Hardwood floors look sophisticated and gorgeous, but they can be costly. For this reason, this flooring type can be less than ideal for those who are on a tight budget. Fortunately, some great alternatives are cost-effective and easier to maintain.
The best alternatives to wood flooring are:
- Laminate wood
- Wood Tile
- Engineered hardwood
- Vinyl wood
- Cork flooring
- Natural bamboo
Except for the porcelain tile, these floor types mimic the look of authentic hardwood. But they are less expensive and low-maintenance.
Wood flooring alternatives are a budget-friendly addition to your home. However, there are some considerations that you need to take before having them installed in your home.
Top 6 Alternatives to Wood Flooring
Back then, there were not a lot of options in terms of replacing your home’s flooring. The reason is that while the primary materials look gorgeous, they can be costly. Even the cost of getting people to do the construction is expensive.
The good thing is that this home project no longer has to cause you an arm and a leg today. Many faux wood flooring options will provide you with an elegant floor without requiring you to spend all out.
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Moreover, faux wood mimics the texture and look of hardwood flooring and other natural materials. For this reason, it is the perfect choice for people who are on a tight budget but are aiming to replace their flooring.
Laminate wood flooring
Laminate wood flooring is among the most popular types of wood flooring alternatives. It looks like natural hardwood flooring. In fact, people often mistake it for genuine wood as it can mimic the look and how hardwood feels on the underfoot.
Moreover, the cost of laminate wood flooring can range from highly cost-effective to high-end. It is essential to note that the appearance of this flooring type will depend on what you paid for.
Laminate consists of various layers of particleboard wood. It also has a sealed photographic layer just on top. In addition, it has the same installation process as wood floor installation. Meaning a tongue and groove joint joins each board together.
The good thing about laminate wood flooring is that it is more durable than hardwood. However, it is vital to note that it is also thinner. For this reason, you cannot sand it down like wood when it acquires scratches and other damage.
To sum it all up, laminate wood flooring is beautiful, inexpensive, and highly durable. What is even better is that you can get it in a vast array of colors and styles. You can even get versions that look like stone and other natural materials apart from wood.
Laminate wood flooring is also resistant to stains and moisture. So, it is suitable for areas where moisture and stain causes are present. That includes kitchens, bathrooms, and hallways.
Laminate is a lot cheaper than hardwood flooring. When installed by a professional, it can provide the appearance of a vast array of flooring options. Laminate wood flooring is also quite durable and is safe for your kids, pets, and elderly.
The fiberboard or plywood part of the laminate wood flooring can be prone to damages caused by water. These parts are difficult to repair. You will most likely need to replace the laminate area that acquired water damage.
Still, laminate wood flooring is an excellent choice if you know how to take care of it properly.
Wood tile flooring increased in popularity in the past years. As the name suggests, this flooring type is a tile that looks exactly like wood. However, none of its materials are made from wood.
This flooring type consists of either porcelain or ceramic. It is environmentally sustainable, sturdy, and a lot cheaper than other flooring types. If you plan to install flooring on your bathroom, kitchen, or any humid part of your home, wood tile is a perfect choice.
Additionally, you can hardly distinguish wood tile from natural wood. Thick grout will make your flooring look like faux wood, so make sure that each tile is close to the other to hide the grout. But the grout lines need to be very thin to make a more authentic look.
You also need to be careful when you prefer to install this flooring type in your house. Make sure not to drop any heavy object on it. Such can result in chips and crack on your floor.
The texture of wood tile feels different than other flooring alternatives. It is also easier to replace than hardwood.
Moreover, wood tile may look like natural wood. But it has the cooling benefit that hardwood does not have, thanks to the porcelain and ceramic material used to create it. This feature will save you from too much heat during the summer.
Wood tile also has heating benefits. During cold weather, it evenly distributes the heat that your heater creates. (1)
Wood tile flooring is highly versatile in terms of appearance. In addition, it requires low maintenance and is pretty durable. Such are two things that highly matter when you are choosing a flooring type.
This faux wood flooring may require regular sealing, especially on the grouts, to keep its elegant appearance. It is also quite hard, making it a little uncomfortable to walk on. Apart from that, wood tile flooring may look synthetic if you install them a little far from each other.
