LAMINATE VS. LUXURY VINYL PLANKS: TOP PROS AND CONS
See if Direct Pressure Laminate or Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring is Right for Your California Home
Who says you have to get hardwood if you want gorgeous, durable floors in your Roseville area home? These days, luxury vinyl planks and direct pressure laminate give you the hardwood floor look at a fraction of the price; but which one is right for you: Laminate or Luxury Vinyl plank flooring? Let’s go through some of the pros and cons of each option.
Since laminate arrived in the United States in December of 1994, it has grown into a billion dollar per year industry and a very popular customer choice due to its proven durability, low price point and ability to look like real wood. Like luxury vinyl, it’s a synthetic material. It’s made in a wide array of qualities, depending on the manufacturer, using a beautiful décor design layer that is fused through direct pressure to medium to high density fiber boards. Some have been impregnated for extreme water resistance and some are even waterproof.
Laminate features some positive benefits that luxury vinyl does not. Let’s take look at where laminate stands out.
- More Durable & Less Expensive
Laminates have been on the market longer than the newer luxury vinyl products. Consequently, there are literally dozens upon dozens of manufacturers competing for your business compared to just a handful of good luxury vinyl companies. This drives the price down on the material itself and is almost always less expensive than luxury vinyl planks or tiles. Laminates are actually more durable and cost less than luxury vinyl.
- Proven Durability
For almost forty years worldwide, laminate has been the go to flooring choice for consumers who want the gorgeous look of real hardwood without the high price or maintenance concerns that real hardwood brings. Its proven durable décor finish is only rivaled by ceramic or porcelain tile for scratch resistance. When installed correctly, laminate is a great option for floors that will see a lot of foot traffic. Have small children or pets? Laminate is a smart choice.
- Stain Proof
Even in direct sunlight, your new laminate floor will stay the same beautiful color for years to come. Paint won’t stain it. Chemicals won’t damage it. You can even clean laminate with acetone if for any reason something gets on the product that just wants to be stubborn and try and stick.
- Fade Proof
One of the greatest features about laminate is that it won’t fade if area rugs are put on top of it or if it sits in direct sunlight. Your gorgeous new hardwood laminate look will perform for years to come.
- Water Proof???
Actually, “some” manufacturers have made their laminates waterproof and not just water-resistant. You’ll want to ask your flooring specialist to point these options out to you. Now you get the durability along with being waterproof (on select brands).
- Easy to Clean
Because of the durable décor layer on your new laminate flooring, you only need water and vinegar to clean. No need to “swash-buckle mop” your floor any more. Simply mist the floor with the water and vinegar mixture and wipe down till dry. Avoid using soaps or excess cleaners that leave build up. But hey, if you get soap build-up remember you can clean with acetone for a fresh start.
- Laminate Adds Equity
Even the best trained realtor cannot tell the difference between a high-quality laminate and real hardwood. Consequently, good quality laminate increases the equity of your home where luxury vinyl usually won’t.
- Water Resistant Laminates Vs. Water Proof
Because laminates are over 98% real hardwood with the durable direct pressure décor layer fused on top, most brands are susceptible to excess water that causes the joints to swell. From the beginning of time, laminates were never meant for that boat deck swash-buckling cleaning treatment. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning, and you shouldn’t have issue — outside of a flood that is. Remember, there are waterproof laminates to choose from if you know you have a mud room or room right off the swimming pool. Laminates can be installed in every room of your home – from your high-use entry way to the very back bathroom and back up to the kitchen. If you have any concerns about water, just pick a waterproof color and enjoy your new floors.
- Prone to Static Electricity Buildup
Unlike carpet, which disperses static electricity, laminate floors can actually cause it to increase. If you slide across a laminate floor in your socks, prepare to have your hair stand up!
Too many laminate vendors sell and install their laminate floors with the cheapest laminate cushion available. These cheap foam cushions make your laminate go clickity-clack. If you choose not to upgrade your laminate cushion underlayment, prepare for a livelier sound in your home. However, put the right sound-deadening laminate cushion under your new flooring and all will be well in the world. You’ll get that desired “thumpity-thump” sound.
