Almost every homeowner likes the look of timber floors in his or her home but real timber can be expensive and can be damaged. Walking in high heels, scratches from a dog’s nails, or playing with toys on timber can scratch or dent it. Instead of installing real timber, many homeowners choose more durable alternatives such as those below.
With the price of timber flooring increasing due to less availability of slow-growth trees, bamboo has become a popular alternative for many homeowners. It is sustainable because bamboo can grow much faster than trees and it produces a very durable, beautiful flooring. It is easy to install, it doesn’t require sanding or polishing, and it can be walked on right after it has been laid.
An inexpensive alternative to floating timber floors is laminate flooring. Laminate planks are made by using a photo applique of timber and covering it with a clear, protective layer of laminate. The core of the planks is usually melamine resin and other fibre board materials. Laminate is very durable and, unlike timber, a damp mop can be used to clean spills.
Improvements in technology have given laminate a more natural timber-like appearance than in the past. Previously, laminate could be easily spotted because it looked cheap. Now, it can be difficult to tell if you’re walking on laminate or a real timber floor.
Another good alternative to timber flooring is vinyl flooring. It is more durable than timber, it is cost-effective, and it is easy to maintain. It can also be damp mopped when the floors are dirty because it isn’t porous as timber is.
Vinyl plank flooring is made by designers who sketch what closely resembles timber and the sketches are printed out on paper as patterns. Engravers then take the patterns and make printing plates that stamp the design onto a gel sheet, which is made from vinyl foam with a wood fibre and felt backing. It then goes through ovens and either a layer of polyurethane is placed over it for a high-gloss finish or sheet vinyl is placed over it for a matte finish.
The planks are either made into a tongue-and-groove pattern or you can buy planks with an adhesive backing that you peel and stick to the substrate. Vinyl planks can be made to resemble any type of timber so you can get them in light wood tones or dark ones.
Most of the flooring alternatives are easy to maintain with very little more than cleaning required. Since reclaimed timber is becoming more scarce and timber flooring requires a lot of maintenance to keep it looking good for years, many homeowners are turning to these three flooring alternatives.