There seems to be a lot of confusion between laminate flooring and vinyl flooring.


Laminate flooring in Westchester CountyHere in Westchester NY, many customers get these terms mixed up…they say vinyl when they mean laminate or laminate when they mean vinyl.  So, part of my job is to help clarify which type of flooring they mean as well as which type of flooring makes the most sense for them.


What is laminate flooring?

Laminate flooring is a hard surface that usually looks like hardwood (occasionally looks like tile) and is made with recycled hardwood.  It has a picture of hardwood floors (it isn’t real), but some of the more upscale versions do look very real. On top, it has a melamine wear layer which give it strong scratch protection, and underneath, there is a high density core board.  Laminate flooring is usually around 3/8 of an inch and can often be placed on top of existing flooring – whether it’s concrete, tile or even hardwood (assuming the floor underneath is stable and even).

Laminate and pergo flooring installatio westchester countyLaminate flooring is a floating floor (read more about What is a floating floor?) that clicks together into place.  Because it is made of recycled hardwood, it is NOT waterproof (read more about Is laminate flooring waterproof).  It is generally not a good idea to install laminate flooring in any place where you tend to get a lot of water or that is humid (or that has high fluctuations in humidity level throughout the seasons) – this would mean that it is generally not good for most basements or bathrooms.


Laminate flooring Westchester countyBecause laminate is a hard (and inflexible) surface, it is important that the floor or subfloor underneath is level and relatively smooth.  If it isn’t, the laminate flooring will move a lot when you walk on it and if it is too bumpy or too sloped underneath, it can even crack and break.


Like hardwood flooring, laminate floors should acclimate in the home before it’s installed.  It should be in there for at least 24 hrs, but ideally 48 or more hours.  This allows it to properly expand/contract for the conditions in that room.  During this time, the room should be set to normal temperature/humidity conditions for that time of year (so if you are moving into a new home and don’t live there yet, it’s important to put the heat or AC on (pending time of year) during the acclimation and installation process.

What is vinyl flooring?

Black and white vinyl flooring westchester NY sheet vinylVinyl flooring is synthetic material that looks like tile or hardwood.  Most vinyls are glued down directly to the floor underneath.  Vinyl comes in many forms – there is sheet vinyl (usually 12 ft in width), luxury vinyl tile and plank (which is upscale and looks very real), there is vinyl composite tile (VCT – usually for commercial applications) and there is cheap peel & stick tile that you can often find in Home Depot.


Unlike laminate flooring, most vinyl is waterproof or water resistant (this depends on the exact type of vinyl).  While the cheaper types of vinyl can easily withstand spills and strong cleaning, they will usually not survive major floods – most of these use cheap adhesives that will not hold up to standing water and some are applied directly onto plywood and if the water has soaked through, the subfloor may warp. Cheaper types of vinyl have a tendency to fade if exposed to sunlight for extended periods of time.   


Luxury vinyl plank westchester county New YorkWhereas laminates are hard and inflexible, most vinyls are soft and flexible.  So, vinyl flooring can tolerate floors that are sloped or have humps in it.  The vinyl will just go right on top of it.  Because vinyl is flexible, it is critical that the floor underneath is smooth (not level, but smooth), so you often need to do a couple of layers of skim coats to smooth out the floor underneath.  (Otherwise, the imperfections of the floor below (or vinyl) will telegraph through and that would not look good.


Which is less expensive – laminate flooring or vinyl?

Well often this depends most on the condition of the subfloor.  More often than not, the floor is relatively level, when I compare laminate to a nice looking vinyl, the laminate will be USUALLY be less expensive BECAUSE USUALLY the floor prep needed for the vinyl significantly increases the cost.  But, this is not always the case.  And, in come cases, if the floor is very uneven, laminate flooring is either not practical, or if we need to level it out with self leveling mix, then the laminate flooring can become more expensive.  And, as I mentioned above, if there is a concern about water or humidity, laminate flooring is not a good option at all.  It is best to involve a flooring professional to help give you an expert opinion on which option is best for your needs and your floor.  They should be able to price out both options for you so that you can easily compare.


If you live in the Westchester County area, give The Flooring girl a call at 914-937-2950 and we’d be happy to set up a free flooring consultation. (Out of state, please call 914-407-3899).

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What is the difference between laminate flooring and vinyl flooring?


My name is Debbie Gartner, and I'm known as "The Flooring Girl." I own my own flooring store called Floor Coverings International, and we serve Westchester NY and Fairfield CT counties.We install hardwood flooring, carpet, tile flooring, laminate, bamboo and cork flooring. We also refinish hardwood floors. We are a shop at home flooring store. You can call us at 914-937-2950 to schedule a free flooring consultation or email us at Let us "bring the store to your door."If you are calling outside of Westchester/Fairfield Counties, please contact us at 914-407-3899.

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29 Response Comments

  • Laminate Flooring in Calgary  October 9, 2012 at 9:19 am

    I just couldn’t leave your website before saying that I really enjoyed the quality information you offer. Thanks for to sharing this article.

  • Tim Bullington  October 10, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    I like that last paragraph about the costs. IT certainly would be beneficial to have someone check it out before agreeing to one or the other especially if you are trying to save money.

    • TheFlooringGirl  October 12, 2012 at 11:57 pm

      Tim – Yes, it’s good to understand the total costs including prep; otherwise, you may think you are making a more cost effective solution, but in the end find out it actually cost more.

