Vinyl vs Laminate Flooring: A Complete Guide

The world of modern flooring is filled with different options. On the one hand, this is great for consumer choice. On the other, the process of choosing flooring can be confusing and complicated. It can be particularly challenging once you have ruled out carpeting in favour of a cost-effective alternative to solid wood, stone or tile. Here, you find yourself having to compare laminate and vinyl flooring products which can, on the face of it, seem very similar. Despite those similarities, however, each has specific benefits and drawbacks which are important to explore before making final decisions.


Comparing laminate and vinyl flooring

Laminate flooring is a popular product that has benefitted from great technological advancements in recent years. It consists of layered boards featuring a fibreboard core, a design layer on which highly realistic renditions of natural wood or stone are printed, and a protective ‘wear’ layer that further enhances durability. Some laminate products even provide a textured surface, creating flooring that resembles solid wood or stone even more closely.

Vinyl flooring, by contrast, comes in two different types of product. Sheet vinyl is the type of flooring evoked when we think of older ‘linoleum.’ It is installed from a large roll and, while its quality has greatly improved in recent years, it is still the lowest cost option for vinyl flooring. Luxury vinyl tiles or planks (LVT) are higher end products which combine the convenience of plank or tile format with the effectiveness of highly detailed printing.


The pros and cons for vinyl and laminate




Every space needs a durable floor. From bathrooms and kitchens to lounges and bedrooms – the floor needs to handle footfall, environmental pressures, and the weight of furniture. While laminate and vinyl flooring are similar products, there are some differences in terms of durability.

  • Laminate – Modern laminate flooring products are designed to be hardwearing when properly installed. In terms of potential damage:
    • Many laminate products are waterproof, though not all. It is important to check before buying.
    • Laminate flooring can sustain scratches but can also be easily repaired using a colour-match repair kit.
    • Laminate flooring is usually fade resistant with a high level of UV protection.


  • Vinyl – Vinyl flooring products, and Luxury Vinyl Tile in particular, are also hardwearing but respond differently to potential damage:
    • The use of PVC in its construction makes vinyl a highly waterproof flooring option. Sheet vinyl provides a completely sealed surface area, while the click-lock installation system of Luxury Vinyl Tile usually provides a waterproof seal for joints.
    • Vinyl flooring is usually scratch resistant but can be dented by furniture or the dropping of objects. Dents are particularly difficult to repair.
    • Vinyl flooring can be subject to UV damage, resulting in a higher tendency to fade.





Any flooring purchase will take into consideration the appearance of the product within the context of the wider space, as well as the desired effect for the floor itself. Both laminate and vinyl flooring products are now viable alternatives to solid wood or stone flooring, but there can be subtle differences.


  • Laminate – Modern laminate flooring products tend to be considered for wood effects, first and foremost, though stone effect versions are available within some ranges. In both cases, these can deliver highly realistic replications of wood and stone in both appearance and texture.
  • Vinyl – While vinyl provides a level of realism in replicating wood and stone effect floors that is similar to laminate, some ranges can deliver more detail in terms of the visual and textured finishes. This is particularly notable when it comes to wood grain and naturally occurring features, such as knots.




The ease with which flooring can be installed is an important consideration. This includes identifying which products require separate underlay. The easier installation is, the more cost-effective it can be since professional installation is not necessarily required. This can have a significant impact on any budget. In terms of suitability for spaces, both laminate and vinyl flooring deliver products that work in any interior. Similarly, both are suitable for installation with underfloor heating systems, provided the temperature does not exceed 27oC. When using these flooring types with underfloor heating, however, it is important to explore underlay options thoroughly and consider the overall tog value that would be created, in order to ensure the optimum efficiency of heat transfer. In terms of installation, then, the main difference between laminate and vinyl flooring is in the ease of cutting the product to size:


  • Laminate – Click-lock systems make laminate flooring products easy to install, and some even have built-in underlay which makes the job even easier. However, it is likely that some planks will need to be cut and this requires fine-tooth saws or tile cutters to achieve the best results.
  • Vinyl – Vinyl flooring products are easier to cut, with a strong craft knife usually being sufficient. Even Luxury Vinyl Tile can be trimmed by scoring the tile or plank with a knife and snapping it to size. Sheet vinyl is also easily cut and is installed from a roll, which makes installation relatively straightforward. Like laminate, Luxury Vinyl Tile also uses a click-lock system, and some products have built-in underlay.





When two types of products are so similar, it can often come down to cost. While laminate and vinyl both sit in the same area of the cost spectrum, as a cheaper alternative to solid wood or stone, there are some points of difference. When comparing prices of laminate and vinyl flooring, it is also important to remember that some ranges of both flooring types include built-in underlay.


  • Laminate – Laminate products of good quality can range from £15 per m2 to £30 per m2.
  • Vinyl – Sheet vinyl flooring remains the lowest priced option, often starting at around £10 per m2. Luxury Vinyl Tile tends to range from £20 per m2 to £60 per m2.


For further guidance on the differences between laminate and vinyl flooring, call Flooring Superstore on 03308 182 500.