As inexpensive flooring options are made primarily of synthetic materials, people often confuse laminate and vinyl flooring with each other. These flooring options, while similar, have different compositions, construction, and appearance, giving them unique advantages and disadvantages. Because of these variations, each has its benefits and drawbacks for different scenarios.

Here’s our take on laminate and sheet vinyl flooring to help you select the best fit for your home. Use the tool below to get quotes for your flooring job.

Get a Flooring Installation Estimate From Local Experts
Typical Cost: $6 – $24 per sq foot
Hardwood Flooring
In general, the cost of hardwood flooring tends to range between $3 and $10 per square foot before labor costs.
Carpeted Flooring
In general, the cost of carpet tends to range between $2 and $10 per square foot depending on the material and style.
Laminate Flooring
Laminate floors will cost anywhere from $2 to $8 per square foot depending on the thickness of the fiberboard base layer.

What’s the Difference Between Laminate and Vinyl Flooring?

While similar and often confused with each other, laminate and vinyl flooring are starkly different. They offer many of the same perks, but the material composition, durability, and appearance create a clear divide between them. 

Laminate vs. Vinyl Comparison

Each of these flooring options has its merits, so choosing the perfect fit can be tricky. The chart below offers a quick overview of the pros and cons of each option to help simplify your decision. 

Laminate Pros & Cons

Easy to install
Realistic colors, patterns, and textures
May not last as long as vinyl
Some types aren’t water resistant

Vinyl Pros & Cons

DIY friendly
Durable and long-lasting
Certain types can be tricky to install on your own
Susceptible to dents from heavy furniture


Both laminate and vinyl can feature surprisingly realistic prints, as they utilize imaging technology to place a photo under a clear coating to create the final product. Both come in various colors, patterns, and textures — including mirror images of wood grains, stone, ceramics, and other popular materials. 

While both options can be realistic, laminate wins this race. Cheaper vinyl flooring often has a less-realistic finish, whereas laminate is widely available at numerous price points with high-quality images. 

Laminate also comes in more options, including nearly every color, species, and variety of solid hardwoods and stone. You can find all sorts of options, from hand-scraped and rustic to multi-tonal or whitewashed. 


Laminate flooring doesn’t typically last as long as vinyl flooring, as its composition doesn’t lend itself to longevity. Poorer quality laminate floors may last less than ten years, whereas higher quality laminate floors may last up to 25 years — although that is a stretch. 

Conversely, vinyl floors regularly last between 15 and 25 years — though the life span depends on various factors, including usage, maintenance, and installation. In some cases, high-end vinyl can last up to twice as long as laminate, but the factors above may inhibit the floor’s longevity. 


The composition of these flooring materials is one of the most notable differences. Laminate flooring features various layers of material glued together to create the final product. The layers consist of different materials — most synthetic, aside from a wood fiberboard core. 

The base layer is a built-in underlayment, which is softer and helps with uneven subfloors. On top of this, there’s a core layer made of compressed wood fibers. The print layer (top layer) creates the design you see on the flooring, and the top wear layer of transparent aluminum oxide protects the print layer. 

On the other hand, vinyl flooring is entirely synthetic. Like laminate, vinyl flooring is layered, often featuring a base layer of fiberglass with a PVC and plasticizer coating. Several wear layers lend to its durability, as does the coating of no-wax polyurethane. Sheet vinyl flooring differs from hard types of vinyl flooring — such as luxury vinyl plank (LVP) — which mimics the appearance of hardwood flooring or tiles and is a hardened material. 

The PVC core layer sits atop the built-in underlayment’s base layer. Another PVC layer adds stability and support. There is a print layer atop that creates the image you see on the flooring. The wear layer protects against scratches, and the UV acrylic coating protects the floor against sun damage. Explore our article where we outlined the pros and cons of vinyl flooring.

How Much Do Laminate and Vinyl Flooring Cost?

Pricing is a significant consideration when revamping a home with new flooring. In many cases, homeowners are working with a specific budget, so they search for options within their price range. 

While vinyl and laminate flooring are competitively priced and comparatively cheap compared to other flooring materials — including natural hardwood, engineered wood, luxury vinyl tile, vinyl plank flooring, or stone — evaluating this factor is essential. Like most types of flooring, the cost of your laminate or vinyl flooring hinges on a couple of factors, including the brand, quality, and design. 

Generally, higher-quality flooring with more realistic designs is more expensive, which is pretty typical. However, certain brands may have pricier flooring simply because of the brand name. 

