Marni Jameson: Love wood floors but not the cost?

Unlike wall color, tile, carpet, windows, cabinets, or any other home finishing or furnishing choice that is easy to blow, you can’t miss if you choose wood floors.
By Marni Jameson Published: June 14, 2014
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Ever heard anyone walk into a home and say, “Yuck. Wood floors.”

Didn’t think so. And you won’t. Ever.

Wood floors are always right. They are at home in any home. And unlike wall color, tile, carpet, windows, cabinets, or any other home finishing or furnishing choice that is easy to blow, you can’t miss if you choose wood floors.

“People love wood floors because they are elegant, classic, timeless, go with every decor, are always in season, last and are easy to maintain,” said Marianne Murphy, director of operations for Floor Covering International.

She is preaching to the choir. “I know,” I say, then to put this in true perspective, add, “wood floors are the pearls and diamonds of interior design. Never wrong. Always in.”

“Exactly,” said Murphy, whose company has 100 stores throughout North America.

Now, back to you. I know what you’re thinking: Lady, have you priced wood floors lately?

Yes, I have, which is why my conversation with Murphy quickly veered on the runners-up to solid wood floors. In fact, in some cases, I’d argue, floors of engineered hardwood and porcelain wood-look tiles actually beat out solid wood flooring.

I have chosen both of these flooring options over solid wood recently for two different interiors. Last year, when I fixed up my parents’ home to sell, I had engineered hardwood floors put in. Solid-wood floors were out of the budget, especially for a home I wasn’t planning to live in for decades. These floors looked fabulous.

More recently, I considered porcelain wood-look tiles, which, purist that I am, I hesitated to embrace. On principle, I am leery of any product masquerading as another. Tile should look like tile. Wood should look like wood. Plastic should, well, you get the idea.

So when a friend of mine asked what I thought of using porcelain planks that look like wood — and I mean exactly like wood, down to the textured grain surface — as flooring for his second home, a condo in Arizona he was buying and renovating, I was dubious. So I checked it out. I saw samples in the store and the product on a floor. I became a convert.

“It’s one of my favorite products!” said Murphy, when I told her the story. “I love it. Those who have gone into wood-look tile are way ahead of the curve. Porcelain wins in all categories for lifestyle, look, function and price.”

“What happened?” I asked. “I remember when consumers (I did not say me) once snubbed solid-wood-floor-wannabe products.”

“Those days are over,” said Murphy, who credits technology. “Digital imagery has gotten so fine and sharp that products don’t look fake anymore.

“So flooring is catching up to plastic surgery, that way,” I said.

“Just four or five years ago, even porcelain tiles meant to look like marble looked fake. Now technology lets manufacturers add textures, like grain and distress. Technology is driving prices down and realism up.”

While many homeowners still choose solid hardwood flooring for its classic appeal and longevity, its price is causing many consumers to give other options a second look. If you are pining for a wood look, here are your options:

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