Fabulous Flooring: Fake It With Technology

ProSource | 5/9/2017 | Project Tips

Gorgeous floors – wood, stone, tile – provide the foundation for great design. Thanks to cutting-edge technology, beautiful natural elements can be replicated with homeowner-friendly fakes. Give your living spaces a natural look without the upkeep (and expense) that often accompanies the real thing.

Faking It Isn’t Tacky, It’s Smart

“Man-made, synthetic, manufactured, and engineered are synonymous with fake,” says materials historian Grace Jeffers, who has been touring the nation giving presentations on How Fake Materials Can Help Save the World. “Most people think it means imitative or knock-off, but the concept is much more complex.”

It’s easy to get caught up in the idea that synthetic is impure while natural is beautiful and genuine. What we need is a new way to look at real versus manmade materials because qualified contractors and designers are pros at seamlessly incorporating manmade materials into a design while maintaining authenticity.

Modern-day interior and architectural designing is not just about how something looks and works. Good design also takes into account how materials interact with and affect the environment. Jeffers actively promotes the idea that synthetics, such as laminate, can come to the rescue to help preserve the world’s teak, mahogany, and other diminishing natural resources.

She explains that faking is about replication and says, “We live in a man-made world where we recreate nature in so many ways. Also, there is the idea of a more efficient use of materials.” For example, board lumber has been replaced by plywood and has very different mechanical properties. Veneer uses minimal material to look like solid wood.  In a few short hours, a manufacturer can produce “stone” that looks just like that which took nature millions of years to create.

It’s Easier Than Ever To Achieve Natural-Looking Results

While attending a trade show, Jeffers overheard a wood products industry expert comment that nowadays genuine wood is looking as if it was man-made, while wood substitutions, such as laminate, are looking more real. “Anyone who has had to match wood veneer for a large job knows that it is becoming increasingly more difficult,” she says, “but the alternative materials can help solve the supply problem.”

Jeffers boils down the large, complex picture like this. “We are quickly depleting all of the real natural resources,” she explains. “The world does not have the stocks of raw materials it once had – luckily, man-made materials are readily available.”

We’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

“Fake” isn’t as tacky as it once was. “Technology has advanced so much that we are actually making more durable, more consistent, and natural-looking materials in factories,” says Jeffers. “The fidelity of laminate has improved. And materials such as engineered stone and ceramic tiles are raw materials that are processed in a way that makes them profoundly more durable, cleanable, and consistent than materials harvested from nature.”

There’s Nothing Fake About Long-Lasting Results

After viewing inspiring home improvement projects (ProSource has thousands for you to browse), you finally settle on a design that’s right for you. You share your vision with family and friends and eventually connect with a trade professional to get it underway.

“This is how design works,” says Jeffers. “Your client shows you a picture and says they want their space to look like that the picture – and they want it to look that way on day one, year one, year two, and year five.” The pros’ job is to make it happen. And that starts by selecting the most durable, effective materials. “And, more often than not, those materials will not be natural,” says Jeffers.

Engineering Makes The Real Thing Even Better

Think about solid versus engineered hardwood. Solid hardwood is just that – flooring made from individual pieces of hardwood. It reacts – shrinks and expands – to changes in moisture and temperature and is therefore not ideal for basements or bathrooms.

Engineered hardwood, by contrast, consists of a core of genuine wood with a layer of hardwood veneer on top. The engineering behind the product makes it more resistant to heat than its all-natural counterpart. It’s less likely to react to environmental fluctuations, and that makes it a better choice for moisture-prone spaces.

Your pro can help you figure out what will work best in your redesigned space and how your chosen product will be installed. Together, you can consider the abundant options.. Should you install solid hickory hardwood, engineered hickory flooring, or a luxury hickory vinyl planks? And that’s just a few of the possibilities.

Speaking Of Luxury Vinyl…

The phrase “vinyl flooring” has gotten a bad rap over the years. It certainly wasn’t considered “luxurious.” Today’s luxury vinyl flooring is a game changer, including collections that replicate hardwood, stone, and ceramic.

Capture the look of natural stone – slate, marble, quartz – with luxury vinyl tiles that are durable enough for everyday living. Enjoy warmth and comfort underfoot without sacrificing the look of natural materials.

Bottom line: Design goes beyond a picture in a magazine. It’s part of your life. Decide how you want the space to look two years after installation and reverse engineer from there,” advises Jeffers. “With that kind of thought process, you will most likely pick more durable materials, and [believe it or not] those will most likely be engineered.”

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