Wood-like vinyl flooring

FRESNO, Calif.

Some even look like stone or wood. Consumer Reports included vinyl in its tests of flooring.

The most important test is how well the flooring will hold up through years of foot traffic. To simulate, a machine scrubs the flooring up to 500 times. Testers also evaluate how well the flooring resists stains and whether sharp objects will scratch it. And you don't want the sun to fade your floor, so testers place flooring in a machine and expose it to ultraviolet rays. The Wicanders Corkcomfort ran into trouble.

When the battery of tests was done, the best vinyl beat all the other flooring, including wood and laminate. Consumer Reports says a good choice is Armstrong's Alterna Mesa Canyon Stone Sun, at around $5.50 per square foot.

There are some safety concerns with vinyl flooring - especially when it's newly installed. It can emit volatile organic compounds, also called VOCs, substances linked to health problems and pollution.

Consumer Reports says vinyl flooring that has the industry's "FloorScore certification" indicates it emits relatively low levels of VOCs. The recommended Armstrong vinyl has the FloorScore certification.

If you prefer a wood floor, Consumer Reports recommends the prefinished solid oak floor Bruce Dundee Plank, model CB1210. It did an excellent job of resisting foot traffic and costs a little less than $6 per square foot.

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