If you aspire to achieve an interior adorned with the appearance of wood flooring, but the restrictions of solid wood flooring or the expense of engineered wood flooring deter you, two prevalent alternatives are available: luxury vinyl flooring and laminate flooring. These options are engineered to resemble natural wood, yet, unlike their natural counterparts, they do not comprise real wood. Rather, they utilise a printed or decorative layer that imitates the aesthetic of natural wood. Commonly, these prints emulate hardwoods like oak and walnut, available in the natural hues of the original wood (a brown palette ranging from light to dark), or they can be coloured to produce black, grey, and white options. Now that we have introduced luxury vinyl and laminate as the most prevalent types of wood effect flooring, which one reigns supreme?
Delving Into Wood Effect Laminate Flooring
Laminate wood effect flooring comprises a top, transparent protective layer, referred to as the Abrasion Criteria (AC) layer. AC levels range from AC1 (for light-use flooring) to AC6 (for heavy-use flooring such as those found in commercial settings), with AC3, AC4, and AC5 being the most common. Beneath this layer resides the previously mentioned printed layer, supported by high-density wood fibre and backing. This construction yields a durable wood effect flooring that closely resembles real wood flooring once installed. Good examples of laminate wood effect flooring can be found at approximately £10/m2.
Diving Into Wood Effect Luxury Vinyl Flooring
Luxury wood effect vinyl flooring, similar to laminate flooring, aims to mimic natural wood. However, the composition differs substantially. While it also features a printed layer mimicking wood (or stone and marble for luxury stone effect vinyl flooring), its core is constructed from SPC, WPC, Rigid, or PVC, unlike the high-density wood fibre core found in laminate flooring. This advanced core composition in luxury wood effect vinyl flooring results in thinner yet paradoxically stronger floorboards. Good examples of luxury wood effect vinyl flooring can be found at around £20/m2.
Comparing the Two
When it comes to cost, laminate flooring tends to be more affordable, while luxury vinyl flooring (LVT) is generally pricier. In terms of water resistance, LVT excels due to its core-based composition, whereas laminate flooring’s resistance is moderate and can be damaged over time. Installation of LVT is often easier with its click-fit system, though professional installation may be required if it’s glued. Laminate flooring, on the other hand, can potentially be a DIY job with its click-fit system.
The suitability of these flooring types varies around the home. LVT, due to its waterproof nature, is highly suitable for kitchens and bathrooms. In contrast, laminate flooring’s suitability is moderate and not ideal for wet areas. Both options are durable, with LVT often coming with longer warranties while laminate flooring may fade over time.
Both LVT and laminate flooring offer a wide selection of colours, enhancing their versatility. Regarding insulation, LVT has good properties, further improved by built-in underlay. Laminate flooring also provides good insulation, which can be improved with thicker options. When used with underfloor heating, LVT is highly suitable due to its heat-resistant core composition, while laminate flooring is suitable but should not exceed 27 degrees Celsius to avoid damage.
Which One To Choose?
Both these wood effect flooring types offer a close resemblance to natural wood flooring once installed. Although luxury vinyl flooring provides superior durability and installation flexibility, laminate flooring is the more cost-effective of the two, which greatly impacts most customers’ decisions. Given the choice, we at Wood and Beyond strongly recommend the luxury vinyl route.
What are the alternatives to solid wood and engineered wood flooring?
Two popular alternatives to solid wood and engineered wood flooring are luxury vinyl flooring and laminate flooring. These options are engineered to resemble natural wood using a printed or decorative layer that mimics natural wood’s aesthetic.
What is the Abrasion Criteria (AC) layer in laminate wood effect flooring?
The Abrasion Criteria (AC) layer is a top, transparent protective layer in laminate wood effect flooring. AC levels range from AC1 (for light-use flooring) to AC6 (for heavy-use flooring), with AC3, AC4, and AC5 being the most common.
What differentiates the core composition of luxury wood effect vinyl flooring from laminate flooring?
Luxury wood effect vinyl flooring has a core composed of SPC, WPC, Rigid, or PVC, whereas laminate flooring is made using a high-density wood fibre core. This difference in core composition makes luxury vinyl flooring’s floorboards thinner yet paradoxically stronger.
How do laminate flooring and luxury vinyl flooring (LVT) compare in terms of water resistance?
LVT excels in water resistance due to its core-based composition, whereas laminate flooring’s water resistance is moderate and susceptible to damage over time.
Which flooring type is more suitable for underfloor heating?
Both LVT and laminate flooring can be used with underfloor heating. However, LVT is highly suitable due to its heat-resistant core composition, while laminate flooring should not exceed 27 degrees Celsius to avoid damage.