This is a very frequently asked question in the flooring world; laminate vs vinyl flooring? Vinyl vs Stratex? Stratex vs laminate? And more importantly, which floor is right for you, your home, and your needs. To answer those burning questions, we need to start by giving you a little introduction to each type of wood-effect flooring.
What is Laminate Flooring?
Laminate is one of the most well-known everyday use floors out there, and we’re sure you’re already familiar with the term, but do you know what defines a laminate floor? Here is a quick glance at it:
- Made from multiple layers (usually of melamine resin and dense fibre board).
- The wood-effect is achieved by a decorative paper, i.e. not real wood.
- Boards are smooth with little to light texture.
- Laminate is generally not waterproof.
- Reasonably durable and relatively easy to install and maintain.
- Expansion gaps are needed when installing.
- By default, laminate flooring does not come with underlay.
- Underfloor heating is possible with laminate, as long as the total tog of all materials does not exceed 2.5 tog.
- By nature, laminate does not aid with soundproofing, and it can be noisy to walk on. Underlay can help to improve soundproofing for rooms directly below the room with the laminate.
- Warranties and lifespans can vary.
- Laminate is one of the cheapest wood-effect floorings on the market.
Laminate flooring is a relatively inexpensive way to have wood-effect flooring in your home and is often chosen for children’s bedrooms, hallways and other areas that need a functional and easy to clean floor, that is relatively durable. There is an enormous range of designs, so it is best to look around when trying to find the one right for your home.
What is Vinyl Flooring
Vinyl flooring is another well-established type of floor, and whilst there are many types of vinyl flooring, we are focusing on wood-effect LVT (luxury vinyl tile) in this particular article. LVT is often chosen as bathroom and/or kitchen flooring due to its waterproof and easy-to-clean properties.
Vinyl flooring at a glance:
- LVT is made from PVC (polyvinyl chloride).
- The wood-effect is achieved by a high-quality vinyl print and is also available in many different designs.
- Vinyl flooring has a synthetic/plastic texture which means it is susceptible to imprints from heavy or sharp items.
- Unlike laminate, vinyl flooring is waterproof.
- Vinyl is durable and easy to install.
- Expansion gaps are needed when installing loose-laid vinyl.
- Some LVT products have a built-in underlay.
- You can have underfloor heating with vinyl, but most should not be heated to above 26 degrees celsius.
- Vinyl performs better than laminate in terms of soundproofing.
- Guarantees and lifespans vary.
- Vinyl is considered affordable, but prices can vary depending on the quality/lifespan.
Luxury vinyl tiles usually come up higher rated than laminate when considering a water-resistant and durable floor, however, it can slightly lack style and texture though as it has a softer, plastic-like texture.
Both laminate and vinyl flooring have their pros and cons, but what if there was a solution that combined the style and stability of laminate, with the water-resistant and hard-wearing benefits of vinyl flooring – whilst also being easy to install…? This brings us to the next product…
What is Stratex Flooring
Stratex flooring is something we invented at Woodpecker as we felt like there was a gap in the market. At Woodpecker, we identified a need for wood and wood-effect floors that were practical for lived-in homes and provided affordable, pet-hygienic friendly flooring options that were waterproof and anti-slip-resistant, too. Hence, Stratex was born – our alternative to laminate flooring, and with it, two distinctive and unique ranges; Brecon and Lynton:
What is Brecon flooring
- Brecon has an exceptionally durable mineral/resin composite core – making it a high-performance floor.
- The wood-effect is achieved by a wood print foil with a PU-coated vinyl wear layer and a realistic wood-grain finish.
- 100% Waterproof flooring (not just water-resistant, waterproof).
- Brecon is stable, durable, and very easy to clean.
- No expansion gaps are required with Brecon in normal room temperatures.
- It comes with a built-in underlay.
- Brecon is suitable for underfloor heating with a tog rating of 1.05.
- The built-in underlay helps with soundproofing, and it is not as noisy as laminate to walk on (but not as quiet as vinyl).
- Brecon is guaranteed for 25 years.
- Brecon may initially be slightly more expensive than cheap laminate/vinyl options due to the advanced materials used.
