A new raging trend when it comes to interior design, wood look tiles have become the staple floor of 2016.
Despite their sudden popularity, wood look tiles aren’t a new addition to the flooring market. In fact, they’ve been available long before some vinyl floors even reached the US.
What made them so popular is the incredible development of technology used in the manufacturing process, and better technology always equals better products which in turn creates more demand.
The tiles can either be ceramic or porcelain and their highly customizable manufacturing process creates endless possibilities when it comes to size and design.
Being such a novelty to an inexperienced buyer, it’s hard to know what to look for when buying wood look tiles. That’s why we’ve come up with a guide to help you get to know this unique flooring solution a little better.
Wood Look Tile Pros
- Durability. Wood look tiles bring the best of both worlds – the durability of ceramic tiles and the warm, inviting pattern of hardwood floors.
No matter how good your hardwood floors are, they’re not indestructible. Scratches, dents, and stains are bound to happen no matter how hard you try, and extensive damage will require a costly refinishing process.
Tiles, on the other hand, are notoriously hard to break or damage, and if installed right, will probably outlive you.
Even in damp, moist areas such as kitchens and bathrooms, wood look tiles will have a lifespan of more than 30 years before they need replacing.
- Easy maintenance. There aren’t that many flooring options that require as little maintenance as tiles do.
Unlike more sensitive flooring such as hardwood and laminate, wood look tiles don’t require any special cleaning products or tools.
You can easily just use water to clean these tiles, and no kind of harsh, acidic cleaning product will damage them.
They also require minimal effort and a quick monthly mopping is more than enough to keep them looking shiny and new.
- Sustainability. Natural wood is a renewable source, albeit not a very fast one.
It can take up to 25 years for a tree to mature before it can be cut down and used to produce flooring. That means that large areas remain partially deforested for decades, adding up to air pollution.
Wood look tiles are made from clay, and not the kind of clay you’d find next to a river bed – it’s made from all kinds of post-industrial waste such as glass shards and stone dust.
- Goes well with underfloor heating. The technological advancements in the flooring industry enabled almost any type of flooring material to be used with radiant underflooring heating systems.
However, there aren’t that many flooring solutions that can beat wood look tiles.
Porcelain and ceramic are very good heat conductors, which means less heat is necessary to warm them up and maintain the same temperature. They also don’t need any additional prep work done before they can be installed.
- Highly customizable. There are thousands of different types of wood look tiles on the market today, with all kinds of different textures and colors to choose from.
However, if you’re a pretty picky buyer and can’t seem to find the one you like, you can easily create your own.
Many manufacturers allow customers to choose the combination of colors, textures, and finishes on their tiles.
- Can be installed anywhere. Wood look tiles are probably the most versatile type of flooring, thanks to its durability and incredible design.
Most of the tiles on the market today are so realistic, you’d need to touch and feel them for a while before you realize it’s not real wood.
This means that you can install them in places where it’s be impossible to have hardwood such as basements, bathrooms, and kitchens. They can even be installed outdoors as they’re resistant to damage from natural elements.
- Affordable. You won’t find any dirt cheap good quality wood look tiles, but they’re still much more affordable than any hardwood flooring you can find.
The deal with any flooring is – you get what you’ve paid for, and the same goes for wood look tiles.
But even the most expensive $13 per sqft tiles are a bargain when you consider how durable, resilient and low-maintenance they are in the long run.
Wood Look Tile Cons
- Cold. Although they’re a great option if you have an underfloor heating system, installing wood look tiles in a colder climate is not the best idea.
Tiles are great heat conductors, which unfortunately means that they also cool quickly.
Having wood look tiles in your living room or bedroom won’t be a pleasant experience if the temperature drops below 30 degrees in the winter.
- Hard. What’s wrong with having a solid, hard floor you might ask?
Well, too hard of a floor can be quite a nuisance if you spend a lot of time standing. Hard surfaces don’t have much of a give, and if can cause feet and back aches.
Another thing with hard flooring is that anything you drop on it will break. It’s also not advisable to have hard floors if you have large dogs or walking toddlers.
- Not that easy to install. Installing any kind of tiles is not and will never be a good DIY idea. It requires the skill and precision that only come after years of experience.
The same can be said about wood look tiles, except they’re even trickier to install than regular tiles. Wood look tiles are made to resemble wood, and they should also be installed so that they look like real hardwood.
Tiles need grout, and it can be hard to match the color of the grout to the color of the tiles, especially if you have a customized design.
The grout needs to be tight and sealed properly, and any mistake your flooring installer makes will be impossible to fix.
- Difficult to repair. Although pretty resilient, wood look tiles aren’t impossible to break.
If they break, it’s usually just one or two tiles in a very high-traffic area, but replacing them can be a nightmare if you’re working with an inexperienced contractor.
If you failed to buy a bit more material than you originally needed, the contractor will break off the damaged tiles and replace them with new ones.
However, many people fail to buy extra material and have trouble finding similar looking tiles to replace the broken ones with.
How to Find a High-Quality Wood Look Tile
First of all, beware of the price. Making good, durable wood look tiles isn’t cheap or easy, so a higher price is a good indicator of its overall quality.
Next, you should make sure the tile manufacturer has a line of grout colors that match the color of the tiles. If that’s the case, you don’t need to worry about matching, and you should opt for one that matches the darkest shade of your tiles.
