Wood-Look Flooring Alternatives

Wood-Look Flooring Alternatives

Few flooring materials are as visually appealing as wood, and while we install a lot of traditional solid wood flooring, many of our customers are opting for one of the less expensive alternatives to solid wood.

Vinyl Flooring ($2/sq. ft.)

The most inexpensive way to get a wood look is with sheet vinyl. It comes in patterns that mimic a wood-strip or parquet floor. Vinyl is a real bargain, and it can be a good choice in a sunroom or family room, but it is not nearly as durable as other options, and it doesn’t quite look like the real thing. I’ve seen some patterns that make you reach down and tap it to be sure, but for the most part this flooring has a plastic look.

Engineered Wood Floor ($7-$11/sq. ft.)

A second option is to install an engineered wood floor. This flooring comes in strips similiar to traditional wood, but it’s about half the thickness. It’s composed of real wood plies, similiar to plywood, with a top veneer layer of whatever wood species you want. We glue the flooring directly to a concrete slab or wood subfloor. It comes either finished or unfinished, which can be matched to an existing wood floor.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind if you decide to go with this flooring. For one, the surface veneer is relatively thin, so you have to be careful when sanding. It also can be a challenge to install this flooring because it is thinner than traditional wood flooring. On some jobs we’ve had to adjust the floor framing, add another layer of subflooring or even pour a slightly thicker slab so old and new floor levels would meet. You need to plan ahead.

Laminate Flooring ($8-$15/sq. ft.)

We’ve had very good luck with laminate flooring, which is made by companies like Formica, Pergo and Wilsonart. We’ve installed dozens of these floors, and my customers love their durability and the way they look. This flooring, roughly 3/8″ thick, has a very tough top layer that resists wear and is nearly impervious to stains.

Laminate flooring is typically installed over a thin foam pad, which helps to make the finished floor quieter while smoothing out minor imperfections in the subfloor. Unlike other types of flooring, laminate is not nailed or glued to anything but itself. The tongue-and-groove joints either glue or lock together, and the whole floor floats on top of the foam pad.

No, it’s not real wood, but it can be installed much more quickly, which saves time and money.


  1. What preparation is recommended for concrete slabs prior to installalation of laminate flooring?

    Where can more information on this subject be obtained?

  2. Not good for Kitchen or baths as this floor sits on a vapor barrier which traps water under the laminate in case of a water leak which will cause the product to warp if not dried up In a very short time.

  3. ive seen this flooring coated with polyurithan and it looked good and leveled it out. they say you shouldnt doit but it looks good i’m sure you have to put many thin coats but i saw it in a drug store and it really looked great. need feed back.

  4. What I don’t like about the laminate wood floors are they sound hollow when you walk across them. Is there any option that is easy to install but looks and “sounds” like real wood?

  5. I am thinking about putting down laminate wood floors throughout my house. Kitchen, baths and laundry room, included. Would that not be a wise choice??

  6. I have never finished a floor before. I am re-finishing approximately 330 sq.ft. I am also finishing 200 sq. ft. that was covered by carpet and had dogs urinating on it. /they left some stains in the oak flooring. I have done all I can to get rid of the stains. Are these steps good, In the order I mention, &, can I continue as I am specifying? Should I put 3 coats instead of 2? I also have an “air purifier”. Is it a good thing to use while finshing the floors?
    I have a steam mop. I heard on a home improvment show that a hardwood flooring contractor said he “Highly recommended the mop on hardwood floors. Is this a good idea to use such a mop between coats for cleanup of dust?
    I am refinfishing an old hardwood floor in my home. I am racing the clock for an apraisal this coming Friday 4-4-08. Can I go ahead and:
    #1. vacuum w/a high powered vacuum to remove the dust from sanding.
    #2. use a “Liebman mop” well wrung out to get up any dust not picked up (prior to installling cherry stain & poly).
    #3. Stain floor.
    #4. Put down 1st coat “High Glooss Minwax Polyurethane”
    #5. Wait 6 hours.
    #6. Now coat w/semi glooss (same brand).
    #7. How long before the 4 of us can safley walk on the floors.
    #8. Can I use the lambs wool applicator for poly, clean w/mineral spirits,& re-use?
    #9. Do I have to get a buffer to finish between coats or do I need to use steelwool or 220 sandpaper? Thank you for Your help Danny!
    Signed: ” Desperate & needing professional advise/answers”!
    Pastor Cary Brown

  7. Though laminate floors are easier to install they do not add any valve to your home.Wood or engineered wood will add value even though it is harder to install.

  8. i want to replace some strips of the wood look flooring (not real wood)there is one spot where thewood grain look got completely wore out. how do i go about removing the few worn stips down now.thanks a bunch. Bruce

  9. I am redoing my kitchen floor. I currently have carpet and I am thinking of replacing with a wood floor. I have been shown the “Ceramic bead finish luxury resilent plank” Will this be a good brand and will it work on a cement floor,or; is just a wood floor better. I live in the Panhanlde of Texas where it gets very hot and dry and will sometimes rains buckets or very cold and dry and sometimes feet of snow or lots of rain

  10. We have Pergo flooring (laminate) in the main entryway to our house. We have had it since 1989 with 3 growing children, a big dog, and four cats. It is amazing, looks just like hardwood, and looks like new when cleaned and polished! I wouldn’t use anything else if I wanted the hardwood look.

  11. Replacing carpet in living room/dinning room plus kitchen,hall and foyer floor. prefer hardwood but was discourage because of the pool. two options recommended were laminate and plank. What is your opinion or suggestion to this.

    Thank You!


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