Q. As we’re planning our cabin, we’re thinking about faux finishes for our open-plan great room/kitchen/dining room. Is there realistic-looking manufactured stone (for the fireplace surround), wood-look laminate or tile flooring, and faux ceiling beams? What is your advice for the savvy shopper?
– River’s Ridge

A. Today’s manufactured stone, laminate and tile flooring and faux beams can be excellent choices, even for the most rustic cabin because they’ve been refined to include a wide variety of products that look very much like they’ve come from nature.

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Faux beams

Faux beams are an excellent choice for a cabin, not just because they provide a beautiful rustic element to your room but also because they’re much lighter than the real thing, which makes them easy to put into place. You can buy ready-made faux beams or go the DIY route.

Ready-made faux beams are usually made of high-density polyurethane from companies like AZ Faux Beams and Faux Wood Beams, which provide instructions to install the beams yourself. As for finishes, there are many choices, from a whitewashed look to the more traditional stained appearance.

Perhaps your reaction to “high-density polyurethane” is “ewww, plastic – not in my cabin!” If so, you may want to go the DIY route and make your faux beams out of dimensional lumber.

You’d be comfortable in the knowledge that you’re using real wood with the advantage of lightweight materials – versus heavy solid-core wood beams. For example, on the Jenna Sue Design Blog you’ll find how-to instructions for making your own beams out of 1×4, 1×6 and 1×8 boards.

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Laminate flooring

As for your flooring, there are several options that will likely suit your cabin’s needs, and you may want to take advantage of the current trend to contrast textures and colors by opting for contrast in the looks above and below.

You could also opt for a laminate that has a color and grain that pairs well with the beam’s “wood” color, suggests Mannington Mills’ Betsy Amoroso. That doesn’t mean it has to match; in fact, that may be impossible, Amoroso says.

“Today’s rustic looks span everything from traditional cabin-rustic to elegant and refined with a rustic twist,” Amoroso said. “Decorating styles are becoming more eclectic across the board, with consumers mixing styles and finishes to create their own individual style, such as the  contrasting look. The beams are a really cool architectural element that could be highlighted by a stain or paint, and an area rug could further soften that look.”

She suggests Mannington’s Restoration Collection laminate flooring, inspired by the trend of “refined rustics,” with variations in color and texture as well as wood species, or its Revolutions Plank Collection for an even more rustic look.

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Tile flooring

Another option for your floor could be a wood-look tile made from ceramic, porcelain or natural stone. Using tile could be an affordable choice in the long run because of the material’s longevity, says the Tile Shop’s Drew Olson. But you may need to add a substrate to the floors because the tile can’t go directly over wood.

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Manufactured stone

The easiest part of your question is the one about manufactured stone, which is a good choice for your cabin’s fireplace. Your challenges there will be choosing colors and installation, which will depend on what type of surface the stone is covering.
One manufacturer of faux stone is Boral, which produces Cultured Stone®.

“Usually for a cabin, you’ll be using some type of Leadstone [manufactured quartz], fieldstone or river rock, and within those there’s a number of different colors,” says customer service specialist Todd Onisko at Boral USA.

Onisko recommends looking at Boral’s website for ideas, choices and installation instructions. Stone material from Boral will handle extreme temperatures, as Boral products have been installed in the extremes of Hawaii and Alaska. And with proper installation, any affects from moisture are mitigated to ensure proper curing and prevention of mold. Other manufacturers include Eldorado Stone and Coronado Stone Products.

Manufactured stone is also a savvy financial choice because it is usually cheaper to install than real natural stone. “It’s not a weight-bearing product, so it doesn’t require footings or filler,” Onisko says. “A [manufactured] stone is a little easier to install, you get the same look as a real stone.”