Benefits of laminate and vinyl flooring include easy installation, low maintenance and high resistance to stains. Laminate flooring, which comes in convenient tile sizes or 4-foot strips, can simulate almost any hardwood, natural stone or ceramic material and requires as little as 36 hours to acclimate before installation. Vinyl flooring is cheap, durable and water-resistant. It comes in numerous design options, does not turn cold during winter and feels soft under the feet.
Hardwood flooring typically comes in 8- or 10-foot lengths that are unwieldy to handle compared to the shorter and smaller laminate and vinyl flooring materials. A do-it-yourselfer can install laminate flooring for an entire room in a day by simply rolling down a sheet of underlayment and snapping the laminate planks or tiles to one another even without the use of adhesives. Vinyl flooring, which requires a smooth, dry and highly level subfloor, is relatively easy to install using pliable vinyl adhesive or tile mastic.
Laminate and vinyl flooring have a clear layer that protects them from spills and stains. Regular maintenance typically requires simple sweeping or vacuuming. Vinyl floor tiles are so durable to abrasion and impact damage that they are popular for use in commercial, heavy-traffic areas. Some types can withstand repeated refinishing using chemical strippers and buffers.
One disadvantage of laminate floors is that they cannot be refinished after the surface wear layer degrades, forcing the homeowner to replace the entire floor. They may also sound hollow when walked on if installed without underlying noise dampeners. A concern involving vinyl flooring arises because of the harmful dioxins, heavy metals and phthalates released into the environment when vinyl flooring burns or when old vinyl flooring is discarded and incinerated.