Flooring is an important element when it comes to home designing. A well-chosen flooring can dramatically change the look of your home. Vinyl flooring is one of the trendy flooring options, used in many homes. In this article, we talk in detail about vinyl flooring sheets and laminate flooring, to help you choose what suits best for you.
What is vinyl flooring and how is it made?
Vinyl flooring, which is also known as resilient flooring or pvc vinyl flooring, is a popular flooring option in both residential and commercial spaces. It is made from artificial and natural polymer materials, placed in recurring structural units. Due to advanced techniques that are available now, vinyl flooring sheets can even resemble hardwood, marble or stone floorings.
Vinyl flooring sheets are composed primarily of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and is hence also referred to as PVC vinyl flooring. Another variant is when vinyl flooring is made with a combination of PVC and wood, in which case it is known as WPC and if Vinyl flooring is made from stone (calcium carbonate) and PVC, it is known as SPC.
What are the different styles of vinyl flooring?
Vinyl flooring comes in numerous colours and patterns, from budget to high-end premium range. It is available as sheet vinyl flooring, vinyl flooring planks and tile vinyl flooring.
Vinyl flooring sheets
Vinyl flooring sheets are available in six or 12-ft wide single rolls in various designs and colours that mimic wood and tile.
Vinyl plank flooring
Vinyl plank flooring has the richness, deep texture and look of real hardwood flooring. Most types of plank vinyl flooring have a foam core that delivers rigidity and strength.
Vinyl tiles flooring
Vinyl tiles comprise individual squares that, when assembled, give the appearance of stone tiles. One can add grout between the vinyl flooring tiles to give a realistic look that is akin to ceramic tiles. Luxury vinyl flooring tiles are designed using 3D printers and can mimic almost any natural stone or wooden flooring that is traditional, rustic, exotic wood or even modern industrial designs. Luxury vinyl flooring sheets are thicker than standard vinyl and has sound-absorbing properties.
See also: Pros and cons of tile flooring
What are the advantages and disadvantages of vinyl flooring?
This is determined by the quality of installation. A properly-fitted floor vinyl sheet is resilient to water penetration and can be used for the bathroom and kitchen too.
How durable is vinyl flooring?
Vinyl sheet is a highly durable material and if it is correctly installed and maintained, it can last for 10-20 years. Also, vinyl flooring tiles can be easily replaced when they are damaged as they come in individual pieces. Vinyl sheet flooring is a good choice for the bathroom, as a single vinyl sheet is used for the entire area which ensures no seams for water to seep through.
Comfortable to walk on
Vinyl flooring feels soft beneath the feet as some vinyl sheets and tiles have a layer of padding. Also, vinyl flooring has a certain degree of elasticity. Moreover, as vinyl sheet has a soft surface, objects are less likely to break, when dropped on it.
How do you clean and maintain vinyl flooring?
Vinyl flooring is easy to clean and maintain. Sweeping, vacuuming and mopping are the simplest ways to keep the vinyl flooring free of dirt. Vinyl flooring is highly stain-resistant, thanks to its wear layer that protects the flooring from stains. Mild floor cleaners mixed with warm water can clean up tough stains on vinyl flooring.
Vinyl flooring comes with anti-skid resistance, which can prevent a person from slipping and falling in the bathroom or kitchen.
Vinyl floorings come in amazing designs, colours, patterns and textures resembling wood, marble, stone, decorative tile and concrete, which can enhance any home décor style. Vinyl flooring sheets are quite inexpensive as compared to wood, marble, or stone flooring.
The chemicals used in the manufacture of vinyl flooring can cause a toxic release that may lead to respiratory problems or eye irritation.
Vinyl flooring sheets are not biodegradable and is usually not recycled. Hence, old, worn-out materials often end up in landfills. Vinyl does not decompose in landfills and recycling it is usually not an option.
While installing vinyl flooring, it is important to have a perfectly smooth, flat surface to work on. As vinyl flooring is relatively soft, even small particles stuck beneath the floor can wear down the material over time, causing bulges to appear on the surface.
Prone to scratches and dents
Heavy furniture can cause permanent dents on the vinyl flooring. If a heavy or pointed object is pulled across the floor, it can cause permanent marks on the vinyl flooring. If a vinyl tile or sheet is damaged, it cannot be repaired and you will have to replace it with a new one.
Fades over time
Over the years vinyl flooring can fade or discolour if it is exposed to excessive sunlight.
Also read all about PVC false ceilings
How do you install vinyl flooring?
Vinyl flooring is easy to install as it is glued to the sub-floor, or it can be merely laid loose, over the original flooring. Vinyl flooring (tiles or planks) is glued with liquid adhesive or has a self-stick adhesive back. Vinyl offers more options for installation – click-and-lock planks, as well as peel-and-stick, glue down and so on. Vinyl sheets are slightly difficult to manage, as it is heavy and requires precise cutting around the shapes and angles.
How long do vinyl floors last?
Vinyl floors last between 5 and 25 years but this depends on various factors like how you have installed it, quality, thickness of the vinyl flooring and maintenance. Also, if a part of the vinyl floor gets damaged at any time, then it’s a good idea to replace it than trying to get it fixed.
What is laminate flooring?
