4 Affordable Alternatives to Wood Flooring That Look Just Like the Real Thing

Hardwood floors are gorgeous and supremely popular. But some wood flooring alternatives look great, cost less, and are easier to care for.

Wood Flooring Alternatives - Types of Fake Wood Flooring
Photo: Getty Images

Wood flooring could be called the gold standard of flooring. It looks beautiful in any home, it's been trendy for years, and there's a huge variety of wood flooring types and styles. But wood is also one of the most expensive kinds 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, many types of wood flooring alternatives give you the look of wood at a lower cost. Some are 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 of them might just cause you to lose your attachment to hardwoods.

Laminate wood flooring

Laminate wood flooring is a popular alternative because it's an easy dupe for hardwood in how it looks and how it feels underfoot. The price range of laminate wood flooring can vary from cost-effective to very high-end— and 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, laminate is thinner and, if damaged, cannot be sanded down like wood.

Engineered wood flooring

Like laminate wood flooring, engineered wood flooring 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 only once or twice. While well-maintained solid wood floors can last for generations, engineered wood flooring won't last as long. But if it's well-cared-for, it won't need to be replaced for 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 have an easier time caring for it.

Wood tile flooring

Wood tile flooring is exactly what it sounds like–tile flooring that looks like wood–and it's become hugely popular in recent years. Generally, it's made of either ceramic or porcelain tile. 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 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 it 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. This synthetic material is made of 100 percent plastic and 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.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles