Laminate vs Vinyl Flooring: Which Is Best for Your Bathroom?

Both laminate and vinyl are affordable, easy-to-install flooring options, and due to evolving technology, their features have become more alike than ever. But when it comes to laminate vs. vinyl flooring for wet areas like bathrooms, vinyl is the clear choice. If you are considering vinyl or laminate bathroom flooring, this guide will help you determine which is best for your home. 

Laminate vs. Vinyl Flooring: What Is the Difference?

Fifteen years ago, laminate and vinyl flooring differences were more noticeable. But rigid core technologies and enhanced high-resolution designs for luxury vinyl tile (LVT), and waterproofing technology for laminate flooring have made the products, especially the higher quality versions, quite similar. However, when choosing flooring for bathrooms, the differences can make or break your bathroom design.

Laminate vs. Vinyl Flooring: What Is the Difference?

Difference in Material

Rigid luxury vinyl tile is constructed in several layers. The backing or bottom layer lies against the subfloor or optional underlayment. On top of the backing, a stone-plastic composite (SPC) or wood-plastic composite (WPC) core gives the flooring strength and provides enhanced durability. Next, a printed layer — usually an image of hardwood or stone — provides the flooring with its attractive design. Then a tough wear layer protects the printed layer from damage. And finally, the finish layer makes the flooring easy to clean and often includes UV protectants to prevent fading or yellowing.
Like vinyl, laminate is also constructed in layers. The backing is attached to an MDF or HDF (medium- or high-density fiber) core of wood powder mixed with resin. On top of the core, a design layer gives the laminate its appearances. Finally, a durable wear layer protects the design layer from damage.
The main difference in construction between the two types of flooring lies in the core. LVT’s core material is completely waterproof, whereas laminate’s core material is susceptible to damage from moisture. This is an important difference when selecting bathroom flooring.
Both laminate and vinyl come in planks that click together to create a floating floor, meaning the flooring is not attached to the subfloor. However, vinyl comes in more options, including click-together tiles, glue-down planks, and floating and glue-down sheets.
Difference in Material

Difference in Appearance

Many consider laminate to have a more authentic wood appearance than vinyl, but it depends on the quality. Vinyl production quality has also greatly improved over the years, so brand-name and high-quality vinyl products are now incredibly realistic. Laminate may offer fewer pattern repeats, which is important in large areas, but it doesn’t matter in a smaller space like a bathroom.
High-quality LVT planks offer high-resolution photographic quality that’s difficult to distinguish from wood. LVT also comes in many other designs, including those that resemble natural stone, concrete, and other materials with impressive authenticity. The wider array of formats also gives homeowners more options. 

Difference in Durability and Maintenance

Laminate is a durable flooring with e scratch and dent resistance. However, high-quality luxury vinyl tile with an SPC core will offer the same level of toughness and durability, standing up better than laminate flooring to high-traffic and daily usage.
Waterproof vinyl flooring with sealed joints, edges, and seams is the easiest to maintain, allowing for wet mopping. Some higher-end laminate flooring options are labeled waterproof, but most laminate only allows for occasional damp mopping, if at all. 

Differences in Installation Cost

LVT planks and tiles install easily, clicking together to make a floating floor just like laminate. Either type of flooring can be installed as a DIY project, saving even more money on installation. Laminate may offer a slight advantage in lower upfront product costs, however.

LVT planks and tiles install easily

Differences in Water, Stain, and Heat Resistance

As previously mentioned, LVT products offer the best water resistance, made of materials inherently impervious to moisture. Waterproof vinyl flooring products with sealed joints, seams, and edges can even help protect your subfloor from damage, perfect for bathrooms and other wet areas.
A few higher-end laminate products now offer waterproof options for bathrooms and damp areas, but most laminate is suitable only for dry spaces. Laminate has a slight edge over vinyl for stain resistance, with its extremely durable wear layer.
Both types of flooring offer heat resistance to allow in-floor radiant heating, which is particularly nice in a bathroom.

Differences in Lifespan and Resale Value

Manufacturers of both types of flooring tout 20 to 25 years or greater lifespans for higher end products, but don’t expect such longevity from laminate in wet areas like bathrooms. Rigid LVT with an SPC core will likely last much longer in moist environments than laminate.
Authentic hardwood and ceramic or porcelain tile can add resale value to a home. Neither laminate nor LVT have the same preference among homebuyers, but a bathroom updated with rigid LVT is undoubtedly more desirable than a bathroom that needs updating.

Tips for Installing Vinyl Flooring in a Bathroom

If you’re looking for easy-to-install bathroom flooring, LVT is the product for you. Click together LVT installs easily and can even be a DIY project, especially in a small area like a bathroom.
Vinyl flooring installation differs depending on the format. DIYers can also install loose-lay vinyl sheet, but the material is large and cumbersome, so you may want to hire a professional. 
LVT is the product for easy-to-install bathroom flooring
Glue-down vinyl planks and glue-down sheet vinyl are better left to the pros. You may also want an underlayment between your subfloor and new vinyl flooring. A variety of options offer features like temperature control, moisture mitigation, sound control, and comfort underfoot.
If your subfloor is rough, imperfections may telegraph to the surface of flexible vinyl products. Opt for rigid LVT, or install a rigid underlayment to avoid this issue.

Contact Us

If you’re looking for assistance with bathroom flooring LX Hauys’ team of experts can help. LX Hausys offers high-quality luxury vinyl HFLOR products in various designs and colors. Contact us about your project, and one of our representatives will respond quickly.