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Updated February 19, 2021
Yes, hardwood flooring is gorgeous, long-lasting, and offers a ton of bang for your buck. But even the best hardwood floors have limitations. While hardwood may be the caviar of the flooring world, there are tons of “fake wood flooring” options that are, in many cases, just as good as the real thing.
Look, we’re not going to BS you here. Hardwood is amazing. But there are lots of applications it’s not suited for. And for many people, its price range can be a problem. So even though “fake wood” or “faux-wood” is sometimes used to disparage a product, we’re here to end that stigma.
Below, we’re going to discuss 7 fake wood flooring options that offer the look of wood, but with a ton of added benefits. We’ll even take you through some types of wood flooring that aren’t real wood at all.
Fake wood flooring doesn’t mean cheap or unrealistic, so leave your biases at the door—and let’s jump in!
Laminate was once thought of as a lower-end flooring product. But these days, that couldn’t be further from the truth. The original “fake wood flooring” (it’s been around since the ‘70s) is tough, affordable, and can imitate many different types of flooring. And it has tons of unique advantages, too.
A photo-realistic image layer that can mimic just about anything.
A “wear layer” (basically a super durable coating) for added scratch protection.
For faux wood laminate flooring, the image layer contains a wood grain pattern.
Laminate flooring is more affordable than hardwood flooring
When we’re comparing laminate vs. hardwood floors, we have to mention that you simply can’t beat laminate’s price! It can start as low as $1 per square foot (though it can go much higher depending on the product).
If you want to learn how to replace flooring, laminate is a great place to start. Laminate planks often come as “click-together” or “snap-together” floors, which can be installed on top of existing surfaces without the use of glue or nails. Solid hardwood flooring typically doesn’t come with this option.
Laminate is a great fake wood flooring for high-traffic areas
Laminate’s wear layer does what it says: it protects against wear, including scuffs, scratches, and dents. It’s no wonder that you can find this type of fake wood flooring in high-traffic areas where hardwood shouldn’t be installed—like mudrooms or front entryways.
While not totally waterproof, laminate will often hold up better than hardwood against drippy rain boots, grit, and grime.
Laminate is a kid- and pet-friendly fake wood flooring choice
Toys, dirt, and various types of “puddles” tend to be a common theme among both pets and kids. So take that into account when you’re choosing the types of flooring you want to use in your home!
While you may be choosing between carpet vs. laminate floors for your kids’ (or fur-kids’) play area, consider this: laminate will resist stains better, it’s easier to clean, and it offers a style that looks like high-end wood.
And these days, you can even get waterproof laminate flooring
Seriously! Laminate isn’t just super durable, beautiful, and affordable—these days, it can even be waterproof. Products like Mohawk’s RevWood have absolutely changed the game when it comes to what laminate flooring can do.
#2. Engineered Hardwood: Real Fake Wood
Okay, so engineered hardwood isn’t really a fake wood floor at all. But people do tend to call it that. What they really mean is that engineered hardwood isn’t the same as solid hardwood flooring.
What is engineered hardwood? How is it made?
Engineered hardwood is one of the two main types of wood flooring. It’s made by layering a thin veneer of solid hardwood over high-density fiberboard or rigid plywood. Engineered hardwood tends to have a slightly thinner profile than solid hardwood as well.
Engineered hardwood isn’t actually fake wood flooring. It is real wood.
Engineered wood is comparable in price, durability, maintenance, and versatility to solid wood. It’s a type of “fake wood flooring” that’s not just close to the real thing—it is the real thing.
Solid wood vs. engineered hardwood: can you tell the difference?
If you don’t tell your guests that you installed engineered hardwood, they’ll have no idea it’s not the “real thing.” Even if you don’t opt for the best engineered wood flooring on the market, it offers the exact same appearance and comfortable underfoot feeling that solid wood is known for. We won’t say anything if you don’t!
Plus, engineered wood flooring can costs less
Love the look of an exotic hardwood species—mahogany or teak, for example—but working on a budget? Go with engineered hardwood!
Because it uses less solid material, it can bring the price down to a more affordable level. Exotic wood floor designs at a discount? Yes please.
And engineered hardwood can be easier to install, too
The material has come a long way since it was popularized in the mid-twentieth century and is now one of the most versatile and low-maintenance flooring types out there.
What is vinyl plank/LVT flooring?
There are many different types of vinyl flooring, from the classic sheet vinyl of yesteryear to modern vinyl plank. These days, people often use the terms “vinyl plank” and “LVT” (which stands for “luxury vinyl tile”) interchangeably.
Just like laminate and engineered wood, LVT usually comes as click-together flooring. Also called a “floating floor” (because it’s not attached to the subfloor), vinyl plank can likewise be installed over existing surfaces.
Wondering what the best floor for your kitchen is? Want to know what floor to put in your basement or bathroom? Vinyl plank, baby.
While hardwood flooring can swell and warp in areas with high humidity or moisture, you can place vinyl absolutely anywhere. And since it’s entirely synthetic, it’s incredibly durable.
LVT//vinyl plank is easy to clean
If you’re worried about maintaining your new floors, vinyl plank flooring is a great choice. It can be swept or vacuumed daily (remember to use the bare floor setting) and unlike most types of wood flooring, wet mopping is no problem for vinyl. It’s waterproof, remember?
Wood-look tile could be the answer to your tile vs. wood floor dilemma! This type of fake wood flooring is prized for its durability, ease of maintenance, and sustainable qualities.
What is wood-look tile? Tile that looks like wood, basically.
