Every now and again, we move home, or we decide to revamp our current homes, get a new style, a new look to our surroundings. So, choosing a new flooring to install can be exciting.
How can you choose though? There are so many types of flooring available on the market, it can become overwhelming trying to figure out which you want.
So many are so similar as well, it’s hard to tell the difference and know what properties each one has and how it will benefit you and your home.
Today we are going to talk you through the two, rather similar types of flooring; Luxury Vinyl Planks and Laminate Plank floorings.
We will look through the materials, the types of build, and go through some pros and cons, as well as what areas of your home these two floorings types are best suited for.
Let us help you decide on which one of these flooring types is your best option.
At a Glance
These two types of flooring can be tough to choose between. LVP and Laminate flooring has many similar characteristics, and only a few differences.
Before we get into the details, we want to give you a brief glance at how similar these two are and what their key differences are.
- Both of these two flooring types are made from several different layers of materials.
- Installation of either LVP or Laminate flooring is a very simple process that can easily be DIY.
- Both of these floorings can be water-resistant, however, only vinyl is capable of being 100% waterproof.
- Both of these flooring materials suffer from not being easily refinished in the case that damage may occur.
- LVP and Laminate are both super low-maintenance flooring options for your home, perfect options if carpets are too high-maintenance for you.
- Either type of flooring can be available in any budget range.
- They mimic different aesthetics, Laminate looks like hardwood planking, whereas Vinyl can mimic hardwood, stone, or even tile.
- They have different reactions to stains, LVP is extremely resistant to stains, but Laminate is easily stained.
These are a few things you should keep in mind when looking at these types of flooring, while similar they both have benefits and one type may suit your living style better than the other
What Exactly is Luxury Vinyl Plank Flooring?
LVP (Luxury Vinyl Plank) flooring is synthetic flooring that is very useful and beneficial. The planks are made from various layers of multiple synthetic materials. Having these layers provides these planks with durability, water-resistance, and their aesthetically appealing looks.
Each Luxury Vinyl Plank is made from a minimum of five layers, starting with a base layer that usually already has an underlayment attached.
The core layers of the plank are then made from more varying synthetic materials and often come in two styles, these are wood-plastic and stone-plastic. Stone plastic is a newer and more recent style that adds a lot more additional strength to the plank.
Then you also get an image layer, which is what you are looking at when it is laid. This has a graphic printed onto it to give it the aesthetic appeal, this can be wood grain, stone, or tile in its appearance.
Then on top of this is a clear wear layer, which is available in various degrees of durability and thickness. This protects the plank from scuffs, scrapes, and stains.
Each individual plank will also have a tongue and groove interlock. LVP flooring is considered a ‘floating floor’, this is because you do not need to glue or nail it down to a sub-floor, or base for it to stay put.
Although there are brands that offer permanent LVP, which will use glue or nails to make the flooring a more permanent feature, this may be more ideal for some buyers.
What is Laminate Plank Flooring?
Laminate flooring planks are similar to LVP in that they are also made up of many layers. These planks, like LVP, also begin with a sturdy and strong base layer that can have an underlayment attached, although not always.
Many brands for laminate flooring do not attach an underlayment layer, although it is common that they may include one in the box alongside the planks though, that is not uncommon.
The core layers that make up a Laminate plank are made from a fiberboard-based material that makes them sound dampening, so they are soft to walk on, however, they lack waterproofing properties.
While LVP image layers have a vast selection of print options, Laminate flooring image layers are traditionally wood grain prints. Although there may be a few brands that will offer versatility and you may find other prints such as stone.
Like LVP, Laminate planks are also floating floor designs that do not require glue or nails, they can easily be permanently attached to a subfloor, although most people will simply install them on top of current flooring surfaces, provided that surface is not carpet.
How are LVP and Laminate alike?
As we have already mentioned, LVP and Laminate are very similar, which can make it hard to choose which one is best for you. Now we are going to take some time to take a look at these similarities.
First of all, both of these flooring types are available in various thicknesses which can affect the strength of each individual plank.
Then these are also both considered to be a floating floor with tongue/ groove connections, so both types of plank are installed similarly.
Following that, both of these plank types are easily DIY installed, and in fact, DIY installations of these are encouraged, even if you have never fitted a Laminate or LVP flooring before.
Both of these planks are also made up of multiple layers of materials that deliver a durable surface. They are also both water-resistant in a majority of areas of the home and are available for most home areas.
You can get so many different style options of either of these, up and over 200 options! Each brand will have a plethora of style options in either plank for you to choose from, so you can get whatever style matches your home best.
Residential and commercial builds are available for either of these, and both come at affordable prices.
