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Wood-Look Flooring: Choosing Between Wood-Look and the Real Thing

wood look flooring choosing between look and real

The look and feel of hardwood floors is hard to replicate, but many homeowners are turning to wood-look flooring to save money and still enjoy the appearance of wood in the home. Solid hardwood is attractive and can increase the resale value of your home, but it is also among the most expensive materials to use in flooring today. In some cases, real hardwood simply isn’t an option because of the climate or humidity levels. Wood-look flooring is now available in several materials and formats, so anyone on any budget can enjoy the look of hardwood without paying a premium.

Here’s a closer look at flooring types and choosing the right fit for your home.

Key Benefits of Wood-Look Flooring

Whether you’re remodeling your home, installing new flooring in a new construction, or just wanting to explore your options in flooring, you’ll find several alternatives to traditional hardwood floors. Solid hardwood offers numerous benefits, but some of today’s engineered wood comes extremely close to the same look and has multiple advantages of its own.

Wood-look flooring is becoming a sought-after type of flooring as manufacturers of laminate, tile, and vinyl flooring are using advanced techniques to create lifelike replicas of real hardwood. The wood-look flooring trend is growing at a steady pace, which means homeowners will have even more options to choose from in the coming years.

Some of the key benefits of wood-look flooring include:

  • Affordable – Many homeowners are realizing that wood-look flooring is a more affordable alternative to hardwood but still offers the visual appeal. As more tile, vinyl, and laminate manufacturers introduce better-quality planks and tiles with different textures and surfaces, homeowners are starting to incorporate wood-look flooring throughout the home.
  • Easy Installation – Vinyl planks, laminate flooring, and porcelain and ceramic tile are relatively easy to install. Floating floors can be a simple DIY project that makes the installation even easier. Many planks and tiles are designed with interlocking features for a faster and stress-free installation.
  • Variety – Wood-look flooring is available in several colors, designs, and patterns—and many of which mimic the appearance of real wood. Manufacturers are using special machines and equipment to create very life-like surfaces and textures for different tastes. From rustic to contemporary, there are now dozens of options to choose from when it comes to wood-look flooring.

key benefits of wood looking flooring graphic

Types of Wood-Look Flooring

Vinyl Flooring That Looks Like Wood

Vinyl flooring is now available in several wood-like designs and has the added benefit of being highly water resistant, and in some cases even waterproof. You can now find vinyl flooring in several traditional wood styles, including distressed wood and reclaimed wood designs. If you are looking for flooring with the closest resemblance to wood, vinyl may be the right choice for you.

Vinyl planks are available in several wood grains and color combinations to create a very realistic finish. Luxury vinyl tiles and planks are among the most popular options for those that want to invest in a flooring installation that will last for years to come. These are made with high-quality materials and are relatively easy to install. You can find several wood-look vinyl tile options with low-gloss finishes and imitations of all types of woods, such as acacia, barn wood and oak. Vinyl is also the easiest flooring material to install thanks to its Click Lock, floating and peel and stick methods–all of which are DIY friendly.

installing wood flooring

Vinyl flooring is one of the most durable and versatile types of flooring materials available and is often used in kitchens and bathrooms because it resists moisture. It’s easy to maintain and can last for years without requiring a replacement. Many homeowners choose wood-look vinyl in the kitchen because it’s easy to clean up spills and the floors won’t crack or chip if you drop dishes, saucepans, or other items on the floor.

Many landlords and investment property owners choose vinyl flooring for small apartments and smaller spaces where real hardwood may not be the best choice. Vinyl is easy to work with and can completely transform smaller space with the look of hardwood.

Wood-Look Laminate Flooring

Laminate flooring has been a close second choice for those who love the look of hardwood flooring but aren’t ready to make the investment. Recent advancements in laminate flooring continue to make it an attractive option for those who want the look and durability of real wood without the investment.

You’ll find different grades and types of laminate out there, but some of them are more convincing than others. Still, many laminate manufacturers have stepped up to offer more varieties of hardwood looks and grain patterns, as well as surface texture, distressed and hand-scraped designs.

Modern laminate flooring is made with a fiberboard core that stands up to harsh conditions and long-term use. You can install laminate flooring in virtually any area of the home without worrying about replacing it in the near future. It should be noted that laminate is not waterproof and will not stand up against moisture as well as vinyl or tile flooring.

luxury living room interior

Laminate flooring continues to improve, and we can expect to see even more options and styles in the near future. Whether you’re looking to create a more sophisticated look or a vintage, distressed look, you’ll find several options in wood-look laminate flooring. Whatever your goal, you can count on finding something affordable that provides lasting value.

Porcelain Tile Flooring That Looks Like Wood

Porcelain wood-look flooring is slowly gaining popularity as manufacturers are starting to make distressed textures and glossy styles of wood-look designs on tile. Many of these tiles even have the grooves of real wood and can be wire brushed or have textured surfaces for a very realistic look.

