4 Affordable Alternatives to Wood Flooring That Look Just Like the Real Thing
Hardwood floors may be gorgeous and supremely popular, but there are wood flooring alternatives out there that look just like the real thing—and they cost less money and are easier to care for.
Wood flooring could be called the gold standard of flooring. It looks beautiful in any home, trends like hardwood floors in kitchens have been popular picks for years, and there’s a huge variety of wood flooring types and styles available. But wood is also one of the most expensive types of flooring and isn’t always the most durable, especially if you have young children or pets. Fortunately, like refinishing kitchen cabinets, refinishing wood floors is always an option.
For anyone planning to stay away from wood entirely, though, there are many types of wood flooring alternatives available that give you the look of wood at a lower cost. Some of these alternatives can also be less susceptible to wear and tear than hardwood flooring, and they’re often easier to clean and maintain. Here are some of the most common alternatives to wood flooring—one might just convince you to let that dream of hardwood floors go.
Laminate wood flooring
This is one of the most popular alternatives to wood flooring because laminate is an easy dupe for hardwood. A quality laminate can even be mistaken for wood, both in terms of how it looks and how it feels underfoot. The price range of laminate wood flooring can vary from truly cost affective all the way to very high end—just know that, in terms of appearance, you’ll typically get what you pay for.
Laminate is made from different layers of particleboard wood with a sealed photographic layer on top. Laminate installation is the same as wood floor installation, with each board joined through a tongue and groove joint. While more durable than hardwood, it’s important to know that laminate is thinner and, if damaged, cannot be sanded down like wood.
Engineered wood flooring
Engineered wood flooring is similar to laminate wood flooring in that it has multiple layers. But, instead of a photographic layer on top, there is a thin slice of real wood. The layers below are often made of plywood. Unlike laminate wood flooring, engineered wood can be sanded down, but it can only be done once or twice in the life of the product. While well-maintained solid wood floors can last for generations, engineered wood flooring won’t last quite that long. But if it’s well cared-for, it won’t need to be replaced at least 20 years. (Some engineered wood floors can last as long as 100 years, but don’t count on that for your floors.) The process of cleaning engineered wood floors is similar to how to clean wood floors, so you won’t necessarily get an easier time caring for it.
Wood tile flooring
Wood tile flooring has become hugely popular in recent years. It’s exactly what it sounds like: tile flooring that looks like wood, but isn’t made of wood at all. Generally, it’s made of either ceramic or porcelain tile. (Learn about the differences between porcelain vs. ceramic tile here.) Tile flooring is environmentally sustainable, durable and less expensive than hardwood, laminate, or engineered wood flooring. It’s also preferable to wood for rooms like bathrooms, where humidity can cause warping.
Wood tile can be indistinguishable to the eye from real wood, as long as the grout lines are very thin. Thick grout can be a dead giveaway. This fake wood flooring also feels different underfoot than other wood flooring alternatives. You must be careful not to drop anything heavy on this type of flooring because tile can crack and chip, though it is much easier to replace a tile than a slat of hardwood.
Vinyl wood flooring
One of the most common types of fake wood flooring is vinyl. Made of 100 percent plastic, this synthetic material can look just like wood, but not always. It is one of the most cost-effective types of flooring and is extremely resistant to moisture, making it ideal for bathrooms and laundry rooms.