So where do you go from here? Maybe you’d love to have real hardwood floors someday, but you know that it’s not practical while you still have four kids, two cats, three dogs, and a mini-horse at home. It happens to the best of us.
We know what you’re thinking. Isn’t bamboo flooring the same thing as hardwood flooring? Nope. Bamboo isn’t hardwood at all. It’s technically a grass… a really tough grass.
You should contact your local flooring retailer to learn more about the best bamboo flooring options, because this hardwood floor alternative is seriously strong. Strand-woven bamboo flooring can hit a whopping 3000 on the Janka Hardness Scale, which is more than twice as hard as oak.
Worried about bamboo being a little too expensive? Don’t be. This hardwood floor alternative also comes as an engineered product to fit any budget.
A tough and affordable base layer with a crazy-strong bamboo veneer? Sign us up.
Plus, bamboo flooring is an eco-friendly flooring choice, since bamboo stalks mature in just 3-5 years (compared to the decades needed for most hardwoods). And if you want to make sure your floors are as green as it gets, you canlook for bamboo with a Forest Stewardship Council certification.
#2. Cork—comfy, durable, and eco-friendly
Years of popping bottles might make you think cork is crumbly and weak. Not so! Cork floors are actually incredibly durable. They’re made with a mix of cork and binders that make them super resistant to wear. Plus, they’re just springy enough to absorb shock—making them great for people with back or joint problems.
And of course, cork is super eco-friendly. It’s made out of cork bark, rather than the tree itself—meaning the same tree can be harvested again every decade or so. To that end, cork farmers are able to reuse the same trees again and again for generations.
And you’ve got installation choices galore. The best cork flooring for your home may be cork tiles, or it may be cork planks or sheets. It doesn’t even have to look like cork! Some cork flooring options are made to look like wood or natural stone. Pretty cool!
#3. Laminate—affordable, but so much more than “fake wood”
Back in the day, people used to think of laminate as just another type of fake wood flooring. And ok, fine, it isn’t real wood. But laminate still has a ton to offer. It’s one of the most durable flooring options around, and these days, advances in printing have made high-quality laminate almost indistinguishable from any of the different types of flooring it’s made to imitate.
Plus, laminates are made to be easy to install. Laminate click-together flooring makes the installation of a floating floor very simple. No need to glue or staple or nail; just click the edges together and go. You can read up on the advantages and disadvantages of floating floors here, but spoiler: there aren’t many disadvantages.
Laminate can also be great for many creative wood floor patterns. As long as you stick to a horizontal installation, you can mix and match various widths and styles to create amazing, one-of-a-kind floors for your home. Who says hardwood floor alternatives can’t be gorgeous?
You may think you already know everything you need to know about the pros and cons of vinyl, but today’s vinyl flooring is tougher and more versatile than ever. 3D printing and ER (embossed-in-register) techniques have made vinyl brands like Proximity Mills look and feel incredibly high-end, but without the price tag.
Plus, it’s some of the easiest flooring to install since most LVT/vinyl plank floors come as click-together flooring. As far as hardwood floor alternatives are concerned, vinyl flooring may just be the most popular of 2021. Are there are some disadvantages of vinyl plank flooring? Sure, but they’re few and far between. We just can’t say enough good things about it!
#5. Wood-Look Tile: not just for bathrooms and kitchens anymore
Depending on the area where you live, you might think that tile is only for certain rooms in your house. But here’s the thing: tile is having a renaissance right now—to the point where the Washington Post wrote a story about just how “in” it is. That’s some serious cred!
Sure, in tropical climates, tile is commonly used in every room of the home. But for the rest of us, tile is used as a bathroom, kitchen, or mudroom flooring. Not anymore, baby. These days, tile can go anywhere. You can even find tile that looks like wood!
No more comparing tile vs. wood floors—now, you can have the best of both. A hardwood floor alternative that looks like wood but with all the perks of tile? Please and thank you.
And speaking of perks: tile can help reduce cooling costs and stands up to water and traffic. Plus, there are endless types of floor tiles to choose from (you can even find snap-together tile flooring), so it’s easy to find the right tile to suit your taste and budget.
#6. Concrete—a surprisingly amazing hardwood floor alternative
Concrete floors aren’t just for garages and basements! If you haven’t checked out concrete floors lately, you are missing out. Concrete flooring that looks like wood is making a big splash inside people’s homes, too.
You can stain, polish, stamp, and texture concrete floors—it’s all up to you. How about a nice rich mahogany color, glossed to a high shine? How about a spot-on oak imitation with a bit of non-slip texture? When concrete is your hardwood floor alternative, the only limit is your own imagination.
#7. Hemp Wood—a new and eco-friendly faux wood floor
Hemp flooring is one of the newest and most exciting hardwood floor alternatives on the market. It’s made of hemp stalks, which were made legal to grow in 2018 (don’t worry, not those kinds of hemp stalks).
There are tons of advantages to hemp flooring, especially because it’s one of the most sustainable wood flooring alternatives out there. In fact, hemp grows over 100 times faster than oak does! Translation: it’s about 100 times more sustainable. By definition!
That’s not all, though. Hemp plants can absorb four times more carbon than trees can; it produces more flooring, per acre, than trees do; it’s even biodegradable because it’s made with all-natural materials!
And hemp wood flooring isn’t just one of the most environmentally-friendly hardwood floor alternatives around—it’s also one of the strongest. Hemp wood planks rank at a whopping 2750 on the Janka hardness scale. That’s over twice as strong as oak!
These days, hemp flooring is available from its only (current) manufacturer, Fibonacci LLC at HempWood.com.
Ready to Find Your Perfect Hardwood Floor Alternative?
Now: ready to spread your wings and find the floor of your dreams? We thought so. Use this flooring stores near me tool to find a flooring retailer in your area. They’re the pros you’ll need to get your project started. And for more info on floors, be sure to read up on:
We’re going to cover a lot of information here, so please feel free to reach out to us with any specific questions! Our team of flooring experts is here to help.
About The Author
Dr. Sara Austin
Best known for being “not that kind of doctor” and never knowing which fork to use, Sara is a learning designer and writer, former real estate agent, and builder with a penchant for home design and remodeling.
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