Many people don’t realize that porcelain tile can have the appearance of real wood and offers numerous benefits for homeowners looking to invest in high-quality flooring. Also known as “wood effect” porcelain tile, “wood-like” tile, or “wood grain” tile, this type of flooring is one of the most versatile types of flooring installations and can be used in virtually any room.

Homeowners who want to create the visual effect of wood in the bathroom or the kitchen can install porcelain tile to ensure there is no warping or damage. Porcelain tile is very durable in wet areas and areas that are prone to moisture. It’s denser than ceramic tile and is also highly resistant to stains and moisture. This is why it’s such a popular choice for bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry rooms.

ceramic tiles quote

These tiles are available in an array of colors and designs to create a hardwood floor effect or simply to create the illusion of wood planks. Whether you’re trying to create a rustic feel or something more contemporary, wood-look porcelain tile may be your best option for any area of the home that can see a lot of moisture of humidity.

Wood-Look Ceramic Tile Flooring

Another option for homeowners looking to install new floors in wet area or utility areas is wood-look ceramic tile. Many ceramic tile manufacturers are creating very natural-looking tiles with ceramics to imitate the look of hardwood floors. Upon touch, tile is not as convincing as real wood but offers many perks of its own. Ceramic tiles are available in both glazed and unglazed varieties, and some tiles are suitable for covering walls. Ceramic tiles are inexpensive and relatively easy to install.

Glazed ceramic tiles are water-resistant, and you’ll find it very easy to wipe off stains. They are also resistant to heat and humidity, which is why you see ceramic tile installations in many homes in the south and in hotter climates. They are available in both glazed and unglazed styles and must be sealed to prevent stains and damage. Ceramic tile is very difficult to crack and will last for decades with the proper installation.

In the event a ceramic tile does crack, replacing a single tile is relatively simple and inexpensive. Ceramic tile is easy to care for and is also among the most affordable types of flooring options compared to hardwood and higher-quality carpets.

white kitchen with wood flooring

Choosing Vinyl, Laminate or Tile Flooring that Looks Like Wood

Most people simply can’t tell the difference between wood-look flooring and natural wood. When you place the two side by side, very few people can tell the difference, and some even prefer the hardwood alternatives because of the more accessible price point and stronger durability properties. When you are remodeling or creating a new space, you have dozens of different colors and textures to choose from and can really make the place your own.

Wood-look flooring, or faux wood flooring, is a growing trend in the interior design and construction world. As the industry becomes more competitive, manufacturers are stepping up to create even better quality imitations of wood and producing all types of grains and textures to appeal to all tastes.

Since vinyl, laminate, and tile are manufactured and designed for durability, they do not require additional refinishing and re-sealing every few years. Real hardwood floors do require these extra treatments, and this can add to the cost of maintaining those hardwood floors. Hardwood alternatives are easy to clean and maintain, making them an attractive choice for busy families or larger families with pets. They can sustain quite a bit of wear and tear before they would need to be replaced, and it’s fairly easy to pull up one or two planks when it’s time to replace them, rather than dealing with a hardwood floor replacement.

Another reason why many homeowners choose hardwood alternatives is simply to create a hardwood accent or unique ambiance in a room. Planks and tiles can be used to transform a room or just add that final touch of a customized look to the space. Since they are a much more affordable investment compared to traditional hardwood, there may even be room to change up the look and replace the floors in a few years when it’s time for a refresh of the space. Real hardwood floors are more of a commitment, and few homeowners will be willing to tear up the floors to replace them with a different color or style of hardwood.

Whether you’re thinking about redecorating the living room, renovating the bathroom, or building a new home from the ground up, wood-look flooring may be a valuable investment for your project. While solid hardwood offers a number of benefits, it still has some limitations and may not be suitable for all living areas.

living room interior with wooden flooring

Flooring that looks like wood is now available in dozens of different colors, styles, textures, and tones to create the look of real wood with minimal maintenance in virtually any area of the house. You don’t have to worry about sealing and refinishing the surface of these wood flooring alternatives and can replace the planks or tiles relatively easily. Many types of luxury planks and tiles are easy to install with a DIY project. You’ll need to consider a number of factors when installing new flooring in the home, and now you have a wealth of options available with wood-look flooring.

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David Montagliani

David Montagliani has been proudly “making dust” since 1978. Starting out at just 13-years-old cutting blocks and making trivets, Dave has built a 3 decade long career supplying and installing for contractors and home builders alike. Starting small as a benchman and joiner, then graduating on to running his own cabinet business specializing in Euro-style kitchens, you’d be hard pressed to find a realm of wood working that Dave hasn’t touched. Most recently, Dave has focused on millwork and flooring over the past twenty years of his career, and brought his expertise to the retail and eCommerce world. When not hard at work leading the Category Management team at flooring eCommerce destination BuildDirect.com, you can find him tinkering in his garage—you guessed it—making dust.