The Definitive Guide to Ceramic Tiles That Look Like Wood
One of the biggest new trends in home décor over the past few years is the rise of ceramic or porcelain tile that looks like wood. These kinds of tiles have always been available but have only recently found favor with global décor trendsetters, thanks in large part to vastly improved technologies that make the wood effect more realistic than ever.
Added to that is the knock-on effect of the ever-increasing desirability of authentic hardwood flooring; a desire that cannot always be fulfilled, depending on your budget, sizing requirements or location, can now find some release in ceramic & porcelain wood look tile. As Becky Harris explains on the Houzz blog:
“With reclaimed wood so on trend, buying wood tile is an alternative to searching for the perfect hundred-year-old barn wood, and tiles are available in dimensions that wood is typically not.”
Tile makers and lovers also point to the advantages of opting for wood look tile flooring, the main one being the more durable nature of tile over wood. Susie Kurkowski from the Roomology interior design blog argues that with faux wood tiles you can
“avoid the anathema of all hardwood owners… the dreaded chips, nicks, and scratches. Anyone who has paid for hardwood and then cringed when their friends arrive for a party wearing high heels knows the dangers here.”
Is Ceramic Tile That Looks Like Wood Flooring Really That Great?
Of course some of the advantages that are touted with regards to wood looking ceramic tiles are debatable, namely that it is better for underfloor radiant heating, easier to find in larger plank widths, generally cheaper and easier to clean.
Yes, ceramic tiles can be used with underfloor radiant heating, but so can certain types of real wood flooring. And whilst it’s true that wood look tiles come in a greatly affordable range of sizes and widths, the increasing popularity for wide wood floorboards means that there are more budget ranges available in larger widths.
With regards to wood look tile cost, anyone who claims that this tile is cheaper evidently hasn’t done their homework. For just as with real wood, how much you pay will very much depend on brand and style: from budget ranges at around $3 per square foot to exclusive ranges from upwards of $15 per square foot, there is a great deal of budget variation and plenty of choice either way (see below for our selection of top brands for all budgets). Click here to get an overview of tile and natural stone flooring prices.
And as any homeowner knows, whatever kind of floor you have it needs to be properly cleaned and maintained, so the argument that ceramic wood tile is an easy-clean solution is not so clear cut; this is particularly true in this day and age when there is a vast range of cleaning products and tools to match each specific type of flooring.
Also whether wood tile flooring over real wooden flooring is the better choice for your home will be influenced by your local climate as well as the specifics of how you use your home. Ceramic floor tiles may keep your home cooler in the summer, but it might not be so comfortable in the winter if you live in a cold climate. Real wood flooring may have a warmer feel to it, but may be prone to termites in dry environments or to warping in damp environments.
Ultimately, choosing floor tiles that look like wood will come down to personal aesthetics. In my opinion, even the top range wood tiles that really, really look like wood, especially from afar, are at the end of the day an imitation of the real thing. I still personally like the aesthetic of wood look tile, and there are certain tips you can use to make them look even more like the real thing (see below), but you’re never going to be able to replace the feel of real wood. Having said that, there are some very interesting looks being created with this wood effect product, so if you think tile is the way forward for your home, then read on.
Wood Looking Tile Design Ideas
What is fantastic about the new craze for wood look ceramic tile is that there are now tons of different tile ranges emulating almost any kind of authentic wood. From tiles that have a traditional hand scraped textures, to full glossy ones, to ones that have been made to look distressed – it’s all out there in tile. There are all kinds of color tones in wood grain tile and even a growing number of manufacturers making tile that mimics parquet and artistic inlay parquet.
The new styles of wood plank ceramic tile also mean that you can easily create a unified look in your home by laying it throughout; there’s no need to confine it to “wet” areas like kitchens and bathrooms, as it can work equally well in the living room or bedroom, and there is even exterior porcelain wood look tile to continue with the theme outdoors.
Working with tile means that you can very easily mix and match different tile sizes or types to create interest or to delineate a space, for example this bathroom above where wood look tile works beautifully alongside pebble mosaic tiles.
Some trend-setters are also promoting the idea of using wood look tiles on both the floor and an accent wall to create a dramatic look – great if you’re really looking to make a bold statement (or if you’re worried about having to wash down your walls often!).
For more inspiration and ideas, here is our selection and reviews of some of the best wood look tile brands – have a look on their websites for great images of just what can be achieved with wood look tile.
Reviews of Wood Look Tile Brands
Merola Tile – Available exclusively at Home Depot, this large range of cost effective wood look ceramic and porcelain tiles really has something for everyone, including bullnose edged tiles for stairs! Aside from their standard wood look plank tiles, there are also some quite impressive faux parquet and artistic parquet tiles in the range for a true statement look, for example the stunningly detailed Merola Tile Turin faux parquet tile below.
