Laminate vs Vinyl

August 4, 2022

Which Wood Look Would You Choose?

Attractive, durable and affordable – the three main tick boxes when choosing wood look flooring, for most of us. Of course, if money is no object, then hardwood moves into the mix. But it’s not on the table for discussion today, so – moving swiftly along.

Personal choice plays a big role in the final selection of the right flooring, but ultimately, two flooring options sit on the top of the pile. Laminate flooring and Vinyl ‘plank’ flooring. Are we comparing apples with apples? Are there differences?  Let’s see. They’re both easy to install. They’re both attractive. They are both affordable. They both offer authentic wood looks. So, yes, there certainly is a fair bit of overlap in many aspects; but there are crucial differences to weigh up which might influence you to go Team Laminate or Team Vinyl.

Let’s look at Laminate Flooring.

What is laminate? Laminate is a high-density fibreboard (HDF) floor covering with a

Wood look photographic layer which is topped with a hardy, clear wear layer. It rests on an intermediate foam or felt underlay which helps the boards to join better and also softens your footfall.

What does laminate feel like? Laminate feels springy and soft underfoot but can be slippery under socks and heels.

How do you maintain laminate? This is a fairly delicate surface, so it should never be wet-mopped. You should also avoid steam cleaners. Use a dry broom or dry mop and never, ever use chemical cleaning products.

How does water and heat affect laminate? Beware the laminates that call themselves “water resistant”. Remember that the fibreboard core of the laminate can be damaged if water seeps in and once dry, will not return to its former shape – this means you’ll be faced with warping. That being said, the laminate surface is indeed impervious to liquids as long as you wipe up the spill immediately. Very few floor options are good in high moisture conditions, so if you want to laminate your bathroom or kitchen floor, our advice is DON’T. Our final word on the subject: laminate flooring and humid conditions are not a happy marriage, so they are not ideal for coastal homes or buildings in high humidity areas.

Foot traffic and laminate. Laminate flooring is durable and can handle high traffic.

The lifespan of laminate. If installed with care in a dry environment and well maintained, laminate flooring can last 15 – 20 years.


How does Vinyl Flooring weigh up?

Vinyl has come a very long way from the back-in-the-day looks of your granny’s vinyl sheeting floors. Contemporary vinyl plank flooring is one of the 21st century’s latest and most advanced flooring trends.

What is modern vinyl? Each vinyl plank is essentially a board made of wood shavings and resin that is compressed under high heat. It is then finished with a decorative layer of PVC vinyl, which is patterned with state-of-the-art digital photographic processes. Finally, multiple layers – called wear layers – are applied, with no-wax polyurethane. A built-in underlayment allows the planks to interlock side-by-side to form a ‘floating’ floor.

What does vinyl feel like? Thanks to the built-in underlayment, vinyl flooring gives a soft, springy feel underfoot. Unlike laminate, vinyl offers good sound absorption – so the clattering of your pet’s nails and the clacking of high heels is greatly diminished! The cushioned finish means vinyl is softer on knees.

How do you maintain vinyl flooring? Always use a soft bristled brush to sweep away dust, or else vacuum. We suggest you do this daily to avoid build-up. To clean away what sweeping or vacuuming can’t, use a good quality mop – dampened, NOT SOAKING – with warm, NOT HOT water. If the damp mop doesn’t succeed, add MILD SOAP to the water. NEVER USE CHEMICAL CLEANERS.

How does heat and water affect vinyl? In hot conditions, vinyl flooring offers better expansion and contraction than laminate flooring. However, laminates will withstand harsh sun damage for slightly longer than vinyl. When it comes to water, liquid spills, or humidity, Team Vinyl wins every time. It is 99.9999% waterproof. Flooding has become a South African reality in many areas; if vinyl flooring gets wet or ends up underwater, we advise that the planks are carefully lifted and removed until the substrate dries completely. When the surface is bone dry again, the planks can be re-installed.

Foot traffic and vinyl. Bigger households with larger families and many pets need durable, easy-to-clean floors. Vinyl can take the traffic, scratches, knocks and spills. Use it with confidence in kitchens and bathrooms.

The lifespan of vinyl. If well maintained, according to our advice, and properly installed in a dry environment by a reliable, professional team, vinyl flooring can last up to 7 years in a commercial environment and, under normal residential conditions, up to 25 years.


Last word on laminate vs vinyl.

Whichever way you choose to go, always make sure you select the very best quality your wallet can handle. If you’re considering DIY, we say, DDIY (Don’t Do It Yourself!). Invest in a reliable installation team. And finally, follow the cleaning and maintenance instructions to the letter.

If, after everything you’ve read, you decide to find the very best vinyl flooring, speak to Italtile and ask for Moda Vinile. Like every other Italtile flooring option instore and online, it truly is a deluxe offering. It offers all the benefits we’ve outlined above and replicates the rich grain of hardwood – in fact we’d go so far as to say you’d need a microscope to tell them apart. It can be laid with confidence throughout the house and is also able to withstand up to 55 degrees Celsius of underfloor heating! Available in an incredibly diverse range of authentic wood look tones, including Neve, Marrone, Monarch, Bianca, Sonata and Osso, the Moda Vinile Collection is one of our best big-family-friendly deluxe flooring options.

While Moda Vinile is relatively easy to install, we always suggest a professional installation. Depending upon your location in southern Africa, we are able to offer you our reliable, vetted Italtile Professional Installations Service.


Find more information here: