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The Differences Between Laminate and Luxury Vinyl Flooring

Laminate or Luxury Vinyl? Which is right for your project?

These two types of flooring have become increasingly popular in the last few years as technology has allowed both flooring styles to resemble hardwood in look and texture at a fraction of the price. However, it seems that some people still use these terms interchangeably as if they are the same thing. Though both are great products, there are key differences customers should be aware of before making their decision.

An image of a wood look floor with detailed veining and white cabinets with a Golden Retriever laying on the floor. A close up image of decorative navy and white flooring with soap suds and a white wash cloth.

First, let’s talk about the pros of luxury vinyl flooring.

  • Luxury vinyl is made of 100% plastic, which means this product is inherently waterproof. With a core made of high-density vinyl, water cannot seep into the tile or plank and created a warping or swelling effect like hardwood floors or laminate.
  • Luxury vinyl comes in a wide variety of colors and looks ranging from hardwood to encaustic style tiles. An image is printed onto a film layer that sits on top of the core of the tile or plank and is then protected by a clear layer often referred to as the “wear layer.” This layer is what makes luxury vinyl tile and planks resistant to indentions and scratches from your furniture, shoes, pets, and all other flooring enemies. Tiles and planks can be embossed, which adds texture to make it look and feel close to the real thing.
  • Luxury vinyl can be installed anywhere in your home! Its waterproof properties make it a smart choice for bathrooms, basements, and kitchens. Installation is also DIY friendly. These products often come in an interlocking configuration but can also be installed by peel and stick, glue down, or loose lay.
  • Luxury vinyl is very easy to clean and maintain. Since it’s waterproof, feel free to use warm water and a neutral cleaner for a mopping solution. Just be sure you sweep before mopping! Sweeping with a dust mop before mopping helps prevent debris from scratching up the surface over time.
  • Luxury vinyl is child and pet friendly!

A close up image of gray colored wood look floor planks. A room scene with a reclaimed wood look floor in a gray washed color. There are large black double doors in the background of the image looking out into a foggy woodsy scene. The furniture in the room is traditional and light in color.

Next, let’s highlight the pros of laminate flooring.

  • Laminate flooring can look like hardwood with deep embossing and a realistic photo layer underneath and wear layer. There are colors and looks for every style, including reclaimed wood look, weathered and distressed wood look, and even stone look laminate.
  • Laminate is a lower cost option to hardwood floors but can still achieve the hardwood floor look that is so sought after. If you are looking for a quick floor upgrade that won’t break the bank, laminate would be a great option for you.
  • Laminate flooring is DIY friendly and is installed using a click-lock installation method, which doesn’t require an elaborate set of tools and can be put together in a few hours!
  • Laminate holds warmth better than tile and is softer underfoot. Many (but not all) laminate floors come with some kind of underlayment to help with underfoot comfort, noise control, and thermal retaining properties.
  • Laminate flooring has superior scratch and dent resistance due to a strong wear layer making it a great flooring option if you have pets.

Some things to note about each of these products

Laminate flooring is water-resistant but NOT waterproof like vinyl flooring. However, manufactures are starting to add better waterproof technology to their laminate flooring, so this may not be the case forever. But, for now, avoid putting laminate in your bathrooms and mudrooms or any wet area of your home.

Vinyl flooring is susceptible to sun damage. If the flooring is exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods of time, the color and fade and discolor. To protect your floors, be sure to close your blinds, place area rugs, and arrange furniture to block as much sunlight on your floors as possible.

Both laminate and luxury vinyl have a sliding scale of pricing. But, remember, you get what you pay for. Luxury vinyl tends to price higher than laminate, but both are much more affordable than hardwood flooring and can achieve a hardwood look.


Still unsure which product would serve you best? Come talk to us!

Here at The Carpet Shoppe, we carry a large variety of trend-forward, highly recognized brands for each of these products. Come take a look at some of the best the flooring world has to offer, today!