Alternatives for Solid Wood Flooring
When providing flooring consultations, and reviewing options for flooring material, my customers will express their interest in solid wood flooring.
However, they are turned off by the square footage pricing. Not to mention the additional prep work needed to install real wood flooring. Most of the time, real wood flooring will require the installation of a sub-floor prior to installing.
Wood floors look great. They are the latest craze in the market – everyone has to have wood floors. I have never heard someone say they didn’t absolutely love their new floors. There’s just something about it that can change then entire look of home.
Unfortunately, real wood floors are not cheap. If you’re seeking wood flooring to accent your home, you have several options.
You don’t need to go with real wood for the sold wood floor look. Especially, if you’re seeking the most cost effective solution.
Over the years, imitation wood flooring has come a long way. It used to be that fake wood floors, looked like, well, fake wood floors. Nowadays technology has advanced and the digital creation of the patterns and images used on the tile looks like real wood.
PORCELAIN WOOD TILE – COST RANGE: $1.50 TO $6.00 SQFT
I think this stuff is very good real wood flooring alternative – if it’s installed right.
One of the keys to make wood tiles look like real hardwood is not the tiles themselves – but what goes in between. (Bracho, 2015)
There is much truth to this. When it comes down to imitation tile flooring, it can really come down installation process. Craftsmanship in the grout work can deliver a real wood feel when installing tile wood-like flooring.
They manufacture this type of tile in hundreds of combinations of style, shape and color. With so many choices you’re bound to find the one just right for your home.
The best part, tile lasts a lifetime compared to many real solid wood floors. They stand up to wear and tear; not nearly as high maintenance as real wood floors. That’s one thing I think people don’t always consider when deciding to install real solid wood flooring.
This type of wood-like tile is going to be great for a bathroom as it’s water resistant.
ENGINEERED HARDWOOD – COST RANGE: $3.00 – $6.00 SQFT
This stuff is the closest to real wood. As a matter of fact, it is comprised of some real wood. You’ll never get that plastic-like click that you may get when installing some types of laminate flooring.
The down side is you won’t be able to refinish it like you can with real wood. It will last, but at some point through its 20 year lifetime you may be ready for different color or style.
LAMINATE FLOORING – COST RANGE $1.00 TO $4.00 SQFT
Can you really use laminate flooring when trying to imitate wood? In short, yes. Like porcelain flooring, laminate has come a long way over the years. It’s easy to install and comes in almost any style you can imagine. The down side, it doesn’t feel or even sound like real wood flooring. You get that plastic clicking sound, I mentioned earlier, when walking on it.
JUAN’S QUICK TAKE ON WOOD FLOORING ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS
I assume you’re reading this because you may have searched for “real wood flooring alternatives”. Maybe you have decided not to spend the extra money, or it just won’t work in the area you’re looking to have that real wood look. Whatever the reason, the first thing you want to consider is the area you will be installing your new flooring. Is there a chance that the wood can get wet? Not from a random spilled drink, but are you considering it for bathroom or laundry room? If so, you will want to go with a porcelain tile or laminate flooring.
If you’re looking for the real wood feel then engineered hardwood is likely for you. You’ll save some money on the cost of real solid wood as well as the installation.
Expensive taste, small budget? Consider a wood-like laminate flooring. It’s ideal for a rental home or even a property that you’re looking to increase resale value on.
Free Wood Flooring Samples and Comparison
COMPARISON CHART: SOLID WOOD FLOORING VS. LAMINATE FLOORING VS. ENGINEERED WOOD FLOORING:
|Solid Hardwood Flooring||Laminate Flooring||Engineered Hardwood Flooring|
|Durability||The durability of solid hardwood flooring is mainly determined by the hardness of the wood specie it is made from. The hardness is numerically classified by the Janka rating (e.g, Brazilian walnut, with a 3680 score, is harder than American black cherry, with a 950 score). Proper maintenance of the floors would notably affect their longevity.||Mainly determined by the AC Rating (a durability scale for laminate floors) of the specific product (between 1-5; higher AC floors are more durable). Typically considered more durable than both solid and engineered floors, since laminate floors are completely synthetic.||While engineered hardwood floors are not as durable as solid hardwood, they are much more suitable to various climate conditions; Since the top layer in engineered floors is made from real wood, its durability is also affected by its hardness, which is measured by the Janka hardness scale. (a particular wood species .|
|What is it made of||Single piece of real natural wood, that was shaped down to a plank with tongue and groove edges. Hardwood floors can be either prefinished (with their protective finish already applied at the factory) or unfinished (that would require on-site finishing).||Typically made from a fiberboard layer with high density, a moisture resistant layer on top with a digital print of the wood it imitates, and a protective layer.||Numerous wood plies fused together, with a top wear layer made from real wood (the thicker the wear layer it is, the more times it could be sanded).|
