It wasn’t too long ago that laminate reigned supreme as the favorite in home flooring. That’s no longer the case.
With nearly 20% of the flooring market in 2020 (the latest stats per Floor Covering Weekly), luxury vinyl now has the 2nd largest share of sales. This leaves laminate in nearly last place with a 3.6% share of sales.
While laminate and luxury vinyl plank (LVP) may look alike, there are a few key differences you should know if you’re trying to decide between the two.
Differences in Quality of Luxury Vinyl Plank vs. Laminate
You’ve probably seen laminate floors, but you might not know how they’re made. Laminate is a composite flooring mostly made of wood byproducts and a few layers. The bottom layer is usually particleboard or high-density fiberboard. Over it is a decorative paper layer with wood grain imagery and a clear coat of finish is applied over that. A wear layer for stain resistance is added on top.
Luxury vinyl plank flooring is also made of a few layers. It has a layer of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or composites that give it a rigid core, a vinyl design layer with 3D printing that mimics wood grain, a top layer of urethane for durability and an underlayment of cork.
When it comes to quality and durability, luxury vinyl plank is the clear winner. While laminate can look good for years, it will eventually start to show wear and tear and is more susceptible to damage from moisture.
Luxury vinyl plank, on the other hand, is designed to last for decades with a hardier surface that is scratch and stain resistant, as well as being water-resistant or waterproof. It’s also better for floors with high traffic. Read also: See our guide on the different types of luxury vinyl.
Luxury Vinyl Plank vs. Laminate: How They Compare in Appearance
Manufacturers have raised the bar in designing both products, so it’s safe to say that both laminate and vinyl flooring offer very convincing imitations of hardwood, including various species like oak, hickory, and others. They also mimic different surfaces, such as handscraped, wirebrushed, weathered, and distressed textures.
They’re more evenly matched in appearance, but we feel that the high-definition 3D printing technology used for LVP gives it an edge in this area. There are many homeowners however, who think laminate feels more like hardwood underfoot.
LVP also outranges laminate as far as variety of colors and styles. Laminate is usually offered in wood grain designs, while LVP can look like wood, as well as stone, ceramic and porcelain.
What are the Differences in Cost?
Laminate is typically a little less expensive than luxury vinyl plank, but LVP is a better value in the long run. Laminate can start to look worn after a few years, while luxury vinyl plank will continue to look good for a couple of decades.
Also, some laminates may need more underlayment material or subfloor prep, which will affect the cost.
Do They Affect Home Resale Value?
If you know you’ll be selling your home soon, it’s worth considering how your floors will affect resale value. In this aspect, luxury vinyl plank currently has an advantage over laminate. We say “currently” because luxury vinyl plank is more appealing to potential home buyers right now since it’s a newer type of flooring.
Even though laminate has improved in quality in recent years, most consumers are used to seeing older laminate floors and have associated it in their minds with a dated look.
Which is the Best Choice?
So, which is the best choice for you – luxury vinyl plank or laminate?
If you’re working with a limited budget, choose a good quality laminate. Top brands include Shaw Floors, Southern Traditions and EarthWerks. If you’re focused on overall durability and longevity, we recommend luxury vinyl plank. It’s the overall best option and will offer beauty and comfort for many years. High-quality brands include COREtec, Shaw Floors, Hill Country Innovations, and TRUCOR.
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We’ve been helping local Austinites with their floors for more than 20 years. We also partner with top flooring brands to offer discounts and the best pricing. Ask us which selections will work best with your flooring budget.