Anyone in the market for a new floor will inevitably ask - which is the right type of flooring for my project? Some consumers know exactly what they want (hardwood, tile and stone, for example), while others are a bit more unsure. And while looks and budget certainly play a significant part of your floor-buying experience, there are far more other considerations to factor in.
Two of the most popular choices in flooring these days are laminate and luxury vinyl plank (LVP). Most consumers believe that these two types of flooring are interchangeable, and will make their final purchase decision based on either cost or what they “think” is the better flooring.
However, there are far more differences between these two flooring styles than just a name. Before you jump into your next purchase, let’s break down the differences between laminate flooring and luxury vinyl plank.
Laminate flooring gained in popularity decades ago because it’s been the cost-friendly choice for consumers. However, its claim to fame - low costs - has also been the bane of its existence. Its cost (not quality) is what drove the market, which is why many laminate manufacturers have cut quality in order to keep up with the consumer’s expectation for cost. Even higher-end laminate flooring has a focus on budget-friendly, often times at the expense of certain quality measures.
But what do we mean by this? While many manufacturers are careful with the construction of their laminate flooring, certain trends have made laminate far less impervious to moisture. For example, in laminate’s earlier days, the glued-together floating floor provided highly moisture-resistant seams. However, the downside was that these floors also provided messy glue joints,which were not ideal.
To address this issue, most modern-day laminate flooring features a snap-and-lock system, which certainly is easier and cleaner to install, but nowhere near as moisture resistant. Water from humidity, shoes and water bowls have been enough to cause the flooring to swell.
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Enter luxury vinyl plank, often referred to as the hybrid SUV of the flooring world. But what exactly does that mean? Well, LVPs are heavy duty vinyl floors, but designed in individual planks. They feature all the benefits that laminate might offer, without any of the drawbacks (namely, issues with moisture).
In fact, there are a handful of reasons why LVP outperforms vinyl. It’s highly durable, needs no padding or underlayment, doesn’t require a saw to cut material, is easy to maintain, and features a user-friendly snap and lock technology.
Oh, and did we mention the look?
Luxury Vinyl Flooring is a bit of a misnomer. It is luxury style, yes, but the name “luxury” often conjures images of the Rich and Famous. While luxury vinyl flooring may cost more than laminate - though the costs are generally pretty even - it’s not a budget-breaking affair. Luxury refers to the look, a look that makes it a viable competitor of laminate.
Aside from its low cost, laminate gained in popularity because it was the first truly wood-looking flooring that homeowners could install themselves. But luxury vinyl planks aim to change all that.
With modern-day printing and technology, today’s luxury vinyl offers the look of wood, tile and stone. The printing is so exact, in fact, that most people have a hard time discerning vinyl from its natural counterpart.
But there is a difference, and that difference is in durability. Natural flooring, like wood and tile, have their own set of drawbacks, including their high level of maintenance. With luxury vinyl, you get the benefits of the beauty, while enjoying the durability and easy maintenance of vinyl.
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Moisture - Vinyl wins, hands down. Laminate cannot even come close to competing with the type of moisture-proof performance of luxury vinyl planks.
Installation - Vinyl, but not by much. Both are pretty easy to install, but laminate needs a foam moisture underlayment, and needs to be cut to fit your space.
Greenness - Truth be told, neither flooring can compete with styles such as cork and bamboo, but in the battle for greenness, they score even. Both styles have made major advances in being more eco-friendly.
Cost - Also even. Neither will break the bank.The overall winner - luxury vinyl plank. The fact that you won’t spend more (or that much more) for flooring, can enjoy the look of wood, tile or stone, and can install the flooring (on your own) in any room in the house, makes LVP the hands-down winner.
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