Good quality wood look tiles have smooth and precise corners and edges so they can be installed more tightly. Avoid tiles with rounded corners or dented edges as they’ll show more grout when installed.
Another thing to look out for is slip and abrasion resistance. Slip resistance measured by COF scores and abrasion resistance by PEI scores. It’s generally advisable you buy ones that have higher scores on both tests.
Apart from technical specs, it’s also important you review the design of the tiles well. You should touch and feel the tile to see how natural it looks, and the more texture and grain it has the higher it quality will be.
There are many factors to consider when it comes to determining what the cost of installing wood look tiles will be, and they may vary drastically depending on where you live.
First of all, it’s important to decide on a specific size of the tile. Unless you have an architect that can mix up tiles of different colors and sizes, it’s best you stick to a uniform size throughout your home.
You can find wood look tiles on both ends of the price spectrum, ranging anywhere from $3 to $30 per sqft. Porcelain tiles tend to be more expensive, with prices averaging at $10, and ceramic ones are more affordable with an average price of $6 per sqft.
Most large home improvement stores such as Home Depot, Lowe’s and Wayfair have a wide variety of brand-name tiles in stock, and you can go over to their websites to see how much each one of them costs.
Wood look tiles are notoriously hard to install and require experienced professionals. The installation process is very time-consuming, and an average sized, 500-sqft room will require two days worth of work.
An average hourly fee for a floor installer is $20-$30, and you also have to supply all of the material needed for the installation. In the end, the installation alone can end up costing almost double what you paid for the tiles.
Please remember that these prices are only an estimate and a pretty rough one, to be honest. However, adding about 60% to the original cost of your titles should give you a general idea of how much your flooring will ultimately cost.
There aren’t that many flooring materials that are as durable as porcelain tiles are, but it goes without saying that there are, of course, exceptions to this case.
The quality of the manufacturing process determines the quality of the tiles, and we’re not talking about their design. What makes tiles durable is beneath their decorative layer, and there are ways you can make sure you get the best quality ones.
PEI test is a test devised by the Porcelain and Enamel Institute that determines the tile’s resistance to abrasion. Abrasion resistance means that the tile can withstand more traffic and pressure.
The higher the score on the PEI test, the more durable the tiles will be. So tiles that will be installed in high-traffic or commercial areas need to score IV on the PEI test, and low or no traffic tiles such as wall tiles can have a score of II or lower.
Wood Look Tile Reviews
- Daltile – A leading natural stone and ceramic tile manufacturer since 1947, Daltile is the go-to place for buyers looking for affordable and reliable flooring solutions.
Daltile currently has 10 different lines of wood like tiles, each one featuring a few color variations of a specific aesthetic.
They offer a wide variety of sizes to choose from and a unique collection that features tiles with the look of worn-out, weathered hardwood.
There’s more than enough products to choose from, and with most of them being $6 or under, you’re bound to find something that will fit your budget.
- Vitromex – Vitromex is another well-known manufacturer whose porcelain and ceramic tiles are available at most tile retailers nationwide.
Vitromex has a wide range of mosaic and glass tiles available but produces only 8 lines of wood look tiles.
Their prices range from $6 to $10, and they offer wide tiles with intricate texture and grain patterns that emulate the look of weathered, rustic oaks.
- MS International – You might have already heard about MS International, as they’ve built quite a name for themselves as natural stone flooring manufacturers.
They now offer 8 lines of wood look planks, with each one featuring an entirely different aesthetic and color scheme.
We recommend their Botanica and Sygma collections, as they offer the most realistic looking wood look tiles that have the same finish as hand-scraped hardwoods.
Although they don’t sell grout that matches their collections, they have a wide selection of skirting and other flooring accessories that go with individual tiles.
- Floorim USA – A part of the much larger Floorim Group based in Italy, Floorim USA is probably the most technologically advanced porcelain manufacturer in North America.
Along with tiles with a classical finish and feel, Floorim also has a range of paint-distresses and rustic looking tiles.
Their products come from a sustainable source and are of supreme quality, which makes them a bit more expensive. However, their slightly bigger cost is justified by its reliability and incredible design.
- Provenza Ceramiche – It doesn’t get more luxurious than Provenza Ceramiche when it comes to ceramic tiles.
This Italian manufacturing giant has recently introduced its products to selected retailers in the US, with two lines that feature wood look tiles.
There’s a variety of sizes, colors, and finishes to choose from, with the most outrageous ones going for an astonishing $25 per sqft. But don’t let this deter you from looking out for their products – there are more affordable options within each line.
If you’re looking to make your friends and neighbors envious, Provenza Ceramiche tiles are the way to go.
- Porcelanosa – If this name sounds familiar, it’s probably because you’ve seen it engraved on top of a giant Neo-Byzantine building on New York’s Fifth Avenue.
With more than 400 official showrooms across the US, Porcelanosa is the leading manufacturer of high-end, luxurious flooring such as porcelain and stone tiles, as well as hardwood.
The design and quality of their products is like nothing you’ve ever seen before and their increased expansion means that their prices are becoming more and more affordable.
You can get free samples from a local showroom for free, and they often offer discounts and assistance from their expert interior designers.