A common query that we receive from customers is regarding the differences between laminate and sheet vinyl flooring. Both are very popular choices, offering an impressive range of designs along with durability and relative ease of installation. Similar in many ways, laminate and vinyl flooring are easy to confuse. However, there are still some vital differences that could sway your decision as to which type is most suitable for your personal requirements.
How they are made
- Laminate – a wood-based product consisting of three layers that are fused together, including a core of high density fibreboard and a wear layer on the surface to provide protection from scratches.
- Sheet vinyl – made of synthetic materials and is therefore a plastic-based product. Nevertheless, despite the different materials, both are manufactured to realistically imitate the look of hardwood or stone tile.
Both sheet vinyl and laminate flooring are highly durable floors that are able to withstand everyday wear and tear. However, the crucial difference between the two is in their ability to resist moisture:
- Laminate – offers a level of water resistance but certainly cannot be classified as waterproof, since it it is made from recycled hardwood. It will be able to withstand quick spills and splashes but it is never a good idea to leave any standing water on the surface, or the flooring can become damaged and buckle.
- Sheet vinyl – since it is made up of synthetic materials, it is wonderfully waterproof. Vinyl is one of the few floors that can be considered as truly waterproof and for that reason it is a staple in bathrooms.
- Laminate – generally considered to offer a more realistic hardwood effect and is often the preferred option in most areas of the house, other than bathrooms. There are a fantastic array of designs and colours in wood effect, although more limited in tile effect.
- Sheet vinyl – modern developments have led to significant improvements in its appearance and sheet vinyl now closely replicates the look of more natural tile and wooden floors in a significant range of different designs.
- Sheet vinyl – flexible and relatively straightforward to install. However, due to its soft and malleable nature, it is crucial that the floor underneath is completely smooth as the vinyl will mould to any contours or bumps that may be present.
- Laminate – harder and inflexible, however, we still recommend that the floor underneath is as smooth as possible for ease of installation and for the overall finished look.
- Laminate and sheet vinyl – both offer a cost effective solution for those looking to achieve the look of natural materials without installing the real deal. The prices between the two do not differ a huge amount although sometimes the extra floor preparation needed before installation of vinyl can make it more expensive. However, if the subfloor is in a good condition then there is little disparity between the two and it usually boils down to a personal choice of appearance and practicality.
Overall, both flooring types are similar in appearance and price but ultimately differ in their practical use due to their differing levels of water resistance. We would always recommend sheet vinyl not laminate in bathrooms but for the rest of the house, it is simply a matter of personal preference. For more information or to make an enquiry, get in touch with one of our flooring specialists.