Laminate Floor vs. Vinyl: Which Is Better for Your Home?

By HomeAdvisor

Updated December 15, 2022

Dog laying on laminate floorPhoto: Train arrival / Adobe Stock

Laminate and vinyl floors are both great options for homeowners looking for a stylish and affordable flooring alternative to luxurious and highly sought-after floor types like hardwood and natural stone. Their costs are roughly the same per square foot, both are easy to install, and they even have a similar appearance at first glance or from a distance.

On This Page:

  1. What Is Laminate Flooring?
  2. What Is Vinyl Flooring?
  3. Appearance
  4. Cost
  5. Upkeep
  6. Durability
  7. Installation
  8. Life Span
  9. Environmental Impact
  10. Resale Value
  11. Is Laminate Flooring or Vinyl Flooring Better for Your Home?
  12. Laminate and Vinyl Plank vs. Other Materials

What Is Laminate Flooring?

Laminate flooring is a multilayer type of floor in which the layers are fused or laminated together. There are usually four layers in total.

  • The top is a transparent, protective wear layer that protects the floor from scratching, staining, and scuffing.
  • Below this is a plastic, photographic image that can mimic or simulate different materials, mainly wood, natural stone, and ceramic.
  • The third layer is the core, typically made of high-density fiberboard tightly bonded with resin, that provides impact resistance, stability, and durability to the floor.
  • The bottom is the backing layer, made of melamine plastic and provides additional structural stability and moisture resistance.

Laminate flooring is generally easy to install. Most come either in long planks or square tiles, which you can easily snap together into place on top of a subfloor without the need for glue or nails. Some premium laminate products also come with an underlayment already adhered to the underside of the flooring, saving you the time and cost of installing a separate underlayment.

What Is Vinyl Flooring?

While laminate flooring uses high-density fiberboard as the main ingredient for its core, vinyl flooring uses polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Vinyl flooring comes in several forms, including vinyl sheet, luxury vinyl tile, and luxury vinyl plank.

The floor has a tough urethane topcoat that acts as a wear layer. It also has a photographic image layer, just like laminate flooring, which can be designed to mimic a variety of other flooring materials like stone and ceramic. When it comes to installation, vinyl offers multiple options, including snap-and-click, peel-and-stick, and glue-down.

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Homeowners can customize the top layer of both laminate and vinyl flooring to mimic the appearance of other flooring materials like hardwood, ceramic, and tile. However, because the two floors have different compositions, they differ in terms of achieving a realistic look for different types of materials.

For example, if you want a floor that accurately mimics hardwood, the top option is laminate flooring, followed by luxury vinyl plank. If you want a floor that closely mimics stone or ceramic tiles, the top option is luxury vinyl tile.

Laminate Vinyl
Mainly intended to mimic wood  More range of styles, including hardwood, natural stone, and ceramic
More realistic wood feel and appearance Less realistic wood feel and appearance, especially for lower-quality options

Laminate Flooring

Laminate has a wood composite core that gives it a more realistic wood texture and feel than standard vinyl flooring. If you want a floor that most closely mimics wood without the actual cost of hardwood floors, go for laminate.

Vinyl Flooring

Standard vinyl is primarily intended to mimic the appearance of stone and ceramic. Wood-inspired options are available, but the thin nature of the flooring material and the simulated cracks can make the appearance look unconvincing and not real.

On the other hand, luxury vinyl planks (LVP) are made specifically to simulate the look of wood and are thus able to achieve a more realistic appearance. Still, when comparing LVP to laminate in terms of achieving a realistic wood-like appearance, laminate comes out on top. Meanwhile, luxury vinyl tile (LVT) is accurate at mimicking ceramic or natural stone because of its limestone core and textured feel.


Laminate and vinyl flooring cost roughly the same per square foot. In general, both floor options are less expensive than natural floor materials like hardwood.

For laminate flooring, the cost varies depending on the design as well as the thickness of the flooring material. For vinyl, the cost can vary depending on whether you go for vinyl sheets, LVP, or LVT. The material costs for LVP and LVT are typically higher than for vinyl sheets, but vinyl sheets cost more to install.

