Tiles vs Laminate: The Pros & Cons of Each

Tiles vs Laminate

New choices in laminate flooring offer ease of installation and some wonderful laminate floor patterns, but can they really compete with tiles?

If you're trying to figure out what the pluses and minuses are of either choice, tiles vs laminate, take a look at this quick guide. It can help you make the right decision for your next home remodeling project.

Tile Pros

Tiles have been the go to material for elegant bathrooms and kitchens for a millennia. From classic large, square, tiles to intricate mosaics up to today's modern waterjet medallions, tiles provide instant pizzazz to any home or business design project. The pros include:

High Class Aesthetics

As mentioned, they are well known for the the myriad of design possibilities available with different choices of tile.

Transfer Warmth and Comfort with Radiant Heating

Clay tiles are the perfect transmitter of warmth with radiant heating technologies.

Water Resistant

Tiles can be used in the kitchen or bathroom without too many worries that they will discolor or get damaged with water. They are perfect for a bathtub surround because you don't have to worry that getting out of the tub will damage your floors.

Easy to Replace Damaged Single Tiles

If you get a crack or chip in a tile, they can be replaced one at a time, as long as you have a matching tile. You don't have to replace the entire floor. Wouldn't it be easier to replace one square tile than the entire thing?

Adds to the Resale Value of a Home

Tiles, when done properly by a professional, will add to the resale value of a home, which really isn't true with laminate flooring. The difference is that tiles are durable and long-lasting and can last a lifetime.

Tile Cons

Despite all these wonderful positives, there are some negatives that come along with choosing tile in your design. They include:

Needs Professional Installation

Tiles do require a professional for installation, unlike laminates.

The Material Is Cold and Hard

Tiles tend to be cold, unless they are being used in conjunction with radiant heating. They are also hard on the feet. This design would be ramped up with radiant heating underneath.

More Expensive Than Laminate

Tiles are more expensive than laminates, ranging from $5 to $13 per square foot, not including installation.

More Maintenance Than Laminate

Tiles can need regularly sealing, scrubbing, and even some grout repair or replacement. The good news is that this is often easy enough for a homeowner to do on their own.

Laminate Pros

Laminate flooring can come in a variety of different looks, some that closely resemble wood flooring. With the new snap-in grooves, modern laminate is far easier to install than in the past. It does not require messy glues and can float above a cushioned pad, making it soft to step on. Thus, many of the positives cause homeowners to choose laminates for its ease of maintenance and faux wood looks.

The pros of laminates are as follows:

Soft on the Feet

The cushion underneath can make the tough laminate feel softer on the feet than tile. For that reason, homeowners might pick laminate for the floor and tile for the rest of the kitchen, like this design.

Easy DIY Installation

Laminate flooring can be done by a do-it-yourselfer, but it still requires some skill to cut the lengths to the correct measure. However, it is nowhere near the skill level required to lay tile.

Less Expensive Than Tile

The cost to install laminate is less because it doesn't require cutting tiles or laying out grout. It costs between $2 and $8 per square foot, not including the installation.

Laminate Cons

Laminates can be a wonderful choice for flooring, but it simply isn't as durable as tile and may not be appropriate for households with pets. It can easily be damaged when wet or scratched up by playful pets. It won't add to the resale value of the home, like tile, but it will bring a casual style that is easier to maintain than tile, even if it doesn't last as long. The cons of laminates are:

Not As Durable As Tile

Laminates are plastic and paper that have been laminated together and for that reason they simply aren't as durable as tile.

Not Waterproof

They can be used in the kitchen, but care has to be taken near wet areas like the sink, since they can be easily damaged when wet. They aren't a good choice for the bathroom, unlike tile.

Hard to Replace Just a Small Section

If your laminate flooring does become damaged, you might have to remove more than one row to get it looking good as new. It's not as easy to just replace, like a single tile.

Laminate Designs Aren't As Sophisticated as Tile Designs

You can get mock tile designs in laminate, but they look somewhat fake. The best choices tend to be wood looking laminates that mimic the real thing fairly well, but are still able to be distinguished by the viewer on closer inspection. However, from a distance they can look like the real thing, as in this photo.

Which Would You Choose?

If you want a wood looking floor, you can still choose tiles that look like wood, and get a more durable floor than laminate. However, if cost is a factor, you might choose laminates on the floor and go with tiles in other places, like the walls.

The choice of tiles vs laminate doesn't have to be either/or. It can be both. Just decide first whether you want something that looks high-end, like tile, or something easy to maintain, like laminate.

Ask yourself if the environment makes tile a better choice because water will be present and could cause laminate to become damaged. Even consider whether you have pets. Knowing some of these factors, which would you choose?

About the Author

Nelson Londono founded Artsaics in 1998 after learning the ins and outs of designing custom artistic tiles and stone mosaics. The New York-based surfacing company specializes in producing stunning artistic tiles & stone designs with fine natural stone from around the world. Nelson and his team's passion lies in working with their hands, heads and hearts to make each and every space a unique reflection of self expression. You can learn more about Artsaics here.