Tile flooring and laminate flooring are two very different types of floor coverings. Tile flooring might include ceramic, porcelain and slate, and can be produced using a variety of natural resources. Laminate flooring, on the other hand, uses very few natural materials; it is made by using a synthetic layered product with an outer design surface that mimics hardwood or stone.

Laminate Flooring vs Tile: Pros and Cons

Laminate Flooring:

Pros:

  • Easy to install and remove
  • Scratch-resistant (pet-friendly)
  • Low maintenance
  • Low cost for removal
  • Softer surface

Cons:

  • Susceptible to moisture (not recommended for bathrooms or laundry rooms)
  • Difficult to repair

Tile Flooring:

Pros:

  • Waterproof
  • Scratch-resistant (pet-friendly)
  • Easy to clean floor
  • Easy to repair

Cons:

  • Difficult to install and remove
  • Difficult to clean grout
  • Requires more maintenance
  • Very expensive

Cost of Laminate Flooring vs Tile

One of the first questions homeowners ask is: which is cheaper, tile or laminate flooring? The answer is laminate flooring.

Laminate flooring is perfect for homeowners looking for a fresh, stylish look on a budget because it has the look and feel of more expensive options.

However, while laminate flooring is known for being cheaper than other flooring options, the price can depend on the thickness and quality of laminate flooring. This can span from as little as $1/sf to $5/sf. Additionally, labor costs for laminate flooring installation are usually calculated by the square foot. For laminate installation, homeowners can expect to pay an average of $2/sf for the installation component of the laminate flooring project only. Use our laminate cost estimator to get a detailed view into how much you might be spending on your project.

Tile, although more expensive than laminate flooring, also comes in a range of prices. Ceramic and porcelain are the most cost-effective, running from $1.50 to $5 per square foot. Vinyl, linoleum and laminate come in at the lower end of the spectrum. Expect to pay $2 to $7 per square foot for these materials, including installation costs. Porcelain and ceramic come in the middle of the price range, running anywhere from $5 to $10 per square foot with the cost of installation. Use our handy tile calculator to figure out how many tiles you’ll need for your project, then get an estimate from local contractors for your tile and grout projects.

If you choose tile flooring, your higher costs may be justified; tile flooring increases a home’s resale value while laminate flooring does not.

Durability

Luckily, both laminate AND tile flooring are durable and perfect for high-traffic areas. However, tile is hands-down more durable due to the fact that it is mostly water-resistant, although not completely waterproof. Tile and grout are porous, which means that after so much time water will seep through your tile, into your thinset and on to your concrete. This creates moisture underneath your tile that, over time, will slowly soften up your thinset and pop your tiles right out of the mud. When installed and sealed properly, however, tile is almost impenetrable.

Tile’s one weak spot is in its potential for chipping or breaking, particularly if it something heavy or sharp is dropped. Even so, damaged tile can be easily replaced with no effect on the surrounding tile.

Laminate flooring is less durable than tile, but still durable. With laminate flooring, water can seep into the joints of laminate. This could result in swelling, warping, and discoloration. Additionally, laminate is susceptible to wearing over time, while a well-maintained tile can last a long time. Laminate is also more difficult to repair, as the strips are connected by a tongue-and-groove system. Replacing one strip might mean removing an entire row of strips. However, some manufacturers have designed laminate to be scratch-resistant, water-resistant, and weather-resistant.

Maintenance

When it comes to maintenance, laminate flooring has the advantage over tile flooring. Laminate floors do not need waxing or sealing, and with no grout lines, sweeping and vacuuming are easy and hassle-free. When it comes to cleaning your laminate floor, our experts recommend using a  Swiffer WetJet, which can spray an even coat of cleaning solution and immediately wipe up dirt afterwards.

Tile, however, needs additional care, simply because of the grout and how easy it is to catch dust and grime (if you’ve ever seen the color of grout lines change over time, you’ll know what we’re talking about!). In order to keep your grout lines clean and presentable, it’s best to clean them monthly. We recommend using a toothbrush for this. Grout also needs to be resealed about once a year, although complete removal and regrouting may be required over time.

When doing a large clean, you can sweep, vacuum, or mop tile without worrying about moisture, unlike laminate flooring.

Repairs

It’s worth noting that tile is much easier to repair than laminate flooring. This is because tile is usually installed in individual pieces, which doesn’t affect the surrounding area.

If, however, you need to repair laminate flooring, you’ll have to remove surrounding laminate strips--sometimes entire rows. One of the worst scenarios would be if you had to replace a laminate strip in the middle of the room. You would have to remove the entire section from wall to wall.

While tile may be more expensive to install, laminate flooring might be more costly to repair over time.

Resale Value

When it comes to resale value, tile takes the cake compared to laminate. Because of its longevity and elegance, tile can be instantly more attractive to potential homebuyers.

However as we mentioned above, some manufacturers are reengineering laminate flooring to be more durable and water-resistant, which may increase its resale value in the future.

Laminate Flooring Vs Tile Flooring: Our Final Verdict

Laminate and tile are both wonderful options, so what’s our final verdict? Tile is more expensive to install, but takes very little maintenance, and repairs are also easy. Laminate is cheaper but might be more of a hassle if you need to repair it.

Our verdict? It’s going to depend on your budget. If you’re okay with splurging a little more upfront in order to have peace of mind with your flooring (and future resale value), opt for tile. If you’re on a budget and certain that you can put in the time and effort to maintain your flooring, opt for laminate. Ultimately, both are great choices, and a lovely addition to any home.