After months of testing floors, Consumer Reports magazine in August 2006 declared that if you want solid-wood flooring, consider the finish. “Factory-finished floors should hold up better than site-finished floors,” plus they come with manufacturer warranties. In further contrast, engineered wood — an easier-to-install, sometimes-cheaper alternative featuring wood veneer over laminate — “began showing wear far sooner than solid wood in our abrasion test.”
But when it came to enduring dragged-in pebbles and foot traffic, the best flooring proved to be … fake. “The best vinyl, linoleum, and laminates typically lasted twice as long as solid-wood flooring before their surface began showing wear,” the independent magazine stated.
Tuscon interior designer Michael Albers and his Afghan Hound Aretha moved from a home with oak wood flooring to a place with a laminate floor. Albers says his new floors are a lot easier than wood. “Wood typically takes a lot more maintenance, regardless.”
It’s not as if fake floors are flawless, however. “If you drop a pan on them, they’re going to show some marring,” says Mickey Moore, technical director of NOFMA: The Wood Flooring Manufacturers Association.
Bottom line: The maddening reality for consumers is that all flooring types have pros and cons. If cost is the overriding factor, vinyl wins. But, as Consumer Reports noted, “even the best … still looks like vinyl.”
Sally Deneen is a DOG FANCY contributing editor who lives in Seattle