|Areas commonly used||Virtually every room, besides spaces exposed prone to wetness and moisture (such as basements and bathrooms). Wood species with higher Janka scores are recommended for high-traffic areas.||Very versatile applications, however, do not suit wet locations such as bathrooms (wood grain porcelain tiles and vinyl planks are suitable for that purpose).||Similar to solid hardwood, but would suit basements as well, since engineered floors would not expand in the presence of moisture.|
|Dimensions||Length: Ranges 12″-84″; Width: 2.25″-6″(narrow plank to wide plank) .||Length: Ranges 47″-49″; Width: 5″-7″.||Length: Ranges 12″-84″; Width: 2.25″-7″.|
|Thickness||Usually about 18mm (= 3/4″)||6mm – 15mm||8mm – 15mm (the thickness of the wear layer, that spans between 1.5mm – 4mm, should be taken into account)|
|Warmth and Feel||Feels rich underfoot and very sturdy, however, could feel pretty cold in cold climates.||Feels and sounds rather artificial compared to real wood. can also feel quite hard underfoot.||Feels similar solid hardwood; Allows for an installation of radiant heating to face cold climates.|
|Cost (material prices)||$2.00 – $8.00 /sq ft||$0.50 – $2.00 /sq ft||$1.50-$6 .00/sq ft (Since a thicker wear layer would allow sanding the floor numerous times, its thickness should be considered when comparing prices).|
|Ease of Cleaning||In general, commercial cleaning products can be used for both unfinished and prefinished hardwood floors. however, hardwood floors should never be left wet. follow the specific manufacturer instructions.||Avoid lengthy exposure to liquids such as spills or excessive water; difficult stains can be removed with acetone (avoid soap-based detergents).||Similar to solid hardwood floors; avoid lengthy exposure to liquids.|
|Environment friendly||On the one hand, requires chopping down trees; on the other hand, wood is recyclable, and artificial chemicals are barely used in its manufacturing process.||On the one hand, it is eco-friendly in the sense that natural wood is barely utilized in its manufacturing process; on the other hand, the waste of laminate floors is less recyclable than real hardwood||Since engineered wood flooring is manufactured in a way that uses available resources more efficiently (and often include recycled materials), it can be viewed more eco-friendly than solid hardwood flooring.|
|Colors and pattern variety||All traditional wood colors and species (such as oak, hickory, acacia, maple, brazilian cherry; light white to dark black shades).||Imitates all traditional wood colors.||Similar to solid hardwood.|
|Ease of DIY Installation||Requires a particular level of expertise, as the planks would need to be either nailed down or glued.||Allows for an easy floating floor installation, which doesn’t necessarily require previous experience.||Subject to the method of installation; certain engineered floors can be installed floated, that is rather easier than nailing or glueing them down.|
|Care and Maintenance||It is recommended to refinish solid wood floors approximately every 5 years in order to preserve them from long term wear. General care includes using only the recommended cleaning solutions, protective pads under heavy furniture to prevent dents, keeping dirt and debris away to avoid scratches, and minimize contact with sharp objects like high heels.||Relatively simple maintenance: keep the floors clean, for sharp and heavy furniture use protective pads.||Similar care to solid wood floors; Can be refinished only 1-2 times, subject to the thickness of the wear layer.|
|Fading due to UV exposure||Yes.||No.||Yes.|
|Climatic Suitability||Best suits for locations on or above grade areas, with temperatures of about 60-70 Fahrenheit .||It is suggested to install laminate floors in climate-controlled areas. can be installed below grade as well.||Suits geographical areas with extreme climate conditions as well, and below grade locations such as basements. Preferably in areas with 30%-50% humidity.|
|Installation surface restrictions||Include a moisture barrier (such as plywood) if thin planks are chosen; thicker planks may be installed over concrete. Always check specific product manual.||Use an underlayment if installed over concrete; Any hard flat surface should be good for installation (linoleum, wood, tile, excluding carpet).||Engineered wood is a better choice than solid wood for installations over a concrete, since it is less likely to contract and swell.|
|Pattern repetition||Each plank is one of its kinds; hardwood from a rustic grade would contain more mineral streaks and knots.||Laminate printed pattern would usually repeat about every 10 planks.||Similar to solid hardwood, each plank has unique natural pattern|
|Scratch and dent resistance||Even the hardest wood floors can get scratched, yet solid hardwood may be sanded multiple times; Scratches would be less visible on distressed / hand scraped hardwood flooring patters.||Good resistance to scratches; the specific laminate AC hardness rating is an influential factor. Laminate floors can’t be sanded, however, it’s easier to replace an individual plank in the case of damage.||Moderate to good resistance, subject to the hardness of the specific wood specie in question. generally can be sanded only 1-2 times.|
|Can it be installed over radiant heat||Not advisable, as it would naturally expand according to the content of moisture in the boards.||Generally yes.||Generally yes, Since the core layer can handle various temperature changes. check product specs.|
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Gonzalez & Sons Flooring in Phoenix, AZ
Located in Avondale, AZ we are a Wood, Tile and Laminate Flooring Installer. Feel free to contact us with any questions or schedule a free consultation if you live in the Phoenix area. We are family owned and operated and I personally facilitate in-home consultations. Feel free to contact me directly at, 602-370-6603 or shoot me an email.
by: Juan F. Ruiz, Owner of Gonzalez & Sons Flooring Design, LLC