Laminate Vinyl
$0.70 – $2 per sq. ft. for materials $1 – $5 per sq. ft. for materials
$2 – $8 per sq. ft. for labor $1 – $5 per sq. ft. for labor

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring costs between $0.70 and $2 per square foot on average for materials. Labor costs between $2 and $8 per square foot. In total, budget between $3 and $10 per square foot for laminate flooring materials and installation.

Vinyl Flooring

The price of vinyl flooring material ranges between $1 and $5 per square foot, with labor costs also falling in the same range. The total cost of vinyl plank materials plus hiring a pro to do the installation ranges between $2 and $10 per square foot, which is comparable to the cost of laminate flooring.


Both laminate and vinyl flooring are fairly low-maintenance. Vinyl flooring is one of the most low-maintenance floor options available. You can use a wide range of cleaning methods on this type of floor. While laminate flooring is also low-maintenance, it’s a bit more delicate, and its cleaning options are consequently more limited.

Laminate Flooring

Although laminate flooring is a relatively low-maintenance option, its sensitivity to moisture requires a little more care when it comes to maintaining or cleaning it. Manufacturers typically recommend sticking to dry cleaning methods, such as a broom or dry mop. Avoid wet mopping if you want to preserve the structural integrity and longevity of your laminate flooring.

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring offers more cleaning options. You can use dry cleaning methods, a wet mop, or even deeply scrub to remove more stubborn messes using manufacturer-recommended products without worrying about damaging the floor.

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Both laminate and vinyl flooring are fairly durable. Vinyl is the more durable of the two due to its waterproof nature and superior stain resistance. Overall, both are less durable than hardwood and natural stone floors.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate is a quite durable flooring material that can withstand medium to heavy traffic. However, this material is susceptible to water damage. Humidity or moisture can cause laminate flooring to expand and buckle. High and constant temperature fluctuations can also cause the floor to expand and contract. Furthermore, you can’t repair scratched or scraped laminate flooring. Instead, you’ll need to replace the damaged planks.

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl is completely waterproof, which gives it an edge over laminate flooring when it comes to durability. It’s also more resistant to temperature fluctuations than laminate flooring. With vinyl, you can also add extra layers of urethane to it to extend its life.


Person installing vinyl flooring at homePhoto: Kadmy / Adobe Stock

Laminate and vinyl floors are among the easiest to install. If you’re a handy DIY-er, you can DIY install laminate planks, vinyl planks, and even vinyl tiles quite easily. Vinyl sheets typically require professional installation.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate is relatively simple to install. In most cases, laminate floors use a floating installation method. This means that the floors come in planks or tiles with tongue-and-groove edges that snap together into place without the need for glue. If you’re a moderately handy person, you can easily and confidently handle the job yourself.

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl floors offer several installation methods, including snap-and-click and glue-down. While a snap-and-click vinyl floor is relatively easy to install DIY, a glue-down option, like sheet vinyl, is a little more complex since it involves adhesives and requires precise cutting. If you’re going with the glue-down vinyl sheet option, hiring a vinyl floor installer near you is best to ensure the job is done right.

Life Span

The life expectancy of each can vary depending on the quality of material you choose, whether you installed it properly, and the amount of traffic that the floor sees. Proper care and maintenance can also positively contribute to the life span of your flooring.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring has a life span of between 15 and 25 years, so hire a local laminate floor installer to ensure your laminate floors can last a long time in your home.

Vinyl Flooring

Vinyl flooring has a life span of between 10 and 20 years.

Environmental Impact

From an environmental impact standpoint, both laminate and vinyl flooring have their disadvantages. Overall, laminate has the edge as it has a core made of wood by-products, unlike vinyl, which is entirely made of synthetic materials. This means that vinyl isn’t recyclable and won’t decompose naturally.

Laminate Flooring

The core material for laminate is wood-based, so the flooring is considered more sustainable. This flooring will decompose naturally after use and could even be recycled. But because it’s still partly made from synthetic materials, one of the environmental downsides of laminate flooring is that it can emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These can lead to indoor air pollution by drifting out of the flooring and into the air.

