Is Faux Wood Flooring Really Better than Natural Wood?
Every home buyer knows that installing real hardwood flooring in their home is an investment. It is beautiful, warm, and can last for ages. If money is no object, the only decision is which species to choose. However, advances in flooring technology are allowing faux wood flooring to give real hardwood a run for its money.
Real hardwood must now contend with the durability, water-resistance or waterproof capability, limitless variations, and affordability of faux hardwood flooring. Whether it’s laminate, wood-look tile, luxury vinyl, or engineered hardwood, each faux flooring type is vying for a piece of the hardwood pie.
Before committing to real hardwood, consider other wood flooring options so you can find the right wood flooring for your style, budget, and performance needs.
Pros and Cons of Real Hardwood Flooring
Consider the pros and cons of real hardwood flooring before comparing it to other flooring types.
Hardwood floors have demonstrated their durability with a longevity of over 100 years if cared for properly. Daily sweeping and weekly damp mopping with the appropriate wood cleaner can keep hardwood floors looking great year after year.
Homes with real hardwood floors sell faster than homes with other flooring products that do not hold their value, like wall-to-wall carpet. Homebuyers are willing to pay significantly more for homes with real hardwood flooring.
Real hardwood is available in a wide variety of wood species ranging from oak, cherry, walnut, and exotics like teak and mahogany that can be sanded to the desired degree of smoothness and stained to any color. If you want to change the look of your hardwood floors, you can simply have them refinished.
Maintaining hardwood floors over a long period of time can be costly. While daily and weekly cleaning routines are similar to other flooring types, keeping hardwood in tip-top condition can only be achieved through periodical refinishing, which can be costly. High-traffic areas are not ideal locations for hardwood flooring and will speed up the need for refinishing.
Hardwood floors are expensive. The materials alone can run anywhere from $3 per square foot to $12 per square foot. You also need to figure in professional installation costs which includes subfloor prep.
Real hardwood floors are sensitive to the elements. Leave a sweating glass on a wooden table even for a few minutes and a ring will form underneath, permanently damaging the table. Apply this to hardwood floors and you have a disaster on your hands. High moisture can cause cupping, where the edges of the floor bow inward, or buckling, where the boards lift upward.
4 Types of Faux Wood Flooring
Constructed of multiple layers, laminate’s top layer, or veneer, is scratch- and water-resistant. Homes with pets and children will benefit greatly from laminate’s robustness. It is easy to install with its locking edges and can be floated over most existing floors. Laminate is available in a wide variety of wood, stone, and tile looks that come in various colors, thicknesses, and finishes. However, like real hardwood, laminate is not impervious to water saturation due to its particleboard core.
2. Wood-Look Tile
Porcelain wood-look tile is incredibly realistic and inherently waterproof, providing homeowners with an authentic hardwood look in spaces that were previously off-limits to hardwood. Bathrooms, shower stalls, laundry rooms, and outdoor shower spaces can enjoy a wood look with faux wood tile. Just like real hardwood, style options are vast.
Unlike real hardwood, wood-look tile is cold, although it can be installed over an underfloor heating system, and it is hard — not an ideal option for walking or standing for long periods of time. It is susceptible to cracking and chipping from dropping heavy objects, and the installation, like hardwood, is labor-intensive.
3. Luxury Vinyl
Luxury vinyl is a highly versatile flooring product. Its plank and tile options are waterproof which means they can be installed anywhere in your home — even in your basement. The color and style variations are endless, and the faux wood look mimics real hardwood. As the word “luxury” implies, luxury vinyl is comfortable underfoot, more so than real hardwood. Luxury vinyl is considerably more stable than hardwood, depending on the thickness you choose, and it is certainly more affordable. Luxury vinyl is scratch- and dent-resistant, unlike hardwood.
4. Engineered Hardwood
There is also engineered hardwood, real hardwood’s semi-identical twin. Engineered hardwood is the faux hardwood floor that most resembles real hardwood. Its veneer comes from the same wood as real hardwood. The difference lies at the surface and beneath. Coated with multiple layers of aluminum oxide, the top layer offers protection against scratches. Underneath the veneer are cross-bonded layers of wood that create a high level of dimensional stability, making it considerably stronger than real hardwood. Engineered hardwood provides the same warmth as real hardwood but at a lower cost.
The Best Option for Faux Wood Flooring
Deciding on which faux wood flooring option is best for you depends on a few things. First, is saving money at the top of your list? If this is the case, consider laminate or luxury vinyl faux wood options.
Second, is performance and comfort more important? Look at engineered hardwood and luxury vinyl. Both options are resilient against scratches and spills, and both are perfect for children and pets. (Don’t forget to trim those claws!) Both offer comfort underfoot — something to consider with so many working from home now.
Finally, do you want the most realistic faux wood flooring available? Go with engineered hardwood. Cut from the same trees as real hardwood, it is tough to beat when it comes to realism.
Wood-look flooring is certainly showing no signs of slowing down, but finding the one that is right for your home could be a challenge. Contact us today and one of BuildDirect’s experts can help you navigate each product so you can stay on-trend and on budget.