Wood Tile Flooring

When it came time to replace our laminate floors in the family room, my wife and I went to the big box store to look at new wood floors. After pricing about twenty different patterns and options, the salesclerk suggested that we look at tile that looks like wood.

That sounded about as hokey as veggie beef tasting like real beef.  Tofu chicken anyone?

My wife whispered that this would probably be tacky.  She gave me the same look that she commonly does at boring PTA events when she is ready to flee for her life.

The salesman led us down to the tile area of the store and I will swear to this day that we heard trumpets blare and angels sing. Well, perhaps not that grand, but it was pretty exciting. Really.

The “tile that looks like wood” looked like, well, wood. Really like wood. There were varying colors, finishes, and even tiles that had different grains and cuts.  You want handscraped? Check. Traditional smooth oak? Check. Anything you want IS made.

Wood Tile And Fake Cheese

Usually when one material is supposed to look like another material, the results can be a little sub-par. Let’s face it, vinyl look tile has never really replaced real tile. The huge plastic rocks on putt-putt courses don’t really resemble real boulders.  Imitation cheese spread...

Like an ageing super-model, these substitutes look pretty good from far away, but show their flaws up-close. (Apologies to any aging super models who have an avid interest in flooring. You've still got it!)

What we quickly began to realize is that the tile that looks like wood is actually a better fit for us and our lifestyle than "real" wood.  

Why We Love Tile That Looks Like Wood

1) Our (gigantic and slobbering) dogs can’t scratch the stuff, and it can be easily cleaned with large amounts of water without warping or distorting the material;

2) Grout lines are small, so grout getting stained is not really an issue. Plus, with newer grouts and advanced sealers, those old worries of staining go away. (Remember how bad the old grout lines looked when tile kitchen countertops were all the rage?);

3) Tile that looks like wood can actually be used below-grade in a basement or other area where moisture (or flooding) might be an issue. Try that with a wood floor, and let the warping begin. Our old basement flooded on command at least once a year. Real wood would never work in that type of scenario;

4) Wood look tile can easily be replaced if damaged. If your brother-in-law drops his weights on your floor, the broken tiles can be easily repaired. Our laminate floor suffered major damage when I dropped a TV on the floor – don’t ask why I was moving it myself. With wood floors, usually a professional must be called in to fit a few pieces if you have a goof;

5) Live in a cold place? Hello radiant heating! The downside is that these wood look tiles (like all tiles) are cold in the winter without radiant heating. However, in the summer, they feel nice and cool;

6) You can get high-dollar looks for less. If you want "real" wide wood planks, they will cost you a fortune. You can save money with the tile that looks like wood. Wider and longer runs can be had for not much more cost;

7) In my market, tile is a little cheaper to have installed than wood. This will leave a little money left over for other projects like the Volkswagen sized hole in the roof.  Really, it's not going to rain for at least a week, get that new flooring first...

So What's The Catch With Wood Look Tile?

1) Our old family room had a laminate wood floor installed over concrete that was not level. The underlayment pad and the more forgiving thin laminate allowed us to install it on this surface with a good final result. However, it is necessary to level a floor like this completely before installing tile, which will not bend, yield, or otherwise conform to a slight dip or swell in the subflooring;

2) You need to be careful to find a grout that matches as closely as possible.  Go too light, and it will not look great; 

3) If you are clumsy, like me, and sometimes drop your phone, the tile is unforgiving. You’ll make friends with the folks at the screen replacement store;

4) Now that my kids are bigger, I’m happy to have tile. But, if they were toddlers, I might have concerns over them taking spills on the hard tile;

5) Be careful installing it beside or adjoining real wood floors. While two totally different materials can look good installed beside one another, such as slate and wood, if you install two woods beside one another, it can often look odd since the woods do not match. Since this tile looks like wood, the same considerations apply;

6) I'll say it again, but like any tile, it can be chilly in the winter.

Are Wood Look Tiles Real Estate Agent Approved?

I asked a real estate agent who is a friend what she thought of this new wood look tile.
She said that she is seeing it more and more in our market. Depending on where you are, it may be more common or rare. She said that some buyers were a little confused by it, and wanted hardwood even though this really looked better in many instances.

People prefer real wood, at least in our market, even though the smart choice would appear to be the tile. However, she said that she is seeing it more and more, and that the use of this material will likely continue to grow. Based on how many people were looking at this product at the home center, I think that is a safe bet.

Bottom Line -- The Best Wood Is Ceramic

So is it tacky? Absolutely not! This is one product that looks just as good in person as it does in pictures. Check it out, and I know you will love it as much as I do. Something made to look like wood is actually better than wood.  Plus, you can act superior to your friends and neighbors when you proclaim that you chose tile to save trees and the environment.  Who wouldn't want that?