The Difference Between Vinyl, Laminate and Wood Floors
Did I say wood…? I meant plastic.
The answer to what the difference is between engineered wood, laminate wood and vinyl flooring, is basically varying degrees of plastic.
I recently installed a new carpet for a client - not because the old one was worn, but because even after getting professional cleaners out, it still looked disgusting. Which was nothing compared to the amount of dust that came out once we started lifting the old carpet – enough to build a small human race.
Carpets can be very luxurious, but tiled and wood floors are a hundred times easier to clean and well, with its classic style, and the ongoing current trend towards natural and nostalgic materials, the case for wood flooring really is already made. The only question is what your budget and needs are.
(Engineered) wood is in a class of its own
Engineered wood planks are the closest thing to the original hardwood floors, but are a heck of a lot more affordable and sustainable. A “heck of a lot” is still not cheap by any means as you’re looking at a price of R 700 to R 2000 per m2 to install an engineered hardwood floor.
On a very simplistic level, tightly compressed layers of bits of wood, PVA and other binding materials are covered with a roughly 15 mm layer of solid hardwood.
This means that engineered wood has the following pros and cons:
- It looks and feels like real wood
- It is warm to the touch
- It serves as noise insulator
- It’s NOT stain, water and scratch resistant,
- but can be sanded down to its original look.
- Thus, it can be floated, glued or bolted down
- It lasts much longer – anything from 20 to 100 years
Laminate Wood Flooring vs Vinyl Tile Flooring
Even though laminate flooring is closer to engineered wood flooring than vinyl, it’s the most affordable of the three.
This product is also made from composite wood, but instead of a wood veneer, it is laminated with a printed image of wood. The quality of this image varies greatly and as a result, so does the price difference and authenticity of the end result. It starts from only R 170 per m2, but can go up to R 400.
The plastic top and bottom layer gives it the following advantages and disadvantages:
- Water resistant from the top and bottom, but cannot be soaked.
- Less dent and scratch resistant than vinyl
- Cannot be repaired like wood
- Only click-in panels
- Looks and feels closer to wood than vinyl
- Lasts 20 – 30 years
Vinyl flooring is, as the name states, completely plastic (think vinyl record). Surprisingly, this does not make it the cheapest or best wearing product, with vinyl floor plank prices ranging from R 270 – R 700 per m2. Some of the vinyl ranges are labelled "luxury vinyl", which means it no longer looks like cheap and nasty plastic. The two bottom images are of the lower end ranges.
The fact that it is 100% plastic and makes it ideal for use in bathrooms and kitchens and really convenient, as it comes in planks, tiles and rolls.
It also has the following advantages:
- It’s completely water resistant
- It’s flexible
- Can be clicked in, glued or bolted down
- Only lasts 10 – 20 year
Which one will you choose?
Having said all of that, it’s getting harder and harder to tell the difference between the three as both vinyl and laminate planks are available in luxury products.
It’s important to remember that your home tells your own story and should reflect your own personality and very importantly, meet your own needs. Don’t make a decision based on what you imagine your guests will see as expensive, or “cheap and nasty”, because in the end you have to be at peace with the floor you share with your loved ones.
Tassels & Tigers