- Laminate Can Scratch
Even though the direct pressure laminate décor fused layer is extremely durable and one of the hardest products to scratch on the market, nothing is scratch proof. Always use floor protectors on ALL your furniture. The beautiful thing about laminate, if it does scratch, is that the scratch only misshaped the surface. It will still be easy to clean unlike vinyl, which will trap the dirt.
Vinyl flooring may make you think of 80s-style kitchen tiles, peeling up from years of use, but the truth is that new and improved luxury vinyl planks give you the waterproof durability of vinyl with the look of natural materials.
- Water Proof
Luxury vinyl planks are waterproof, making them an excellent option for areas like kitchens, bathrooms, and mudrooms. However, watch for lower tier vinyl planks, which will claim to be “water-resistant” instead of waterproof. If you’re adding vinyl to one of these water-prone areas, you definitely want a 100% waterproof brand, like CoreTec or Republic.
SEE ALSO: THE NEWEST FLOORING TREND: CORETEC FLOORING
- Sound Absorbent
By far, luxury planks are one of the quietest flooring options to choose from. Vinyl is inherently a sound-absorbent material which almost eliminates all excess noise. So while the floors look like real hardwood, you can avoid the echoes and clatter of walking across a real hardwood or laminate floor.
- Watch Out for VOC
VOC, or Volatile Organic Compounds, is an airborne emission that is present in vinyl flooring. Prolonged exposure to VOC is linked to health concerns, especially for people with asthma. However, any reputable luxury vinyl brand will take steps to limit VOC in their planks to a safe level. Look for flooring brands that are GreenGuard or FloorScore certified.
- Will Fade
Vinyl is almost guaranteed to fade in direct sunlight and especially when you put area rugs over the top of the urethane finishes. Vinyl can actually cup in direct sunlight where the heat just bears right down on the product.
- Easier to Scratch than Laminate
Although luxury vinyls won’t shrink like they used to, they will most definitely scratch when furniture or something sharp is dragged across the surface. Always use floor protectors for both luxury vinyl and laminate…on everything.
- Can Stain
Most luxury vinyl has a urethane finish that can be chemically altered with various cleaners or the wrong household product, causing what looks to be a stain. Take precautions and read the manufacturer’s care and cleaning guides.
- Not As Budget Friendly
Luxury vinyl is more expensive than laminate due to the lack of good competition. It’s supply and demand at work. The only two main product lines more expensive are real hardwood or real tile.
WHERE LAMINATE AND VINYL ARE CREATED EQUAL
- Lots of Realistic Design Options
In the images featured in this article, could you tell if it was real hardwood or laminate or luxury vinyl for that matter? Both laminate and luxury vinyl have numerous design options to select from. Where laminate specializes in authentic wood looks, luxury vinyl has both wood and tile shades and patterns. An added bonus is that, because both products are high tech man-made materials, it’s easy to get it in tons of different shades and patterns, so you’ll be sure to find the perfect floor to fit with your décor.
- Easy to Repair
In comparison to real hardwood that is either glued or nailed down, laminate and most luxury vinyl plank flooring is installed using the floating floor method with interlocking joints that can be easily unzipped, replace the damaged plank, and zipped back up together as if nothing ever happened. Very little mess or fuss in comparison to the old sand and finish hardwoods that required you out of that room for a couple of days with dust everywhere.
- Fast and Easy Install
No awkward stickers here – both laminate and most luxury vinyl planks install by just clicking them together in place, with no glue required. Yet, there are still some very nice quality luxury vinyls than can be glued down for an even quieter feel. You can get the materials and install the flooring yourself or hire the flooring professionals to do it for you.
- Easy Under Foot
Because laminate and vinyl are installed as a floating floor, the joints of your body will love you for taking it easy on them. There are now quiet underlayment cushions, installed underneath, that really cut down on that clickity-clack to make it more of a thumpity-thump and isn’t annoying like it used to be 20 years ago; and some luxury vinyls actually have cork attached to the back to deaden the sound.
The short of it is that both laminate and vinyl are terrific flooring options for any room in your home. If you’re still torn between the two, the best solution is to visit our flooring showroom and see both styles in person! To see our store hours or to schedule a personalized consultation with one of our flooring experts, visit our showroom page.