A dozen top picks include woods and bamboos

Last reviewed: August 2010

Laminate and vinyl flooring still win over wood when it comes to resisting everyday wear. But our most recent tests of almost 30 products offer more reasons to spring for oak and other natural flooring.

We put a cross section of major brands through our torture test of scuffs, scrapes, spills, and other kitchen abuse. Bruce Dundee Plank, a prefinished solid-oak flooring, is the first hardwood to score Excellent in our wear tests. At $5.70 per square foot, it's also roughly half the price of the $11 Mirage Brazilian Cherry, which showed signs of wear more quickly.

You'll also find bamboo that lasts longer than earlier versions that we tested. Stranding—shredding bamboo into fibers and compressing them for strength—helped EcoTimber Woven Honey ($5.75 per square foot) and Teragren Synergy ($6) earn our top Ratings (available to subscribers) for solid and engineered flooring. Adhesives with lower emissions are another plus for stranded products. What's more, pre-darkening and other treatments make today's bamboo better at resisting color change in sunny rooms.

We also found a winner among linoleum floors, which blend linseed oil and tree bark without killing the tree. Armstrong Marmorette, $4.50 per square foot, is the highest-scoring linoleum in our tests. As for flooring made from reclaimed wood, you might want to think twice: Two products, Woods Co.'s Antique Oak ($8) and Duluth Timber's Douglas Fir ($11), ranked lowest in our tests.