LVT – Luxury Vinyl Tiles VS Laminated Flooring Comparison

What is the best choice for your home and the real difference between the two most popular flooring choices namely Vinyl Tiles and Laminate Flooring

All you need to know from Product Selection to Installation, Care and Maintenance

Quick overview on composition of each which is very similar except for the core.

Laminate Flooring Vinyl Flooring
Wear layer, determines resistance against abrasion and largest contributing factor for the AC rating, UV resistant in most cases Wear layer, determines resistance against abrasion, UV resistant in most cases
Printed decorative layer, the picture/design you visually see Printed decorative layer, the picture/design you visually see
Core Board, HDF (high density fibre) board, this contains the click system, texture, moisture resistance if applicable Core, PVC Vinyl (Polyvinyl Chloride), can contain a click system, texture, not effected by moisture
Base layer, to protect HDF board and stabilization Base layer, to protect the core and stabilization
* This is the basic construction of both Laminate and Vinyl Planks, there will be small differences
between manufacturers, for example extra layers for sound reduction, stability, duribility etc.

Select the correct product for your amount of traffic

In both Laminate Products and Vinyl Products the durability and lifespan of the floor is mainly determined by the quality and thickness of the wear layer.  There is no industry standard rating system for Vinyl. Laminates have an industry standard rating system used by most manufacturers, further each manufacturer will specify their own guarantee.

Laminate Flooring   Vinyl Flooring
AC/Class Area of use Intensity of use Description of use There is no industry standard rating for Vinyl Flooring, the manufacturer/distributor will specify if the product is for Commercial or Residential application and what guarantee comes with the product
AC1 / 21 Domestic moderate light use
AC2 / 22 Domestic average normal, everyday use
AC3 / 23 Domestic high high-traffic, intense use
AC3 / 31 Commercial moderate light use
AC4 / 32 Commercial average normal, everyday use
AC5 / 33 Commercial high high-traffic, intense use

Areas to Avoid

This mostly pertains to Laminated Flooring due to the sensitivity to excessive moisture.  The main difference is the core board.

Laminate Flooring Vinyl Flooring
Core – HDF, High Density Fibre Board, made up of wood Core – PVC, Polyvinyl Chloride or a type of plastic
Sensitive to excessive moisture Essentially made of plastic and not sensitive to excessive moisture
Avoid water areas like bathrooms Can be installed in any areas

Some manufacturers of Laminate flooring introduce moisture resistant properties into the core board which do assist in damage prevention.  No product is Water Proof though, with excess flooding of any floor there will be damages.

Sub Floor and Product Selection

What product is currently on your floor will influence installation costs and thus in many situations the selection type of your new floor.

Current Floor Laminates Vinyls
Ceramic or Porcelain Tiles Can be installed on tiles if the tiles are even and solid (meaning not hollow or lifting up from sub floor) Can be installed over tiles, preparation will be more costly due to applying a layer of  self leveling screed over the tiles, the tiles need to be solid/secure
Carpets Need to be removed Need to be removed and self leveling screed applied for glue down vinyl, floating click system vinyl might need floor preparation
Vinyl / Novilon Can be installed over existing Vinyl Probably need to be removed and self leveling screed applied
Parquet Not recommend to install over parquet flooring, remove and possibly need to even floor in places Need to be removed and self leveling screed applied
New Concrete Floor If the floor is even, then can be installed without any sub floor preparation For glue down will probably need self leveling screed, for floating click system if the floor is even then should be able to install without sub floor preparation
Existing Solid Wood floor on Joists If the floor is even and solid (no movement when walking on it) then should be able to install over. Glue down vinyl cannot be installed over wood sub floor, the floating click vinyl can be installed over wooden sub floor if the floor is even and solid.

 

Installation, Some Properties of Floating Floors VS Glue Down Floors

Floating Floors:  All Laminate floors are Floating floors, meaning it is not attached to the sub floor or at the sides in any way. Vinyl is available in both Floating and Glue down floors but most Vinyl installations is Glue Down.

Floating floors have a tongue and groove or mostly these days a click system, this makes installation easier and quicker, it can be installed with less sub-floor preparation and thus saving costs.

Need to take into account that this type of flooring is not secured to the sub floor and expands and contracts with temperature changes and in the case of laminate with moisture changes.

  • Floating Expansion Joints:  Floating floors need an expansion joint if the floor is longer and wider than certain dimensions, usually about 8 meters in length and 6 meters in width and also between different rooms or areas, but each manufacturer specify this themselves.  If you exceed these dimensions, then an expansion profile needs to be placed into the floor.
  • Floating Expansion Space:  Floating Floors expand and contract and thus you need to leave a space for expansion all around the sides, meaning the floor will not touch any wall, door frame, cupboard etc.  For visual appeal these expansion spaces are covered by replacing the existing skirting or leaving the existing skirting and adding a quarter round or smaller profile on top.
  • Floating Floors DPM and Underlay:  All Floating Floors need a DPM (Damp Proof Membrane) installed first to stop any moisture rising into the flooring, secondly a specific thickness underlay to dampen sound and protect the flooring from abrasion.
  • Floating Floors Sound:  Floating Floors do have a greater noise factor
  • Floating Floors Insulation:  Floating Floors generally give better insulation against temperature differences
  • Glue Down Floors – Vinyl, by applying a thin layer of glue to the sub floor these products are glued into place.
  • Glue Down Thin:  This floor is generally thinner than a floating floor and thus better to use in areas where height of other floors or doors for example can be a factor.
  • Glue Down Expansion:  Glue down floors do not need expansion joints or spaces and can thus flow continuously over big areas and into different rooms and areas.
  • Glue Down Preparation:  Glue down floors the sub-floor generally needs more preparation than with floating floors which can increase installation costs.
  • Glue Down Sound:  Glue down floors are generally quieter than floating floors as there is no hollow space to reflect sound.

The Greenest Choice / Sustainability

  • Laminate Flooring is the winner here, depending on the manufacturers level of responsibility most laminate floors are made from wood by-products which is a natural and renewable resource
  • LVT Vinyl’s, is primarily made from petrochemical products and chlorides.

Pricing Guideline as at September 2018

Maintenance

Both Laminates and Luxury Vinyl Tiles are mostly maintenance free after installation, except for the normal cleaning practices, no further maintenance like sanding or sealing is required.

Care

Caring right for your floor is one of the most important factors for your floors lifespan and visual appeal.  Although both products are UV protected, direct excessive sunlight will over time have an effect on the floor so its recommended to minimize prolonged exposure.

  • Laminate Floors is sensitive to excessive moisture and therefore never use the old-time spaghetti mops or similar, the ideal is to use a damp cloth or type of mop than enables you to drain almost all the water out.  Various cleaning fluids and stain removers is available on the market and can be used to assist in cleaning.  Except for routine sweeping and cleaning with damp cloth/mop no further care is needed. More info on Laminate Floor Maintanance
  • Luxury Vinyl Floors can take more water abuse than laminate and thus risk of damage due to cleaning is limited.  Various cleaning fluids and stain removers is available on the market and can be used to assist in cleaning.  Except for routine sweeping and cleaning no further care is needed.  More info on Vinyl Floor Maintanance