The most self-explanatory fake wood flooring option around, wood-look tile is simply tile with the appearance of wood.
These types of floor tiles are generally made of ceramic or porcelain, and the wood grain is usually applied with high-resolution printing.
You may be thinking: “won’t printed wood look super fake?” Nope!
These tiles use scanned images of real wood. The more “faces,” or unique wood images per lot, the fewer repeats you’ll see. And of course, higher variation means a more realistic and less fake wood flooring alternative.
Wood-look tile is easy to maintain
Porcelain tile is #1 on our list of most durable flooring options for a reason! Tile’s hard, dense composition resists scratches, scuffs, and chips.
And like many other types of tile, wood-look can be cleaned with mild detergents and water. Hardwood flooring, on the other hand, shows wear, requires wood-specific cleaners, and must occasionally be refinished.
Wood-look tile is stain-resistant and water-resistant
If you’re considering any type of fake wood flooring, you’ll want to consider where you plan to install it. For example, if you’re contemplating tile vs. laminate, you should know that wood-look tile is a more water-resistant option.
Porcelain tile is also essentially non-porous, and thus more resistant to staining compared to solid hardwood. This is an excellent quality for kitchens or anywhere else you might spill your (third) glass of red wine.
Not that we’d know anything about that.
Tile is a sustainable fake wood flooring material
Unlike some other types of fake wood flooring, most types of tile emit no VOCs, which can have a negative impact on indoor air quality. If you’re the “go green” type, you’ll also be glad to know that wood-look tile can be recycled at special facilities at the end of its lifetime!
#5. Bamboo: “Fake Wood Flooring” That’s Actually a Grass
We just couldn’t let you go without mentioning a couple of amazing types of wood flooring that aren’t really wood at all! Organic fake wood flooring, anyone?
What is bamboo flooring made of?
So: bamboo. There is so much to love about bamboo. It’s no wonder that we’re seeing more bamboo flooring than ever! While bamboo looks and acts almost exactly like wood, bamboo is actually one of the largest members of the grass family.
Bamboo flooring is sustainable
Bamboo is often considered one of the most environmentally-friendly flooring options, as it can grow to maturity in just three to five years. Compare that to hardwood trees which can take over 40 years before they’re ready to harvest!
And the styles this fake wood flooring comes in are endless
The varieties and styles of bamboo are endless and include strand-woven, horizontal, vertical, and even engineered bamboo flooring (read up on engineered bamboo flooring pros and cons for more info on that).
You can finish your bamboo on-site, or buy it with its stain already applied like you can with prefinished hardwood flooring. You can even refinish bamboo flooring like you can with hardwood! There are so many things that make bamboo a great faux wood flooring choice.
#6. Cork: “Fake Wood Flooring” Made of Tree Bark
Cork flooring actually comes from cork trees… but here’s the crazy thing—you don’t have to cut the tree down to harvest it.
Instead, cork is harvested from the bark of cork oaks, and some of the best cork flooring is created from remnants of bark that was actually harvested to make wine corks. So there’s very, very little waste.
Won’t cork flooring just fall apart?
Nope. Cork is actually self-repairing, which makes it one of the best types of scratch-resistant flooring if you have dogs or kids. Plus, it’s manufactured in such a way that you’ll get plenty of years out of your cork floors—even the cork flooring from Lowe’s and Home Depot that’s of questionable quality.
What makes cork such a good floor?
In addition to being a more sustainable flooring option, cork flooring is naturally mold and mildew-resistant. Plus, it’s so easy on the joints, it may even give you a little spring in your step. Your local flooring source can offer great insights into this fantastic flooring option, and we recommend you check out some of the pros and cons of cork flooring.
#7. Hemp: A Revolutionary Faux Wood Flooring Option
Yes, you read that right. Hemp flooring is one of the newest fake wood flooring products on the market. Also known as “hemp hardwood”, it’s a durable, beautiful, eco-friendly flooring option. What’s not to love?
What makes hemp such an eco-friendly fake wood flooring option?
As a member of the grass family, hemp is fast-growing—really fast-growing. In fact, hemp can grow from a seed to a harvest-ready stalk in as little as 120 days. Compare that to the decades it takes for hardwoods like oak to grow to maturity!
Additionally, hemp absorbs 4x more carbon than trees do via a process called “carbon sequestration”. And hemp flooring produces more flooring per acre than a forest does!
How durable is hemp flooring?
The hardness of wood is generally measured by something called the Janka scale. Some of the hardest types of wood flooring in the world have Janka ratings of 3000 or more. But the flooring industry standard for hardness is oak, which measures a very respectable 1300 or so.
Hemp wood flooring measures a whopping 2750 on the Janka scale. That’s more than twice as hard as oak!
Conclusion: All of These Fake Wood Flooring Options are Excellent
Fake wood flooring has come a long way since the early days, and it’s getting harder and harder to tell the difference between the best hardwood floors and their more affordable alternatives.
What’s the best faux wood flooring for you? That depends! Whether you want the real wood feel of engineered hardwood, the durability of wood-look tile, the DIY ease of laminate, or the versatility of vinyl, there’s really no bad option.
Where can I find fake wood flooring?
No matter which of these excellent flooring options interests you, a local flooring expert is your best bet to find the perfect flooring fit. Check out a flooring store near you to get a recommendation and quote today.
And for more information on the many types of floors and their unique characteristics, check out:
Kelly is a freelance lifestyle and wellness writer. Her guilty pleasures are coffee and celebrity gossip. When she’s not hard at work creating content, you can find her traveling the world, being a crazy fish mom, and cooking vegan food.
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