Either type of plank also will come with a warranty, ranging from half a decade to lifetime coverage, the amount of time is brand and installation-dependent.
How are LVP and Laminate dissimilar?
Now that we have covered similarities, let’s have a look at their differences, what you really want to know. What are their differences and how will these affect your decision?
The first difference is that the core materials of Laminate flooring make the planks incapable of being 100% waterproof. Whereas LVP planks can be 100% waterproof. Laminate flooring is also made from natural materials, but LVP is completely synthetic in its materials.
Some retailers also may only stock or the other, many places will only carry Laminate, and others that may only carry LVP. There are also some instances where laminate is still made with products that produce VOCs and there can be some health issues in this.
Laminate should not be installed in wetrooms, or rooms that have the potential to get wet, such as bathrooms, or basements, however, LVP can be installed in these areas as it is waterproof.
Laminate is not as good for homes with pets as LVP is, LVP offers better protection against potty training, scratching, and shedding fur.
Installing LVP: Where?
A majority of brands of LVP are 100% waterproof. So, LVP is not very restricting where you can install it, it is suitable for pretty much anywhere that you need new flooring. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t check if it is suitable though.
Although the synthetic composition of these planks makes them 100% waterproof, some of the cheaper versions are not. So, double-check its waterproof rating before you make your purchase so that you know you are getting what you need.
Areas of your home that may also be considered ‘high-traffic’ areas will also be compatible with LVP. Wear layers on LVP are generally rather thick and so they are good when dealing with pets, busy areas, and persistent cleaning. They may be more resistant to areas with greater footfall than other options.
Bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements, and other rooms with potential for wet or damp conditions will benefit from LVP flooring.
Installing Laminate: Where?
While it is possible to get waterproof LVP options, there are no waterproof options for laminate flooring. Some may claim to be, but it is very unlikely, and so laminate flooring is not the best choice for potentially wet areas.
Individual planks themselves are not waterproof, waterproofing that is available for laminate flooring comes with an application that is added to the tops and only seals when it is assembled.
That being said the edge pieces alongside walls, or doors will still be exposed. This means that moisture or water can still creep in there if there are any spills or flooding. So laminate planks are not very suitable for bathrooms, laundry rooms, or basements.
Although, elsewhere in the home, living spaces, bedrooms, and so on, laminate makes a great flooring. High-quality laminate can deal fantastically with persistent cleaning, heavy furniture, and is very resistant to damage.
So, this is a floor type suitable for living spaces and high traffic areas that are unlikely to interact with water.
A Buyers Guide on What to Look For
Knowing what to look for when you are trying to choose between two flooring options can be a challenge.
If you aren’t well versed in flooring, what different flooring types will offer you and what is best for your living space, you can hit a bit of a crossroads.
That is why we have put together and buyers guide to help you know what you should be looking for and the types of questions you should be asking when you are looking to make a purchase.
Core Type Considerations
The first and foremost consideration is core types. It will be more of a deciding factor than you would think. It is more important than aesthetics as core type can define the thickness and softness of the planks.
Many LVP planks will have at least 3 core layers and a choice between SPC or WPC. A wood- plastic core is basically a synthetic wood and a plastic composite that is softer under your feet, however, it is less durable, so is suitable if you do not need durability but want something that feels nice if you walk around barefoot or in socks a lot.
This type is not so suitable for areas with a lot of foot-falls but can be a perfect choice in living areas or bedrooms, where you can feel the softness on your bare feet.
Then there is a stone-plastic core, which is the option best for high-traffic areas. It is more durable, rigid, and good for any room. But, it lacks the softness you might seek under your feet. On the upside though, they do last much longer than their softer counterparts.
Then you have Laminate planks, which have core layers ranging between 2 and 4. Every layer in Laminate is composed of various fibers or particleboard materials, it can even sometimes be a combination of the two.
Laminate does trump LVP in its sound absorption and is generally more forgiving on your feet. However these planks will not have the extensive lifespan that LVP does, and they are less resistant to areas with high foot-fall or constant use.
Thickness of the Plank
You can make plenty of judgments based on the thickness of a plank, as this will tell you how durable the plank is. Even logically a thicker item is often more durable than a thinner one, and this is consistent in flooring planks.
Plank thickness is measured in millimeters. The thickness of a plank for a residential setting should be anywhere between 5 to 10 millimeters. This type of thickness gives you support and a sufficient amount of wear layer to hold up under heavy residential footfall and pets.
Commercial settings have more sturdy planks, these are offered in measurements up to 22 millimeters. This makes them exceptionally tough, however, they have no give and will lack that under-foot comfort you would get from residential planks, therefore they are less suitable for the home.
How is it installed?