Vinyl Flooring

Since it’s made completely of synthetic materials, vinyl flooring is unrecyclable. It also won’t decompose naturally in landfills. Since it’s made completely from synthetic materials, it’ll emit harmful VOCs after installation at a higher rate than laminate floors and contribute to indoor air pollution.

Resale Value

Both laminate flooring can increase the resale value of your home. However, the actual effect is negligible, especially when compared with other materials like hardwood and natural stone. If you’re considering upgrading your home’s flooring to one that’ll increase its resale value the most, you might be better off going with solid hardwood floors, which are the most popular flooring option among homeowners.

Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring has a much superior ability to replicate the look of natural wood, meaning that it’ll generally command a higher resale value than vinyl.

Vinyl Flooring

While premium options like LVP can add some resale value to your home, lower-quality options will only do a little to boost your home’s resale value.

Is Laminate Flooring or Vinyl Flooring Better for Your Home?

Person installing laminate flooring at homePhoto: StockPhotoVideo / Adobe Stock

When it comes to vinyl versus laminate flooring, there are key differences that can help you narrow down the best option for you. The main difference between the two is that vinyl is completely waterproof, making it ideal for high-moisture areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. While not waterproof, laminate flooring is thicker and feels warmer and softer underfoot.

Factor Laminate Flooring Vinyl Flooring
Appearance More realistic wood look More styles, including stone and tile, but less realistic wood look
Cost $3 – $10 per sq. ft. $2 – $10 per sq. ft.
Upkeep Requires dry cleaning methods Works with a broader range of cleaning methods
Durability Prone to moisture damage and can’t be repaired for large scratches and stains Completely waterproof and can repair stains and scratches without replacing the floor
Installation Floating installation method that’s DIY-friendly Several installation methods with varying difficulties
Life Span 15 – 25 years 10 – 20 years
Environmental Impact Recyclable and more biodegradable, but emits VOCs Not recyclable, not biodegradable, and emits VOCs
Resale Value Can increase the resale value of a home by a small amount Only high-premium options can increase the resale value of a home

There’s no clear winner when it comes to laminate flooring versus vinyl flooring. Depending on the space, area, or room in your home where you want to install the floor, one or the other may be a better option. Below are various types of rooms in a home and the type of flooring that may be most suitable for each.


Vinyl is a great option for your bathroom since it’s waterproof and slip-resistant.


Vinyl flooring is also good for kitchen flooring. Moisture and water resistance are key factors in the kitchen too, so when it comes to laminate or vinyl, vinyl wins for the best kitchen floor material.

Bedrooms and Living Rooms

Laminate is the clear winner when it comes to bedrooms and living rooms. It feels softer underfoot, and in these two rooms where comfort is key, it’s consequently the superior material option.

Laminate and Vinyl Plank vs. Other Materials

Laminate and vinyl are both popular, affordable flooring products, but there are other types of flooring material you should consider. Other popular options include linoleum and wood. Here’s how each compares to laminate and flooring.

Linoleum Floors

Although it’s often confused with vinyl, linoleum is actually a natural composite made from linseed oil, sawdust, cork powder, and ground stone. It’s recyclable and often contains recycled materials, so it’s a reliable, affordable, and environmentally friendly option. It’s similarly priced to vinyl and laminate and has a high tolerance for moisture, so it’s a great choice for kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms. It works well in high-traffic areas and homes with pets and kids, requires minimal maintenance, and is easy to clean.

Wood Floors

Hardwood and engineered wood floors are more expensive than laminate and vinyl, but they have a much longer life span and aesthetic appeal. You can refinish these floors multiple times, and wood floors typically give a home a higher resale value than both laminate and vinyl floors.

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  1. Hal Braswell, July 23:

    This article is dated. Modin (Flooret) has the best product with a 40 mill wear layer, Best in the industry. Rigid LVP is the wave of the future combining best attributes of both LVP and laminate. Modin Rigid has large planks, clicks together, has a 40 mil wear layer for about $4/SF. Handles like 1/4” plywood.

  2. Darius Zandi, August 27:

    What about noise levels? installing these in a wooden frame appartmenet buiding with some noise issues? which one is easier to insulate against noise? and which one is naturally better at reducing noise?

    Also there are new water proof laminate floording planks being sold that are also AC5. The sales person was telling me that these are as sturdy as Vinyl planks and are also water proof?

  3. irene rogers, August 29:

    I am getting estimates from your pros. My question is after I read your very good article I like to know what type of flooring is good for the bedroom with radiant heat. There is an unbelievable variety of floors. I like your opinion.
    Irene Rogers

  4. Pamela Eden, November 20:

    Was advised we cannot use vinyl in non climatized building in AZ. We are snowbirds and do not use AC in summer months. Is this true for all vinyl? Thank you.

  5. Heather, July 18:

    I realize your comment is from a while ago Pamela but in case you haven’t moved here yet and come back to this page I thought I’d answer your question.

    I assume by non climatized you mean you plan to turn your a/c off when you leave for the summer. While vinyl probably wouldn’t be affected the rest of your house would be. The extreme heat in the summer would cause your drywall to warp, ruin your appliances and likely your electrical. My parents snowbird here as well and they leave their house at 82 during the summer. Their foreman said 82 was the absolute highest he’d recommend leaving it at. One of the downsides to being a snowbird is having to pay utilities on two houses year round.

  6. Daniel H, August 31:

    Thanks for the informative post Home Advisor. I’ve honestly never hear about the fading issues that come with vinyl in direct sunlight. A close friend of mine actually just finished building a sun room using LVP, which is also an indoor-outdoor area like you described. I’ll have to let him know it’s something he should watch out for.

    On the other hand though, you can buy LVP that has some really strong mineral compositions in the finish gloss that heavily increases the hardness of your wear layer. An example of this is Aluminum Oxide. It’s about as hard of a mineral you can get apart from diamonds. With this added into you planks’ finish layers, they are almost scratch impervious. This could help against sharp objects. I agree with heavy object line though.

    Just some things to consider when buying LVP.

  7. Geoff Y, October 13:

    As my wife and I have just started looking at possible new flooring materials for our kitchen and family room, this post has been very informative. I do wonder how dated this information might be, now, as we went to Lowe’s yesterday and their flooring sales person strongly recommended a quality laminate over any of the waterproof luxury vinyl she had in the store. We told her it was for our kitchen and family room, and that we had 2 dogs and 2 cats that spend a fair amount of time in both rooms. She told us their Pergo TimberCraft was waterproof and would not get the many small dents that our medium sized dogs(and their claws) could cause on luxury vinyl.
    For those who have experience with luxury vinyl and that have dogs, would you be able to confirm this? Thank you.

  8. Daniel Hartness, January 23:

    Hey Geoff. Sorry to be a bit late in answering your question, but the salesperson was not exactly correct. They probably wanted to push that particular product at that time. Plenty of good options exist for LVP and it’s perfect for the situation that you described. As you already seem to know, it is inherently waterproof, meaning the product itself won’t be damaged by water, however, water can still seep through the slight spaces between boards and get below you’re flooring to cause mold and other damage. A problem that can easily be remedied with a moisture trap installed. So still ideal for kitchen flooring, just make sure you wipe up any water if there’s a lot of it.
    LVP is also perfect for pets. A very strong option exists for LVP nowadays that involves the inclusion of aluminum oxide in the wear layer of the planks. This compound is nearly as hard as diamonds and therefore makes your boards impervious to scratches and scuff marks. Another thing to keep in mind is selecting a lighter color so that scratch marks won’t be too visible on the surface for aesthetics. Don’t worry though, the board itself isn’t getting damaged from them. It’s an option I would highly recommend looking into Geoff and it would be much longer-lasting than any laminate product.

    Hope this helps!

  9. Tresa, February 24:

    Hey there. I was wondering what everyone thinks about different thickness layers. Is there a direct correlation between higher quality LVP boards and the boards getting thicker in mils? I asked this from researching what Daniel mentioned about aluminum oxide. One of the brands that offered it was COREtec and it seemed like it starts being included in their products around the 20 mil mark. I’d be willing to say that aluminum oxide probably adds some mil of thickness. Aluminum oxide is also a compound that makes the boards a lot stronger and therefore higher quality. But, what about just thicker wear layers in general, not just stronger wear layers?

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