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How To Tell The Difference Between Laminate And Vinyl Flooring?

Laminate and Vinyl types of flooring refer to floor coverings that are both low budget but with the capability of being durable. They can both be used in the utility room, kitchen or in the living space. Laminated flooring refers to a floor that is composed of boards that have been snapped together and they float on top of the subfloor. The other type comes in planks that have also been snapped together. These two types of floors are often confused with each other and at times it is not easy to tell which one is this and which is not. Below are some factors that can assist you in differentiating between these two types of floor covers.


Laminate Flooring

This type of floor resembles a wood floor but it creates the impression of tiles. It is made from wood that has been recycled and it resembles a hard wood floor. There are some versions that are an upscale of this floor covering that looks almost real. The top layer of this floor has a layer made of melamine wear that protects the floor from getting scratches. It measures 3/8 of an inch and this size allows it to be placed atop your existing floor regardless of whether it was made from hardwood, tile or concrete. It is composed of four layers which are made of different materials, the top most layer is made from a clear and durable plastic and the design of the floor is usually imprinted onto the second layer. The other two layers, third and fourth, are made from plastic, glue and wood chips.

This floor type usually clicks in place during installation and it is capable of floating over other floor types. It is not advisable to install it in places where there is a lot of moisture as it does not have water resistant properties. It should not therefore be used in basements or bathrooms or in any other room that is exposed to different humidity level fluctuations. As it creates a surface that is hard when it is installed, it is important to note that the surface beneath it should be kept level and smooth to ensure that it will be stationary when people walk on it. If the surface beneath it is not level, the floor will tend to move a lot. It will also be exposed to breaking or cracking leading to loss as it will have to be replaced. Whenever you plan to fix this kind of a floor type, it is important to let it acclimate in the room where it will be installed for periods up to 48 hours. This period is usually important as it gives the floor enough time to expand and contract as per the room conditions present.

Vinyl Flooring

These floors are made from synthetic materials that resemble tiles or hardwood. It is glued directly onto the surface beneath it. It comes in various forms like sheets that measure approximately 12’ width-wise. There are also many luxury types that look very upscale and real. This type of floor is water resistant or in other words water proof and thus can be used in rooms that are likely to experience slightly higher moisture content than the others. However, even though this type is water proof, there are some instances whereby it will not be able to withstand like in case of a major flood or when subjected to strong cleaning. The reason for this is that the adhesives used to glue these floor covers to the surface may not be able to withstand the standing water or if the floor is placed atop a plywood surface. Once the plywood absorbs water, it soaks and warps thereby messing the whole floor. There are some cheap versions of this flooring that do fade with time if they are exposed to direct sunlight for longer periods.


How to tell the differences

If the above flooring types are given to any lay man, it would be hard to tell the differences that exist between them. It could even be hard to tell which is which by merely looking at them and thus the best way to tell them apart would be to consider their characteristics and uses. If you consider the sizes of both laminate and vinyl, the latter comes in one layered sheets measuring 1/8 up to 3/16 inches thick. The other type is quite thick given that it is made up of four layers and is 3/8 inches thick.

In as far as moisture resistance is concerned, vinyl's are water proof given the fact that they are not made using wood fibers like the laminates. They are therefore capable of being used in areas that experience a relatively high level of humidity unlike the laminates which are poor in water resistance. By looking at the rooms that each of these floor types has been used, one can be able to tell the difference between the two types of floors.

The method of installation used to install every floor type can help a great deal in determining the differences between these two types of floor solutions. Laminates are installed by placing them together until they snap together whereas the other type is glued to the surface of the floor. Laminates require only cutting the laminate boards into various sizes and shapes that will fit together and you are done. Vinyl floors on the other hand require a lot of measurements and accurate skills to ensure that they are glued onto the floor well. Laminates can be installed over a surface that is not perfect but the other type cannot be placed on such a surface as the imperfections caused by the unevenness will be visible. Acclimatization is only necessary when working with the laminates as the other type does not swell when it is installed in a room.


All the above are some of the important differences you can use to differentiate between laminate and vinyl flooring. These are very important pointers as these two floors can easily confuse any person who is not keen enough as they closely resemble one another. Observing them keenly can give you the correct verdict on which is the laminate and which is the vinyl type of flooring.

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Was recommended by my colleague to do my vinyl flooring. They offered free onsite quote and the vinyl flooring consultant came and gave us a quotation. He advised us on the various types of floorings and we decided to go for laminate flooring, vinyl and also decking for my patio. Really wonderful service. Appreciate your help guys.
Vincent Ong (Punggol)
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