South Cypress – South Cypress provides both a very affordable and diverse range of wood look tiles including rustic, modern, traditional, striated, hand scraped, and an excellent budget series at under $3 per square foot, including well known brands like Marazzi and Daltile. I particularly love the Sandalwood series in Coconut (see below) which has lovely depth of variation in the grain adding to its “realness”! You can buy samples from the South Cypress online store for $5 per sample, and their site features a really fantastic collection of design images for inspiration – they are all so gorgeous, so good luck choosing!
Vitromex – Available at numerous retailers nationwide, the Vitromex range of wood look tiles retails in the mid-range at $6-10 per square foot. It’s a relatively small range with only 8 different tile wood floors, but they are all very attractive. A case of small, but beautifully formed. In particular, the textured Madera series emulates reclaimed wood in four different color tones and wide sized planks, has a lovely grain and looks very effective.
Porcelanosa – As declared on their website Porcelanosa is a “global leader and a trend setter in the manufacture of porcelain tiles” and as such their tiles are at the higher, more exclusive end. However, with showrooms in 12 US states and plans for further expansion, their range is getting out to a wider audience and you can already get samples via their website sent to you anywhere in the US. Their Parker series of porcelain wood look tile is currently available in 38 different color ways, ranging from traditional wood looks such as the textured chocolaty Hampton Brown to the very on-trend urban/distressed gray Amsterdam Antracita.
Marca Corona – This Italian tile brand is distributed worldwide and has an extensive wood look tile range divided into five collections: Classwood, Easywood, Oldwood, Essenze Naturali and Externo. The Externo series is rather clever: specifically designed for outdoor use, around a pool or on a patio, as it emulates the ridged s-wooden decking you might otherwise have used. However, unlike exterior wood decking, there’s no annual treatment as it is completely resistant to thermal shock, mould and parasites.
Porcelain Wood – Super cool online wood look tile specialists – they only do wood look tile, but they do it very, very well! With a carefully chosen collection of 10 tile ranges that cover traditional to contemporary styles, and including an exterior range (the Darwin) and a faux parquet range (the Bedgebury), Porcelain Wood have all design looks covered. They are particularly good if you’re looking for something just a little bit different, particularly the utterly desirable distressed look Rutland range “inspired by reclaimed panels from disused Spanish fishing boats”!
Other things to consider
Ceramic versus porcelain tile – Wood look tile is available as either ceramic or porcelain. There has been a lot of confusion over these terms, not least because some manufacturers are labeling tiles incorrectly. Generally speaking, porcelain tile is more durable and more impervious to water than ceramic tile, whilst ceramic tile is easier to cut and work with. However, the best rule of thumb is to follow the manufacturers recommendations as to where and how to install a tile.
Grout color – Most tile retailers will have a range of grouts to match the tile, and we would advise that you choose a grout color that is a close match to the darkest tones in the tile. This is because, regardless of how fastidious you are about cleaning, over time dirt will collect in the grout and stain it. Go as dark as possible so that as it ages and darkens it won’t look too obvious.
Grout line size – Choosing the smallest possible grout line size is best to mimic the look of the tiny gap between hardwood boards, so make sure you go for a rectified ceramic tile.
Rectified – This means that the sides are all very smooth and uniform allowing you to butt each tile up as snugly as possible with the very smallest size of grout spacer.
Color variations – All ceramic tiles are coded V1, V2, V3, V4 which relates to the variation in colors of each tile batch. Most ceramic wood look tiles are V3 or V4 meaning that there is moderate to high variation in colors. That is to be expected since most wood look tiles are trying to mimic the variation of tones in wood grains. However, be careful to ensure that the tiles you get are all from the same batch to ensure that the tones within the variation are the same.
Anti-slip – If you’re using tile in “wet” areas in the home than be sure to check on how slip resistant your tile is. A coefficient of friction (COF) greater than .60 to .79 is required for commercial applications to meet or exceed ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines.
Wear and tear - The PEI (Porcelain and Enamel Institute) rating for glazed tiles will only tell you how well a tile will resist abrasion, so a P.E.I IV has high resistance to abrasion and is suitable for heavy-duty residential and commercial kitchens, whilst a PEI I or II cannot be walked on and so are best for walls!
Is it just a fad? – Beauty is all in the eye of the beholder and there will always be those who just simply prefer real hardwood flooring to hardwood tile, no matter how closely it mimics the real thing. Any investment into your home flooring needs to be carefully considered in terms of its long lasting durability and appeal. If you are concerned that the current trend for this type of tile will be short lived then opting for a more traditional wood looking tile rather than the on-trend ones will be a safer bet. Click here to learn about wood flooring trends for 2013/14.
More Great Articles and Sites
- Centsational Girl – Read Kate’s thoughts on wood tile, great photos included.
- Tiger Mountain Tile – Things to consider before a DIY installation of wood look plank tiles.
- Grand Design Co – Read why you might want to consider getting an installation quote before tackling the job yourself.
More Photos of Tile Floors that Look Like Wood