When it was time to put down a floor in the house I was building, I knew I did not want carpet. The stuff is just too unfriendly. Sure, it is soft and all that, but it is home to dust mites and dirt you simply can't get rid of from the moment you put it in. Not to mention that much of it is loaded with nasty chemicals that leach out into your breathing space.
Give me a wood floor and tile in the watery areas any time. But as an Interior Designer, I'd had my share of hardwood and other "engineered" woods that were just too easily damaged and oh, so expensive to install. I thought I would stick with a laminate that was really beautiful, long lasting and fairly inexpensive. I used it in a client's home, and she loved it years later.
Then on a trip to a local Home Depot, I spotted the Traffic Master laminate. It was cheap as heck, and looking at the way the pieces fit, I was impressed. So I got a couple of boxes and laid them out to see how they looked. The graining on the surface looked really fine. The patterns were so nicely done that there was simply no "repeat" that you could see from many feet away (the bad stuff looks like knotholes are lined up like chairs at a wedding - you can see diagonals and lines you wouldn't expect).
With the additional $0.50 per square foot for a moisture barrier (every laminate needs one, besides, it makes the floor really "silent"), I was doing well as far as money went. Now that it has been down for almost two years, I am happy and proud of the result. It took two people about a day and a half to do all the laminate in a 1200 sq ft house, and it looks great. A dust mop and infrequent damp mopping keeps it looking like a really fine oak floor all the time. I can't tell you how many people have said, "Wow! I love hardwood floors!"
I was shocked that I got such high quality at such a low price. Who says there aren't any modern miracles?