This faux wood flooring consists of thin layers of natural wood adhered together perpendicularly. As a result, the plank becomes stable. In addition, the surface has a thin layer of acrylic finish, giving the flooring an excellent texture.
However, engineered hardwood flooring is more expensive than other hardwood alternatives. The reason is that its materials have actual wood. This feature also makes it more durable than other faux wood flooring types. (3)
Just like laminate wood flooring, engineered wood has multiple layers. The difference is that the laminate wood has a photographic layer on top while the latter has natural wood. Most of the time, the lower layers of engineered wood flooring are made of plywood.
If you are looking for faux wood flooring that you can sand down once it acquires stains, scratches, and other imperfections, this flooring type can be an ideal choice. However, it is worth noting that you can only sand it down once or twice during its life.
Engineered wood flooring also has a shorter lifespan than a hardwood floor. But if you take good care of it, it can last for more than 20 years.
The cleaning and maintenance process for this flooring type is similar to a hardwood floor. For this reason, you will not necessarily have an easier time taking care of it.
Engineered wood floor is more stable compared to hardwood. What is even more compelling is that it gives you the exact appearance of genuine wood.
You can also purchase this flooring type in clickable boards. For this reason, you can install them on your own if you know DIY. This way, you will be able to save money from the installation costs.
While the engineered wood floor is more resistant to damage than hardwood, it can only take a beating for some time. The top layer is also relatively thin. So, you need to refinish it a couple of times during its lifespan.
Eventually, you will need to replace your engineered wood flooring due to constant wear and tear. But it will last for so many years before it requires a replacement.
Vinyl Wood Floor
Vinyl is one of the most common types of faux wood. Its material is entirely plastic. While this synthetic flooring can look like natural wood, that depends on how much you pay for it. Meaning the higher the price, the more genuine it will look.
This cost-effective flooring is exceptionally resistant to moisture. So, it is perfect for bathrooms and laundry room floors.
The standard material that vinyl flooring has is polyvinyl chloride plastic or PVC. First, manufacturers heat tiny pieces of colored PVC. They then press it into thin layers to form the sheets. Finally, they stick the PVC sheets together to create flexible vinyl sheets.
Apart from wood, vinyl flooring can also mimic other natural materials like stone and ceramic. Thus, it is similar to laminate flooring and linoleum. However, vinyl is entirely synthetic, making it budget-friendly, sturdy, and easy to install.
Furthermore, vinyl floors have four layers:
- Wear layer
- Print layer
The wear layer consists of a clear protective urethane sealant. It makes the vinyl flooring water-resistant and durable. The thickness of this layer also indicates the durability of the vinyl flooring.
The attractive appearance of this flooring type comes from the print layer. It is a thin film printed with the different flooring patterns you see through the transparent wear layer.
On the other hand, the core types determine the flexibility and rigidity of the vinyl flooring. If you prefer rigid flooring, look for vinyl floors that come in durable tiles or planks. Such has a little flexibility.
Waterproof cores contain SPC or small plastic composite or WPC or wood plastic composite. The SPC is significantly more complex, more compact, more durable, and denser than WPC.
Finally, underlayment includes felt, fiber, foam, or rubber. It is the bottommost part of the vinyl flooring. In addition, it adds insulation, cushioning, durability, and sound absorption to the flooring material.
When you install vinyl wood flooring over a subfloor prone to moisture, the underlayment can give the underside of the flooring a protective layer against moisture.
Underlayment comes either pre-attached or separated to the vinyl flooring. For this reason, make sure to check the manufacturer’s details before making a purchase.
Vinyl flooring will provide you with different options depending on your preference and budget. For example, if you aim for a luxurious-looking floor, modern vinyl looks expensive but does not require paying too much.
But if you prefer a simple home interior, vinyl floorings have minimalist designs as well.
All your options for flooring have their lifespan. But vinyl has a little bit lower lifespan than the other flooring types. The petroleum in its material is also not environmentally friendly and sustainable.
The best thing about cork flooring is that it is environmentally friendly and sustainably harvested. It can also provide your home with the color and texture that it needs.
