Synthetic wood flooring has come a long way in recent years. Older models never quite looked like the real thing but today it is hard to tell the difference between a laminate or vinyl and natural wood.
For homeowners who prefer natural, organic materials such as wood, cotton, wool and glass, synthetic wood floors are never an option. However, many homeowners prefer price, convenience, durability and ease-of-maintenance when it comes to furnishing their homes. For these people, wood-look floors are an excellent flooring choice.
Types of Synthetic Wood Flooring
The manufacturing process for vinyl floors has changed drastically over the past fifteen years. Most manufacturers no longer use heavy metals, carcinogens or other harmful elements in the manufacturing process. Harmful dyes have been replaced with natural pigments so real wood-like colors such as maple, oak, birch and bamboo looks can be created without harming the planet. Vinyl floors can also be manufactured with acoustical backings so that the wood look floors not only look like wood, they actually sound like wood when people walk across them with high heeled or wood-soled shoes. Vinyl is a highly durable product and often comes with ten or fifteen year warranties. Plus it can be cleaned without using any harmful chemicals making it a good environmental choice. Unlike real wood, it doesn't require any major refinishing. Vinyl is ideal for bathrooms, laundry rooms and kitchens because it is immune to water and is naturally antimicrobial.
One of the best known brands of synthetic wood flooring is Pergo. Pergo comes in a very wide variety of wood colors, styles and plank sizes and designs. The product is stain and fade resistant and can be easily cleaned with a mop and water.While many laminate floors are difficult to install, requiring messy glues and professional expertise, Pergo is designed for do it yourselfers. The product ships with easy to understand installation instructions making it ideal for a weekend renovation or quick fixer upper project.
Many synthetic floors can be installed right over existing floors, thereby reducing installation costs associated with demolition and removal.
Caring for a Synthetic Wood Floor
To keep a synthetic floor looking like the real thing, make sure to maintain it properly. Use a dust mop or vacuum regularly and clean up spills immediately with a damp cloth. Unlike earlier models, today's vinyl floors do not require any waxing or refinishing. Of course, you should always follow the manufacturer's guidelines that ship with your floor.
Protect synthetic floors from scratches by using door mats to scrape dirt and rocks from shoes and by using soft castors under furniture such as chairs. By following proper maintenance procedures you should be able to keep your synthetic floor for years.
Pros and Cons
Synthetic flooring can be a great wood-substitute. Consider the following when deciding what to install in your home.
- Price. Synthetic floors are usually less expensive than natural wood floors. When you factor in the periodic resanding and refinishing necessary to keep a natural floor beautiful, the price of synthetic is even more attractive.
- Quality. While today's vinyl and laminates are well manufactured, nothing beats the quality of a natural product. Plus hardwoods, such as maple, are incredibly durable.
- Environment. This is difficult to determine. Wood from a FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified forest is harvested in a responsible way. Synthetic floors are long-lasting, making them a durable choice.
- Maintenance. Synthetic wood floors are much easier to maintain than natural wood floors which can be sensitive to high heels and moisture.
- Looks. While synthetic floor designs have come a long way, nothing looks as good as the real thing.