as you shop for new floors, consider the following criteria:

  • Price

  • Style

  • Comfort

  • Durability Needs

  • Maintenance


When weighing the pros and cons of laminate vs. vinyl flooring, one critical factor that often tips the scales for many homeowners is the price point. Both laminate and vinyl flooring offer cost-effective alternatives to traditional hardwood, but they cater to slightly different budgets. Laminate flooring typically comes at a lower price per square foot, making it an attractive choice for those seeking a budget-friendly option without compromising on aesthetics. On the other hand, vinyl flooring, while slightly pricier, presents a remarkable value proposition with its water resistant properties and durability, making it a preferred choice for areas prone to moisture.


luxury vinyl in kitchen with farmhouse style


Both laminate and vinyl flooring have come a long way when it comes to style! Vinyl used to get a bad rap, but these days there are many beautiful luxury vinyl flooring options on the market, and many brands of luxury vinyl floors are designed to mimic both the look and feel of real hardwood, stone, and tile. From luxury vinyl plank to luxury vinyl tile to sheet vinyl, there are many vinyl options to fit your lifestyle. Laminate flooring is known for its embossing quality and is offered in a wide range of styles. Laminate floors usually have beautiful patterns, too, making them great in kitchens or entryways. When it comes to vinyl plank flooring vs laminate, many laminate flooring options are now able to convincingly mimic hardwood or stone floors.


wood look laminate in white modern bedroom


If how your flooring feels on your bare feet is a top concern, you may be drawn more toward laminate. Laminate flooring has a softer feel than vinyl, so it cushions the foot more when it’s walked on. Vinyl floors are made out of PVCs, or plastic, whereas laminate floors are made out of resin and fiberboard.


Both laminate flooring and vinyl flooring have long-lasting, durable properties. Vinyl flooring is waterproof, as it’s made from plastic with a protective wear layer to provide extra durability. This makes vinyl an ideal choice for any room in your house that may be prone to stains or the occasional leak, like kitchens, bathrooms, or laundry rooms. However, some laminate floor options are now waterproof with advancements in technology. Still, the greater durability and waterproof qualities of vinyl and luxury vinyl flooring are part of why they can be pricier than many laminate options. Overall, both are great options for busy families with high foot traffic.


luxury vinyl plank installation


Unlike engineered hardwood and solid hardwood floors, vinyl and laminate flooring are easy to install and even easier to maintain. For instance, many luxury vinyl planks simply click together over a subfloor to lock out moisture and protect against stains and water damage. Luxury vinyl flooring also stands out for its ease of maintenance, as it is resistant to moisture, spills, and stains. This quality makes cleaning a breeze, requiring simple routine maintenance like sweeping and mopping to keep it looking pristine.

Laminate flooring products also often have a click-and-lock or tongue-and-groove installation system to make the process easier and allow for a floating floor installation without the need for adhesives. Once installed, keeping your laminate flooring looking its best involves simple cleaning routines. Regular sweeping or vacuuming with a soft brush attachment helps remove dirt and debris. Damp mopping using a well-wrung mop and a mild, laminate-friendly cleaner ensures a thorough clean without exposing the flooring to excessive moisture.

Laminate generally requires more diligent cleaning to prevent damage and maintain its appearance. In the vinyl plank vs laminate flooring debate, the maintenance aspect tilts in favor of luxury vinyl, offering a hassle-free solution for those who prioritize easy upkeep and a flooring option that stands strong against daily wear and tear.

Cons of Laminate Flooring

  • Susceptible to moisture: Laminate flooring isn't entirely waterproof, except for a few standout laminate products. While it does have some water resistance, excessive moisture exposure can lead to warping or swelling in laminate floors.

  • Limited durability: Laminate is not as resistant to dents and scratches as other flooring options like hardwood or luxury vinyl.

  • Sound concerns: Laminate can sometimes produce a hollow or noisy sound when walked on if not properly installed or if there's a lack of underlayment, so be sure to consult your Flooring America professional for expert installation to prevent any sound issues.

  • Authenticity: While laminate flooring can be indistinguishable from hardwood flooring, it doesn't have the same home value as authentic hardwood floors.

Cons of Vinyl Flooring

  • Susceptible to sharp objects: While vinyl flooring is generally durable, it can be susceptible to damage from sharp objects, such as heavy furniture legs or dropped items. Sharp heels or pet claws can also cause scratches, so look for pet-proof or kid-friendly products.

  • Temperature sensitivity: Some vinyl products can be sensitive to extreme temperatures. In very cold conditions, it might become rigid, potentially leading to cracking. In high-temperature environments, the material may soften or become pliable.

  • Environmental impact: Some vinyl flooring products may release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air, contributing to indoor air pollution. Our luxury vinyl catalog offers low-VOC or phthalate-free options to help mitigate this concern. Vinyl is also not a biodegradable material, so look for recycling programs for vinyl floors.

  • Authenticity: While vinyl flooring can closely mimic the look of hardwood, some homeowners may still prefer the authenticity and natural feel of real hardwood.

FAQ about Vinyl Flooring vs. Laminate Flooring

What Lasts Longer: Vinyl or Laminate?

Both materials offer impressive durability, but nuances exist in their performance. Vinyl flooring, renowned for its resilience against moisture and wear, often boasts a longer lifespan compared to laminate. The water-resistant properties of vinyl make it an ideal choice for high-moisture areas such as kitchens and bathrooms, ensuring longevity and minimizing the risk of damage over time. Laminate, while durable, may be more susceptible to water damage, impacting its lifespan in moisture-prone environments.

Vinyl vs. Laminate Flooring: What floor is more expensive?

laminate in dining room


Both laminate and vinyl flooring are great options for those seeking beautiful new floors on a budget; however, laminate floors tend to be more affordable than vinyl floors, and are especially less expensive than luxury vinyl options.

Which is Better: Laminate or Vinyl?

So, in the grand debate of vinyl flooring vs laminate flooring, which is better? The truth is, both are nice options. If you and your family are on a tighter budget, laminate flooring is hard to beat! Vinyl flooring, especially luxury vinyl (luxury vinyl plank or luxury vinyl tile) is a bit pricier but a better long-term investment. Both are great options for busy families who need durable, stylish, and easy-to-clean floors.

Shop our wide selection of luxury vinyl and laminate flooring options today at your local Flooring America store or order samples from the comfort of your home!