Knock-off building materials are now all the rage for luxury homeowners

While knock-off shoes  or purses may still be déclassé, when it comes to luxury home decor and building materials, imitations are all the rage faux sho’.

The advantages are many. Because the look and quality of knock-off building materials has come such a long way, even expert appraisers find it hard to tell the difference. Because of advances in 3-D printing technology and cement casting, materials look far more genuine than ever before.

Add to that the fact that they tend to be far more cost effective — up to 70 percent in some cases — and can be easier to install, many luxury homeowners are going the way of faux marble, imitation stone and the like. Another plus is that many material substitutes are more environmentally friendly than the real stuff. For example, fake woodwork and plants don’t involve harvested trees or need watering, which is a big win for the environment.

Even those homeowners who prefer not to go faux, and are sticklers for the real deal, may still incorporate an imitation material or two in their home that was otherwise fashioned in authentic materials.

The Wall Street Journal points to one luxury homeowner that opted to use authentic materials such as limestone, real stucco and terra cotta flooring in the exterior construction of the 6,500-square-foot Tuscan-style New Jersey house and a recent 1,400-square-foot addition. However, inside the domicile, she chose scagliola, a technique popular in grand homes in the 17th and 18th centuries in which plaster and silk are cast and styled to look like marble, for her great room’s fireplace. While her version was actually the same price as a genuine limestone fireplace mantle and fairly time consuming, she would not have been able to match the exact color and design she wanted by installing an antique version.

Other homeowners opt to go the same route even when cost is not an issue, citing various reasons such as more durability and ease of use, and installation as well as building safety. In the case of foliage, oftentimes fake hedges or plants require less upkeep, can be customized more easily to fit spaces and in low-light areas, don’t die.

As for return on investment and ultimate home value, appraisers say in general it is important for truly upscale homes to be comprised of genuine materials. However, more importantly the rule of thumb is for the material to appear genuine. The key for home value is what appraisers call “the bundle.” The ultimate goal is for a home to look good overall and feel high-end compared to other homes.

That being said, appraisers agree that in some cases faux materials can actually increase the value of a home if they require less maintenance and safety.