The Idiot's Guide to Refinishing Wood Furniture - Quicken Loans Zing BlogWood floors are beautiful and versatile. Everyone wants them, but not everyone can afford them.

Since I’m currently looking at flooring options to replace some low-quality laminate in my new home, I wanted to explore options that have the wood look – but not the wood price or maintenance worries. If you’re in the same boat, here are some flooring options to consider.

Laminate

Easy-to-install, easy-on-the-budget laminate is an easy choice if you’re looking for affordable flooring that looks like wood. It’s durable, easy to clean and tolerates moisture well. If you have kids or pets, laminate should definitely be on your list of considerations.

One of the reasons I was hesitant to consider laminate is that I didn’t want our floors to look cheap or fake. However, when I actually went to the store and got my hands on some samples, I found that there are many different finishes for laminate. You can get smooth laminate, textured laminate or distressed laminate. In my opinion, the textured and distressed types look much more realistic than smooth laminate.

That said, there are a few cons to choosing laminate flooring. One is that the resale value of laminate is not as great as that of hardwood. If you’ve ever watched “House Hunters,” you know that buyers are all about hardwood floors – and few are enthused about laminate. Another is that you can’t refinish your laminate floor. If it’s worn or scratched, you’ve got to replace it – end of story.

Tile

Porcelain tile can look convincingly like wood – a fact that might sound unbelievable until you see it for yourself.

Like real wood flooring, tile is very easy to clean and won’t easily stain. Its ability to repel water makes it a darn good choice for kitchens and bathrooms – and basically everywhere else, especially if you have kids or pets. Wood floors require refinishing approximately every 10 years, according to HeritageHardwoodFlooring.com, but tile can literally last a lifetime. If the tile cracks, a contractor can easily replace single tiles in your floor.

Tile, on the other hand, does have a couple of downsides. One is that it feels cooler underfoot. This is a good thing if you live in a hot climate; cold-climate dwellers should think twice. However, if you’ve got some extra cash on hand to install radiant heating beneath your tile floor, then the world of tile is your oyster no matter where you live.

Another disadvantage of tile floors is that they’re not as comfortable as wood or other types of flooring. While wood-look tile may look pretty in your family room, it’s not going to make you want to sit on the floor to play with the kids.

All things considered, I had decided that I wanted wood-look tile for my kitchen and dining room – until I got a quote for installation. While the cost of the flooring itself wasn’t bad (around $2,000), the labor costs blew me away (around $5,000). Ultimately, the price tag for labor was what turned us off of tile.

Vinyl

You can get vinyl in just about any color and pattern your heart desires, making it perfect for homeowners on a budget. Vinyl is low-maintenance, water resistant and durable. According to About.com, vinyl flooring can last “upwards of ten to twenty years” if installed correctly and properly maintained.

There’s one big issue with vinyl flooring that could be a deal breaker for some homeowners. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, vinyl flooring is horrible for your health and the environment. The material could give off potentially harmful compounds “including lead, cadmium and phthalate plasticizers” for years after installation – which About.com says could “lead to respiratory problems, eye irritation, or asthma effects.” And when you throw away your vinyl flooring at the end of its useful life, it won’t decay in the landfill, which is terrible for the environment.

When it came to wood-look flooring, we ultimately decided on laminate for its durability and affordability. What kind of wood-look flooring are you thinking about for your home? Share your experience in the comments section!

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This Post Has 7 Comments

  1. I’m taking time to share what I wish I had known before spending more than $8k. It was time to replace my 15 yr old sheet vinyl flooring. After reading and reading, I started with porcelain tile with a wood look in my master bath. It’s very pretty, but in the winter I hop to the area rug – it’s cold tile. So when it came to the main living areas, I looked at flooring for over a year – everything. Finally I decided on a wood look laminate click flooring. Darn nice looking, and it’s got a great warranty, its comfortable under foot, and it is solid quality. However, if I had to do it over, I’m sure I wouldn’t get the medium gray that I chose – every drop of water, and everything else shows up – it’s maddening. Also, even with underlayment it’s just a noisy surface – every dog nail clicks (like tiny dancers). I think I would choose high end – I don’t know… maybe sheet vinyl again (super easy to keep clean, it’s warm and quiet and there’s no end to colors, textures and patterns, all at a reasonably lower price point). My two cents.

  2. I’ve always loved the look of wood floors, but they can be a bit pricey. It sounds like vinyl is a good way to get the same look for less. It is also nice that it’s durable and low maintenance. This means that I won’t have to worry about my pets scratching it up.

  3. Great advice Christine. Porcelain tile is one of the top interior design trends. They comes in variety of designs, colors, finishes and sizes. So, I would recommend these to everyone.

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