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The comparison of laminate vs linoleum flooring is not the most popular, but is becoming more and more common. These two types of flooring are sometimes confused by people but they are actually very different.
There isn’t much information on the differences and similarities between these two types of flooring so why we decided to create this guide.
We’ll go over everything you need to know in the laminate vs linoleum comparison so you can make an informed decision and get the one that’s right for you.
What’s the Difference Between Laminate and Linoleum?
The main difference is that they are made of different material. Laminate is made with a composite base and a printed paper image of hardwood or tile on the top. Linoleum on the other hand, is made using natural products like sawdust and linseed oil.
What is Laminate?
Laminate is a specific type of composite flooring that is close to hardwood. You can think of it as a mix between linoleum and hardwood.
It’s made with 3 layers: fiberboard or plywood base, photo image layer, and the hard plastic protective layer that protects it against minor damage.
Laminate was created in the 1970s by a company called Pergo. They still actively produce lots of laminate flooring today. Even though laminate used to have kind of a bad reputation, modern day laminate is almost as nice as real hardwood at a more affordable price.
What is Linoleum?
Linoleum is a type of composite flooring that’s made of natural ingredients such as: wood flour, cork dust, linseed oil, pine rosin, plus more.
From around 1900-1940 linoleum was the most common flooring that you’d see in the average house. After this point, vinyl took over because it was even more affordable.
- They are both very durable but linoleum is more durable
- They are both water resistant but not waterproof
- They are both easy to clean and maintain but linoleum is easier
- Damage to laminate requires replacing it, whereas linoleum which can be fixed easier
- They are both family friendly
- They are both pet friendly
- Laminate is easier to install DIY, linoleum should be installed professionally
- Laminate is usually more expensive depending on quality
- Laminate generally looks nicer
- Linoleum is more environmentally friendly
Laminate vs Linoleum: In Depth Comparison
When it comes to durability, both of these options are solid choices.
The fact that linoleum is commonly used in schools says a lot about the toughness of this flooring. After all, if it can handle the massive amount of foot traffic that a school has then a typical home should be no problem.
Laminate is quite durable too though with a good lifespan. It’s actually hard to put a dent in laminate under typical use. It’s also stain resistant and good for pets.
Linoleum manufacturers typically give a 25 year warranty on their flooring which is a nice bonus. It should actually last longer than this though if it’s maintained properly. Laminate usually doesn’t have a warranty this long but should also last a long time with proper maintenance.
In the event that a laminate floor becomes damaged it can be a real pain to deal with. Laminate can’t be refinished so the options are much more limited. The damage can only be covered up or the plank can be removed and replaced.
Linoleum can also be damaged by heavy furniture or objects falling from a distance, however it can be fixed easier.
Another thing to keep in mind with linoleum is the possibility of sun damage. If the linoleum gets enough sun exposure it can develop a yellow tint. This is called “ambering” and once it develops it’s permanent. The reason this happens is that the UV rays oxidize the linseed oil in the linoleum. Laminate doesn’t get damaged by the sun as easily so there is less concern if the area will be exposed to the sun.
Winner = linoleum. Although both of these options are durable, linoleum is not only tougher but easier to fix damage.
There are a few reasons why linoleum is a very underrated flooring option. This is one of those reasons.
Anyone that’s looking for flooring with the environment in mind will like the fact that linoleum uses all natural materials such as resins, oils, minerals and other materials which come from plants. Because of this, it’s biodegradable and compostable.
Laminate on the other hand doesn’t have these eco-friendly qualities the vast majority of the time.
Winner = linoleum. Linoleum wins this category by a landslide, not much to say really.
There’s a common belief that linoleum is waterproof. Although it is very water resistant, it’s not fully waterproof. It can still be damaged by water if spills are not properly dealt with. This means that you have to be careful if it’s installed in a bathroom, basement, or any other room with water.
Laminate is marketed as being water-resistant and it does live up to the claims. There are some brands that claim to produce water-proof laminate but they often don’t live up to the hype. Overall, laminate has enough water-resistance capabilities to not be an issue in most homes if spills are cleaned up fast. If laminate does become water damaged it will need to be replaced, so keep that in mind.
Winner = Linoleum. While both are good options here, a slight edge goes to linoleum for handling small spills a bit better.
If you’re the type of person that likes to DIY then you’ll enjoy the fact that laminate is about as DIY friendly as it gets!
Installation of laminate doesn’t require any special tools thanks to the click-lock floating floor technology. In fact, many people can do an entire room in just a couple days.
The brief process for laminate is to clean the subfloor, add underlayment, and then click and lock in planks one after one. Some brands of laminate even have the underlayment backing attached to the planks already which saves some time.
One downside to laminate installation is that the planks are a bit fragile. They can be damaged during installation if you’re not careful because the core is sometimes made with pressboard.
Linoleum does also have click-lock floating planks available. However it’s much more common for linoleum to be in tile or sheet form. These tiles or sheets must have an adhesive laid down first which is best done by a professional.
Winner = Laminate. Laminate wins this category with ease because it can be installed DIY.
Linoleum is an easy type of flooring to clean. You don’t need a special kind of broom, mop, or cleaner. A normal broom, dust mop, water, and detergent should be enough for most spills.
Laminate is also easy to clean, you just need to take care not to use excessive water. While you can get cleaning supplies (like steam mops) made specially for laminate, regular ones will do just fine.
Either of these flooring types are a good choice for pets and kids.
Winner = tie. Too close to call.
If you have kids or pets then you’re probably used to accidents and floor damage. As we went over earlier, any water damage to laminate is often permanent and will need to be covered up or replaced.
Linoleum on the other hand is more forgiving. The color that is visible on the surface runs right through. Because of this it can be refinished and minor damage can be fixed.
Winner = Linoleum. The possibility of refinishing makes linoleum the clear winner here.
Reputation and Looks
Although more and more people are starting to open up to linoleum flooring, it still has kind of a bad reputation as a “cheap flooring” option. One thing to consider is that it can affect the resale value of your home, depending on the buyer.
Although laminate isn’t known to be a “prestigious” kind of flooring either, it does have a better reputation than linoleum.
People often think that laminate manufacturers make their flooring with the intention of it being fake hardwood. This is not the case though. Laminate is composed of pressed wood and the top is simply a sticker to make it look nicer. There is even laminate nowadays that looks like natural stone and ceramic tile.
Overall, people do tend to use laminate as a substitute for hardwood at a more affordable price. The more the laminate looks like real hardwood, the more expensive it is.
Laminate can feel a bit cheap when walking on it. This is because cheap laminate uses thinner planks. These planks have more “give” when you walk over them and are therefore a bit bouncy. If you want thicker planks that mimic hardwood then you’ll have to pay top dollar or this.
Winner = Laminate. Overall laminate not only looks better, but has a better reputation that shouldn’t hurt your homes value as much.
Who Should Buy Laminate Flooring?
We feel that the majority of people are better off buying laminate flooring for basic home use. The combination of easy install, better look, and good durability make it our favorite choice.
Who Should Buy Linoleum Flooring?
If the flooring will be used in an area that will be more prone to damage then we would have to recommend linoleum. This is probably the only situation that we pick linoleum though, as all the categories are very close.
We hope that our article helped to shed some light on all the differences between laminate and linoleum. Overall it’s a very close comparison and you can’t go wrong with either of these types of flooring.
When making your decision, consider where the flooring will be used, what kind of foot traffic it will receive, and the resale value of your home.