Two different ways are primarily used for the installation of plank flooring. You can either DIY the installation, or you can hire a professional to do it for you.
It does not matter if your chosen flooring is LVP or Laminate, as both of these are very similar and the installation does not differentiate between them.
LVP is slightly easier than Laminate. You only need to be able to hold a hammer and you can install this flooring type which could save you thousands in external costs.
If you did want to hire someone else to do the job, just search online and you can find plenty of reputable people to carry out the installation.
It is advisable to get a minimum of three quality quotes before you commit to the job, also be aware that a multitude of quotes you will receive will also include material costs too.
This is why if you can install it yourself, it is recommended that you do, as it saves money and unnecessary hassle.
AC Ratings in Laminate
When you look at Laminate planks (doesn’t apply to LVP), you will likely find that most of the packaging for these comes with an AC number/ rating.
This number will vary from 1 to 6 and will have an icon that will show either a residential setting/ home or an office building/ commercial.
Ratings that range 1 to 4 are planks that are designed for home installations, the lower the number the thinner and less durable the plank will be. The higher the number the thicker and more durable the planks will be.
A plank that has an AC rating of 4 is not recommended for a home setting. A rating of 4 is best for commercial installations with high and heavy footfall. If you need hardy flooring and have heavy footfall in your home, you're best off getting a plank with an AC rating of 3.
A plank with an AC rating of 3 will provide adequate durability, stain resistance, anti-swelling, and protection from wear that you can get for your home whilst maintaining moderate comfort, a comfort that would be lost on a plank with an AC rating of 4.
When looking for plank flooring you may want to consider things such as other measurements; measurements in length and width.
While generally laminate planks can be available in longer sizes, LVP usually is very uniform, however, you can find planks that vary in width.
The size of these planks in length and width will determine how many boxes you will need to purchase to cover your desired area, as well as the final aesthetic of your floor.
If you purchase narrow planks that are also rather short in length, then your floor will have a bowling alley-styled look to it. A more standard width will give you a look more like authentic hardwood flooring, and wide widths will be most suitable for large rustic-styled rooms.
You should also consider the style, image layer, and coloring of the planks. This is because if you purchase 10 boxes of the same plank and same lot number, each box will having a varying amount of dye used to create the grain image, in both LVP and Laminate.
This is normal and is nothing to worry about, but you should consider this, as there may be slight differences in some planks even if they should be the same. This being said, do NOT just randomly pull various boxes as you could end up with patchy floors.
Warranty and Budget Thoughts
Let's take a quick look at the warranty and price. You will need to think of your budget and the area you are intending to cover. LVP and Laminate planks will have different price ranges for every budget available.
The lower the price the lower the plank quality, so it may be wise in some cases to pick out the flooring you want and save to reach that budget so that you can get your dream floor and good quality.
Warranties, on the other hand, will usually cover your floor until the planks are installed. However, longer warranties, that can last between 20 years to lifetime coverage will also be in effect.
Warranties tend to look at craftsmanship and manufacturing defects, and as such, you may only have a few months to file a claim.
Each brand is different so you should consider this yourself for the specifics of what you are looking for.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of LVP
- Low costs. LVP is gaining popularity and as it does so, prices drop. LVP planks are on offer at high-quality for lower budgets.
- Easy to install. These planks are easy for DIY installation and it only takes a few hours to install per room.
- Stain resistance. LVP is highly stain resistant which makes it preferable to many other floating floor options.
- Waterproof. A majority of these planks are 100% waterproof so they are perfect for wet-rooms.
- Uses. LVp offers style, thickness, and durability for every home or business.
- Style. There are a wide variety of styles, patterns, and colors available with LVP, so it can match any decor.
- Off-gassing hazards. Due to being made from synthetic materials, LVP may be expected to off-gas.
- Repairs. As LVp has a thick wear layer, repairs are a no-option, and therefore damaged planks have to be replaced entirely.
The Benefits and Drawbacks of Laminate
- DIY installations. Laminate is simple and easy to install yourself.
- Durable. Depending on the AC rating Laminate can be very durable even for high traffic areas.
- Style. In recent years Laminate is offering more choices of style including rock and stone pattern images.
- Comfortable. Laminate is more forgiving than LVP on the feet.
- Maintaining. All you need to clean Laminate is a broom and a steam mop. Very easy to maintain.
- Toxins. Many Laminate flooring brands use VOC chemicals that can cause health concerns.
- Refinishing. These planks are not thick enough to refinish, so if they get damaged you must replace the whole plank.
- Waterproof. Laminate is not 100% waterproof like LVP, they are water-resistant, but not waterproof.
- Stains. Laminate can stain easily if there is a spill on Laminate flooring it must be cleaned up immediately.