When you don’t have a “sky’s the limit” budget for your home flooring, you may not be able to go with the more expensive flooring options. That means you can forget about natural stone floors, handcrafted ceramic mosaic tiles, and exotic hardwood. 

But you still have excellent options even with a more modest budget. Laminate flooring is perhaps the most famous example. Current laminate flooring options can look terrific, and comes close to the appearance of real hardwood. They’re also a lot more durable these days. And the prices are still reasonable. 

Then you also have vinyl flooring. Prices for vinyl flooring can vary quite a bit, and you may have to pay more for luxury vinyl planks and tiles. But vinyl also offers an excellent option for homeowners. 

But which one is better for you? To help you find out, let’s examine both laminate and vinyl flooring in regards to certain pertinent factors.

Cost

On average, the prices are actually similar. But both vinyl and laminate flooring come with a wide range of prices. 

If you’re serious about getting high-quality flooring, you should save up for the more expensive options. These are actually the flooring options that will save you more money in the long run. Both premium vinyl and premium laminate flooring options can last a long time. 

Winner: Tied

Installation

Laminate flooring is actually a good project for DIY fans, though you do need the right tools. With a hand saw, laminate flooring can take a while due to how slow it will take you to cut down planks to size. But with a cutter like the Norske Tools NMAP001, installation can go much easier and faster. 

Just keep in mind that if you mess up the installation, you’ll void the warranty. That’s why there are some laminate flooring brands with warranties that are only good if you go with professional installation. 

The ease of vinyl installation depends on what type of vinyl flooring you buy. If you go with the glue-down vinyl, then you can’t even do this yourself. It will need professional installation instead. 

With the peel-and-stick type, it’s more doable. The adhesive backing just lets you stick the flooring to the subfloor. But you will need a perfectly level subfloor so that the adhesive sticks. If you don’t have a perfect subfloor, then you’ll spend more to have it adjusted first. 

Winner: Laminate 

Overall Durability

Cheap laminate flooring doesn’t last all that long, but on average, you can expect the flooring to last for maybe 10 years. Some of the premium brands, however, have warranties that last 20 years, or even a lifetime, for residential use.

The low-quality vinyl doesn’t last even 10 years. However, in most cases vinyl flooring can last for a long time. In fact, vinyl flooring is part of the “resilient flooring” category. Vinyl flooring can be found in commercial spaces, unlike vinyl flooring. 

Winner: Vinyl

Water Resistance

This is where vinyl definitely rules. Most of the popular vinyl flooring options today can withstand pools of water. In fact, vinyl flooring can be used for the bathroom and for the laundry room. Vinyl is basically waterproof, especially when you put in a single sheet of vinyl for the entire room. That means no water can seep through. 

For laminate flooring, on the other hand, moisture is the traditional enemy. It’s true that recent laminate flooring offerings are much more water-resistant. A pool of water can even go ignored for 24 hours and it won’t damage the laminate planks. 

But you can’t use laminate flooring for the bathroom. The laminate flooring just cannot handle that type of water exposure. 

Winner: Vinyl

Maintenance

Laminate flooring can last as long as vinyl, but only if you take care of the laminate planks properly. That means weekly vacuuming and mopping. 

However, you have to be very careful when you mop the laminate planks. In fact, you’re better off using just a slightly damp mop for laminate. Too much water can damage the flooring. And you also can’t use methods like steam cleaning. 

In contrast, you don’t have to be as careful with vinyl flooring. You can use a wet mop, or even go with steam cleaning. Its terrific waterproof quality makes it easier to clean. 

Winner: Vinyl

Appearance

Both flooring options use embossing techniques so they can look like hardwood or stone flooring. While they may seem similar, laminate generally boasts of more realistic embossing and printing visuals. That’s especially true with the laminate flooring options in recent years. There’s also reduced repetition in the patterns among the planks. 

Laminate also feels better for your feet when you step on it. It generates a warmer feeling, and it’s just more comfortable. 

Winner: Laminate

Final Words

So, what does it all mean? 

Go with vinyl if you want tougher flooring that’s a bit easier to clean. And vinyl is also the better choice if water is an issue. 

But if you prioritize looks, then laminate is perhaps better for your home.