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Vinyl vs. Laminate Flooring


mannington adura

Shown Here Is Mannington Adura, a Premium Vinyl or Resilient Tile Floor

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Some homeowners confuse the two types of flooring. While there are some similarities, vinyl and laminate flooring are completely different products. Let's compare and contrast:

Vinyl Flooring Laminate Flooring
Summary Long the workhorse of bargain remodels, vinyl flooring's star was eclipsed about 15-20 years ago with the introduction of better-looking, better-performing laminate flooring. Now, with the introduction of plank shapes that are long and narrow, mimicking real wood boards; "click" joinery, allowing adjoining boards to snap together; and improved printing and texturizing techniques that better resemble wood or stone, vinyl flooring is gaining in popularity once again. Without doubt, laminate flooring gained its foothold on the modern home--especially kitchens--for one reason: it was the first truly wood-look flooring that homeowners could install by themselves.
Recommendation If I were in the market, I would pick vinyl flooring because it matches laminate in cost, looks, and DIY-friendly installation. But it beats laminate hands-down in its performance in wet places.
Cost Very Low to Moderate. Vinyl flooring ranges from extremely cheap (about $0.50 for thin vinyl squares in basic patterns and styles) to moderate (about $3.00 for vinyl plank in so-called premium luxury styles). Very Low to Moderate. Laminate flooring ranges from very cheap (about $0.50 for 6mm oak-look laminate) to moderately pricey (about $3.00 for long-plank 12mm oak-look boards).
Thickness Ranging from 1.5 mm to 5 mm, vinyl flooring is decidedly thinner than laminate. Laminate ranges from 6mm to 12mm.
Green Value Moderate. At one time, vinyl flooring was the "bad boy," earning status as one of the least "green" flooring products. But now, flooring manufacturers now produce vinyl flooring that achieves a LEED credit EQ4.3 for Low-Emitting Material. Moderate. Laminate flooring uses wood content. Manufacturers produce laminate that qualifies for LEED MR4 (Recycled Content) status.
Resale Value Poor to Moderate. Formerly anathema to a good house sale, vinyl flooring's stature has been creeping upward in recent years, especially with the introduction of luxury vinyl flooring (LVF). Moderate to Good. While not having resale value approaching solid or engineered wood flooring, laminate does have moderately good value and usually will not put off home buyers.
Moisture Resistance Excellent. It's hard to beat vinyl flooring in the area of moisture resistance. Sheet vinyl flooring is 100% impervious to moisture, even standing water. Thus, vinyl can be installed in any room of the house. Vinyl is one of the few types of flooring that you can call truly water-proof, not just water-resistant. Moderate. Laminate is only moderately water-resistant. It's possible, though, to find truly waterproof laminate, such as Mannington's ICORE.
Ease of Installation Very Easy. Sheet vinyl comes in large rolls and can be hard for homeowners to install because it is so unwieldy. But vinyl flooring squares or planks are manageable and thus easier to install. Vinyl can be cut with an ordinary utility knife. Self-stick vinyl tiles or click joints are available, eliminating the need for separate adhesive. Moderately Easy. Laminate requires foam moisture underlayment, though this is inexpensive and can be rolled out and taped together quickly. Laminate must be cut with a circular or table saw fitted with an ultra fine blade or a conventional blade installed backwards.
Where Can It Be Installed? Any room of the house. Any room of the house, except highly moisture-prone rooms such as bathrooms.
Comfort Poor.Vinyl flooring, if installed directly on a subfloor or concrete, is hard and cold. But adding an underlayment of recycled rubber or polyurethane foam will make the flooring softer to the step. Moderate. Because laminate is thicker than vinyl and incorporates wood content, it is easier to walk on and warmer to the touch than vinyl. Introducing foam underlayment adds even more comfort to laminate.

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