What's the best solid hardwood flooring lookalike alternative?

I’ve read enough that I’ve already ruled out laminate and vinyl. Basically it’s coming down to bamboo and engineered hardwood, but I’m open to changing my mind.

Appearance to real wood, durability (reduced need of maintenance), and ease of repair are my top concerns. Price isn’t (much).

Just curious - why not real wood? And why not vinyl?

I’m a big fan of wood - have it throughout the top 2 levels of my home. Bottom 2 levels are vinyl plank. I think it a wonderful material for certain applications. Many folk have been surprised to find it is not wood. But you ruled it out.

Sorry I have no input other than to recommend 2 options you’ve already ruled out.

I don’t like the look of bamboo and I hear it can be brittle. Some of the engineered hardwood looks great and is super durable. We have it and it still looks great after a couple of years. We even have two big dogs and they don’t scratch it up. Just don’t go for the cheapest possible, as durability and finish may be worse on the cheap stuff. I don’t think I would use the veneer on MDF since I’d be worried that moisture would degrade the MDF. I like the kind that is like veneer on plywood.

If price isn’t a concern, I’d go with solid wood. It has a better feel and sounds more solid when you walk across it.

We have a nice new hardwood looking porcelain tile in our bedroom. There are a lot of options there.

I have had oxidized bamboo in the bedroom for 12 years and really enjoy it. It is not as hard as the oak we have downstairs. It did take a specialized nail gun to install which I sold afterwards on eBay.


I think there is good and bad bamboo. We put in bamboo in a house a while back and it was really nice and not distinguishable from hardwood in any meaningful way.

I love my bamboo floors. We ripped up all the carpet and vinyl downstairs and put it everywhere but the laundry room, bathroom and mudroom. I wish we had it upstairs. The carpet is still real nice and precious ($$) to justify pulling it up. I hate vacumning. One day I will have wood put in.
I have heard a bunch of people talking up the new vinyls. Apparently it’s much better than it used to be. I just replaced my laundry room floor about 2 months ago and it is really nice. I had no qualms about it. I wouldn’t put bamboo in a bathroom, water will stain it.

I’m assuming you prefer real wood but long wide planks are too expensive, and parquetry looks too scrimpy. How about geometric wooden slats arrangements?


We’re about to have our basement finished, and have been hearing good things about Luxury Vinyl Planking (LVP) and Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT). Unlike earlier vinyl flooring products, which had numerous installation and durability problems, LVP and LVT are said to have the qualities you’re looking for and to be quite economical as well. You may want to reconsider vinyl.

I’m curious why, if you’ll indulge me. It may help with the suggestions, also. Laminate and vinyl cover a lot of ground, no pun intended. :slight_smile:

The nice thing about engineered hardwood, as your research has no doubt revealed, is that it can be refinished at least once, if necessary.

I bought red oak from Lumber Liquidators and installed it downstairs in 2011. I have been a little disappointed that it is not as hard as I had expected, that is, it now has a few scratches and dents near the door to outside, and we don’t have dogs or other pets. I was tight for money at the time so I might have bought something that was relatively cheap, I don’t really remember. So yes, pay attention to quality. Also, in my opinion, don’t buy from LL.

If you don’t have to have wide planks, I think you can get narrow plank solid oak for not so much more than good engineered hardwood.

We have bamboo in an upstairs extension, I certainly prefer it to the wood flooring we have elsewhere (which is Oregon pine, not hardwood). It’s beautiful and durable. Ours uses non-UF adhesive, and sustainably-sourced. I’m told the carbonized type is noticeably softer, ours is natural colour, with horizontal grain because we like the look of the nodes.

As for me, one reason I don’t like the plastic flooring is that it often looks like plastic when viewed at a low angle. It often looks good when you look straight at it, but if you look flat along the plank it looks very plastic-y. So if it was in a small area where you’d mostly be looking down on it, that would probably be okay. But if it was in larger areas throughout the house, you would have more cases where you’d see that it was plastic instead of wood.

Well, I have not found vinyl to look that convincing, or laminate. I don’t think laminate is durable enough. I have laminate cabinets an they’re fine, but they are super dark so their “fakeness” is less noticeable, also they’re not in as much danger of damage.

Bamboo has a unique appearance, but I kind of like it and that it’s a natural material that’s resistant to many types of damage. It is also super hard and WAY less expensive than say, solid Brazilian Walnut. It can also be refinished but I hear with mixed results.

I want a super durable material that looks convincing. I guess I shouldn’t say “price is no object”. It’s not that I couldn’t afford solid brazilian walnut, I could, although it would hurt a little, I just don’t think it’s best price for the quality. Plus I don’t plan on staying in this house forever, so something that would last say, 50 years is okay. I don’t think I would get enough ROI between best quality solid hardwood and best quality engineered bamboo or hardwood when selling the house.

I am renovating my house at the moment. I am putting a porcelain tile that looks like wood in my kitchen. I love it. I love the fact that it comes in fairly large planks. Nirvana series.

Thanks for the response. My strong preference is for natural materials. I have never tried bamboo. I’ve always been in homes w/ standard oak floors, which I’ve refinished and matched when covering additional rooms.

In my previous house, we did the family room in vinyl plank. It had sliding doors to the back yard, and got a ton of traffic from the kids and dogs. We were extremely pleased with the durability. And I kid you not, many, many people commented thinking it was wood, and often did not believe us when we said it wasn’t.

That was 10-15 yrs ago, and vinyl products have improved. We just used it in our 2 lower levels - both of which are on concrete slab. We used wider planks, which have textured grain. It even feels good in barefeet. And my understanding is that it is very good in places where it might get wet - such as in a laundry room.

I’m a total stickler for repeats in ceramic tile, and there ARE repeats in these planks. But you have to be looking for them to find them. And if you pay attention during the install to place your cuts, it is REALLY hard for someone else to notice the repeat. More of a problem if you choose something with a dramatic pattern.

Just my experience. Like I said, if I had the option and if it were right for the application, I’d ALWAYS go with the natural product. Not sure what advantage engineered wood has over solid wood. Is it THAT much cheaper?
I’ve been interested in bamboo in the past, just never really had an opportunity where it seemed to make more sense than either wood or vinyl.

Well, I think it really depends on quality, but i think the median price of engineered hardwood is significantly cheaper. Also, it is easier to DYI, which I am strongly considering. Here’s my source between hardwood and engineered hardwood.

That’s beautiful. We love ours too.

I can get hardwood for around the same price as engineered hardwood. The difference is the installation cost.

In the engineered hardwood, I can get up to 1/4 inch thick veneer. Thicker facing costs more, but enables you to sand it down more than once.

Sanding it down (and re-polishing) s how you make it look like new again. It’s important if (1) you get a lot of wear, and (2) you want it to look like new again.

We love our hard wood looking porcelain tile. Everyone thinks its wood until they take off their shoes.