One of the biggest new trends in home décor over the past few years is the rise of porcelain and ceramic tile that looks like wood.
Before you read on: Despite its huge popularity there’s plenty you need to learn about wood grain tile before you decide if it’s right for you.
We highly recommend you read the whole of this post, if you’re pressed for time then bookmark this page for later or use the quick links below to get to the information that matters most.
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.
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 explained 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 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 tile planks 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 the cost of wood ceramic tile, 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 tricks 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. You may also be interested in comparing porcelain vs ceramic tile before making your final choice.
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.
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 ceramic 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.
Wood Tile Retailers
Wayfair.com – If you’re willing to purchase floor tiles online (without necessarily seeing the tiles in the flesh, so to speak) then Wayfair.com, which offers “a zillion things home”, is a great destination to search for your ideal wood-look floor tile (often at a lower price than what you’ll find in-store).
They currently have a truly extensive range of wood-look tiles to suit all budgets, from value ranges at $2-$3 per square foot, through the pricier design ranges at $9 per square foot and right up to the uber-cool money-is-no-object ranges that retail at over $25 per square foot! Covering a huge number of brands, including MS International, Florim USA, Daltile, Marca Corona and many, many more, Wayfair is a very good place to know about.
BuildDirect – Since its launch in 1999, BuildDirect has become one of the major online retailers for home improvement products with an extensive catalog of all kinds of flooring. They currently have over 250 wood look ceramic or porcelain tiles in stock, including several from well-known brands such as Daltile, Salerno and MS International.
With their competitive pricing set between $1.50 and $7.50 per square foot (and with sales or clearance prices from as little as $0.85/ sq ft), there’s a good chance of getting a great deal. And with such a large collection, there are all kinds of styles and colors of wood look tile, including a particularly wide selection of on-trend gray wood look tiles. Plus, if you’re put off by the fact that it’s all online and prefer to be able to see the product before making a decision, then you’ll be pleased to know that Build Direct will send you up to 5 sample tiles for free!
Home Depot – A great one-stop-shop for most home décor and renovation projects, Home Depot makes it their business to keep up with all the major décor trends so you can be sure to find a very good range of wood tile flooring here. In fact the range is better than just good, with some interesting designs alongside the more classic looks.
Home Depot also accommodates all budgets with products priced between $2 and $13 per square foot and top brands including Ms International, Daltile, Marazzi and Emser represented as well as their exclusive Merola Tile (see brand info below) which has those clever parquet-style wood look ceramic tiles.
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!
Reviews of Wood Look Tile Brands
MS International – Whilst MS International established themselves primarily as Natural Stone suppliers, they do also have an extensive range of ceramic and porcelain floor tiles that are widely available from builders’ merchants across the country. They currently offer eight wood tile collections, providing a good range of colors and design aesthetic.
We particularly like The Botanica collections with its highly detailed and naturalistic planks in Cedar or Teak; the Salvage collect (pictured above) which beautifully mimics reclaimed antique wood; and the Sygma collection which faithfully renders hand-scraped hardwoods in four different colors. MS International is one of the wood look tile brands sold at both BuildDirect and Wayfair.
Florim USA – This US branch of the larger Florim Group, based in Italy, is at the forefront of technological innovation and environmentally responsible processes, offering a real breadth and depth of aesthetics in their porcelain wood tile ranges.
They currently offer six wood-look tile collections, and highlights include traditional woods such as oak, cherry and walnut in their Plantation collection; rustic and weathered looking woods in the Ecowood and Forest collections; and pretty paint distressed thin width wood look planks in the Charleston collection. With a good range of colors, sizes and superior attention to detail in high-resolution graphics, Florim USA tiles are definitely worth seeking out.
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.
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.
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!
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 both Wayfair and Home Depot for prices.
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”!
Pros and Cons of Tile That Looks Like Wood
Some of the pros and cons of wood look tile are woven throughout this post, but we’ve brought them all together here in one place, so you can peruse them quickly. Most are common sense – tile and wood are very different materials, no matter how much wood-like tile visually mimics the genuine article.
Advantages of Wood Look Ceramic and Porcelain Tile
Selection: Wood like tile is produced in a growing, beautiful selection of styles. If there’s a genuine wood style you really like, it is probably replicated in tile.
Light Colors: One area in which the selection is especially impressive is in the range of whites, whitewashes and grays available in tile that are hard to find in genuine wood.
Custom Colors: Some manufacturers give you the opportunity to match the color tone with the wood style such as traditional, hand-scraped or smooth. This allows you fully customize the look of your tile flooring.
Wide Widths at No Extra Cost: Wider hardwood planks are more expensive than narrow planks per square foot because suitable raw wood is harder to come by. This isn’t the case with ceramic and porcelain wood look planks, since the manufacturer can just as easily make wide tiles as narrow.
Hardier than Wood: Tile won’t ding, scratch or stain as easily as hardwood.
Ideal for Wet Areas: Porcelain and ceramic tile are preferred wherever there’s the potential for spills and standing water. They’re even suitable for installation below grade and outdoors.
Sustainable: These tiles are manufactured with recycled waste materials in addition to some raw materials.
No Height Issues: Solid hardwood flooring requires a thick underlayment, and the material itself can be as thick as ¾”. Tile underlayment, if needed, and the tile itself have a lower profile, so height won’t be an issue where two flooring types meet or where doors open over the flooring.
Excellent Long-term Costs vs. Wood: Upfront costs for tile can be higher, but the lifetime costs are lower because wood needs periodic, pricey refinishing.
Disadvantages of Wood Look Ceramic and Porcelain Tile
Not the Genuine Article: While the looks are dead-on, some homeowners will still prefer the feel and aroma of real wood floors.
Trending, but Might Not Last: Wood look tile is hot, but trends come and go. One point in its favor is that tile in general is a very traditional flooring.
Not Impervious: Though tough, porcelain and ceramic tile can chip and crack when a heavy glass, tool or similar object falls on it.
Louder than Wood: They’re both noisy floors, but tile is louder.
Installation and Repair Costs: While material costs between the two products are comparable, installation and repair costs are significantly higher. They’re tougher DIY projects too.
Slick when Wet: While suitable for wet areas, some porcelain and ceramic tile creates a slip-and-fall hazard when wet.
Cold and Hard: Wood is slightly softer and definitely warmer. The coldness isn’t a factor when tile is installed over radiant floor heating. In the heat of summer, cool tile beneath your feet or the dog’s belly might be appreciated.
Hard to Match in the Future: Styles change and even product batches differ slightly from one another. Buying an extra box or two of tile will eliminate not finding matching tile if you need it down the road.
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.