Meet Your Wood Flooring Match
Deciding against real wood floors doesn't mean you have to give up the wood-grain look.
So you've decided against wood flooring—whether it's the heavy maintenance, price tag, or lack of water resistance, something about wood has made it unsuitable for your home. Luckily, you don't have to forgo your dreams of dark mahogany sweeping your kitchen or light ash brightening your bedroom just yet. Get the charm and warmth you're looking for (and skip the hassle of real wood) with these wood flooring alternatives.
Engineered Wood for an Authentic Wood Floor
If you're set on real wood but need something a little more durable, engineered wood flooring may be the way to go. Engineered hardwood floors are real wood, but instead of a solid plank it's made of layers of hardwood or plywood and then topped with a hardwood veneer. This structure gives the flooring improved strength to stand up to everyday wear and tear as well as temperature and moisture changes.
No one will guess that your engineered wood floors aren't solid hardwood floors. Because engineered wood is real wood, it is the best option for an authentic wood appearance. This also means that engineered wood flooring can be refinished, so you can revive your floors if they begin to look tired over time.
Another perk of engineered hardwood is that you won't suffer because you didn't go with solid wood come resale time. Engineered hardwood typically has the same return on investment as traditional hardwood floors, making it a solid choice.
Ultimately, engineered wood is still wood, so it has the same drawbacks—especially when it comes to water resistance. Engineered wood flooring is stronger than traditional hardwood, but it still shouldn't be used in wet areas, such as bathrooms, laundry rooms, or mudrooms, and all spills should be immediately cleaned up. Also, engineered wood flooring requires using harder woods for the veneer, so you will have fewer choices style-wise. You won't find softer woods, like pine, with engineered flooring.
Laminate Flooring for a Wallet-Friendly Wood Look
If you like the idea of wood floors but are looking for a more affordable alternative, laminate may be a good option. Designed to not only look like wood but feel like it too, laminate wood flooring is made of layers of melamine resin and fiberboard material with an imprinted textured image on its surface. Because it's synthetic, laminate wood flooring is easier to clean and care for, making it a good option for families with children and pets.
Laminate wood flooring is the best option to get the hardwood look for less. The quality of the laminate you choose will dictate how much you save, but typically it will be less expensive than hardwood flooring. It also has the edge on care, compared to hardwood. A little sweeping and wet mop will do the job, so you won't have to worry about purchasing wood-specific cleaning products and the extra upkeep of sealing, sanding, or staining the surface periodically.
Because it's a printed image, laminate won't look as real or have the dimension of actual hardwood. Also, the pattern will likely be repeated somewhere on the floor, which could give away its lack of authenticity. This may not be a deal breaker for some—saving money is a good look too. But if you have guests with a keen eye, they will likely be able to spot the difference.
Being the budget-friendly option, laminate flooring isn't as strong in other areas, like life span. Hardwood and tile can last a lifetime when they are taken care of, but laminate is more likely to last 10 to 20 years, depending on quality of the laminate and the wear it takes.
Porcelain Tile for a Waterproof Wood Appearance
Porcelain tile doesn't seem like a likely candidate for a wood flooring alternative, but it's an up-and-coming option that deserves some credit. Porcelain wood tile has the outstanding qualities of tile and the look of wood. And it can actually top wood in terms of style options because porcelain tile comes in traditional wood-type styles, like oak and maple, as well as more on-trend styles, like white and gray wood, that you won't get with real wood.
Porcelain wood tiles have the advantage when it comes to moisture control. Porcelain tiles are waterproof, making them perfect in wet or humid areas. Also, being tile, porcelain is the most durable of the options. If an unfortunate accident does occur, repair is fairly easy with the help of a contractor and a few spare tiles.
The biggest downfall of porcelain tile, as a wood alternative, is the feel. Porcelain wood tiles are solid and cool to the touch, so they won't have the warm feel that hardwood floors do. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, depending on what you want from your flooring, but it is something to keep in mind.
Another con with porcelain tile is the cost. It will likely be the same price or possibly more than hardwood flooring, so it's not a great alternative if budget is your main concern.
Better Homes & Gardens Tip: Loving porcelain wood tile but not crazy about it being cool to the touch? Consider radiant floor heating. Floor heating can warm up your tiles and transform your master bathroom into a relaxing spa.