Difference between Laminate and Vinyl Flooring?

Posted on 5th May 2016

vinyl amtico


This is perhaps the biggest question ever discussed in the flooring industry. What is the difference between laminate and vinyl flooring and which one should you choose?  Let’s look at the facts about both of them and hopefully you will then be able to decide which option is best for you.


Laminate Flooring

Laminate is a hard flooring that is inflexible and is made from recycled wood.  It looks like wood and upscale brands look very real.  As opposed to genuine hardwood, laminate has a scratch protective layer which is made of melamine, and underneath is hard density core board. Laminate comes in various thicknesses but ⅜ inch (9.5 mm) is most frequently used.

There is no need for any special preparation as laminate can be put onto any existing flooring, whether it’s concrete, tiles or wood; however, it must be stable and even. Laminate is known as ‘floating flooring’ and if it is not installed onto a level base, it will move when people walk on it.

Laminate is not waterproof so it is not suitable for a bathroom. It does not, however, do well where there are fluctuations of humidity so it is not advisable for use in basements or lofts.  As it is sensitive to both temperature and humidity, the flooring should be allowed to become acclimatised inside the room for 48 hours before being installed.  This will allow for any expansion or contraction before installation begins.

Vinyl Flooring

Synthetic materials are used to make vinyl flooring and it is made to look like hard wood.  It comes in various sizes and most commonly in planks 12 inches (30cm) wide; although a much larger format is also available.  The luxury quality vinyls look like genuine wooden floors.

In contrast to laminate, vinyl is soft and flexible.  Vinyl flooring must be glued to whatever is underneath, meaning there is much more preparation needed than for installing laminate.  Peel and stick options are available which are also cheaper.  One advantage of vinyl flooring is that it can be used on a slope as there is no danger of it moving, although it still needs to be levelled underneath.

The better quality Vinyl flooring is waterproof, but even the poorer quality vinyls are water-resistant, and so are usually the flooring of choice for the bathroom.  There is, however, a limit to the amount of water that vinyl flooring can cope with.  It is never flood-proof, as the glue will not withstand excessive amounts of water and if there is plywood underneath, it will warp.

Cheaper vinyls will fade with time and if they are in direct sunlight, they’ll fade more quickly.  Now that they are made of low-emitting materials they are much more environmentally-friendly than they were in the past.


As there are various qualities in both flooring options, price is not necessarily a deciding factor for many people.  If the original floor is not levelled, then vinyl could be the more cost effective choice, as it will not need extra work to be done before laying it.  However, laying vinyl is a longer process than installing laminate because of the necessary floor preparation with glue.  Vinyl is, therefore, often more expensive because of the time involved in the process.

At Russdales in North London, we work with several designer flooring brands, including Quickstep, Berry Floor and Balterio laminate, Amtico vinyl flooring and Karndean luxury vinyl.

As flooring specialists, we can advise you as to which flooring would be most suitable for your needs and budget.  Give us a call on 0208 360 1836



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