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What's the difference between vinyl flooring and laminate flooring?

Thanks for this great explanation of the difference between laminate and vinyl flooring Debbie! I agree there is a lot of confusion on this topic and you characterized the differences very clearly. 

There seems to be a lot of confusion between vinyl flooring and laminate flooring.

 

laminate floors brazilian cherry westchester NYHere in Westchester NY, many customers get these terms mixed up...they say vinyl when they mean laminate or laminate when they mean vinyl.  So, part of my job is to help clarify which type of flooring they mean as well as which type of flooring makes the most sense for them.

 

 

What is laminate flooring?

Laminate flooring is a hard surface that usually looks like hardwood (occasionally looks like tile) and is made with recycled hardwood.  It has a picture of hardwood floors (it isn't real), but some of the more upscale versions do look very real. On top, it has a melamine wear layer which gives it strong scratch protection, and underneath, there is a high density core board.  Laminate flooring is usually around 3/8 of an inch and can often be placed on top of existing flooring - whether it's concrete, tile or even hardwood (assuming the floor underneath is stable and even).


laminate flooring in Westchester NYLaminate flooring is a floating floor (read more about What is a floating floor?) that clicks together into place.  Because it is made of recycled hardwood, it is NOT waterproof (read more about Is laminate flooring waterproof).  It is generally not a good idea to install laminate flooring in any place where you tend to get a lot of water or that is humid (or that has high fluctuations in humidity level throughout the seasons) - this would mean that it is generally not good for most basements or bathrooms.

 

laminate flooring installation westchester countyBecause laminate is a hard (and inflexible) surface, it is important that the floor or subfloor underneath is level and relatively smooth.  If it isn't, the laminate flooring will move a lot when you walk on it and if it is too bumpy or too sloped underneath, it can even crack and break.

 

Like hardwood flooring, laminate floors should acclimate in the home before they are installed.  It should be in there for at least 24 hrs, but ideally 48 or more hours.  This allows it to properly expand/contract for the conditions in that room.  During this time, the room should be set to normal temperature/humidity conditions for that time of year (so if you are moving into a new home and don't live there yet, it's important to put the heat or AC on (pending time of year) during the acclimation and installation process.


What is vinyl flooring?

sheet vinyl flooring in westchester countyVinyl flooring is synthetic material that looks like tile or hardwood.  Most vinyls are glued down directly to the floor underneath.  Vinyl comes in many forms - there is sheet vinyl (usually 12 ft in width), luxury vinyl tile and plank (which is upscale and looks very real), there is vinyl composite tile (VCT - usually for commercial applications) and there is cheap peel & stick tile that you can often find in Home Depot.

 

Vinyl is thinner than laminate - usually, it's about 1/8" thick.  Sometimes, the height of laminate can cause a height issue with doors and/or appliances while vinyl will usually fit in quite easily.

 

 

Unlike laminate flooring, most vinyl is waterproof or water resistant (this depends on the exact type of vinyl).  While the cheaper types of vinyl can easily withstand spills and strong cleaning, theyLuxury vinyl plank Westchester NY Luxe Armstrong will usually not survive major floods - most of these use cheap adhesives that will not hold up to standing water and some are applied directly onto plywood and if the water has soaked through, the subfloor may warp. Cheaper types of vinyl have a tendency to fade if exposed to sunlight for extended periods of time.   

 

Whereas laminates are hard and inflexible, most vinyls are soft and flexible.  So, vinyl flooring can tolerate floors that are sloped or have humps in it.  The vinyl will just go right on top of it.  Because vinyl is flexible, it is critical that the floor underneath is smooth (not level, but smooth), so you often need to do a couple of layers of skim coats to smooth out the floor underneath.  (Otherwise, the imperfections of the floor below (or vinyl) will telegraph through and that would not look good.

 

Which is less expensive - laminate flooring or vinyl?

VCT Vinyl composite tile Armstrong Westchester NYWell often this depends most on the condition of the subfloor.  More often than not, the floor is relatively level, when I compare laminate to a nice looking vinyl, the laminate will be USUALLY be less expensive BECAUSE USUALLY the floor prep needed for the vinyl significantly increases the cost.  But, this is not always the case.  And, in come cases, if the floor is very uneven, laminate flooring is either not practical, or if we need to level it out with self leveling mix, then the laminate flooring can become more expensive.  And, as I mentioned above, if there is a concern about water or humidity, laminate flooring is not a good option at all.  It is best to involve a flooring professional to help give you an expert opinion on which option is best for your needs and your floor.  They should be able to price out both options for you so that you can easily compare.

 

When you're looking for laminate or vinyl flooring in Westchester County, or if you are not sure which might be best for your needs, give The Flooring Girl a call at 914-937-2950.

 

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What is the difference between vinyl flooring and laminate flooring?

Hardwood Flooring - Carpet - Tile/Natural Stone - Laminate - Refinish Hardwood - Backsplashes

The Flooring Girl logoDebbie Debbie Gartner - Westchester Hardwood FlooringGartner, Owner

"The Flooring Girl"

Floor Coverings International Westchester NY

You can download our free flooring guide.  Or, visit our flooring selector - 2,000 options.  We install hardwood flooring, carpet and runners, tile flooring and backsplashes.

Call us for a free estimate 914-937-2950. 

"We bring the store to your door."

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 Author Bio: Melissa Marro, Home Staging Industry leader, Realtor, and entrepreneur offers a unique perspective on New Home Construction, Resale Residential Real Estate, and Home Staging

For more information on buying or selling in the Fleming Island, Orange Park, or Jacksonville, area, visit StageListSellNEFL.com or call Melissa Marro (marro.melissa at gmail.com), Keller Williams First Coast Realty, for more information (904-466-2093).

 

Comment balloon 2 commentsMelissa Marro • August 26 2012 06:41AM

Comments

Melissa - thank you so much for reblogging and your sweet intro.  I really appreciate it.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 5 years ago

Melissa - Thank you for sharing detailed quality information about the difference between vinyl flooring and laminate flooring.

Posted by John Pusa, Your All Time Realtor With Exceptional Service (Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Crest) over 5 years ago

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