Tile Floors That Look Like Wood
1st March 2017
Solid wood floors are beautiful and elegant, but they are not usually the right choice for flooring in bathrooms, kitchens, mudrooms, and patios. Even in dining rooms, bedrooms, and hallways, where wood flooring is a better choice, pets, kids, and active lifestyles cause many homeowners to prefer alternatives, giving up the natural look of wood patterns and colors.
Happily, there is a relatively new flooring material providing the look and character of wood without its drawbacks. This material is wood-look tile flooring now available in the Hopewell area. Advanced manufacturing technologies now make possible ceramic tiles with visual features of wood virtually indistinguishable from real solid-wood flooring.
Advantages of Wood-Look Tiles
Besides having the visual appeal of solid-wood flooring, wood-look tile flooring also brings all of the other advantages of ceramic tile. