Wood flooring has had a resurgence in popularity over the last several decades. It creates stunning rooms and adds value to any home. However, with the advances in technology, there are other options available that give a similar look to hardwood, yet care options and price points vary. Laminate flooring and Luxury Vinyl Tiles (LVT) or Luxury Vinyl Planks (VLP) provide a plethora of looks than ground any design theme desired.
What is truly exciting about these floorings is their ability to imitate natural flooring products such as wood, stone and ceramic. Although Laminate and Luxury Vinyl have many similarities, there are distinctions, as well, as they are made differently. The most striking resemblance is the image layer. There is an abundance of pictures to choose from: any kind of wood, stain hue, grooves, tiles with any sort of design or colour, stones in any size from boulder to pebble. The rest of the makeup for each flooring does impact how the image presents and how it feels underfoot.
The difference between Laminate and Luxury Vinyl is mainly in how they are made. Laminate is made of layers and has a core of high-density fibreboard and gives it rigidity and strength. Luxury Vinyl is also made of layers, but its essence is made of PVC vinyl, which makes it stable and flexible. The layers differ beyond the images used. Luxury Vinyl is 100% synthetic, and the base is often fibreglass coated in PVC vinyl and a plasticizer. Over the product image, multiple layers are topped with no-wax polyurethane. The most significant difference between Luxury Vinyl and Laminate is that its core made from wood by-products and layers of resin. The topcoat that protects the image is a clear coating of extremely durable resin and cellulose often textured to match the grain of the visual layer.
Water and Heat Resistance
Laminates are moisture and water-resistant, excellent choice for washrooms, even kitchens. Laminate can tolerate pooling water for a short period. However, since Laminate basically uses a fibreboard core, I will soften and swell if it is exposed to a lot of water, like flooding. It will not go back to its original shape. The wear and design layers can also peel away after the flooring becomes waterlogged. Luxury Vinyl is water-resistant but needs to be sealed periodically. If the Luxury Vinyl is backed with 100% polymer materials and be immersed in water for more extended periods. It can be dried out, then reused. Laminate flooring can tolerate exposure to heat and to direct sunlight; however, Luxury Vinyl can amber over time when exposed to UV rays long term.
Laminates are tough, but they can be damaged. There is no real way to fix the problem without replacing the damaged plank. The only caution with a replacement is to find one that fits in and doesn’t look like a replacement. Linoleum, on the other hand, can be refinished; dings can be buffed out. Both flooring types can hold up to busy traffic areas, including children and pets. In fact, Linoleum is often used in schools. Can’t get more traffic than that.
Both Laminate and Luxury Vinyl are promoted to be DIY friendly, especially for someone comfortable working with tools and doing basic renovations. As always, professional installation is usually the best bet. They are experienced working with all types of flooring and dealing with issues such as problematic sub-floors. The great staff at Calgary’s own Home Flooring Design Centre would be pleased to assist you with any flooring installation. Laminate Flooring uses a click-lock floating installation system, which is quite forgiving with a less than perfect sub-floor. Some Luxury Vinyl flooring also uses a click-lock floating installation, but some use loose lay or glue. That’s a good time to bring in a professional installer.
If you are purchasing Laminate or Luxury Vinyl to hold up to heavy traffic from children or pets, an easy-care system is probably high on your priority list. Both flooring types only need sweeping to remove dirt and dust and mopping with little water and a mild detergent.
The decision is yours, of course. As you can see, the choice won’t be easy. Contact our flooring experts at Calgary’s own Home Flooring Design Centre. Give us a call at 403-984-4100 or email us at [email protected]. If you would like to view our products, check out our website at www.homefloors.ca or stop by our Design Centre at 423 58th Avenue S.E. Calgary.