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How to Stop Selling Imitation: Secrets to Selling Real Wood Floors

Setting the Stage

During the 2019-2020 pandemic, many businesses took a hit financially. Flooring retailers were no exception, and some did not make it while others navigated the winds to unbelievable sales. Revenues in midwestern states and other outlying areas held their own in hardwood sales, but posted the greatest growth in the imitation wood category.

During this period, according to a study by the National Wood Flooring Assocation, “vinyl and plastic composite flooring had the most growth in the flooring market, causing real wood flooring to lose market share.”

The funny thing is that these imitation products often copy the look of real wood.

Many studies, include one we’ll talk further about, have seen that homeowners want hardwoods in their dream home. If homeowners prefer real wood flooring, why sell them fake alternatives?

Sometimes, not knowing how best to represent real wood products to customers lowers the bar to effectively promote real wood floors over the cheaper imitation.

Let’s look at why wood look-alikes are so popular and what homeowners say they really want in their dream home.

Installing laminate

Why are look-alikes popular?

For some folks looking to “spruce up” a room over a weekend without busting the budget, a quick trip to their local big box store offers easy to install flooring without the need to hire a pro. Many homeowners who love the look of real wood but feel the hassle too great to hire a flooring pro, will opt to install a wood-look imitation themselves to save money.

Besides ease and economics, new laminate and luxury vinyl are actively advertised as being a “superior” waterproof choice over real wood. No wonder the wood-look-alike segment has grown!

With these reported advantages, it is hard to sell real wood flooring against the pros of LVP and laminate:

  • Lower initial cost of product and labor
  • Easy installation, particularly for DIY market
  • Waterproof claim
  • Resistant to scratches and wear
  • Maintenance-free, easy to clean
  • Wide range of colors and textures

Don’t throw your hands up in despair just yet!

Competing against lower cost imitation products may seem an uphill battle, especially considering some of their real strengths. However, winning sales in real wood flooring is possible with current trends of consumers re-evaluating their priorities post-pandemic.

More than before, homeowners are choosing to invest more in high-quality products with long-term investment in their homes.

Homeowners Prefer Wood

The National Wood Flooring Association (NWFA) conducted a timely survey, Today’s Savvy Consumer by Brian O’Bannon & Neil Newhouse, among homeowners to determine their opinions about all things flooring.

When homeowners were asked what kind of flooring they would have in their “dream home,” two-thirds (66%) said wood floors. This includes the majority of those who already have wood floors in their homes and many of those who do not.

What they discovered is that homeowners value durability, attractiveness, and easy-to-clean options as the most crucial factors when choosing flooring.

What Homeowners Value:

67% Durability

61% Attractiveness

58% Easy to Clean

The authors note, “Wood floors score well on the attributes most important to homeowners. On “durability,” “attractiveness,” and “easy to clean,” wood flooring ranks either No. 1 or No. 2 of the four flooring types tested. Wood floors’ most significant advantage is on “attractiveness” – as 68 percent of homeowners say that is an excellent description of wood floors, compared to just 46 percent for the next flooring type (tile).”

If homeowners are satisfied with the idea of wood floors, why are so many talked out of choosing them for their home?

Homeowners are telling us what they are looking for, which is easy to understand and point out when showing them hardwood flooring. Consider each of these values:


From those surveyed, they said wood flooring ranked just behind tile in durability. Wood floors have been around for centuries in Europe and America proving their long-lasting ability.


It’s undeniable that the best long-term investment you can make for flooring in your home is to choose wood flooring. Not only do homeowners prefer wood floors for their beauty in their dream home, but they overwhelmingly believe that wood floors do the most to add value to their home – fully 79 percent of homeowners agree. The feedback is convincing!

Easy to Clean

With so many different cleaning product options available for a variety of surfaces in and around our homes; no wonder homeowners are confused about the best method for cleaning and caring for their wood floors. This may also be a hindrance in choosing hardwood floors over products you can clean with about any cleaner. If you are selling flooring primarily because of their ability to be cleaned with just any cleaner, please reconsider there are other alternatives, just keep reading.

Recognizing quality in real wood floors goes beyond just cleaning and comparing prices to lower cost LVP and laminate. Selling genuine wood floors is an art, especially in times of recession and an uncertain economic future.

How to sell against wood look-alikes

From this study, it is apparent that many homeowners would love wood flooring in their dream home. How can we help them choose hardwood when so many easier flooring options are out there?

Remember what homeowners said in the survey about long-term investment? That is just one of the advantages of real wood flooring over imitation floors.

We are here to help by offering you this free course on Portercraft University, “How to Effectively Sell Against Wood Floor Look-Alikes.”

After completing this course, you will be able to:

  • Recognize the reasons why “look-alike” products remain popular in the flooring market.
  • Use persuasive strategies to sell real wood flooring as a better choice for many customers.

Explore more advantages under each of these 6 strategies and come out selling with convincing authority:

  • Demonstrate wood flooring’s durability
  • Emphasize the natural beauty of real wood flooring
  • Educate customers about the easy care of wood flooring
  • Tell wood flooring’s “green” story
  • Tout the health benefits of living with wood flooring
  • Explain the long-term value of wood flooring

Start the course now to learn how to effectively sell real wood flooring against vinyl, laminate, and LVT flooring alternatives.

Don’t have a login to Portercraft University?

As a Portercraft dealer, you have access to over 100 professional courses about flooring, produced by the NWFA. Click here to sign up for an account.


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