Additionally, the natural material used for making this faux wood flooring is highly resistant to mold, insects, and mildew. It can even give your home a noise-reduction capability.
However, cork is not durable enough to install in high-traffic spaces, such as your corridor. Still, the cushiony surface and insulating properties make this flooring type an excellent choice for rooms where you spend most of your time standing, such as the kitchen.
Cork flooring is also the most comfortable type of flooring available. While it can be a little more expensive than other laminate wood flooring, its quality is almost similar to ceramic tile flooring. So, you can still say that it is cost-effective, considering the high quality that it has.
As mentioned, cork flooring comes from a renewable resource. Manufacturers harvest it from the cork oak trees’ bark, which you can find commonly in the Mediterranean.
You can also find cork in Spain, Portugal, France, Italy, Morocco, and Tunisia. Among these seven countries, Portugal is the largest producer of the said material. This country has more than 30 percent of all the cork trees in the world.
Moreover, cork has a cellular structure. For this reason, it traps air within its cells. As a result, this flooring type has a natural shock-absorbing feel when installed over your subfloor.
Cork flooring also has natural properties. This property comes from suberin, the naturally-occurring waxy substance that you can find on the cork. Suberin repels mites, insects, and mold. Apart from resistant to insects and mold, it is anti-allergenic.
In addition, cork is naturally fire-resistant. It does not release any toxic gas when it burns. That said, cork flooring is completely safe and healthy for kids, adults, and even your pets. (5)
Cork flooring is relatively easy to install. You can purchase it in various standard forms such as planks and floor tiles. In addition, it is easy to maintain with regular vacuuming and damp mop.
For that reason, cork flooring can last for years without losing its aesthetic appearance.
One of the most common disadvantages that you can find among cork floorings is their propensity for damage caused by the sun. When exposed to UV rays for too long, cork flooring can fade or turn yellow.
Even the UV lamps that you use for disinfection, skin treatment, and indoor gardening can cause fading to this flooring type. For this reason, it may not be an ideal option for homes with large windows where a lot of sunlight can pass through.
Bamboo may look like natural wood. However, it is considered grass. Still, it is durable enough to serve as an excellent alternative to hardwood flooring without the expensive cost.
Additionally, bamboo is a renewable resource as it is a type of grass that grows fast. For this reason, it is more budget-friendly than hardwood, with materials that take years to grow.
Moreover, all-natural bamboo flooring is engineered. This process means that manufacturers slice and shred every strand of grass. After the shredding process, they press the slices together using heat and glue, thus forming floorboards.
Bamboo is naturally light in color. So, if you want to add a touch of visual smoothness to your home, this faux wood flooring is an excellent option.
Manufacturers carbonize the grass to darken its surface for people who want to install natural bamboo floors but need dark-colored floors. Carbonized bamboo flooring is also softer than natural bamboo.
High-quality natural bamboo flooring has the same durability as traditional hardwood floors. In addition, it has a clean and contemporary look that makes it perfect for people looking to add a modern look to their flooring.
In addition, bamboo flooring is easy to maintain using mild soap and regular mopping. Laminated bamboo flooring that has a top layer glued to multiple lower layers is also DIY-friendly.
Not all bamboo floorings are created the same. If you bought inexpensive bamboo flooring, it might be susceptible to dings and scratches. So, make sure that you are buying bamboo flooring from a supplier that offers a substantial warranty.
Bamboo grass does not resist water and moisture. It absorbs liquid readily. That said, natural bamboo flooring may be susceptible to damage caused by water, excessive humidity, and too much moisture. The damages it can acquire include decay, rot, mold, and bacterial growth.
Moreover, the contemporary look of bamboo flooring is not a one-size-fits-all thing. Meaning it may or may not fit with the design of your home. You also have a limited choice of shades and colors for natural bamboo flooring.
How to Choose Faux Wood Flooring for Your Home
Budget is one of the essential factors that you need to look at when choosing a new floor. Whether you will allocate a huge budget for your floor or you prefer a cost-effective choice is entirely up to you. However, it is essential to be careful when choosing a flooring type so that you can get the perfect style for your home.
