Luxury Vinyl Tiles vs Laminate – Which is the Better Choice

There are many flooring options to choose from, if you’re planning a renovation – luxury vinyl tiles and laminate being a couple of the popular ones. 

In this article we’ll cover: 

So without further ado, let’s take a closer look at the similarities and differences of LVT compared to laminate. 

What is Luxury Vinyl Tile Flooring?

LVT is a type of vinyl flooring. Unlike traditional vinyl, LVT comes in the form of planks or tiles. Luxury vinyl tiles combine the benefits of vinyl composite materials with the ease of installation of laminate. 

Much like regular vinyl, however, vinyl tiles are made of different PVC based layers with each one having a different function. To give them the feel of natural materials, vinyl tiles feature an HD photographic layer resembling the real thing. This creates a finish almost identical to genuine wood or stone. It also has a stability layer that provides weight and sturdiness for the planks/tiles to lay flat. 

What is Laminate Flooring?

The most popular low-cost alternative to traditional wood flooring – laminate planks are composed of several layers of pressed wood pulp. This is then topped with a durable plastic layer to achieve a look identical to natural wood grain. 

Laminate normally uses a “click together” fitting method, making it easy and fairly quick to install. It’s also available in various colours and designs to fit different styles and rooms.

What is the Difference Between the Two?

At a glance both flooring options might seem quite similar. In fact if you looked at them installed on a floor you might struggle to see a difference. However, there are quite a few distinctions between the two. 

Before you decide on the perfect option for your floor here are the main differences between LVT and laminate:

  • Laminate’s composition features wood pulp and resin with a PVC top layer. LVT on the other hand is made from layers of plastic or in some cases a stone composite. 
  • Laminate is a “floating” flooring type. This basically means it shouldn’t be nailed down or glued. LVT can be installed as either floating or glued.
  • LVT is much slimmer ranging in thickness between 2mm to 6mm, while laminate is typically thicker – about 6mm to 12mm.

While the differences may not appear too significant, there are many pros and cons that come with them. If you’re unsure which option is best for your particular project, we advise speaking to a professional.

Luxury Vinyl Tiles or Laminate – Pros and Cons

Which one is better LVT or laminate, very much depends on which property of the materials you’re booking at. Here is how the two materials compare in terms of their pros and cons.

  • Appearance

Both LVT and laminate are designed to closely mimic natural materials. Laminate’s thick structure achieves a deeper surface design allowing it to resemble the rich look of natural wood. Luxury vinyl, however, matches this while also providing a textured underfoot feel adding to the realistic look. The only downside of this is that in high traffic areas those small ridges can hold onto dust and dirt. 

  • Installation 

You can fit both LVT and laminate as a DIY job, but you do have to consider the surface underneath and the finish of the installation. Loose lay vinyl is quick and easy to install. With its special grip backing it can easily grip to most subfloors without any adhesive, provided the surface is flat and even. If you have old uneven base flooring, you might want to get a professional to level it out before installation. Because of the use of underlay this doesn’t present as much of an issue with laminate flooring. 

  • Durability 

While both materials are hard-wearing, when it comes to durability LVT is superior over laminate. Due to its design and protective PVC layer on top it’s less prone to showing signs of surface wear. The different layers of LVT are also more resilient to separation.  

  • Water-resistance 

This is another category where LVT takes the crown. The wood fibre core of laminate wraps and softens when soaked in water. LVT on the other hand is made from plastic, meaning that even when submerged in water the material doesn’t lose its form. 

  • Heat resistance 

Both materials handle high room temperature quite well, however, when it comes to heat resistance, laminate is far superior to direct heat. With its plastic core LVT can have upper limits of about 27°C. 

  • Warranty period 

The warranty period will vary depending on the manufacturer, but overall high-quality LVT products will come with a warranty of 15 to 20 years for residential settings. Laminate has a slightly shorter lifespan with warranty period usually being about 5 to 15 years. 

  • Cleaning 

Being waterproof, LVT is easy to clean and only requires a quick sweep of the loose dirt and a wet mop afterwards. With laminate you have to be more careful. It’s recommended to use a brush and minimal amount of water to clean laminate flooring. 

When it comes to staining, laminate does have better resistance, however, LVT is more resistant to abrasives and vigorous scrubbing. 

  • Comfort and sound 

Although they match the general look, neither material will perfectly replicate the feel of a solid wood floor. That being said, laminate does have a more natural feel due to its composition. 

When it comes to the overall sound and comfort underfoot, the underlay you choose will make a great impact. Investing in a quality foam sub-base will provide better insulation and a more comfortable feel. 

  • Sustainability 

Comparing their environmental impact, neither LVT nor laminate can be considered sustainable. Laminate is at an advantage here because it has a wood fibre core which in many cases can be made from recycled materials. 

LVT, however, usually lasts longer and can be reused, giving it a longer overall lifespan.

Which one is More Suitable for Underfloor Heating?

Both laminate and LVT can be used with electric or water-based underfloor heating. 

Underfloor heating for laminate 

Although laminate is not prone to warping under temperature changes, the maximum recommended temperature for underfloor heating is 27˚C. This is to avoid damaging the material.

LVT flooring underfloor heating 

Luxury vinyl is thinner which means heat can permeate easier, warming the whole room much faster. When installing underfloor heating with vinyl, however, it’s essential to check the recommended floor surface temperature. This may vary depending on the manufacturer, but usually it’s again 27°C. 

Another thing you need to take into consideration is the adhesive used for the installation. Certain adhesives may not be able to sustain higher temperatures.

What Underlay Do You Need for Laminate vs LVT?

All luxury vinyl available at Modern Living comes with integrated underlay, so there is no need to put down additional underlay. Laminate should always be laid over underlay. There are different types of underlay you can get depending on their properties.

Damp Proof Membrane (DPM) Underlay 

This underlay is highly recommended if you’ll be laying laminate on a concrete subfloor. It creates a damp proof barrier, preventing rising moisture from damaging your flooring.

Soundproof Underlay

Soundproof underlay is designed to improve the acoustics in your room, reducing noise transfer. This is a very effective way to create a cosy feel in big open spaces with not a lot of furniture.

Thermal Underlay

Ideal for cold floors, thermal underlay adds an extra layer of insulation preventing heat loss through the floor.

LVT vs Laminate – Which one is More Cost Effective?

Depending on the brand and quality, the price of LVT flooring ranges between £20 to £50 per square metre. For more intricate patterns the average price can go up to £60/m2. Laminate is generally the slightly cheaper option priced at about £15 to £40 per square metre. 

If you’re getting a professional to fit your flooring the price for LVT installation starts at £250 per day, while the day rate for laminate installation is about £175.

Something that’s worth considering when comparing pricing is how long the flooring will last. Laminate needs to be replaced every 5-10 years depending on the room it’s used in. Despite the bigger overhead costs, LVT on the other hand will last much longer meaning you save money in the long run.

Which Rooms is Each Flooring Type Suitable for?

Laminate is a popular flooring option for various settings including living rooms or bedrooms. But due to its lack of water resistance it’s unsuitable areas of your home that face dampness regularly. In rooms like your kitchen or bathroom, the waterproof LVT is a much more sensible option. Luxury vinyl tiles are also preferred in high-traffic areas like hallways for example. It is, of course, important to also consider your personal taste and preference.

Buy Flooring from Modern Living 

While we don’t offer laminate flooring, here at Modern Living we have a broad range of loose lay LVT flooring from leading brands Amtico, Siena and Harmony

Our range features stunning designs that offer the look of wood and natural stone. Below you can see some models from our most popular ranges.

Transform your home with LVT flooring from Modern Living! Visit our showroom for more inspiration.

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