February 20, 2024
Does wood flooring really have to be wood?

There is small doubt that hardwood floors — no matter whether light-weight or dim, huge plank or herringbone pattern — incorporate a really unique sensation of nostalgia for how we feel of home. Shag carpeting and linoleum might arrive and go, but hardwood is listed here for the duration.

Or is it?

Whilst a 2017 homeowner survey by the Nationwide Wooden Flooring Association discovered that 66 per cent of respondents explained wood flooring would be in their desire dwelling and 79 percent consider it would maximize the benefit of their property, it would show up to be much more aspirational than actuality. Far more owners have carpet (75 per cent) and tile (58 p.c) flooring than wooden (52 percent).

“Solid wood flooring is a factor of the previous,” stated Jen Pinto, senior inside designer for Jackson Style and Remodeling in San Diego. “They do not sell it off the shelf any more, and most suppliers and installers will explain to you to keep away from it. As attractive as it is, it does not maintain up perfectly with humidity and around time can buckle with the pure expansion and contraction of the substance. If vital, it can be customized designed. The nice detail about it is that it is intended to be sanded down and refinished so an outdated sound hardwood can be produced to glance like new.”

For all its magnificence, hardwood is pretty substantial routine maintenance, primarily if you have a large amount of foot site visitors, not to mention smaller children and pets, who can scratch it up and go away difficult-to-thoroughly clean messes.

But if traditional hardwood is oh-so-20th century, the motivation for its warmth and naturalness remains. So, it’s no surprise that aspiration and practicality have merged in the flooring marketplace for those who appreciate the hardwood look but not the price tag, routine maintenance or vulnerabilities of legitimate hardwood floors. Today, any home-owner on the lookout to put in new floors can get a hardwood look from many quite distinctive forms of merchandise, like engineered hardwood, laminate, porcelain tiles, luxury vinyl tile, and bamboo. The alternatives are a combination of aesthetic tastes and way of living, considering the fact that each individual has execs and drawbacks dependent on your household.

Engineered hardwood

In which regular sound hardwood is just that — all wood — engineered hardwood has a veneer of hardwood but is composed of various thin layers of backing, generally plywood, but it could also be fiberboard or unfinished hardwood. In accordance to Pinto, the layers increase balance to the general power of the content. In which there can be concerns with reliable hardwood floors contracting and expanding, engineered hardwood’s composition would make that a nonissue. It also comes with distinct finishes. Urethane and oil finishes are pretty well known, stated Pinto.

A kitchen in a newly designed home has engineered hardwood floors in a light tone.

Engineered hardwood floors appear with a variety of finishes, this sort of as urethane, which is optimal for major use, and an oil end, which has a normal matte come to feel.

(Jackson Style and Remodeling)

“Urethane is excellent for major use and does keep up very effectively with humidity,” she discussed. “Oil finishes are stunning and have a incredibly purely natural matte sense to them. It is a great deal far more pricey, and it does call for some maintenance since it will will need to be re-oiled every couple of decades. But if it scratches, it can be buffed out fairly perfectly with the oil the up coming time it will get touched up, relatively very easily.”

But there is a drawback to engineered hardwood: moisture exposure. You never want to get it moist. That would make it a undesirable applicant for bathrooms, of training course, but also for areas where by moisture can be tracked in from outside.


Like engineered hardwood, laminate planks are layered materials, but in its place of a wooden top layer, it has a large-definition photographic wooden-search layer, complete with graining, and sits over a dampness-resistant, stabilizing base layer topped by a core of substantial-density fiberboard, all completed in resin.

Laminate flooring comes in a range of textures and finishes. It can be easy to resemble polished woods, embossed with a pressed pattern to insert a wooden grain texture, or hand-scraped for an antique wood appear. It can also have a shiny high gloss or mattelike low gloss, which will get bigger marks for hiding compact scratches.

But there’s no refinishing laminate. If any injury takes place, the plank demands to be replaced.

Porcelain tile is prized for its practicality and is scratch-resistant, stain-resistant and water-resistant.

Porcelain tile is prized for its practicality and is scratch-resistant, stain-resistant and drinking water-resistant. Contrary to engineered wooden, though, it is cold and difficult on bare ft.

(Jackson Layout and Transforming)

Porcelain tile

Porcelain tile planks can resemble wood, even with a textured grain. They come in a range of models, hues, and layouts — from smooth to rustic. They’re scratch-resistant, stain-resistant and h2o-resistant.

“They’re the most sturdy,” stated George Larson, product sales associate at Rayo Wholesale Flooring Masking Offer. “You can set it in every place, which include the toilet, and not stress.”

When Pinto was functioning with a client with younger boys on a new building home, the few went into the venture with a contract for engineered wood flooring. But following realizing that they were being likely to put in a massive a few-panel door in the dwelling home that would open to the yard and its pool, Pinto experienced a coronary heart-to-coronary heart with them.

If pool parties are in your future, porcelain tile's water-resistant qualities make it an attractive option.

If pool get-togethers are in your potential, porcelain tile’s water-resistant qualities make it an interesting selection.

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“You’re making an attempt to get this indoor-outside room that appears rather flawless and clean up, but if you are likely to have a bunch of people today over below for a pool bash, do you really want all those soaked toes monitoring h2o in from the pool on your wood flooring?”