The chart below offers a quick overview of the standard price ranges for each type of flooring based on several factors to help you decide which best suits your budget. 

Factor Laminate Cost (per square foot)Vinyl Cost (per square foot)
Material$1.50 – $5$1 – $10
Installation $2 – $3$2 – $5
Underlayment ~$0.30 ~$0.30
Removal $1.50 – $3$2 – $4

Other Factors Impacting Cost

In addition to the primary factors that affect the cost, evaluating other aspects of your project — including the size and complexity — is essential. For example, larger spaces will be more expensive to revamp with new flooring than smaller ones, as you’ll spend more money on materials. 

However, installation complexity may not automatically come to mind when considering the cost factor. For example, if you’re installing vinyl or laminate flooring in a room with an odd layout (i.e., not a perfect square or rectangle), you may need more overage material, which can increase your costs. This can also increase installation costs due to the more time-consuming nature of the project. 

How to Save Money on Your Flooring Project

Flooring can consume a considerable chunk of a renovation budget, so many homeowners wonder how to cut project costs. Here are a few of our top tips and tricks to ensure you get the best price:

  • DIY projects: DIYing projects is an excellent way to save money on home improvement tasks, including replacing flooring. If you’re handy with projects like these and have the necessary tools on hand, you can save yourself hundreds to thousands of dollars by installing the flooring yourself. 
  • Pay attention to deals and discounts: Many flooring providers offer deals and discounts during certain times of the year or for projects that meet a minimum size. As you look for flooring options, watch for deals and discounts to help you cut costs on your flooring project. 
  • Prep the area yourself: If a DIY flooring project isn’t in your wheelhouse, no worries! Save yourself some money on hiring a professional by removing the existing flooring and prepping the area yourself. If you have the site ready to go when the installers arrive, you’ll save money on labor costs for the time it would’ve taken the team to remove everything. 
  • Reuse existing subfloor or underlayment: If the existing subfloor or underlayment is in good condition and compatible with the flooring you’re installing, cut costs by using it instead of buying new material. 
  • Shop around: Before you purchase your flooring from one store, shop around local stores and online. Sometimes, you can find even better prices at certain stores. If you find a lower price for one type of flooring but want to purchase it from a local shop, check with your local flooring store to see if they offer a price match guarantee. 

What Is the Durability and Maintenance Level of Laminate and Vinyl Flooring?

For the most part, vinyl offers better durability and less specific maintenance requirements than laminate. Of course, various factors impact the durability and required maintenance of a flooring type, including the quality, finish, and wear layer. 

In addition, the location of your flooring may affect these factors. For example, installing flooring in a humid bathroom or basement may require more maintenance or not last quite as long as installing flooring in a cool, dry bedroom. 

Also, consider the amount of sunlight the flooring receives. While most flooring is designed to resist yellowing, flooring in direct sunlight may wear out faster than flooring in a dark hallway. 

You’ll also need to consider the foot traffic in the installed area. For instance, flooring in a kitchen, hallway, or living room might wear out much faster than flooring in a rarely-used guest bedroom or office.

To promote the longevity of your flooring, we recommend following the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning. For example, it’s usually best to start with dry cleaning methods, including vacuums, brushes, brooms, and dust mops. If there’s a considerable amount of dirt or mud left behind, use a damp mop with a neutral detergent to clean up the residue. 

While you can wet mop a vinyl floor, as it’s waterproof, it’s not recommended to wet mop a laminate floor due to its lesser water resistance. Avoid using abrasive tools or cleaners unless necessary, as they can damage the flooring. 

In addition, it may not hurt to apply a protective coating or sealant to protect the flooring further, make cleaning more manageable, and ease maintenance responsibilities. Ensure you check the manufacturer’s recommendations before doing so. 

Which Flooring Is More Comfortable: Laminate or Vinyl?

Laminate flooring tends to be more comfortable underfoot than vinyl due to its design. Of course, the exact comfort level will hinge on your preferences and factors surrounding the flooring, including the thickness, texture, and flexibility. 

Additionally, the comfort level may fluctuate based on things like the subfloor or underlayment. A concrete subfloor will be less comfortable than a plywood subfloor due to its rigidity. In addition, foam underlayment is softer and offers more give than cork, so it’s generally more comfortable underfoot. 

The method of installation can also make a difference. Glue-down flooring may seem firmer and less giving (i.e. less bounce) than click-lock flooring, making it less comfortable underfoot. 

