Ready to jump on the wood-look tile bandwagon? Wait, not so fast. There are a few things you should know about this popular tile trend.
- Porcelain vs. Ceramic
- Finding Quality Wood-Look Tile
- Pricing Guide
- Brands & Reviews
- Installation Factors
- Maintenance Tips
- Wood-Look Tile Alternatives
- Closing Thoughts
Before you part with your hard-earned cash and commit to a long-term flooring solution, you need the facts. And no, not all of them are pretty.
Although, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better alternative to traditional hardwood. Wood-look tile is hard to beat when it comes down to convenience & price.
Still, it’s a big decision. After all, flooring anchors your home’s overall design. It’s expensive and time consuming to change. You’ll want to get it right —the first time.
Welcome to the home-improvement pinball machine. But, you can win at this game. Don’t worry, we’re here to help.
So, join the Floor Critics team as we take a look at the crucial factors that go into the buying decision. Maybe we can make your journey a little less tedious.
This article is broken up into the following sections. Feel free to read it in its entirety, or bookmark this page for future reference.
Wood Look Tile Pros
Tile has always been a better value than hardwood. However, until recently, it didn’t come close to delivering the overall warm appearance that is natural to real wood. With advances in technology, it’s now easier than ever to duplicate the aesthetics at significant savings.
And that’s just the beginning. When shopping for hardwood, you may have to sacrifice style for savings. But tile is less expensive to produce, so you can often purchase larger tile planks for the same price as smaller formats.
Similarly, your tile’s coloring rarely affects the price tag. Unlike wood which is separated into species, tile is priced more consistently. Which means, you probably won’t pay any more for replicated mahogany than you would for knotty pine.
It’s a fact. Tile is one of the most durable flooring materials you can buy. If you take care of it, it will still look new in 20 years; unlike its counterpart, hardwood or engineered hardwood (in fact, here’s a comparison between tile & engineered hardwood).
Let’s be honest. Hardwood is beautiful but downright exhausting to maintain. You must be careful of scratches, mindful of spills and absolutely diligent on your dirt game. If you’re not cautious, your investment will look old and tired within months.
Yes, you can refinish hardwood, but who has the time?
So, what’s the alternative? Tile that looks exactly like wood, but without the prissy attitude. It can handle your clumsy spouse, take on your temperamental toddler, and stand up to your feisty fur babies.
The only drawback? Wood-look tile will chip if you drop something heavy on it. But for everyday wear and tear, tile beats hardwood hands-down.
And unlike many other types of flooring, tile can hold up to water and moisture. You shouldn’t flood your floors – but, if they get wet, they won’t warp or buckle.
As far as cleaning products go, be careful which ones you use. Acidic and abrasive cleaners can break down grout and cause damage. Your best bet is to stick with mild soap and warm water.
That’s because tile is impervious to dampness and humidity, provided it’s smooth. It doesn’t require a wood subfloor and adheres directly to cement.
You will, however, need to make sure your subfloor is even and free of cracks. It’s also imperative you waterproof the subfloor and seal the grout to prevent water from becoming trapped underneath.
So, if you’re looking for consistent flooring and a seamless look throughout your home, consider tile. One word of caution: buy enough material to finish the entire floor. As tempting as it is to do one room at a time, waiting may make the job of matching colors & shading difficult.
If you’re craving a flooring solution that allows for endless possibilities, wood-look tile is an excellent option. Not only can you get flooring to match your favorite species of hardwood, but you can also customize the color. That’s right – many high-end tile manufacturers will tailor a design to your specifications.
Even if you can’t afford to splurge on customization, you’ll find a wide selection of tones and textures to suit your style. In addition to the colors found in nature, you can buy tile that mirrors sun-bleached or weathered boards.
And if that’s not enough variety, most flooring manufacturers sell tile in multiple widths and lengths. So, if you’re in love with wide-plank hardwood or cork, you’ll have no trouble replicating that look with tile.
Wood grain tile is perfect for allergy sufferers. It doesn’t harbor dirt and dander like carpet can (that goes for both ceramic and porcelain). It’s also resistant to irritants like pollen and dust mites.
