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Hardwood Flooring & Alternative Options

Are you in the market for new flooring? The wood look is probably the most popular flooring look out there right now over carpet and tile looks. I frequently hear clients say they don't want the maintenance of real hardwood flooring. With today's technology, there are several alternatives to hardwood that look just like the real deal. Below I have compiled a list of the different types of flooring and why you might choose one type over the other.

1. Hardwood Flooring: The most beautiful and natural look of them all, but nature does have it's faults. Different species offer different advantages and disadvantages, such as hardness, resistance to sun fading, and color to name a few. Be sure and do your research on the species of the hardwood flooring you select. If you are searching for something unique, look into bamboo or cork. There are also two types of hardwood; engineered and solid. Engineered wood has several layers but can only be refinished a time or two. Solid planks can be refinished many times but are more prone to shifting and warping over time.

Let's talk more about hardness. Do you have pets? Are they large and do they have long nails? These are all things to think about when considering hardwood. Since hardwood is a natural product, scratching and denting can certainly happen.

It is also important to understand that hardwood may not be the best option if you have large windows with high exposure to the sun. The color will eventually fade and turn a few shades lighter than the wood in other areas.

2. Laminate Flooring: An alternative to real wood and a lower priced option. The top layer is a high resolution photo of real wood, and the layers underneath are manufactured primarily from melamine resin and fiber board material.

Laminate flooring is relatively easy to install for the experienced DIYer. It is considered a floating floor and usually clicks together for simple and quick installation. Like hardwood flooring, you should allow the planks to acclimate to the temperature and environment that they will be installed in.

Because laminate flooring is man made, it has the ability to resist fading from the sun and may wear better than hardwood, but this really depends on the quality of the laminate you purchase. Be sure to buy high quality laminate from a reputable brand. If the price is extremely low, the quality is probably poor. There are also different thicknesses to consider. As I stated before, always do your research before making a selection.

3. Luxury Vinyl Tile: A fairly new option that has entered the market within the last decade or so. Luxury Vinyl Tile or LVT comes in planks to look like hardwood as well as square or rectangular tile looks. Just like laminate, LVT is a high resolution image of real wood. The difference is in the material, which is a thicker vinyl rather than wood particles. This makes LVT a stronger option for high moisture areas, such as a bathroom. The durability of the vinyl is also stronger than laminate or wood and has a better chance at resisting scratches and dents. it is also more resistant to fading and is an ideal option for high traffic areas. Usually the price is a bit higher than most laminates, but can be less than real hardwood. Again, this depends on the quality and brand you choose.

4. Ceramic or Porcelain Tile: Manufacturers of tile have recently been marketing wood looks, the material is still ceramic or porcelain but with the image of real wood printed on the surface. This is an excellent option for a bathroom and also very popular in homes near water or with high humidity levels. I have seen many vacation homes use this look throughout and the result is wonderful.

Porcelain is more durable than ceramic - it is fired at a higher temperature therefore making it harder and less prone to chipping. I would recommend going with porcelain if your budget allows it. Ceramic may cost less but in the long run porcelain will stand up to more abuse. If you drop a can of tomatoes and chip your tile, there goes the whole room!

Lastly, let't talk about the comfort of tile. Of all of the options listed, tile will be the most cold to touch. If you like to go barefoot in your kitchen, this might not be the best option. Another thing to consider is the hardness of tile over the other options. Standing for long periods of time on tile can be harder on the body than standing on the other materials listed above. If you have aches and pains, you might want to consider something else.

Thank you for reading, I hope you found this information to be helpful. If you enjoyed this blog post, be sure to follow me on facebook where I share new posts and more!

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