Laminate vs. Luxury Vinyl Plank: An Honest Review
Are you trying to choose between laminate and luxury vinyl plank? If you are, you’ve likely realized by now just how time-consuming that is. You have endless options in color, style, and look. It’s easy to become overwhelmed. It makes it even more difficult when you are choosing between two similar products We hear you!
Here at Flooring Solutions, we don’t want you going back and forth between the two, not really sure which one will be best for you. We want you to have facts about both flooring types that clearly explain the differences in cost, performance, and durability, and give you real examples of where you should and shouldn’t use either in your own home.
We are here to help you understand that the difference between laminate and Luxury vinyl plank goes beyond just how they look. Flooring should fit into your family’s needs and lifestyle perfectly. After all, flooring is a significant investment. After this article, you’ll feel confident knowing you’re making the right choice in flooring!
What Is Luxury Vinyl Plank?
Luxury vinyl plank is made out of a combination of materials to make up a base and a top wear layer. You may be familiar with some of the materials, one of which includes PVC, or polyvinyl chloride. The composite materials are then attached to either that PVC, WPC, wood polymer core or an SPC, stone polymer core.
Depending on what the core is made from, can determine the rigidness, or stiffness, of the material. SPC, or stone polymer core, tends to be the more rigid of the three core types. You may also find Luxury vinyl plank referenced as “LVP” as it becomes a very popular flooring choice today.
Top 3 Advantages of Using Vinyl
1. Waterproof on the surface
Let’s say you install luxury vinyl plank in the laundry room. You’re transferring clothes from the washer to the dryer, and water is dripping from the clothes onto your floor. There are no concerns about whether you will damage the floor even if you don’t wipe it up. If your dog is a messy drinker, likely every time they go to drink, water splashes everywhere. You don’t have to worry about warping, discoloration, or any water damage.
2. Ease of installation
Often times you can float LVP on top of your existing floor. There are certain floors you would not want to do that on top of, such as engineered hardwood or solid hardwood. This could pose future problems for how well your vinyl performs. If you are curious about a list of flooring types you can and cannot float LVP over, we’ve covered that too!
3. Maintenance and performance
Doesn’t easy maintenance just make you happy? A huge appeal to LVP is that it does not have to be maintained by a professional cleaning company. You can easily maintain this floor with a damp mop or regular household cleaning products.
What Can You Clean Vinyl Floors With?
- Good-ole soap & water – the easiest method!
- Swiffer Wet-jet – be sure the wet solution is safe for hard surfaces
- Bona Solid Surface cleaner
- Rejuvenate – which is an eco-friendly option
When Moisture Could Be A Concern for Luxury Vinyl Plank
Just like with any product, if there are advantages, there are also disadvantages. Though water is rarely an issue, it can be. If your dishwasher water supply line leaks and moisture gets underneath the floating surface of your vinyl – mold, and mildew growth could occur due to moisture being trapped below the surface. This could result in an expensive mess. It’s best to call a water mitigation company and consult with a professional flooring company immediately if you have a large leak.
What is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate is similar to vinyl in this sense, as it is also made up of a combination of materials. There are several layers that are bonded together through a lamination process, with its core typically consisting of HDF, more commonly known as particle board. has a laminated wear layer – It gives the appearance of real wood through the use of a photographic wear layer. On top of that, there is a clear, protected laminated layer, which is what aids in its extreme durability.
Top 3 Advantages of using Laminate
1. Impact resistant.
The dense material of laminate makes it durable enough to withstand higher impact. If you have a little one who drops toys often, or you accidentally drop dishes and pots & pans in the kitchen. It also withstands heavy furniture like dressers and large couches.
2. Scratch resistant.
The laminated wear layer is hard to scratch. That’s what you want out of a floor if you have animals with sharp claws, children with sharp toys, or if you wear high heels and don’t want them digging in.
3. Look and feel of real hardwood.
Let’s face it, real hardwood can tend to get pricey. This makes laminate an ideal choice if you want the look & feel of real hardwood, at a price that fits nicely into your budget.
What Can You Clean Laminate Floors With?
- Damp mop – be sure to ring your mop out extremely well
- Swiffer – we don’t recommend the wet jet for laminate, as it is too much liquid
- Bona Solid Surface cleaner – you can use a terry cloth mop and lightly spray onto your laminate surface
Disadvantages of Using Laminate
Are you like most homeowners who like to steam-mop your floors? Unfortunately, we do not recommend using a steam mop on laminate flooring. The heat from the steam mop can cause the adhesives that bond the multiple layers together to release.