And while the subfloor and grout can technically grow mold, smooth tile is moisture resistant. In fact, if you take the necessary steps to waterproof your subfloor and seal the grout lines yearly, you shouldn’t have any issue with mold or mildew.
If you choose tile with a textured surface, make sure it is watertight. Cracks and crevices can collect liquid and camouflage bacteria growth. When in doubt check with the manufacturer for maintenance guidelines.
Tile is a wise pet-friendly flooring option for the dog or cat owner who worries about scratches and scuff marks. Even if you have large dogs, quality tile won’t scratch like hardwood can. And unlike other surfaces, your cat can’t shred it or use it as a scratching post.
Plus, if your pet has an accident, it’s simple to clean, and it won’t hold the odor. Just be sure to scrub the grout, too.
If you install wood-look tile, don’t forget to purchase a cozy bed for your pet. Tile floor is hard and cold to sleep on.
One more piece of advice: if you share your home with four-legged occupants, opt for medium to light colored tile. Darker floors will show every strand of hair (Already have this problem? See these pet hair vacuums.) and every tiny paw-print.
Both porcelain and ceramic tile are eco-friendly flooring materials. They do not contain harmful chemical compounds known as VOCs. That means: they don’t emit chemicals or odors into the air.
Another green benefit? Wood-look tile is recyclable. Waste products are ground-up and reused for paving roads and driveways.
Ok, so we’ve gone over the pros, but what about the cons?
Wood Look Tile Cons
1. Difficult Installation:
Installing wood like tile isn’t for the casual weekend warrior. For one, it takes a trained eye to spot hairline cracks or imperfections in the subfloor. If your subfloor is damaged, the tile will look and feel uneven.
Secondly, an inadequate subfloor can become a breeding ground for mold and bacteria. A trained installer will know how to protect your tile from dampness and water damage properly.
Finally, wood-look tile can be tricky to lay out. You’ll need to stagger the pattern and blend tones to achieve a realistic and appealing design. Not to mention spacing the grout lines consistently throughout the rows requires the patience of a saint.
Unless you’re prepared to sort through boxes of tile, it’s best to let a pro handle the install.
Tile is notoriously cold to step on. If you live in a cooler climate, tile floors can be downright painful — especially first thing in the morning.
Thankfully, there’s a solution for those who hate the cold but love the look of tile. Since wood look tile is an extremely affordable flooring choice, you could always splurge on radiant underfloor heating.
Underfloor heating systems are not only comfortable, they’re economical. The combo of wood-look tile and radiant: downright decadent. And if buying tile gives you an excuse to install one of life’s little luxuries, all the better.
If radiant heating isn’t in the budget, no worries. You can duplicate that cozy feeling with a fluffy area rug. Remember to add a warm spot for your pet to snooze, too.
If you’ve ever stood on tile for lengthy periods, you know it’s uncomfortable. Tile doesn’t give underfoot like many other types of flooring. If you choose wood-look tile for the kitchen, be sure to buy an anti-fatigue mat for standing at the sink.
Tile is the number one flooring choice for bathrooms. It’s water resistant and low maintenance, but it’s also hard on your knees if you bathe young children or pets.
Another not-so-fun fact: tile cracks if you drop something heavy onto it. Even if your tile survives the impact, the item you dropped probably won’t.
Smooth or polished tiles are slippery to walk on when wet. If you have young children or elderly family members, wet tile poses a significant hazard. Pets may also slip on slick tile.
When choosing tile for a mudroom or bathroom, opt for textured or non-slip varieties. You can find wood-look tiles in handscraped and grooved designs. These styles improve traction in wet areas.
Don’t forget to wear shoes when washing your floor. Not only does this prevent you from slipping, but it also cuts down on footprints. Remember to block off the room until the tile is dry.
Now that we’ve discussed the pros and cons, let’s move onto the material. Wood-look tile is available in both porcelain and ceramic. There are a few differences between the two, but both function well in residential applications.
