In any work, whether it is renovation or new construction, the choice of floor or pavement is a decision of great importance. It has implications not only aesthetic, but also in terms of price, durability, time spent on cleaning and maintenance, etc.
Laminate and vinyl floors are two of the most valued and demanded options by customers in recent years. However, the differences, similarities and drawbacks of both types of soil are not always clear.
Laminate Flooring: Definition, Advantages and Disadvantages
Laminate floors are a type of floor covering made up of several layers, the main one being a high-density wood fiber board. It also has an external plastic layer (overlay) that protects the whole, then a melamine paper printed with the design, and under the fiber board a final layer that gives stability to the whole.
All the parts as well as slats is machined to join together with others until they cover the whole surface area.
- Vast number of styles. Not only wood, but in addition imitating ceramic tiles, stones, etc. In addition, in the large varies we find quite realistic models where not only a ideal visual imitation is achieved, but textures are also imitated.
- Very comfortable tread.
- Easy laminate installation process.
- Great value for the price.
- Limited resistance to humidity. Even in those laminate floors suitable for kitchens and bathrooms, special care must be taken.
- Limited impact resistance. A high-density board can take hits without marking, however there are limits to this. Impact resistance is not the same as that offered by cement or a tile.
Vinyl Floors: Characteristics, Advantages and Disadvantages
There are different types of vinyl flooring: roll, plank, self-adhesive or floating. The type with which we are going to make the comparison is the one that has more to do with laminate flooring, that is, in strips and with a click system for floating installations. This type of vinyl flooring is known in English-speaking areas as Luxury Vinyl Flooring.
This type of flooring is composed of plastic materials, sometimes combined with wood fibers (WPC) and lately with limestone dust (SPC).
- This is a well-known advantage of wood, which, to the surprise of many, vinyl floors also offer.
- Wide variety of designs.
- 100% moisture resistant. Thanks to this, it can be used in bathrooms and kitchens without problems. Which does not mean that they are suitable for outdoors.
- Continuous exposure to direct sunlight discolors vinyl flooring boards. It is a problem that has been reduced thanks to the use of components that offer barriers against UV radiation, however it has not completely disappeared.
- Limited heat resistance.
- Some types are not suitable for radiant heating.
Similarities Between Vinyl and Laminate Flooring
The installation is floating , that is, it is not fixed by means of adhesives, nails or screws to the pre-existing floor. This has several explanations:
- It is not necessary to carry out works, since it can be installed on other types of pavements as long as they are well leveled and there are large irregularities.
- Quick and easy installation. It could even be done by someone with some DIY skills.
- It is necessary to use an insulating base between our new floor and the previous one. This base fulfills a series of functions such as attenuating the small irregularities that the pre-existing pavement may have, preventing the passage of moisture from the subsoil, damping the sound of footsteps…
- Once the end of its useful life has been reached, or if we want to make a style change, the fact that it was not fixed greatly reduces and simplifies replacement and its cost.
Maintenance. Both types of floor coverings are very easy to maintain and care for. Sweep and vacuum regularly, and mop periodically. In this sense, perhaps you have to be a little more careful with the laminate.
Repairs. No repairs can be made beyond concealing a small scratch. If any piece or slat were to break, it would have to be replaced with a new one.
Designs. Both materials offer a wide range of designs and increasing realism. However, the possibilities in this sense are superior today with laminate flooring, both in realism and in general design quality.
Expansion joints. All materials undergo contractions and expansions due to environmental changes, mainly temperature and humidity. Therefore we must respect these distances or separations as indicated by the manufacturers.
The difference lies in the fact that wood, and therefore laminate flooring, expands more than other materials. This means that in a laminate floor installation, expansion joints have a special relevance and that they will be necessary every few meters of what a vinyl floor may require.
Moisture resistance. In this sense there is a clear winner, vinyl floors.
Abrasion resistance. Vinyl floors are also above in this regard, although not as much as it may seem. Today most quality laminates offer AC5-AC6 resistance, while AC6 is the industry standard for vinyl. In both cases it is more than enough for use in domestic and even commercial environments.
Price. Cost for laminate flooring installation have a lower price than vinyl of this type, although this difference has been diminishing for years. In both cases we are facing very competitive prices.
Durability. Both options have been improving over the years, to the point that many manufacturers speak of decades regarding guarantees. However, vinyl has a longer shelf life.
Wood is a 100% renewable material. Therefore, laminates are a more ecological and respectful product with the environment. In addition, the manufacturing process requires less energy consumption.