When deciding to choose an excellent option for your home, vinyl vs. laminate vs. hardwood floorings are among the most desirable and widespread on the market. Each has numerous advantages and several downsides.
For instance, hardwood is elegant, attractive, and stylish and can last long. Laminate is more budget-friendly, easy to clean, and comes in various options. Vinyl is affordable, durable, and water-resistant. The choice is on you and depends on your needs and preferences.
Table of Contents
Vinyl flooring is a synthetic option designed to mimic natural stone or wood visually. Unlike old ugly types, you can find luxury vinyl planks nowadays. This resilient flooring type is tough, elastic, waterproof, and dent-resistant. Standard vinyl flooring can feature a few layers, such as:
- The base (bottom) layer created of foam or cork supports other layers
- The wear layer consists of a transparent, scratch-resistant protective coating that helps prolong this flooring type’s life
- The pattern layer features a design pattern and color you can choose to fit your home decor style
- The core layer can be rigid or flexible, depending on your preferences
- The cushion layer adds necessary texture to the flooring
- The fiberglass layer allows the sheet to be flat
- The top coat protects the wear layer and provides surface sheen
You can choose between:
- Low-quality old-fashioned vinyl composite tiles
- Sheet vinyl installed as a glued-down flooring
- Luxury vinyl plank installed as a floating floor
- Luxury vinyl tiles
- Vinyl is water- and scratch-resistant, comfortable, and affordable
- It comes in various patterns
- This flooring type is easy to install
- Vinyl is prone to dents and hard to remove
- It can emit VOCs
Laminate is a cheaper, 0.2 to 0.5 inches (5 – 12 mm) thick wood alternative that comes in various styles. You can find those in glossy, embossed, and smooth textures, plus it is possible to pick out any of numerous designs and several finish options, such as:
- Marble finish
- Stone finish
- IPE finish
- Tile finish
- Mahogany finish
- Oak finish
- Walnut finish
- Maple finish
- Pine finish
- Cherry finish
- Teak finish
You can recognize four layers pressed together, including:
- The wear layer protects the laminate flooring from wear
- The decorative (print) layer made of aluminum oxide and melamine allows the laminate resembles wood or stone
- The core layer consisting of high-density fiberboard is the thickest part, making the flooring base
- The backing layer created of melamine provides water resistance and support
Laminate successfully mimics the wood, metal, and tile after printing and gluing a chosen image to a treated fiberboard. The surface features a clear, water- and scratch-resistant top layer.
This flooring type is inexpensive, pet- and kid-friendly, and water-resistant, making it an excellent option for homes with dogs.
- Laminate comes in various options
- It is durable and affordable
- You will effortlessly install and maintain this flooring type
- Laminate is only an imitation
- You can’t refinish or re-sand it
- It is not a waterproof option
- This flooring type can be problematic when installed incorrectly
Despite high initial costs, hardwood is a cost-effective natural flooring material. Wood is thick, making the floor elegant, durable, and convenient for multiple sanding. That way, it will look refinished for a long.
Hardwood flooring comes as planks, parquet, and thinner strips. You can also choose between finished and prefinished hardwood, depending on your house’s interior decoration style.
Finished hardwood is already sanded and sealed in the factory, making its installation fast and effortless. On the other hand, you should adjust unfinished hardwood and coat it a few times after the installation to protect it correctly.
This 0.75 inches (19 mm) thick flooring type is versatile and perfectly fits any decor, but you can also find thinner options ranging between 0.25 and 0.5 inches (6.3 – 12.7 mm). Unfortunately, it is not waterproof, and it is impossible to install it in every room, particularly the one in a basement or below-grade floor.
1. Numerous varieties
The fantastic thing is that this flooring comes in various colors, formations, and styles. The most popular hardwood types include:
Nowadays, you can choose between two hardwood options available:
- Solid wood – It is designed from a single wood piece, making it the best possible option you have. However, it is also the most expensive flooring of all described. You need to install it over tile, carpet subfloor, or laminate instead of concrete to keep wood safe from moisture.
- Engineered wood – It is created of a top wood veneer layer and plywood core, making it strong and flexible.
Hardwood flooring typically lasts a lifetime, unlike other flooring types that require regular replacement after a few years. Moreover, it becomes better over time. Sometimes, you should re-sand wood and apply a new finish to get a fresh look.