Porcelain vs. Ceramic
The most noticeable difference between porcelain and ceramic is the price. Ceramic tile runs anywhere from $2-$8 per square foot, depending on quality. Porcelain costs between $4-12 per square foot, on average.
The durability of ceramic tile is rated between 1-5 on the PEI scale. This scale was developed by the Porcelain Enamel Institute and is used for gauging tile hardness and scratch resistance. If you’re shopping for ceramic floor tiles, look for a rating of 3 or higher. Tile with a rating of 1 or 2 is better suited for wall applications.
When installing wood grain tile in damp areas, porcelain is the better choice. Due to the manufacturing process, porcelain is denser and better at repelling water. Because porcelain is baked at higher temperatures, it wears better than conventional ceramic.
As a bonus, you can even install porcelain tiles in semi-outdoor areas like sunrooms or patios. It’s strong enough to withstand minor temperature fluctuations without cracking.
There are two common types of porcelain tiles: through-body and color-body. Through-body means: the color and pattern run consistently through the porcelain tile. If you accidentally drop something and chip the tile’s surface, it will be less noticeable.
Color-body porcelain retains only its color throughout the body of the tile. The surface layer contains a baked on coating to give the tile its sheen. If the outer layer is damaged, there will be a slight difference in appearance.
When choosing between ceramic and porcelain tile, consider how and where it will be used. In some instances, it may be worth paying extra for porcelain, but high-quality ceramic is resistant enough for most homes.
How do you find high-quality tile? Well, that’s the topic of our next section. Here’s a list of guidelines you can follow.
As we mentioned earlier, density is crucial to determining overall tile quality, but it’s not the only factor. You’ll want to make sure your tile is certified and inspected for quality.
The agencies responsible for grading tile quality and standards are The Tile Council of North America and The Porcelain Tile Certification Agency. The council is comprised of industry leaders and manufacturer representatives. This group sets the criteria for the design, production, installation, and safety of ceramic and porcelain tile.
When shopping for tile, make sure your selection carries a TCNA or PCTA certification mark. In addition to individual certifications, be sure to research your tiles manufacturer. Larger companies often adhere to higher standards as their reputation is on the line.
If you find yourself debating between rectified and non-rectified tiles, select the former. Rectified tiles are checked for warping and unevenness. Additionally, the edges of rectified tiles are mechanically finished to allow for tighter grout lines and a seamless look.
Our last quality indicator is appearance. High-quality tiles are made with high-resolution images to mimic the graining and color variations found in natural wood. Tiles with clear images are a surefire sign of quality.
There is also a widely used rating chart to gauge a tile’s variation level. The ratings run from V0 to V4. The higher the number, the more variation you can expect: for example, tile with substantial differences will have a grade of V4.
As always, make sure you read online customer reviews. While subjective, they are a good indicator of the manufacturer’s reliability.
Now that you know how to find quality wood-look tile, you’ll need to know how much to pay for it. We’ve outlined some of the cost factors for you in the next section.
The cost of wood-look tile fluctuates according to quality, type, and durability. High-quality porcelain tiles will cost an average of $6 -$12 per square foot. Customized porcelain can run upwards of $20 per square foot.
Better quality ceramic tiles typically range from $3-$8 per square foot. However, you can find wood look tiles for much less. Unfortunately, these styles are usually low-quality and cheap looking. The exception: manufacturer closeouts.
Certain times of the year, you can find amazing deals on quality flooring. When manufacturers and dealers discontinue lines to make room for new styles, they offer deep discounts to move stock. If you’re lucky enough to spot one of these deals, jump on it.
If you’re in the market for wood grain tile, stop by your local home-improvement store. Lowes and Home Depot have a vast selection of wood-look tile. For a more personal experience, check out your nearest tile shop. In addition to the popular brands, you’ll find exclusive lines and endless color choices.
If you know the exact tile you want, shop online with a store like Wayfair for web-only specials. Remember: photographs are not a good indicator of tone and texture. Make sure you see the tiles up close before committing to the purchase.
Don’t forget to buy between 10-20% more than you think you’ll need. This overage accounts for waste and damaged tiles. You can save any extra tiles for repairs or reuse them in another project.
