Renovation: Wood flooring and its alternatives

Unlike many other design features where ‘nice’ is subjective, wood is always a classic and always favoured. You hardly come across anyone who hates hardwood flooring. And why? It’s natural, gorgeous and elegant.

But if the cost is an issue, there are alternatives you can consider.



The classic, timeless and elegant choice. As it can be restored and updated — sanded and refinished over and over again — it will last through the years. And be warned that it gets damaged easily. If you’re a purist and don’t like the idea of one material masquerading as another, this is the one for you, but you will pay a premium.

Cost: As much as $30 per square foot, including installation.



This is made of real wood, but it is layered over a compressed core of repurposed wood. As it is an engineered product, it is more stable than solid natural hardwood. It looks, feels and sounds just like solid wood, with the added bonus of being more durable and less susceptible to warping due to temperature changes and humidity. It is considered as a sustainable product as well. However, it doesn’t last as long as solid hardwood, as you can only refinish it up to a few times.

Cost: Up to $18 per square foot, including installation.



Offering a clean and sleek look, this comes in long rectangular “planks” that are laid out realistically like wood. Colours range from traditional browns to more contemporary greys and whites. Some even have textured “wood grain” surfaces. It is water-resistant (hello, wood flooring in bathrooms and other wet areas!), does not fade and does not require high maintenance to keep it looking its best. It keeps the floor feeling cool, too.

Cost: Between $3.50 and $12 per square foot.



Vinyl is relatively inexpensive and mimics effectively the look of wood planks. It is also water resistant, pet-proof and doesn’t require any special maintenance. It does however, have a synthetic feel and sound underfoot.  

Cost: About $7.50 per square foot, including installation.



This replicates the look of wood very well, but it isn’t real wood at all. It consists of layers laminated together, topped off with a photographic applique and protective finishing. It requires little maintenance and can handle heavy traffic and pets. At a glance, it can be difficult to distinguish from real wood, but it does sound a bit plastic and hollow when treaded on.

Cost: About $5.60 per square foot, including installation.

Pricing information for solid hardwood and engineered wood flooring from Wood & Wood, vinyl and laminated flooring from Evorich, and wood-look tiles from Hafary and Rice.