The Look for Less: Hardwood Floor Alternatives

Hardwood floors remain the most popular in homes, apartments, and condominiums. They up the resale value of a property and add to the visual appeal of each of a home’s rooms. But real wood can be expensive, especially if a homeowner is seeking a specific look. To purchase the wood, have it installed, and have it properly finished to achieve the desired look costs money. For families on a budget, this can put hardwood floors out of reach.

But today there are several options for consumers seeking that hardwood look without the price tag. Here are a few alternatives to more expensive flooring that will achieve the same look at a fraction of the price.



Laminate has grown in popularity over the years as the quality and options have improved. Using a photographic appliqué, laminate can mimic the look of wood while being made from synthetic materials. Laminate flooring can mimic a wide variety of hardwood floor types, from light to dark wood and everything in between.

In addition to its affordability, laminate flooring is also extremely durable, making it easy to clean and maintain. Laminate is a “floating floor” type, which means it can be installed by simply setting the pieces down and locking them together. This ease of installation can also save homeowners money, since it doesn’t require a specialized amount of expertise and it can be performed much more quickly than traditional hardwood flooring installation.

Engineered Hardwood


Engineered hardwood binds plywood together to create a strong, durable floor at a fraction of the cost of real hardwood. The top layer is a strip of real wood of the type specified by the customer, creating the look of traditional hardwood floors. The veneer is finished to give the same polished look. It is usually impossible to tell the difference between real and engineered hardwood flooring.

Obviously one of the biggest benefits of engineered hardwood is cost because it only uses a thin layer of attractive wood, it can be manufactured and installed for a fraction of the price. It can also be more durable, holding up better through changes in humidity levels.

Less Expensive Wood


One way to save money when selecting a hardwood floor is by moving toward a less expensive type of wood. American hardwoods like oak, maple, and ash are less expensive per square foot than more exotic hardwoods like tiger wood or teak. Oak is the most popular type of hardwood flooring but ash tends to be one of the least expensive.

If you have a specific look in mind, there may be a cheaper option that achieves the same effect. Lyptus, for instance, looks very similar to mahogany and comes with a lower price tag. A flooring specialist can show you the two woods side by side and let you make the decision.

If you’re shopping around for hardwood flooring, be aware that there are many options that can save you money. Determine the look you want and speak to a flooring professional to discover how you can get that look while still staying within your budget.