Here are a few tips to promote comfort in your new flooring installation:

  • Choose a better underlayment: Select an underlayment that works well for your flooring type and subfloor. Certain types of flooring underlayments can offer superior insulation and noise reduction, so we recommend looking into options that will work for your situation. 
  • Select a thicker product: Thicker or textured flooring products can add more cushioning, making them more comfortable to walk on. These flooring materials also tend to be more realistic due to the texture, so it’s a win-win. 

Learn more about flooring underlayment in the video below:

Factors to Consider When Shopping for Flooring

As you sift through vinyl and laminate flooring options, it’s essential to consider a few key aspects to ensure you purchase the best option, including:

  • Budget: Before you start shopping, set an amount you’re willing to spend on your new flooring. Having a budget in mind before you start can help avoid the disappointment of finding the perfect flooring option that far exceeds your budget. 
  • Lifestyle: Remember to consider your lifestyle as you sift through your options. If you have a busy household with heavy foot traffic and pets, vinyl might be the better option, as it offers superior durability and longevity. 
  • Location: Consider where you’re installing the flooring. If you’re installing it in a high-moisture area, such as the bathroom, laundry room, mudroom, or kitchen, vinyl might be the better option, as it’s waterproof. Conversely, laminate will do for nearly any other area of your home, including the living room, bedroom, or other low-moisture, high-traffic areas. 
  • Style: it’s essential to go into your search with a style or idea in mind. Ensure you have a general idea of what you want before searching — this will avoid countless hours spent poring over hundreds of flooring options. Laminate flooring tends to offer more variety in colors, textures, and designs — so if you have a particular style in mind, we recommend checking these options. However, vinyl comes in a wide range of options, so it’s possible you’ll find precisely what you’re looking for in this material. 
Get a Flooring Installation Estimate From Local Experts
Typical Cost: $6 – $24 per sq foot

So, Is Laminate or Vinyl Right for You?

Laminate and vinyl are both excellent flooring options, but each is best suited for varying situations. For example, vinyl is better if you have a busy household with kids and pets and need waterproof flooring. It offers superior durability and moisture resistance in busy families, so it might be the best option if that sounds like you. 

On the other hand, perhaps you’re looking for a more comfortable flooring option for a bedroom or living space and don’t need elevated durability or waterproof flooring. In this case, laminate flooring might be your best bet, as it offers solid durability, superior comfort, and decent water resistance, making it a strong pick for these situations. 

Ultimately, the best option hinges on your specific needs and preferences. We recommend thoroughly evaluating your household’s needs to ensure you choose the right option. When you’re ready to buy, shop around to ensure you get the best price.

FAQs About Laminate and Vinyl Flooring

What is the main difference between laminate and vinyl flooring?

The key difference between laminate and vinyl flooring is the composition. While vinyl flooring is entirely synthetic, laminate flooring is a blend of synthetic materials with a layer of compressed wood fibers.

Does vinyl flooring scratch easier than laminate?

Both laminate and vinyl hold up well against scratches and chips. However, vinyl tends to be more durable and scratch-resistant.

Which type of flooring is better for pets?

If you have pets, vinyl flooring is likely your best bet. This type of flooring offers better water resistance, durability, and longevity than laminate.

Is vinyl or laminate flooring better for kids?

If you have children, you’ll probably want durable flooring that won’t soak up accidental spills. Vinyl flooring is usually the better option, as it offers solid durability and is waterproof.

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Jonathon Jachura

Jonathon Jachura


Jonathon Jachura is a two-time homeowner with hands-on experience with HVAC, gutters, plumbing, lawn care, pest control, and other aspects of owning a home. He is passionate about home maintenance and finding the best services. His main goal is to educate others with crisp, concise descriptions that any homeowner can use. Jon uses his strong technical background to create engaging, easy-to-read, and informative guides. He does most of his home and lawn projects himself but hires professional companies for the “big things.” He knows what goes into finding the best service providers and contractors. Jon studied mechanical engineering at Purdue University in Indiana and worked in the HVAC industry for 12 years. Between his various home improvement projects, he enjoys the outdoors, a good cup of coffee, and spending time with his family.

Learn More

photo of Roxanne Downer

Roxanne Downer


Roxanne Downer is a commerce editor at Today’s Homeowner, where she tackles everything from foundation repair to solar panel installation. She brings more than 15 years of writing and editing experience to bear in her meticulous approach to ensuring accurate, up-to-date, and engaging content. She’s previously edited for outlets including MSN, Architectural Digest, and Better Homes & Gardens. An alumna of the University of Pennsylvania, Roxanne is now an Oklahoma homeowner, DIY enthusiast, and the proud parent of a playful pug.

Learn More