The designer homes you see in décor magazines have real hardwood floors… or so you think. Solid hardwood floors are still the gold standard and a favorite of many. But there are more high-end homes than ever with alternative wood-look flooring.
The reasons why go beyond pricing. Hardwood flooring doesn’t work in all areas or for all circumstances and there are other choices that can give you the same look with more durability.
So what are your best options?
If you want flooring that looks like hardwood (with a better price tag), take a look at our top recommendations for homes in our area.
Top wood-look flooring options for Texas homes:
Engineered Hardwood for the Win
We know what you’re thinking. “Engineered” just means fake or faux wood, right? Actually, no. It’s 100% real wood.
Here’s the difference: engineered wood planks are made of layers of wood, compared to hardwood floor planks which are each made of one solid piece of wood.
If you choose a hickory wood, for example, the hardwood version will consist of solid planks of hickory, while the engineered planks will have a top layer of hickory with fused layers of other woods underneath. These layers give it a strong base that prevents it from expanding and contracting with temperature changes or moisture. They also make it more durable in the long run.
That durability is key and a great benefit for homes in Austin and Central Texas, which are mostly built on slabs. Since engineered wood is less likely to warp, it allows for installation in most grade levels of a home, including below ground – as long as a protective moisture barrier is installed.
It won’t react to moisture in a home’s slab like hardwood. It’s also the closest to solid hardwood with added benefits. This is why it’s our #1 choice for wood-look flooring in Texas homes.
The One Everyone’s Talking About: Luxury Vinyl
Vinyl floors have come a long way. There have been quite a few advancements from the sheet vinyl or linoleum our grandparents used compared to the luxury vinyl in modern homes today. These advancements include better materials, more versatility (sheets, tiles or planks) and construction with better printing and texturing.
The printing and texturing on vinyl is so good in fact, it’s made vinyl the latest popular choice as a hardwood flooring alternative.
This popularity is well-deserved. Vinyl planks (or tiles) mimic the look of wood with a top layer that features a wood grain and realistic look. It’s also super durable and affordable, making it an easy choice for all areas of a home, even kitchens and bathrooms.
Vinyl can’t be beat in its variety of colors, patterns and textures either. Wood-looking vinyl planks come in a wide range of light to dark color options, making them very versatile AND waterproof. Best of all, they’re more affordable.
What About Laminate?
Laminate is still a great option. Since it’s been around for decades, many remember it in its early versions from the 1990s. But quality has advanced tremendously.
If you have a bad impression of laminate, you’ve likely seen earlier or cheaper versions that haven’t held up well. Or you’ve seen the cheaper laminate sold by big-box stores – often the thinnest type available.
The latest generation of laminate is higher quality and made of better material. It also varies in thickness from 7 millimeters to a whopping 12 mm. From a wide range of colors to different textures, laminate offers more than you may remember. You can even get a hand-scraped appearance for a more realistic wood look and feel.
Laminate is essentially made of dense fiberboard with a top layer that mimics wood. It’s also a great option for families with kids and pets as it resists scratching, denting and discoloration better than hardwood.
If you’ve never considered laminate, take another look. Today’s high-quality laminate looks so realistic it can be mistaken for real hardwood. The price tag is family-friendly too.
Which is Your Favorite?
These are our top recommended options for wood-look flooring. The best one for you depends on your needs, style and budget. Let us know which one’s your favorite.