The Definitive Guide to Ceramic Tile That Looks Like Wood

Updated 08/29/2014

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. This kind of wood tile has always been available but has 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.

realistic wood look tile

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 Look 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 perfect for those who like patterned flooring which is very popular at the moment.

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.

bathroom pebble

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!).

floor and wall

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.

merola tile turin

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!

south cypress sandalwood

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.

vitromex

Provenza Ceramiche – This super elegant Italian brand is now available at the more discerning tile retailers and for those looking for something that screams excellence, quality and money very well spent, then look no further. Provenza Ceramiche currently has two stunningly stylish ceramic wood tile collections, Ceppo and W-Age; a third collection, called In-Essence, has both wood look and stone effect tiles. The aesthetic here is quiet class, and this is best exemplified by the very clever W-Age collection, which presents a wood design showing the distinct cross-cut section of the sawn log. It is utterly beautiful and rather unique, and definitely desirable!

provenza

Daltile – Established in 1947, this well-known and trusted tile brand has a huge range of natural stone and ceramic tiling products that does largely deliver on their claim that – as far as tiled surfacing is concerned – they have “all bases covered”! They currently have 10 collections of ceramic tile that looks like wood offering a good selection of colors and styles, including the popular Season Wood collection which features a weathered aesthetic and wide format planks, and the more graphically linear Veranda Tone collection. With many of their wood tile flooring collections retailing for under $6 per square foot, Daltile offer a fairly affordable option and are widely available at tiling retailers across the country. Check out the Daltile website for a retailer near you!

daltile

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.

porcelanosa

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.

marca corona externo

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”!

porcelain wood rutland

Photos Courtesy of Pinterest

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

  • 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

  • 12 Rooms with Creati
  • vitromex
  • porcelanosa
  • Daltile - tiles that
  • Provenza wood look t
  • wood look ceramic fl
  • wood look tiles used
  • just love the Sandal
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Comments

22 Responses to “The Definitive Guide to Ceramic Tile That Looks Like Wood”
  1. Emmaemily says:

    Interesting post! You provide more information about different kinds floor tiles. Thanks….nice sharing.

  2. bonnie says:

    WHAT IS THE BEST SOLUTION FOR CLEANING CERAMIC WOOD LIKE TILES??

  3. Elaine says:

    Where can you buy wood look tiles from in brisbane qld australia as I need child and pet friendly but looks good too!

    • admin says:

      Hi Elaine,

      Sadly Brisbane is a bit out of my area and I wouldn’t know where to start…however I would suggest starting with a search on google.com.au

      Sorry I can’t be of more help.

  4. Bob says:

    Can this be used on stairs?

    • admin says:

      Hi Bob, thank you for the question. Yes, absolutely tile that looks like wood is still just tile, so it can be used on a staircase. Although installation is a bit more exacting than installing a wood staircase. Certainly a tricky diy project.

  5. philipgibilisco says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us.
    Its really useful.

  6. Barbara Bussey says:

    We are choosing flooring for a home in the Lake Tahoe area, where temps get into the teens during the winter. Does anyone have any idea of the difference tile will make if we install it everywhere with area rugs…instead of wood or carpet? Thanks!!

    • Jamie says:

      Well Barbara, I would say straight off the bat that tile would be a cooler and more stable flooring than the other two options. Carpet just seems too warm in such a warm climate. As for wood, you’d need to check with your local installers to see the suitability in that area. Tile seems like a great idea.

  7. mindi says:

    Which is the better size to go with on the porcelain tile? 6×36 or 9×36?

    • Jamie says:

      Hi Dan, that’s a purely aesthetic choice. Go with the porcelain wood tile size that you like the look of. I guess you could argue that the smaller size means more tiles and therefore more work, but it’s not going to make that much of a difference in a domestic setting. Just go with the one you like best.

  8. Liza says:

    We just purchased a brand new home and can’t wait to remove the carpet on the top floor. Can this tile be used on the second floor?

    • Jamie says:

      Hi Liza, thanks for the question. There’s nothing specifically unique about tiles that look like wood compared to any other type of tile (other than the way they look). As long as the sub floor upstairs is in a fit state to lay tile on then you’re good to go with this kind of tile too.

  9. Shane Beer says:

    I have a question about transitions. I want to use this on the top and bottom floors, but do a traditions wood grain staircase. How do i get the 2 to joined seamlessly, especially at the top stair or the landing??
    Very nice post though!

    • Jamie says:

      Hi Shane, thank you for the comment. That is a very specific question and way above my pay grade! :-) But seriously…this is not my area of expertise but I do know that there is a molding out there for every transition! Is this a DIY project? If the staircase is being installed for you the they are the guys who can advise about the transition, but basically you’re going to choose the best molding and stain it either to the stair color or the tile color.

      For the most seamless look I’m guessing you might use some kind of ‘overlap stair nose’

      I hope that helps a bit.

  10. sherri says:

    Hi, do I need to put wonderboard down first? We are replacing the carpet on the first floor of our new house and I have seen that wonderboard needs to be used. Thanks

    • Jamie says:

      Hi Serri, thanks for the question. You will need to prepare the subfloor so that it is absolutely flat and isn’t going to move, so yes, some kind of tile substrate like Wonderboard will be necessary. Of course Wonderboard is a brand, so it’s not the only product of its kind that you could use.

  11. Sharon says:

    I have been looking for wood-look floor tiles for over a year. I want to tile my entire home except for the bathrooms and the kitchen. I am looking for a realistic-looking, warm brown shade (not too light, not too dark) with a wide variation in graining, but not alot of shading. I do not like tiles that (to me) look really busy. I do not want the floors to be the focal point of the room, but just a warm, inviting platform on which to place my furniture. Actually, I like the tile shown at the top of this page (the picture includes staircases). Could you tell me who makes this tile as well as the name of the style and the color? I have spent a good amount of time in tile stores and much, much more time online, but have been unable to come up with anything that I could consider buying. In the few instances where I have seen a tile that I like, it has been impossible for me to find out who manufacturers it or the name of the tile.

    • Jamie says:

      Hi Sharon, thank you for your comment and I’m sorry to hear that your search has been frustrating. Personally I like to search for stuff on houzz or pinterest because you so often have links to the original images or, in the case of houzz, the contributors will often mention where stuff is from. The tile you like the look of can be found here http://www.cercantile.com/TileSeries/LarixTile.html but I’ve seen lots of similar wood tile by searching for “tile that looks like wood” on pinterest. I hope that helps.

      And what about this wood tile from Build Direct?

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