One final tip: be sure to include the cost of grout in your overall calculations
Are you ready to dig into our review section? Good. Here’s a list of customer favorites to get you started.
Wood Look Tile Brands & Reviews
We’ll cover a few of the more popular brands here, and build on this list over time. Don’t see the brand you’re interested here? Tell us in the comments, and we’ll look into it.
Merola tile is a U.S distributor with divisions in New York and New Jersey. In 1999, Merola’s New Jersey division became the national distributor for Home Depot.
Merola manufactures wood-look tile in over 40 colors and 20 sizes. This tile is a bit pricey and starts at $6 per square foot. You can order Merola tile by stopping by your nearest Home Depot or online at Homedepot.com.
Vitromex got its start in Saltillo, Mexico in 1967. Since then the company has expanded to six facilities including a distribution center in Texas. This environmentally conscious company participates in the Tile Council of North America and complies with ANSI standards.
Vitromex tile offers wood-look tile in 19 different shades ranging from earthy browns to sunbleached grays and whites. Tile prices range between $5- $11 per square foot. Stop by the company’s website for dealer information and free flooring sample orders.
Ragno USA was started in 1982 and is a division of the Marazzi Group. In addition to ceramic and porcelain, the company also manufactures glass and metal tiles. Ragno USA produces high-resolution wood-look tile using 3D printers and HD ink.
Ragno porcelain wood-look tile is available in 5 different collections and features 17 distinct shades and patterns. Tile sizes range from 4”x 28” up to 12”x 48”. The average price of these tiles is between $5-$7 per square foot.
You can purchase Ragno tiles online or at retailers throughout the United States.
Headquartered in Clarksville Tenessee, Florim USA is one of the largest tile producers in North America. The company prides itself on offering environmentally friendly high-quality tile. In fact, Florim tiles contain up to 40% recycled material.
Florim wood-look tile is available in 6 collections and over 35 colors. If you’re a fan of the driftwood look, be sure to check out the vintage collection. These 36” boards are incredibly detailed and finished with elegant matte glazing.
Florim tile is available at several online stores and flooring outlets throughout the country.
MS International is one of the leading manufacturers and distributors of natural stone and tile. In addition to floor tile, the company sells stone slabs, sinks, and hardscape materials.
MS International produces 15 collections of wood-look tile. Colors and textures range from whitewashed barnwood to polished mahogany. The Dellano collection offers a unique and stylish pattern in colors such as Moss Gray and Exotic Blue.
Pricing for MS International tile varies by width and collection. You can find this brand online, or at big box stores like Home Depot or select flooring retailers.
Daltile is a subsidiary of Mohawk industries. The company was founded in Dallas, Texas in 1947, and is the largest ceramic tile supplier in the United States. They operate 11 manufacturing plants and employ over 10,000 people.
Daltile sells 18 collections of wood-look tile in over 75 varieties of colors and shading. The Yorkwood Manor line features stunning barnwood tiles with considerable pattern variation.
Look for Daltile online at Wayfair, or at home improvement stores such as Home Depot and Lowes.
If you’re looking for high-end tile, head straight for Porcelonosa. Founded in Spain in 1973, this family-owned company is one of the leading manufacturers of luxury tiles. To date, Porcelonosa has over 400 showrooms worldwide.
Porcelonosa carries two wood-look collections: Parker and Seedwood. The Parker collection has over 75 colors in a variety of sizes and textures. Due to their anti-slip finish, and frost resistant properties, Parker tiles are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.
The Seedwood collection features over 50 colors and patterns to choose from. Like the Parker line, Seedwood can be used in both indoor at outdoor spaces.
While not inexpensive, Porcelonosa tile offers excellent value for your money.
Marazzi USA has been making tile in the U.S. for more than 30 years. In fact, the company’s namesake built the first Italian owned ceramic manufacturing plant in the United States. Today, the company has plants in 4 countries and over 6,000 employees.
Marazzi USA is famous for its expansive line of products and cutting-edge designs. Additionally, Marazzi tile is recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council as a sustainable and eco-friendly flooring option.