The obstacle was weighing the practicality of the porcelain tile against the additional authentic seem of the engineered wood, figuring out that tile is chilly and tough and not as comfy on bare ft. The few did pick the tile — and Pinto extra radiant flooring heating together with location rugs in the dwelling area and kitchen to heat up the house.

Luxurious vinyl

Vinyl wood-seem planks have come a extensive way, like wood-look porcelain tile. Pinto explained luxurious vinyl appears and feels far more like serious wooden than porcelain but has some of the exact same characteristics of tile in the sense that it is servicing-free of charge. It won’t stain, it is moisture-resistant and it is much softer to stroll on than tile, but it could however probably scratch provided the appropriate situation.

“If a pet digs at it or a sharp item is dragged against the flooring with enough force, then the vinyl can scratch, and then at that place that plank will require to be replaced,” she reported.

Budgetwise, she extra that it’s a good substitute to wood. And it retains up wonderful with young ones and animals, far too.

Luxury vinyl plank flooring is a budget-friendly option that looks like real wood and is softer underfoot than tile.

Luxury vinyl plank flooring has improved a good offer and is considered a budget-helpful alternative that seems like genuine wood and is softer underfoot than tile.

(Jackson Style and Remodeling)

Larson is a admirer of this product or service. “It’s considerably less money to set up. It is much more sturdy than other folks. Designers like it simply because considering the fact that it is a water-proof flooring, they really do not have to chop up the flooring throughout the residence with tile in the kitchen and bathrooms, wooden floors in living rooms, and carpet in bedrooms. You can set it in each space and not fret. Without having a question we provide more luxury vinyl plank than anything else right now.”

But Pinto did stage out some drawbacks, which include troubles their team has experienced with set up of the content above time, and with it holding up with out warping in intense temperature fluctuations. And if a house is incredibly open to sunlight, like an entire wall of glass, and it receives blasted with sunlight for extended intervals of time with out any windowcovering safety, then, she stated, the solution could potentially buckle and warp.


Assume of bamboo as your eco-pleasant alternative. It has a bit in popular with engineered wood in that, as a grass, it is also engineered, with strands of grass shredded, then pressed with each other applying heat and glue to variety floorboards. In accordance to HGTV, there are a few kinds of bamboo flooring: horizontal, in which strips are layered and pressed jointly with these quintessential bamboo knuckles in the graining vertical, which features a cleaner seem thanks to the bamboo strips currently being turned sideways to be glued with each other and woven or stranded, in which shredded strands of the grass are compressed with resin. They deliver a hard, hardwood-like surface area and are the most long lasting range of the three.

“It’s a really hard material, and usually additional water-proof than hardwoods, but not water-proof like porcelain or luxurious vinyl,” Pinto discussed. “It is pet helpful and relatively easy to retain due to the fact you never require to seal it. Like hardwood, you need to have to thoroughly clean up spilled water or liquid considering that it is not water-resistant and is far more susceptible to humidity.

“It’s an selection to look at if another person wants one thing far more natural or earth-welcoming or wishes to achieve a extra present day/present-day search in their house. But several clients want something far more water-proof and flexible so it’s not a thing we buy as generally as the other varieties of flooring we talked about. If a property owner does want to obtain bamboo flooring, they need to make confident they are purchasing it from a trustworthy keep/producer so they can make certain high quality handle and make absolutely sure they are obtaining legitimate bamboo flooring.”

Elements to contemplate

Deciding upon between these various kinds of fake hardwood may perhaps look frustrating. A good designer or salesperson, stated Larson, must talk to you all the ideal inquiries about your life style and funds to assist guide you to the best decision for your home. But Pinto has some thoughts for householders to consider:

Luxury vinyl plank flooring is seen in a long vertical view from the front door, stretching to the kitchen.

Luxury vinyl plank is their best vendor proper now, reported George Larson of Rayo Wholesale Flooring Covering Source. “You can put it in each room and not fret.” It does have some have on concerns in severe warmth.

(Jackson Design and Reworking)

  • Search at the sheen. Nearly anything super-shiny will reveals any scratches or imperfections.
  • If you want your house to look even bigger, take into account wider planks when contemplating strong or engineered hardwood. Pinto states that glimpse also makes a house additional elegant.
  • Look at the main of an engineered hardwood plank to make confident it is a wonderful top quality plywood main, as opposed to MDF or particleboard. That will support enhance the integrity and energy of the veneer on top rated.
  • Make absolutely sure you get a good urethane end on engineered hardwood. She prefers urethane to an oiled complete for maintenance explanations.
  • For porcelain tiles, keep involving a 6- or 7-inch-broad plank — and concerning 36 and 48 inches in duration. At the time they are set up, all those proportions will make the planks search a lot more realistic. Also, Pinto prefers a little bit of texture on them, not just for the glimpse but due to the fact it tends to make it nicer to wander on the floor and can help prevent slipping.
  • If you put in luxurious vinyl, be absolutely sure to preserve the home windows included when the sunshine is shining into the space to steer clear of fading and warping. Also, when choosing a seller, glance at the back again of the plank to be sure that the underlayment is by now attached, to make installation a lot easier and significantly less high-priced. Pinto also recommends acquiring a vinyl manufacturer that incorporates a stone main, as opposed to a plastic or distinct type of vinyl core. The stone aids make the merchandise extra structurally secure, specifically when there are temperature fluctuations that could in any other case lead to the vinyl to warp or buckle.

Golden is a San Diego freelance author and blogger.