What Is the Cost Difference Between Laminate & Luxury Vinyl Plank?
The average price range for luxury vinyl plank is between $3-$6 per square foot.
So, how much does it cost for luxury vinyl plank in a kitchen, or even a primary bathroom? Most primary bathrooms are between 70-150 square feet. We will use 100 square feet in this example since math isn’t much fun, and 100 is a pretty easy number! For around 100 square feet of luxury vinyl plank, it may cost you between $300-$600 for the vinyl plank material.
The average price range for laminate flooring is between $3-$5 per square foot.
Remember that 100-square-foot bathroom from above? If it was installed with laminate instead of vinyl, it may cost you between $300-$500 for the laminate material.
A typical Flooring Solutions customer spends, on average, $5 per square foot for vinyl plank material, and around $4.50 for laminate material. Style and color are huge factors that can impact the cost of both flooring types. Most vendors have price ranges to fit inside all types of budgets, and we try to do the same at our showroom. We work hard to fill our showroom with what you’re looking for!
Is Laminate or vinyl plank more durable?
It’s simple, you want your floors to last! So it makes sense for durability to be on your mind. Both flooring types are very durable. However, there are a few places you might want to avoid installing either material.
Two Places You Would Not Want to Install Laminate:
- Pool house – your wet feet coming straight out of the pool could be harmful to the surface of laminate floors
- Kid’s bathroom – you know kid’s favorite thing to do in the tub, splashing their cool toys! It can be harmful to the surface and core of the laminate.
Two Places you would not want to Install LVP:
- Sunroom not completely enclosed: The fluctuation in temperate of these rooms can cause too much expansion and contraction, and your vinyl could potentially buckle at the edges.
- Weight or exercise room: These types of rooms typically have extremely heavy equipment. The possibility of dropping too much weight on it could dent, scratch, or damage the vinyl.
Are Laminate and LVP Installed the same way?
Both materials usually do perform well with a floating installation. The biggest difference you will see in the installation method between the two is that Luxury vinyl plank can also be glued down. So how would you know if it should be glued down vs. floated?
If you’re installing luxury vinyl plank in a commercial setting, we recommend you choose the glue-down method. Let’s break that down a bit further!
Commercial foot traffic is a lot heavier than what you have in your everyday home. You have ADA (American Disability Association) requirements you have to factor in, so you want your floors to be able to tolerate a wheelchair or other medical device. With commercial properties, delivery drivers are often bringing in dollies and packages with heavy machinery, so you want them to stand up to that extreme weight. Too much weight on vinyl can cause the joints to unlock and buckle much easier.
Laminate and LVP have similar methods of installation.
The majority of LVPs on the market today have an attached underlayment padding. The pad serves mainly two purposes:
- Comfort – a little extra cushion never hurt anybody, right?
- Sound absorption – less hollow/clicking sound when walking – a.k.a not so annoying!
Laminate flooring almost always has no attached pad on the back. That means you as the homeowner get to select your own pad that meets your needs, such as budget and performance.
Laminate is most often installed in residential homes. It doesn’t have a glue-down method like mentioned above. Laminate is always floated over either your subfloor or certain existing floor coverings. It can easily stand up to weight, but since it is floating, we don’t recommend installing it in heavy-traffic commercial settings. Since it is typically a thicker material than vinyl, it may cause issues when installed on top of another flooring, but it can be done. All in all, we recommend talking with a professional flooring company to see if your floors would cause a height issue.
Laminate or LVP – Which is right for you?
If you’re starting a flooring project, or really any home improvement project, you already know how much of your time it takes up. Your time and energy are spent on coordinating dates, contractors, choosing products, and so much more. What you don’t need is to spend countless hours deciding between two similar products, because you’re unsure of what would work best in your home!
We want to help make time your friend during your flooring selection process! By explaining where these two flooring types work best, and how they will hold up to everyday life, you can confidently make your decision without feeling burnt out from endless internet searches. You’ll also be surprised how big of a difference it makes to put your hands on both laminate and luxury vinyl plank, to not only see the difference but feel it too.
If you have the opportunity to visit your local showroom, we highly encourage doing so. Since new flooring is a big investment for you and your family, consulting with a professional flooring company that will thoroughly explain your laminate and vinyl plank options is always best. To schedule a showroom consultation with a flooring specialist at Flooring Solutions, just select a day and time that works best for you!