If you’re looking for variety, Marazzi sells over 20 lines of wood-look tile in hundreds of colors and patterns. Sizes range from small mosaics to large expansive planks.
You can find Marazzi tile at flooring retailers and big box stores across the United States. Prices vary by location, but expect to pay between $2 -$5 per square foot for this wood-look tile.
So many choices out there, right? Just when you think it’s about to get easier, we’re moving on to discussing the installation process.
The cost of installing wood-look tile depends on several factors – mainly: the size of the job. You can expect to pay about $5 per square foot for labor. The estimate may or may not include subfloor preparation.
Since tile can’t be installed directly over plywood, your tile-setter will have to add cement board before setting your wood grain tile. If you already have a cement base, you’ll save a few dollars.
But, there’s a catch.
In order for the tile to set right, your subfloor needs to be in good condition. If the subfloor is cracked or uneven, it will need repairs. This process can be lengthy and expensive. If your installer chooses to pour an entirely new mortar bed, it can take up to 28 days to cure.
In addition to cracks, your floor must be moisture free. Your tile-setter will advise you if waterproofing is necessary. If it is, contractors will apply a waterproof membrane to the cement before installing your tile.
Don’t forget to discuss grout lines with your tile-setter. Thicker grout lines will hold up better, but thinner lines will have a streamlined natural appearance.
When pricing your installation, aim to get at least 3 estimates. And while you may not choose the cheapest contractor, you’ll be able to spot the inconsistencies in the bids.
Once your tile is down, you’ll want to keep it looking brand new. Here are a few tile cleaning tips to get you started.
Wood-look tiles are easy to maintain. Due to their durable construction, you can use a variety of cleaners on both ceramic and porcelain without inflicting surface damage. Although, most manufacturers suggest using a mixture of warm water and mild floor cleaner.
For everyday cleaning, use a static broom or vacuum. These tools allow you to gather the dust and pet hair hiding in corners or under furniture without scattering it into the air.
You should also invest in a steam mop or microfiber model for deeper cleaning. Steam mops can cut your cleaning time in half. Most models rely on the steam to sanitize the floors, so no need for lengthy rinses.
On the other hand, microfiber mops use less water and cost a fraction of the price. If you’re concerned about using steam on your floors, microfiber mops are a good option. Remember to scrub the grout lines every few months to prevent dirt and discoloration.
Are you still on the fence? If you’re unsure whether or not wood grain tile is right for your home, there are alternatives to consider. Here are 3 comparable options:
Wood-Look Tile Alternatives
Luxury Vinyl Plank is both affordable and durable. It’s softer than ceramic or porcelain but performs well in high traffic areas. Vinyl plank is warmer than traditional tile, and since most products are water resistant, it’s safe for damp areas.
Another low-cost alternative to wood-look tile is laminate. Laminate flooring has come a long way since the seventies. It’s inexpensive and comes in a wide array of colors and tones. Unfortunately, laminate hates moisture, so if you’re installing floor in a damp area… keep looking.
Nothing beats the beauty of natural hardwood. The color and grain variations found in nature are hard to replicate. If dampness or scratch resistance isn’t a concern, and you’re considering hardwood vs tile flooring – wood is the obvious choice.
Notable mention: Bamboo
Now that we have reviewed the options, it appears we’ve reached the end of our journey. Hopefully, we have answered your questions and provided you with enough information to make your decision. But before you go, let’s sum up what we’ve covered.
Wood grain tile is a beautiful flooring option. If you have children or pets, wood-look tile offers you the warm luxury of hardwood without the worry. This type of tile gives you the best of both worlds, and it’s affordable.
There are some ups and downs to this flooring choice, but for many, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Tile is great for anyone who doesn’t want to devote hours to cleaning. Because it stands the test of time, it’s a good investment.
Remember to check the hardness rating of your tile to ensure it’s durable enough for your home. And for added peace of mind, look for tile that carries a manufacturer warranty as well as safety certifications.
To sum it up, flooring – as always – is an expensive purchase. Make sure whatever tile you choose ultimately suits your style and your needs.