If your choice of flooring material is entirely based on its water resistance, you should choose luxury vinyl flooring. In many cases laminate can’t match luxury vinyl flooring’s water resistance characteristics.
While laminate flooring does have a wear layer overlay on top of the photographic decorative layer, its core is often comprised of high-density or medium-density fiberboard. Wood products, even those that are more resistant to water damage, will inevitably be less water resistant than the vinyl cores used in luxury vinyl tile and plank. Standing pools of water will often spell ruin for even high-quality water-resistant laminate.
Laminate also has “top to bottom” water resistance, meaning the topmost wear layer may be exceptionally water resistant, but the bottom of the board is still susceptible to water damage. This may be an issue in places where subfloors are vulnerable to excess moisture. People installing laminate in those types of environments will still need a reliable, properly installed vapor barrier.
Since luxury vinyl tile (LVT) and plank (LVP) are comprised of many layers of vinyl, their water resistance carries through each layer, making the product itself waterproof.
While water resistance may be an important attribute for your flooring decision, it’s likely not the only thing you care about. Different flooring options often turn out to be better for different needs.
If you’re looking for the lowest cost option and aren’t overly concerned with resale valuation, durability or longevity, you may be more interested in investing in the lower-end vinyl or laminate floorings available.
However, if you’re looking for a high-quality flooring that offers the appearance of natural wood or stone at a significantly lower price, the modern luxury vinyl flooring options are often the way to go.
The depth of your flooring’s wear layer will play a significant role in its longevity and ability to withstand heavy traffic. Thin wear layers may not last long in particularly busy areas of a home or in commercial spaces, but the thicker wear layers can last a decade or more.
Homes with pets or children often benefit more from vinyl’s water and wear resistance. Pets have accidents and children spill things. In both scenarios you may not be immediately notified that there’s a puddle that needs to be cleaned. Vinyl is stain and odor resistant and can handle prolonged exposure to moisture. Even the modern water-resistant laminates will likely suffer swelling if standing puddles aren’t dried in a timely manner.
Flooring choices can be especially difficult if you’re flipping a house or thinking about selling your existing home. It’s unlikely you’ll recoup your entire investment in higher-end flooring materials like stone tiles or natural hardwood planks. Installing a low-quality laminate flooring is also unlikely to increase sale value since the new owner will probably feel the need to replace the flooring after they’ve bought the home.
Luxury vinyl flooring is one of the few flooring replacement options that’s desirable enough to be viewed as a legitimate selling point without being so expensive that you risk taking a significant loss on the investment.
Versatility and Placement
Luxury vinyl’s water resistance is one of the key attributes that allows it to be safely installed in any room of the home, even bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms. In many cases luxury vinyl planks or tiles can be installed in basements, although a vapor barrier may be necessary in particularly damp basements.
The many solid vinyl top layers in luxury vinyl flooring allows for deeper embossing of the surface of vinyl, imbuing higher-end luxury vinyl flooring with more realistic textures. Fiberboard in laminate flooring often can’t match the realism or textures of today’s luxury vinyl manufacturing methods. Laminate swelling from exposure to water or other environmental hazards can also cause the wear layer and design layer to peel, which isn’t good for the aesthetic appeal or authenticity.
Maintenance and Cleaning
Both laminate and vinyl share some of the same maintenance benefits. You’ll never need to refinish or reseal either a vinyl or a laminate floor.
One of the main differences between the two flooring types is their ability to withstand wet mopping or vigorous cleaning for the purposes of disinfection. Luxury vinyl flooring has become a popular option in many doctors’ offices thanks to both the minimal maintenance it requires and its ability to withstand robust disinfection without risking damage to the wear layer or vinyl. Laminate often doesn’t hold up quite as well to aggressive cleaning.
Learn About Your Luxury Vinyl Flooring Options
Metroflor designs and sells a variety of luxury vinyl tile and plank options with varying wear layers and installation options. Engage Inception and Engage Genesis both represent some of the most advanced water resistance available in modern flooring, while innovative installation methods like Attraxion Magnetic Attachment Technology is making flooring installation and replacement easier than ever before, especially in retail and commercial spaces.