Brecon is a very popular choice for bathroom and/or kitchen flooring as it usually needs no expansion gaps, is fully waterproof flooring, and comes with a built-in underlay, so installation can be quick and efficient. Brecon also comes in a range of beautiful oak-looking finishes, as well as parquet and herringbone styles to give every room a luxury feel without a luxury price tag.
What is Lynton flooring
- Unlike the previous options, Lynton has a top layer of real oak flooring (1mm) which is brushed and matt lacquered.
- The real wood is on a bed of an exceptionally durable mineral/resin composite core.
- Lynton is water-resistant and highly resistant to moisture.
- Dent resistant, durable, and very stable.
- No expansion gaps are needed for installation in normal conditions.
- Lynton comes with a built-in underlay.
- It is suitable for underfloor heating with a tog rating of 1.15.
- Since Lynton has real oak on top, it sounds like wood to walk on, but the underlay helps suppress additional sound.
- Lynton has a 25-year warranty.
- Lynton is slightly dearer than vinyl and laminate flooring due to the advanced materials used and the real oak layer.
Lynton is in its own league as it has a real wood top layer whilst still being contained in a very thin plank, this means that it is ideal for installations where flooring thickness is a constraint, but you don’t want to compromise on having real wood. Lynton is also dent and water-resistant, and it has a built-in underlay, so it is ready to be installed.
Which flooring is best?
As we’ve investigated, each flooring type has its own pros and cons, so working out which is right for you comes down to your personal needs and preferences. Do you need a floor that is fully waterproof? Do you need a floor that is dog-friendly? Do you need a floor that is easy to install? Or do you need a floor that is a certain thickness? These are just a few questions that you should ask yourself during the floor shopping process, it is important to consider your circumstances now, but also what will be key factors to you in 10+ years, as a lot of these flooring types will far exceed that lifespan.
If cost is your main deciding factor, then laminate flooring is where you should start your search – but bear in mind that typically laminate flooring does not come with a built-in underlay, so make sure that you are costing that up with your total price. Laminate flooring is also extremely tough to cut, so a hand-saw or power saw will be required – this won’t be a problem if you’re getting it installed by a professional, but it is something to consider if you’re wanting to install laminate yourself. As laminate and moisture don’t go hand in hand, leaving expansion gaps is particularly important in the installation process, and therefore laminate flooring shouldn’t be installed in bathrooms or kitchens.
Loose-lay vinyl flooring can be comparable in pricing to laminate at the lower-end, but there are also many high-end LVT products out there, so laminate is still the overall cheaper product. However, with LVT you benefit from having a whole host of different finishes including; stone effect, tile, and even some design prints, so if you want a water-resistant flooring that comes in many designs then vinyl is definitely a floor you should consider. However, although vinyl is water-resistant, the core of this product will still react to moisture and temperature, therefore expansion gaps will be needed and, generally speaking, vinyl click flooring won’t come with a built-in underlay so that is also an additional cost to factor in.
If finding a floor that is a practical, stylish, and family/pet-hygienic friendly solution with waterproof/water-resistant properties, then our Stratex range is something that you should explore. Just like vinyl flooring, Stratex is available in a variety of embossed wood-effect finishes (Brecon range), however, you also have the additional option of a real-wood top layer with our Lynton range. Both Brecon and Lynton are guaranteed for a staggering 25 years, meaning 25 years is the absolute minimum they will last for, and they are both specially crafted with stability and outstanding performance in mind.
With Brecon (our solution to vinyl flooring) you don’t need to leave expansion gaps and it has been manufactured for easy installation with easiloc joints and a simple score & snap design that makes cutting planks to size a breeze (great for installing it yourself or for saving on labour and machinery required!). As Stratex is next-generation flooring, the initial cost is slightly more than cheap laminate or vinyl flooring, but since Stratex has a twenty-five-year guarantee, comes with a built-in underlay, and is designed as a high-performance floor, the overall cost would be significantly less in the long run and you would benefit from flooring that looks and feels like wood.
If the features of Stratex flooring sound like they could be suited for you and your lifestyle, then feel free to browse our Stratex range online, and don’t forget to pick up some free samples to see how they look up close.
If you’re still unsure about which flooring option might be best for you, then we always recommend picking up a few flooring samples of each type, and if possible, speaking to a flooring expert to help narrow your search further. It is a big decision after all, and something that will be in your home for a very long time to come, so it is not a decision that should be rushed.