I don’t know about you, but growing up, I spent a lot of time imagining what my dream home would look like- lots of natural light, warm colored walls, and of course, hardwood floors. While I haven’t yet moved into my dream home, it did make me wonder about what kinds of floors people across the country choose to install in their homes. Once I began looking at the data, I realized that laminate and vinyl were winning the DIY floor popularity contest. Understanding the differences between laminate and vinyl helps shed some light on the factors that are influencing their popularity.
Picking out the pieces
For the uninitiated, laminate and vinyl are both low-cost, easy maintenance flooring options. This would explain why the two of them combined the greatest overall flooring market share of 43%, while wood, tile, and carpet have shares of 19%, 16%, and 22% respectively. The main difference between the two is that vinyl is made completely of plastic, whereas laminate is made of several layers, including a protective coating, a decorative layer printed to imitate other surfaces (such as stone or wood), a core made of fiberboard, and usually a water resistant layer. Because of this, vinyl has an edge in areas where it is important that the floor be moisture-resistant.
Both products are popular due to their ability to mimic the look of other types of flooring for a lower price point and an easier installation process. Laminate (as well as certain kinds of vinyl flooring) can click into place, making it an ideal choice for a large-scale DIY flooring installation.
“Clicking” things into place
In terms of flooring across the United States, laminate is king. Or, as one member of the TraQline team was quick to point out, “laminate is ‘clicking’ with consumers”. Approximately 25% of all flooring material installed per square foot in the last year has been laminate. Laminate install is higher per square foot because it is more popular for installation in rooms with larger square footage like dens or home offices, dining rooms, and family rooms.
Approximately 18% of all flooring material installed per square foot in the last year was vinyl. Vinyl shines brightest in areas where it can show off its moisture resistance. For example, over half of all the square footage of vinyl floor installed is in the kitchen. Vinyl flooring is also often found in bathrooms and laundry rooms. In a situation where pipes could burst or major appliances could flood, vinyl is a safer option, while still being lower in cost and generally easier to install than materials like ceramic or porcelain tile.
Laying Down the Pieces
Laminate’s prevalence in square footage installing covers nearly every region of the United States. The South, West, and Northeast all boast Laminate as the most installed of the flooring categories. As mentioned, the ease of installation and lower cost makes laminate an easy choice for larger installations. The Midwest is a regional outlier, however, with consumers installing carpeting in the greatest quantity. Laminate comes in a close second in this market.
There is an interesting contrast between the number of households that install laminate vs. the area of laminate installed. In the South, West, and Northeast ceramic or porcelain tiles are most often selected by the household, but their typically smaller installation area mean that while more households select them, they fall in second (or sometimes third) place in terms of area installed. In the Midwest, Vinyl is chosen most frequently by households. Tile, on the other hand, is a less popular choice.
And what about the hardwood flooring I’ve been dreaming about? Wood flooring is the least common choice for flooring, making up about 14% of all flooring purchases. At the same time, it’s also the most expensive choice—it wins 25% of the dollar share for flooring. Despite this, wood flooring is solidly in the middle of the pack when it comes to square footage used. It’s most commonly installed in living rooms, with Dining rooms being popular as well. These larger rooms help to show off the natural beauty of wood floors.
So it turns out my dreams of having reclaimed hardwood floors throughout my home may be out of touch with trends in the US. The popularity and versatility of laminate and vinyl make these options popular choices across geography and generations. Our findings indicate that the differences in what people choose to install are minimal regionally, but there are still quirks that can be catered to. Are you a flooring manufacturer or retailer? What materials are most popular for you? Let us know by tweeting us @TraQline, or leaving us a message on LinkedIn.