Additionally, styles also play a significant role when deciding which floor type you will choose.
There are also other factors that you need to look at before having your flooring replaced. That includes the amount of foot traffic on your floor, the wear and tear that the floor will endure, and even sunlight and humidity.
To help you choose the right faux wood flooring for your home, below are the factors that you need to consider during decision-making:
The Flooring’s Overall Durability
When planning to replace your flooring, the first thing that will probably come into your mind is how long the replacement flooring will last. Regardless of your chosen flooring, make sure that it is durable enough to withstand different weathering actions, weight, and other possible causes of damage.
Additionally, the lifespan of your flooring material should be almost equal to the lifespan of the other components of your house. This way, you will be able to save money from constant repair and replacement.
Your chosen flooring material should also be able to resist weight and tear caused by your appliances, furniture, and other loads. It should also resist the formation of chips and dents when you need to move the loads.
How your flooring material looks should be aesthetically pleasing. It should also complement the interior design of your home.
Fortunately, various faux wood flooring materials you can find in the market have varying textures, shapes, colors, sizes, and designs. For this reason, you will be able to choose a flooring material that suits your preferences and the overall design of your house.
The Smoothness of the Surface
Your flooring material’s top surface should be level and smooth if possible. Floorings with rough surfaces will not look good at all times. Apart from that, it can also damage the base of the equipment that you place on it.
But if you think that textured flooring will look good on your house, make sure to choose one that is not too rough.
Resistance to Moisture and Humidity
The flooring type that you will choose should show excellent resistance to moisture, humidity, and dampness. Such is especially true if you install the flooring on particularly humid areas of your home, such as your kitchen, bathroom, and laundry room.
If your flooring cannot withstand the conditions mentioned above, it will deteriorate in a short period.
Regardless of how careful you are, you can never predict when accidents can happen. Fire resistance is a feature that you need to look for when choosing faux wood flooring. That said, you need to make sure that you are getting a floor type that does not allow the fire to spread all over your house in case of accidents.
The Slipperiness of your Floor
No matter how smooth the surface of your flooring is, it should never cause slipperiness, especially when it gets wet. The floor becomes too slippery when over-polished. In some cases, it can result in accidents that range from minor to severe.
If you prefer installing wood tiles in your bathroom, make sure that it has an anti-slip coating. This way, you will be able to lower the risk of accidents.
Still, the flooring should be smooth enough for it to be easy to clean and maintain. It should never absorb any liquid, such as water, grease, and oil. The smoothness of the floor also prevents it from forming stains.
Care and Maintenance
Your flooring should only require a tiny amount of care and maintenance. It should not have small spaces where dust can settle.
In an instance that you need to repair your floor, it should be easily treatable without requiring you to spend a considerable amount of money.
Additionally, your flooring should be easy to clean with simple mopping and polishing. It should also not allow any mold or mildew growth as it can affect the health of your family members who suffer from allergies.
Sound Insulation Capabilities
No one would ever want to live in a house with a noisy floor. For this reason, your replacement flooring should have excellent sound insulation capabilities. If not, it will produce noise when you move your furniture or when you walk on it.
If you are particular about sound insulation, cork flooring is an ideal type of flooring for you.
Faux Wood Flooring: Frequently Asked Questions
Which type of faux wood flooring is the most scratch-resistant?
Faux wood floorings made of hard materials are highly resistant to scratches, wear, and tears, but the most scratch-resistant among those flooring types is the wood tile flooring.
The reason is that wood tile has either smooth ceramic or porcelain materials that are difficult to scratch.
What is the Cheapest Type of Faux Wood Flooring?
Plank vinyl is the most inexpensive faux wood flooring that you can purchase. It looks like natural hardwood but will not require you to spend nearly as much for purchase and installation. You can install this flooring type using peel-and-stick, gluing it down, or using the click and lock system.
Is there a difference between hardwood and laminate wood flooring?
Both of these flooring types have natural wood in them. The difference is that hardwood flooring consists of natural hardwood, such as oak. On the other hand, engineered wood flooring contains layers of plywood and only has a thin layer of hardwood at the top-most part.