Laminate is crafted from synthetic materials similar to hardwood. Laminates consist of four layers, coated by a resin: a top wear layer, a printed décor coating, a fiber board layer and a backing layer. Laminate flooring is available in many styles that mimic natural wood and stone.
Types of laminate floorings
Laminate flooring comes in planks or tiles. Most of them have floating floor systems, which can be installed over the old flooring with no glue or nails.
Vinyl flooring and laminate flooring: Differences
Vinyl flooring is a synthetic flooring material that is highly water-resistant and easy to maintain. Laminate flooring is a thin pressed wood floor with a photographic wood copy shielded with a clear wear layer. It is not water-resistant. Laminate flooring is also slightly more costly than vinyl flooring prices.
Advantages of laminate flooring
Laminate floors imitate the look of wooden flooring or stone flooring and is a hard material that resists scratches. Due to the high wood content, laminate flooring is also a more environmentally-friendly option compared to vinyl flooring. However, laminate does have a plastic surface layer and the melamine resin in the core layer and so it is not an eco-friendly material.
Since laminate flooring is made from natural materials, it is non-allergenic and will not emit VOCs.
Laminate flooring: Disadvantages
Maintaining a laminate floor is not easy. One cannot sweep or clean it using water daily, since it can damage the surface. Laminate flooring is not waterproof and like tiles, laminate can be slippery when wet. During the monsoon season, there are chances that the flooring can swell due to humidity and moisture. It is best to avoid laminate floors in wet rooms, such as bathrooms.
Walking over laminate flooring can also create some noise, which can be irritating.
How to install laminate flooring
Laminate flooring uses a click-and-lock installation – the planks are fitted into the groove of adjoining planks and when they are locked in, it closes the seam. Most laminate projects are installed as floating floors and can be installed over your existing flooring. As laminate is a hard and not flexible surface, the sub-floor must be levelled smooth, before installation. A sub-floor that is uneven or sloped, can result in cracking or breaking.
Both, vinyl and laminate floors are easy to install. So, when it comes to vinyl vs laminate at this point, both are the same and it depends on the home owner’s preference.
Vinyl virus laminate flooring: Comfort factor
Laminate and vinyl floors offer some comfort level and a soundproof place. A high-quality laminate floor will provide warmth to the home. Laminate flooring is beneficial for children and pets, or if you walk barefoot at home. As it has a wooden material base, laminate flooring is warmer to the touch than vinyl.
Similarly, vinyl floors are noise-free and soft to walk on. Vinyl flooring is often installed directly on a concrete sub-floor. It may feel cold due to the absence of insulation underneath. Laminate flooring’s thickness contributes to the ease of using it. Adding the recommended foam underlay can increase its comfort level.
Vinyl and laminate flooring: Is it waterproof?
When it comes to water resistance, luxury vinyl is the better choice. Luxury vinyl is made of 100% plastic or synthetic, which makes it resistant to water. Since laminate is made of wood by-products, exposure to water can cause it to soften and swell, leading to cracks. That is why it is not recommended for bathrooms, kitchens and basements. Although water-resistant laminate is available, the core layer still contains wood which means it is not fully waterproof. Vinyl flooring is waterproof, from the top to the bottom and on all edges. Vinyl flooring soaked in water can be dried out and it will retain its dimensions and appearance.
How to clean and maintain vinyl flooring and laminate flooring
Vinyl flooring is simple to clean – it can be mopped and scrubbed without the worry of damaging the appearance.
To clean laminate flooring, one needs special products and minimal moisture. If water penetrates the joins of the surface, it may cause it to warp and crack.
Vinyl flooring or laminate flooring: Tips for selecting
- Vinyl flooring is often chosen over laminate in places where moisture can be a factor. Vinyl flooring is much more waterproof and is, therefore, the recommended flooring option for water-prone spaces, such as bathrooms and kitchens.
- Vinyl flooring is tough and can stand up to high footfalls.
- Laminate has limited moisture resistance. So, use it in rooms where there is not much moisture.
- For a touch of elegance in the living room, laminate flooring is the better option. Good-quality laminate resembles wood such as oak, ash, walnut, etc.
- Vinyl flooring is available in a wider range of designs. So, it is often the better choice for homeowners who are trying to make a design statement.
- Usage of the room is the first consideration that a home owner should keep in mind, while selecting a material for the flooring- vinyl flooring sheet or laminate flooring. A dark floor absorbs light, lending a warm feel to the room. A bright floor reflects light, which can make the room seem bigger.
- Ideally, opt for smaller floor patterns in smaller rooms and larger patterns in larger rooms.
- Whether it is vinyl flooring or laminate flooring, both are not considered green. Nevertheless, laminate is a little eco-friendlier as it has natural wood content of the fibreboard core.
- Ultimately, both laminate and vinyl flooring are budget-friendly alternatives to real wood or stone floors.
How to clean vinyl flooring?
Vinyl flooring is resistant to water and hence, it can be cleaned by vacuuming, sweeping or mopping with a wet cloth or mild cleaner mixed with water.
Is vinyl flooring better than laminate?
Vinyl flooring is more durable compared to laminate flooring, whereas laminate floorings are available in designs that closely resemble wood or stone flooring and are environmentally friendly.
Is vinyl flooring a good option in case I am looking for water-proof flooring?
Yes, Vinyl flooring can even be used in wet areas like bathrooms.
(Additional inputs: Anuradha Ramamirtham)