3. Ease to clean
Hardwood flooring is convenient to maintain because it doesn’t collect dirt quickly. You should vacuum and mop it when needed, and it is enough. Only be careful with water since this material is not water-resistant.
4. Hypoallergenic material
Wood is well-known as a hypoallergenic material since it prevents parasite reproduction, including fleas and dust mites. It is also mainly free of mold and doesn’t attract animal dander.
1. Potentially noisy
Hardwood is a poor sound absorber, so you should avoid using it in food joints, kitchen areas, and busy offices. The only way to muffle the sound is to put a carpet over the wood.
2. Prone to damage
Even though hardwood flooring is durable, it is prone to dent, scratch, and stain. You can also notice cupping because of excess moisture and crowning when the board center raises over its edges.
3. Not an option for all areas
The most significant disadvantage of this flooring type is its limited usage. You can’t install it in rooms with increased moisture and wet conditions like basements.
4. Long installation
Installing hardwood flooring is demanding, and you should count on long preparations, laying of boards, and finishing.
Hardwood flooring is the most expensive type you can buy nowadays. Even though it is a cost-effective option in the long run, initial costs can be a problem for many buyers. However, you should count on additional expenses for re-sanding and refinishing when necessary.
Vinyl vs. Laminate vs. Hardwood Floorings
You should consider a few crucial features when comparing these three flooring materials. Let’s see.
Vinyl vs. laminate vs. hardwood
|Wooden fiber-board with melamine resin
|Polymer (synthetic material produced from petroleum)
|Composite artificial material
|Wood, most often oak and maple
|Polyvinyl chloride resin in one textured layer
|Synthetic fiberboard product made of four layers
|Wood in various-sized cuts
|0.06 to 0.2 inches (1.5 – 5 mm)
|0.3 to 0.5 inches (8 – 12 mm)
|0.75 to 6 inches (1.9 – 15 cm)
|10 to 20 years
|15 to 25 years
|For decades, depending on the used wood, floor finish, room type, and maintain
|Change color and warp in contact with water
|Prone to damage
|Prone to wear and cuts
|Prone to moisture damage and scratching
|May contain asbestos and release phthalate-related toxins and chlorine gas
|Difficult to determine; may cause environmental and health issues
|Glue-down over installed flooring
|Glue-down or floating tongue-and-groove locking
|Pre-cut hardwood flooring is easy-to-install
|Cleaners, wet mop; protect heavy traffic areas
|Keep it clean and moisture-free
|Use adequate cleaners, keep it clean and moisture-free
|Replacement is a better option
|Non-renewable after a protective coating wore away
|$2 to $7 per 1 sq ft (0.09 m2), including labor
|$3 to $11 per 1 sq ft (0.09 m2), including labor
|$8 to $15 per 1 sq ft (0.09 m2), including labor
- Hardwood can last practically forever
- Vinyl is pretty durable and lasts 10 to 20 years
- Laminate typically lasts 15 to 25 years
- Vinyl is the waterproof option and can withstand water damage for 72 hours
- Hardwood and laminate can be water-resistant but eventually decay
- Laminate comes with the highest underfoot comfort level
- Hardwood and vinyl are hard and cold, so you should have a carpet to increase a walking comfort
- Hardwood and laminate are eco-friendly materials
- Vinyl is composed of non-biodegradable plastic, so it is not an eco-friendly material
Easy to install
- Laminate is the easiest to install
- Vinyl requires time-consuming adhesive application before locking panels in place
- Hardwood flooring installation is a long process of laying out planks and typically requires a professional help
- Vinyl is the easiest to clean
- Hardwood and laminate also don’t require complicated maintenance, but you should be careful with water
- Vinyl and laminate have excellent room placement flexibility, and you can install them wherever you want
- Hardwood is an inadequate solution for basements and areas with high moisture levels
- Vinyl is the most affordable
- Laminate is an affordable option
- Hardwood is expensive
- Hardwood has the best resale value
- Laminate and vinyl come with low resale value
Many people are unsure what flooring type to choose for their home. All three options, vinyl, laminate, and hardwood, have several advantages but also come with a few downsides. You should pick out the best option, depending on your taste and budget.