Non hardwood fooring = pleb?

Hey I need your opinion on something, probably for a friend who might want some hard wood.

Is it faux pas to get something like engineered wood, laminate, or vinyl for an upper middle class house? Or would someone be justified for whatever reason, like cost or practicality?

I was trying to visit some wood forums and people were being really elitist, like no self-respecting person would ever taint a house like that with vinyl floors, they said.

Wood floors are really nice, but the laminate these days are also pretty high quality. For some folks, like folks with dogs with long nails, wood might not be the best choice.

My concern when I replace my floors will be:

  1. How much work do I have to do to maintain it?
  2. How long will it last for both: if I do maintain it, or if I don’t?
  3. Do more buyers of homes want this floor or that floor?

That’s where actual wood floors lose me, because I don’t want to do any heavy-duty maintenance (like refinishing).

Internet tells me this:

Here’s Exactly How To Maintain Wood Floors

  1. Clean Spills Immediately. …
  2. Use Furniture Pads. …
  3. Sweep Or Dust Daily. …
  4. Vacuum Weekly. …
  5. Use Wood Floor Cleaner Monthly. …
  6. Re-Finish Every 3-5 Years.

Do Californians think bricks are for plebs? None of the houses I see are made of bricks there.

Doesn’t matter to me. As long as there are no carpets, I’m good.

If it were up to me, I prefer large tiles or stone.

No, we think brick houses do not fare well in earthquakes.

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I see some brick houses and even some ciderblock houses but this being in earthquake country, both seem to be somewhat rare. I’ll leave why as an excersie to the reader.

I don’t think it’s a faux pas. It used to be, because you could clearly tell that the laminate floors looked like imitation wood. But laminate and vinyl these days look convincing. Engineered wood has real wood veneer on top, so once it’s installed you can’t tell it’s not solid hardwood.

The vinyl and laminate products often come with very, very durable top coats. You’d be really hard pressed to get that durable of a finish with site-finished hardwoods. We use Bona water-based commercial topcoats and they aren’t as durable as what factories can put on vinyl/laminate with the UV-finished stuff. So these products are easier to maintain. And they’ll probably last for 10-20 years, if well maintained, depending on traffic and whether shoes are worn in the house etc. But once they’re done, they’re done and you’re replacing them. Engineered products can typically be refinished at least once.

Hardwood is more maintenance, and hardwood doesn’t perform as well as the others if it gets wet - particularly modern plane-sawn lumber. It’s less dimensionally stable and will warp and cup if it gets wet. But it does last a long time, with the occasional refinish, which is a PITA because you have to remove everything in the room. But it does last quite a while, my wood floors (oak on the first floor, pine on the second) are from 1912 and still doing fine.

One small complaint I’ve heard. With vinyl/laminate/engineered, there are small gaps where the boards meet. Some are beveled and very visible, some are pretty small. With hardwood floors finished on-site, you get a nice, uniform finish. Not a huge deal to me but for some it is a deal-breaker.

Waterproof LVP flooring for me all the way. I don’t like having to worry about a puddle of water sitting on my flooring since I have little kids spilling water all the time.

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You should try potty training them.

I figure time will take care of it for me :man_shrugging:

just switch to a new house every few years like me. never have to worry about defects


I suppose you could if you wanted to update you the latest color, but this seems unnecessary. At least with modern prefinished flooring.

I had wood flooring in the kitchen of my first house. A few of the boards near the dishwasher were slightly curled due to water, probably a leak at some point. The board lock pretty tightly and the finish is waterproof, so you would have to leave a spill sit for a long time to cause damage. I wouldn’t recommend in a kitchen but elsewhere seems pretty safe.


The house we bought has tile floors in the appearance of wood…not even “laminate”…tile!

I actually mostly like it because dogs.

Personally, I would prefer carpet everywhere because I prefer to walk around barefoot and with the hard floor after a while the dogs are barking but not literally.

A difference in prefinished hardwood (like you can get at Lumber Liquidators) and finish-in-place hardwood: factory applied finish is more durable (50 year warranty) than anything you can finish in place. Downside for prefinished is finish in place is smooth all the way across, while prefinished can have elevation differences and is not as water resistant due to cracks from installation imperfections.

I replaced carpet in upstairs with prefinished. I have refinished existing downstairs finish-in-place oak.

my sister just bought a new apartment and is redoing the floors. nobody gets real hardwood these days anymore. engineered wood is all the rage.

I thought LVP stole the spotlight from engineered. I’d still have hardwood, I’m typing this looking at my 110yo oak floors, so I’m biased.

Baird Brothers will ship her some really beautiful solid oak if she wants to take a peek at them. Or Cherokee Wood Products out of California. I’ve done business with both and they are legit.

Lot’s of good low maintenance hard surfaces out there. I used to sale flooring in a past life. For your home I would say nice vinyl tile that looks like wood or value laminate is fine on the 2nd floor or basement. For the main floor I would do a higher end laminate, engineered wood, or solid wood. There is solid American pre-finished hardwoods that can be had for good prices out there if you want solid wood.

A pre-finished wood will not need to be refinished ever unless you want to do it. It looks great as it wears IMO. An engineered wood is the same, it’s coming pre-finished and will often have a distressed look to it which is nice because as it becomes distressed for real it doesn’t show it. Laminates also come in planks now that many people would have no idea is not real hardwood. These are the products to go for common areas on the main floor.

Nice vinyl tile with a wood look and less real looking laminates are fine for anywhere else in the house and will look really good over carpet.

One thing to keep in mind. I recommend tile in kitchen and bath areas as it is basically indestructible to water and wood is not. Also if you don’t use rugs get stoppers for all your furniture so they don’t slide around all over the place.

Some of the people on the forum you read are probably suggesting a sand, stain, and finish product that is finished after installation. I do not recommend this as it is a huge pain in the ass to do in a home you are living in and it will need the maintenance you are describing above. If you want carefree easy living do not buy this type of hardwood.

We have some nice lvp in our basement.

For a long time I would always feel a little insane when I noticed the pattern. Like maybe I’m in the matrix.

I have mostly solid wood floors. I had them finished when i moved in, more than 20 years ago. They are still in good shape, except in my son’s room, where he lit a fire on the floor one night. And yeah, maybe a couple of stains in the room where we foster kittens. But the den, hallways, and other bedrooms still look new.

Solid wood isn’t precious, and doesn’t need much care. Sweep/vacuum regularly. I guess don’t traipse around mud and then grind it into the floor. If you spill a liquid, clean it up. You were going to do that anyway.

We have engineered wood in the basement (too damp for solid wood) and tile in the bathrooms and kitchen. I hate the tile in the kitchen. It’s really hard underfoot, and anything we drop breaks. And the grout always looks dirty. But it’s easy enough to maintain, and replacing it would be a pain.

(I did replace the mildewing wall-to-wall carpet with hardwood.)