Are There Other Floorings That Have A Hardwood Look But Are Less Expensive?

Are there other floorings that have a hardwood look but are less expensive? Pergo gives a hardwood look for less money and less fuss. Imitation hardwood floors used to look very fake and tacky. They have...

Imitation hardwood floors used to look very fake and tacky. They have improved in recent years and now provide an affordable option for those who desire a hardwood look, but cannot afford, or do not want to maintain, real wood. At first glance these new flooring options can even fool a well-trained eye.

Beki Willis has been repairing, restoring and remodeling homes in the greater Austin area since 1989. She says, "There are manufactured flooring or laminate flooring products that have a really nice look. Pergo, for instance, is like Formica on the top and has a pattern that looks like wood grain."

One of the advantages of simulated wood flooring is ease of installation. According to Beki, "These products are very durable, easier for the home owner to install, and much thinner. What I always recommend, if the home owner wants to attempt this himself, is to read the instructions. Most of these floors have a moisture barrier that you install yourself before installing the flooring. Some of them have a padded moisture barrier that I like to use, for instance, in a kitchen where you are standing up a lot. Read the different installation instructions to see what-all the product is going to take. Some of them you can just glue down to your existing floor. Some of them are what you call a 'floating floor' that go over a pad to give you a little bit more cushion."

Laminate flooring is manufactured as tongue and groove material, and most closely resembles real hardwood. Of course, different types of flooring will work better in different parts of a house. Laminate floors work great in living rooms and other high visibility areas but, like real wood, can be problematic in bathrooms, utility rooms, or kitchens where moisture is an issue. Beki says, "This is my field of expertise. Laminate flooring products go together tongue and groove, creating seams. I would not recommend anything that has a seam for the kitchen because any place where there's a seam can wick up moisture. I recommend that the home owner consider sheet vinyl or ceramic or porcelain tile for the kitchen." Other types of imitation wood flooring come in tiles or sheets that can be glued down.

These are popular options for inexpensively and easily covering surfaces such as concrete, but do not provide much cushion. Tiles can be manufactured to look almost exactly like real wood. Sheets of imitation wood flooring typically do not look realistic.

Imitation wood floors are easy to clean, stain resistant, and more scratch resistant than real hardwood floors. They are easier to install and far less expensive. However, they do not add the same value to the home, and their life expectancy is less than one-fifth of the life expectancy of real hardwood. Once installed the look of an imitation wood floor cannot be altered, and therefore offers less flexibility than a real wood floor. Also, when the finish is damaged they cannot be sanded and refinished like real wood. In the long run a real hardwood floor is a much better investment.

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