Real Wood or Wood Look Flooring

By Sandy

Posted on Wednesday, August 29, 2018 9:46 AM

Wood Looks or Real Wood: Your Flooring Options

Wood look flooring

It’s a funny thing, but a lot of the wood look floors you see are not actually wood. So many flooring choices, everything from real wood – solid or engineered – laminate, luxury vinyl and even ceramic tile all offer convincing wood look visuals.

And that may be just fine. 

Here’s a look at all your options with the benefits and drawbacks of each.


The most obvious choice is real hardwood. While other flooring may emulate real wood, the natural beauty of a hardwood floor is hard to match. Hardwood flooring can last a lifetime or more and can be sanded and refinished several times over the course of its life, which allows you to change color, stain and gloss levels.

hardwood flooring Mullican  Wood comes in everything from natural shades like Castillian from Mullican ...

hardwood floor colors ... to shades of color like this floor from HomerWood 

It is also the only flooring option that can actually add value to your home when it comes time to resell (ok, maybe high-quality ceramic, too). 

But wood has its drawbacks. Solid hardwood flooring can be temperamental. It contracts and expands according to the humidity levels in your home. There may be times between seasons when gaps between boards can begin to show. Most often this resolves itself once the floor is properly acclimated.

Engineered hardwoods are more dimensionally stable than solid and can be used a more places throughout the home – like below grade or in kitchens.

Wood floors also scratch. While there are new high-performance finishes available, generally speaking it is not as scratch resistant as some other flooring options. 

One other drawback: price. Hardwood flooring is expensive, it’s expensive to install and it does require proper maintenance. Here again, engineered wood offers some relief in that it costs less than solid. 


The hardwood visuals in laminate flooring may be the most true-to-life of any other flooring option. That’s due to a combination of high-definition printing and embossed in register techniques that recreate the grain of real wood. 

laminate flooring Quick-Step's Veriluxe laminate

While made of wood components, laminate is not a wood floor. The core of laminate floors is made of high-density fiberboard, a composite of wood paste, saw dust and other post-industrial wood products that are pressed and glued together. 

Mannington laminate floor This lamiante floor from Mannington is hard to tell from the real thing

Laminate is superior to hardwood in scratch and dent resistance, and wear. Beyond these obvious performance benefits and often outstanding visuals, both maintenance and ease of installation make laminate flooring a favorite. Its lower price point also makes it a strong contender in many homes.

Ceramic Tile

Wood looks in ceramic tile? Absolutely. Durability and performance? Ceramic has no equal under any and all conditions – water, dirt, scratching, just about anything. Customizable? Virtually limitless design possibilities. Maintenance? A breeze.

Here again, high-definition printing and embossed in register techniques give ceramic tile incredible realism whether for wood or stone visuals. Also an all-natural product, ceramic can give real hardwood flooring a run for its money. Speaking of money, ceramic can be quite expensive (but so is wood). 

wood look ceramic Believe it or not, this is ceramic tile 

While ceramic tile may give you a comparable warm and cozy look as real wood, it won’t feel that way underfoot unless you install underfloor heating.

wood look ceramic colors Ceramic tile shows its design flexibility with non-traditional wood looks


Vinyl flooring, especially the new luxury vinyl offerings, have brought high style to vinyl’s incredible performance story. Comfortable, durable, low maintenance and increasingly stylish, vinyl flooring is often the preferred flooring where moisture is present.

Coretec WPC flooring Coretec WPC looks like wood 

While the visuals are arguable the least realistic of all these flooring options, they are not bad. Combined with vinyl’s other benefits, performance, maintenance, price and now styling, vinyl flooring should definitely be considered a viable alternative to real hardwood flooring. 

- Sandy

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