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 6 fake wood flooring options that offer the look of wood, but with a ton of added benefits. We’ll even take you through some wood flooring types 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), laminate is tough, affordable, and can imitate many different types of flooring. And it has tons of unique advantages, too.
2. A photo-realistic image layer that can mimic just about anything.
3. A “wear layer” (basically a plasticate coating) for added durability.
For fake 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).
Installing laminate flooring is easy
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 floors are great 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
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.
#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 is real wood
Engineered wood has many of the same pros and cons of solid hardwood. It’s comparable in price, durability, maintenance, and versatility. 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.” Engineered hardwood offers the same natural variation that wood is known for and offers that same comfortable feeling under your feet. We won’t say anything if you don’t!
Engineered wood flooring costs less for exotic woods
Love the look of an exotic hardwood—mahogany or teak, for example—but you’re 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.
#3. Vinyl Plank//LVT: tough, low-maintenance, and waterproof
As with any material, there are pros and cons of vinyl flooring. But if you’re looking for a fake wood flooring choice that’ll suit just about every need, vinyl plank (aka LVT) is the way to go!
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. Whatever you choose to call it, this material is the best type of vinyl flooring to imitate the look and feel of wood.
What is vinyl plank flooring made of?
Vinyl plank is composed of synthetic materials like PVC (a type of plastic). As with laminate, vinyl planks typically contain a sturdy base layer, an image layer, and a protective wear layer. But unlike many types of laminate flooring, some vinyl products also boast texturing that feels like real wood! This is where the line between real and fake wood flooring starts to blur.
Vinyl plank is a cost-effective fake wood floor
While hardwood flooring can cost $3 to $10 per square foot before installation (and more for exotic wood species), vinyl tends to be more affordable. If you’re operating on a budget like many of us are, you’ll be happy to learn that vinyl plank flooring typically costs between $1 and $8 per square foot.
LVT is cheap and easy to install
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. That makes installing it easier and cheaper to install than solid hardwood. Translation: although there are some disadvantages of floating floors, cost is not one of them.
Vinyl plank is durable, waterproof, and can go where hardwood can’t
Looking for waterproof flooring options for wet or moisture-prone areas of your home? 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?
#4. Wood-Look Tile: the best of both worlds
Wood-look tile could be the answer to your tile vs. wood floor dilemma! This type of fake wood flooring is highly prized for its durable, low-maintenance, and sustainable qualities.
What is wood-look tile? It’s tile that looks like wood, basically.
The most self-explanatory fake wood flooring option ever, wood-look tile is simply ceramic or porcelain tile with the appearance of wood. The wood grain is usually applied with high-resolution printing.
You may be thinking: won’t printed wood look super fake? That depends. Most of these types of tile will use scanned images of real wood. The more “faces,” or individual images, per lot, the fewer repeats you’ll see. Higher variation means your wood-look flooring will appear closer to traditional wood flooring options.
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. 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 resurfaced.
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 & #6. Honorable Mentions: Bamboo and Cork Flooring
We just couldn’t let you go without mentioning a couple more excellent fake wood flooring types. The following are two of our favorite natural “wood flooring types” that aren’t really wood at all!
Bamboo Flooring: a “fake wood flooring” that’s actually a grass
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.
The varieties and styles of bamboo are endless and include strand-woven, horizontal, vertical, and even engineered bamboo flooring. Before you jump into this popular type of fake wood flooring, check out our list of engineered bamboo flooring pros and cons.
Cork Flooring: a “fake wood flooring” made of tree bark
Cork flooring actually comes from a tree… but here’s the crazy thing—you don’t have to cut the trees down to harvest cork! Instead, cork is harvested from the bark of trees, and even the best cork flooring is created from the remnants of bark that was harvested to make wine corks.
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.
All of These Make Fantastic Fake Wood Flooring Options
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 fake 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, the choice is all up to you!
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 finding 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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