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How to Fake a Hardwood Floor – DIY!

March 11, 2017

If you’re like me, then you’ve probably spent hours pouring over Pinterest pictures of that PERFECT (yet inexpensive) farmhouse floor. And if you haven’t? Then you should. Now I know, I know. It definitely is not the most fun part of planning your farmhouse style. But it might be one of the most important! A good-looking floor leads to a good-looking room. Convinced? Okay good. Then let’s move on to the fun part!


I knew I wanted a dark, hardwood look to my kitchen/entry floor. But my cousin said it best,

“Your home either comes with a surprise hardwood floor, or you find something to fake it, because no one wants to install that by themselves!”

So true. And a real hardwood floor was not in my budget for this house!

So, naturally, I scoured Pinterest for weeks. My first thought was a DIY plywood floor, like you can find here and here. But because I was just trying to get my house move-in ready as quick as possible, I settled on some vinyl flooring from Menards. Well, not really settled, because I love it! And it is super durable, which is great in my heavily used entry and kitchen!


This was the entry before. Hello purple!


Okay, I’m going to be completely honest.  I had no idea what I was doing when I walked into Menards.  And the flooring section of that place is seriously overwhelming!  Cue Jack, the best, most helpful Menards worker I have ever met.  He pointed me away from the laminate flooring area, and into the vinyl planks.  Laminate is made of a pressed wood bottom layer, and a vinyl top layer for protection.  Since I was using it in my kitchen/entry, Jack said full vinyl would be more durable and wouldn’t warp like laminate if water happened to get between the cracks.   Sold!  And they were the same price, so win/win!


Here is where the personal preference comes in for all of you readers.  Obviously in color and style, but also in how these planks go together!  There are planks you can glue down, planks that click together, or planks that stick together to make a floating floor.  I really had no idea what would be easiest, but based on the flooring style that I liked; we ended up installing the “stick together” planks.  More on that in a bit!


Here were the final four styles for me:

(Ignore the bad quality, I was just sending pictures home for approval!)

I knew I wanted something with more of a knotty, real wood look.

In the end, I decided on the upper left (Congoleum Carefree Cottage Plank).  They come in 6″x 36″ planks that have peel-off adhesives on two sides.  One box is approximately $30 at Menards and covers 15 square feet.

The Installation:

Someone was not happy I made him help with installation. But it really only took us about two nights to do the whole entry way and kitchen floor!  Super fast and easy.

Quick installation tips: 

Make sure the floor is free of dirt and debris.  If that means plywood like mine was, good luck!

(Optional):  Lay a foam underlayment to protect subfloor from possible water damage.  We did this step, but did not tape the strips together like recommended!

Start from back right corner of the room.  The planks should run parallel to the long direction of the room, so try to pick a a corner based on that.  Here’s an excerpt from the Carefree instruction guide if my directions are confusing!  It makes more sense when you see the adhesive sides on the planks as well.

To cut the planks, use a sharp utility knife and a T-square.  Make one cut along the back of the plank and bend to break apart!

Lastly, stagger full length planks alongside partially-cut planks so that the seams where the planks meet end-to-end are not all together.  We cut the planks in half and kept a uniform look by staggering every other plank full-half-full-half.

And the finished product.  Looks like real wood, right? 😉

Feel free to add your own tips, tricks, or opinions in the comments! I would love to hear your personal flooring stories!


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