  • flooring options  January 4, 2013 at 4:23 am

    It is good to find out on what is the difference between vinyl and laminate flooring. You really make the point. Thanks for sharing your very informative blog.

    • TheFlooringGirl  January 4, 2013 at 8:04 am

      Thank you so much. Yes, a lot of people seem to get vinyl and laminate confused.

  • Natural Wood Flooring  March 21, 2013 at 6:32 am

    I just like the way you explained the difference. My all confusion about vinyl flooring get vanished away. I need flooring in my basement which one is good in both cases.please suggest. Thank you:)

    • TheFlooringGirl  March 21, 2013 at 5:48 pm

      Usually, vinyl is a better option for a basement, as many basements have either water and/or humidity challenges.

      • Jennifer from Westvalleyflooring  August 5, 2013 at 2:04 am

        Yes, You are 100% right. Actually I have installed vinyl flooring in basement from last 2 or 3 years but still it looks superb and new.

        • TheFlooringGirl  August 7, 2013 at 6:31 am

          Jennifer – So glad you agree. The luxury vinyl is such a wonderful option for basements.

  • georgia  August 21, 2013 at 1:22 am

    great explanation. thanks! this helps my husband and me with figuring out which route we will take for our new floor in the living and dining room. it’s a very clear explanation, and very informative, too. thanks again!

    • TheFlooringGirl  August 21, 2013 at 2:09 pm

      Georgia – Thank you. I’m so glad to hear that. You made my day.

  • Calgary  February 26, 2014 at 7:48 am

    I always assumed laminate and vinyl were interchangeable words for the same product, but this article helped clear the confusion and explain the difference.

  • Heidi  February 22, 2015 at 9:14 pm

    Can you tell me what is better for an entrance way with lots ofvfootvtraffic and wet shoes, vinyl or laminate, Thank you

    • TheFlooringGirl  February 23, 2015 at 7:40 pm

      Vinyl is definitely better for that vs. vinyl. Laminate is not waterproof, and it will swell and most most likely separate. Vinyl holds up to water well. Luxury Vinyl tends to hold up even better as the material and adhesive is better than just regular vinyl.

  • Nancy  July 30, 2015 at 7:38 am

    Thanks so much for such a detailed explanation. My family just bought a home and everything is just so overwhelming and new to us. This comparison helped us a lot.

    • TheFlooringGirl  July 30, 2015 at 8:12 pm

      Nancy – Oh good, I’m so glad to hear that. And, congrats on your new home. That is awesome.

  • Sherri  February 10, 2016 at 11:59 am

    Thank you for the information. We are at the beginning stages of deciding what to do about our flooring. Currently we have an early Pergo that has lasted a long. We have been very pleased with that decision. In the last 2 days I have googled questions and both days I have turned to your blog. I need to bookmark it.

    • TheFlooringGirl  February 11, 2016 at 8:32 am

      Sherri – That is so funny. I hope the info is helpful for you. Good luck with your project.

  • Melly  March 25, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    Thank you for the info! Which are the top 3 or 5 luxury vinyl style names that you recommend for an apartment?

    • TheFlooringGirl  March 25, 2016 at 9:09 pm

      I prefer coretec plus by US Floors. There is a new item from Armstrong called FasTak with Rigid core that is coming out this month. And, I like Karndean for glue down luxury vinyl.

    • TheFlooringGirl  March 25, 2016 at 9:09 pm

      I prefer coretec plus by US Floors. There is a new item from Armstrong called FasTak with Rigid core that is coming out this month. And, I like Karndean for glue down luxury vinyl.

  • Brian  April 17, 2016 at 4:53 pm

    We are getting ready to do our three bedrooms. We were told that laminate is about $1000 more than the luxury vinyl plank. Would you recommend the luxury vinyl plank for bedrooms? We were also told that the LVP is very popular now that they have a hard time keeping it in stock. We are in Fl. The rooms were having done total about 600 SF and have been quoted roughly $2200 for LVP for all 3 rooms. Is that a good deal?

    • TheFlooringGirl  April 19, 2016 at 9:58 pm

      Hi Brian. There are a few things in this comment/question that puzzle me. Let me start by saying that I’m surprised that laminate is costing more than LVP. Usually, it’s the opposite. But, I suppose with everything, it depends which laminate and which vinyl you are comparing.

      Second, let me say that for Florida and areas that have high humidity, luxury vinyl is a MUCH better option vs. laminate. The laminate will probably buckle.

      Now, let me recommend that US Floors Coretec Plus is a great product that I’d recommend, and I would search that out.

      Lastly, let me say, your cost of $3.66/sf sounds very low. I don’t know the labor rates in Florida (although I’m pretty sure they are less expensive than NY. So something sounds wrong here. It sounds like you have very cheap material here. Look into Coretec Plus…it will cost more, but it’s worth it. It is installed just like laminate.

      Good luck.

  • Liz Croissant  May 15, 2016 at 3:57 pm

    Hi we are building our home in a metal building. We have concrete floor. We are seniors and worry the concrete to be too hard on Our backs etc.
    We are trying to decide what we should do though. Dont want carpet. Never gets clean,allergies etc. What is your suggestions? Dont really want to glue in case we want to change later. Budget is a factor also.

    • TheFlooringGirl  May 17, 2016 at 4:35 pm

      You may want to look into cork as it’s softer/gentler on your feet.

    • TheFlooringGirl  May 17, 2016 at 4:35 pm

      Or, try coretec plus luxury vinyl which has a cork underlayment.


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