At a glance, the differences between laminate flooring and luxury vinyl plank (LVP) flooring are barely noticeable. Both come in styles designed to mimic the look of real wood or stone, both are available in a click-and-lock installation method, and both are less expensive than the natural materials they imitate.
To help you determine which of these products is best suited to your home’s unique environment, we decided to weigh the potential pros-and-cons of each in a side-by-side comparison, based on cost, performance, and overall ease of maintenance.
Cost of Laminate versus Luxury Vinyl
The potential cost of installing luxury vinyl flooring or laminate in your home boils down to three main factors:
- Quality of the product
- Whether you intend to do the work yourself
- Whether you own the tools necessary to perform a proper installation
If you plan to install the flooring yourself, you can find entry-level laminates on sale at big-box retailers for roughly $1.50 per foot. Underlayment, seam tape, pull-bars, transitions, coordinating moldings, and—most importantly—your time, will cost extra. Keep in mind, purchasing flooring is similar to making any other major purchase—the good things aren’t cheap, and the cheap things usually aren’t good.
On average, a good-quality laminate product usually runs $4–$8 per foot (not including all the extras), with an additional cost of $2–$7 per foot to cover installation. The cost of high-quality luxury vinyl flooring is $4–$8 per foot, with additional charges for installation.
Flooring manufacturers use high-density fiberboard (a combination of resin and wood byproducts) to create a laminate’s core, to which they then attach a photo of real wood covered with a wear layer and a coating of aluminum oxide. Laminate is popular with many homeowners because it is scratch resistant and cost-efficient.
As a wood-based product, laminate flooring often fails after exposure to excessive moisture or humidity. Over time, pets’ accidents, wet shoes, repeated mopping, and spills are likely to inflict damage on a laminate floor. If you need flooring able to withstand heavy foot-traffic and you don’t plan to install your new floors where moisture may become an issue, laminate flooring may suit your needs.
Luxury vinyl is available in two styles: tile, better known as LVT; and plank, better known as LVP. LVT mimics the appearance of stone, marble, and slate, whereas luxury vinyl plank mimics the appearance of hardwood. Depending on the style and product you choose, there are two methods for installing luxury vinyl products: floating method (meaning the planks or tiles interlock, but do not attach to the substrate), or the glue-down method (meaning the product attaches to the substrate).
Luxury vinyl’s molecular structure makes it durable, dimensionally stable, and impervious to moisture. If you need new flooring in your basement, bathroom, or kitchen, luxury vinyl is a smart choice.
Advantage: Luxury Vinyl
Ease of Maintenance
Laminate flooring’s smooth surface makes it easy to clean; a quick spin through your living room with a microfiber duster or a broom should be sufficient to remove any crumbs, dirt, or dust. Unfortunately, using a wet mop on laminate flooring will eventually lead to buckling, swelling, and chipping of the planks. Luxury vinyl flooring takes the lead in this category of our comparison because of its moisture-resistant properties.
Advantage: Luxury Vinyl
If you live in Southeast Michigan and would like additional information on luxury vinyl, laminate, hardwood, or carpet, schedule a free in-home estimate from The Carpet Guys.