Faux Real: Imitation Building Products

Ceramico planked tiles offer the look of tile with the ease of laminate. Each flooring plank combines four tiles with a click together joinery system for easy installation. The manufacturer recently introduced four new colors: Padua, Triana, Salerno, and Veneto. The surface is textured to help replicate the look of real tile flooring. Cost: $4.49 to $4.99 per square foot ROI: In addition to being less expensive than real ceramic, laminate flooring is also resistant to scratches, spills, and pressure from high heels and falling objects. Moderna's line is perfect for a quick make-ready; the glueless installation system means you can walk on the floor immediately after it's in place.

If you like cherry wood, you-ll love Mannington's latest laminate floor offerings. Heritage Cherry features the look and feel of real, hand-scraped hardwood and comes in three colors: tanned hide, saddle, and buckskin. For a classic look with a modern twist, try Harvard Cherry, which is available in tarnished umber, vintage sienna, and antique sepia. All products feature the NatureForm Optix process for realism through high-definition printing, embossed-in-register texturing, and a high-clarity finish. Cost: Approximately $3.29 per square foot ROI: The laminate product generally costs about $2 less per square foot than hardwood. Other pluses include simple installation and easier maintenance with more resistance than hardwood to fading, scratches, and moisture.

No one likes stepping on a burning hot deck in the middle of summer. Oasis composite decking is coated with a cool-touch formulation to keep decks comfortable even in direct sunlight. The planks, available in a range of popular wood stain colors including Carolina pine, New England grey, Pacific redwood, and teak, feature slight color variations that are enhanced over time by the natural effects of sun, wind, rain, and wear to create a realistic weathered look. Cost: $2.30 to $2.50 per lineal foot for 2-inch-by-6-inch planks ROI: Earlier this year, the manufacturer introduced a new hidden fastener system for easy installation and a strong hold. The system, which uses an interlocking plank and biscuit design that grips and automatically spaces each board, uses half the fasteners of conventional methods and reduces installation time by as much as 30 percent. Like other composites, Oasis won-t rot, splinter, or crack.

Trex now offers a value-priced line of composite decking with Trex Contours, which features a bold, dramatic grain pattern available in the popular Winchester gray hue and the reddish-brown Madeira. At 5 inches, the profile is narrower than the company's typical offerings but requires the same spans and installation as Trex 5/4 boards. Cost: $4.30 per square foot, on average ROI: Contours is comparable in cost to most woods, including pressure-treated pine, and less expensive than high grades of cedar, redwood, and tropical hardwoods. Made primarily from recycled plastic (mostly grocery sacks) and reclaimed wood, the decking product won-t rot, crack, splinter, or warp and doesn-t require painting, staining, or sanding. Trex is easy to install and routs, cuts, and saws just like wood.

Get the look and feel of natural stone without the excessive labor involved with typical stone installations. BellaStone, made of real stone aggregate and pigment infused into a polymer base, can be applied directly to the wall and is available in two shades-earthy Tuscan and gray Torino. A large number of patterns means that virtually no stone repeats itself for a realistic effect. Cost: $18 to $20 per square foot, installed ROI: The installed cost of BellaStone is 50 percent less than true quarried stone and 20 percent less than manufactured stone. Plus, the product weighs five times less than manufactured cement stone, so it can be mounted directly to the wall by a siding contractor (no need for a mason) without costly preparation or special installation materials. Unlike real stone, the product offers sound abatement and a built-in moisture management system.

From the makers of Eldorado Stone comes a new line of brick veneer. Eldorado Brick is crafted from precise molds that produce irregularly sized dimensions and subtle color blends. The product can be used for both exterior and interior applications and comes in four distinct profiles for a total of 14 color palettes. A series of matching accessories are available, including crown detail, trim molding, column and wall caps, surround, and half rounds. Cost: $6 to $8 per square foot ROI: The biggest savings come during the installation process. The product's light weight eliminates the need for wall ties or footings and instead uses grooved channels on the back of each brick for easy and quick application.

First-generation synthetic roof shingles could be detected a mile away, but today's faux offerings closely replicate authentic slate and shake. DaVinci Roofscapes' shingles are composed of a proprietary copolymer engineered specifically for long-term outdoor use complete with a UV package, thermal stabilizers, and fire retardants. The selection includes 19 earth tone colors and seven traditional blends, plus gray and black. The shingles' thickness-1/2-inch slate and 5/8-inch shake-deepens shadow lines and conveys the look of cedar shake or quarried stone. Cost: $350 and up, per square ROI: Unlike its natural counterpart, this roofing line requires limited maintenance and won-t curl, fade, crack, or absorb water.

Nothing says cozy like a wood-trimmed window. Kolbe's Inspiration Series windows and sliding patio doors come in three colors of imprinted wood grain laminates: cherry, sunset oak, and wheat. The company offers a wide variety of standard sizes and shapes in addition to custom orders. Cost: $480 for a typical 3050 Series double-hung window ROI: The wood-look option adds about $80 to the cost of a typical vinyl window, but that's a small price to pay to get a window frame that looks like wood but offers the longevity and easy maintenance of a laminate. If the frame gets scratched by a sharp object, simply use a touch-up pen to disguise the damage.

Prism Glass Block puts a new spin on the traditional glass block, used for decades to create privacy while still allowing light to enter. Now you can get all the benefits of a glass block within the frame of a vinyl window. The window features the patented PrismGrid optimal film technology inside a semi-opaque, double-pane unit to create the look of a classic glass block. The product is ideal for bathrooms, entryways, and basement applications. Cost: Approximately $40 per square foot ROI: The product costs about the same as real glass block but offers the structural, thermal, and water performance of an integral glass unit. The product requires no special framing and comes in the same standard profile as other CertainTeed windows.

Get the look of natural quartz with the practicalities of a solid surface countertop. Samsung's newest line, Tempest, offers 10 colors: horizon, shell, rattan, caraway, russet, cinnamon, sierra, dapple, milestone, and coffee bean. Plus Staron offers an additional 62 colors in its solid surface line. The product is a 100 percent acrylic surface composed of high-performance acrylic resin, organic fillers, and pigments. Cost: $60 to $65 per square foot, fabricated and installed ROI: Solid surfaces, unlike stone, offer nonporous, hygienic properties because the impenetrable seams prevent unwelcome germs and mildew. The material can be fabricated into configurations nearly impossible with stone, including fully covered backsplashes and seamless integration with sinks and bowls.

Laminates designed to look like wood aren-t used only for the popular flooring application. Formica Corp. has expanded its faux wood countertop offerings with the luxe wood grain collection, which features six new wood grains and two existing bestsellers. The colors include deluxe and boutique pears, glamour cherry, prestige walnut, couture wood, and elegant rosewood. The collection offers an opulent polished surface reminiscent of the French polishing techniques used on mahogany and other expensive woods during the Victorian era. Cost: $11 to $24 per square foot, installed ROI: Laminate offers ease of maintenance, durability, and resistance to scuffs and scratches. The surface is easy to wipe down with a basic kitchen cleaner, with no need for special cleaners or waxing. The product is ideal for counters, custom cabinetry, panels-anyplace you-d want the look of wood except for floors.

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