Synthetic Wood Flooring

Like the look of wood floors instead of carpet? If so, don’t rush into buying hardwood floors. Before making that decision, consider the advantages of synthetic hardwood flooring with the look of hardwood but more durability and easier maintenance and for less money. These materials have come a long way in recent years. It’s reached the point where it’s very hard to tell the difference between natural hardwood and a laminate.

 

There are several types of synthetic wood flooring on the market today that are worth considering. One of these is vinyl flooring. The manufacturing process for vinyl has changed dramatically to avoid the use of heavy metals and other environmentally-harmful substances. The coloring process uses more natural coloring to achieve a realistic wood-like finish, much better than in the past. Acoustical backing is available for wood-appearance vinyl that makes the flooring sound like wood when walked across, as well as looking like wood. Vinyl is very easy to maintain and clean, requiring no harmful chemicals, and is highly water-resistant, making it a good floor material for bathrooms and other areas where moisture is likely to be a common concern.

Another possibility is Pergo and similar brands of synthetic or laminate wood flooring. These products are particularly designed for do-it-yourselfers, being easier to install than natural hardwood. Laminate flooring is made mostly of resins and fiberboard, with a surface layer consisting of photographic appliqué under a protective coating. The flooring is usually made in planks that fit together with tongue-and-groove connections. Some versions require glue to attach them to the floor under layer, while others incorporate a glue backing into the pieces themselves. A foam or similar underlay provides cushioning, sound-reduction, and moisture-reduction properties.

In addition to being easy to install, laminate flooring is also easy to maintain. It’s important to keep the floors clean of dust and moisture, but this is not difficult to do. Dust can over time and with repeated walking scuff the surface of the flooring (as it can the finish of natural hardwood), and water can damage the floor if it pools on it for long periods. Wiping up a water spill within a few hours is sufficient to protect the floor and a once-a-week mopping will keep the dust down adequately. This is an easier procedure than the mopping and waxing that should be used for maintenance of natural hardwood. Laminates are also available with a stone appearance rather than wood.

To be sure, there is nothing exactly like the look of hardwood or the satisfaction of knowing that that’s what you have under your feet. But for the practical-minded, consideration should be given to alternatives.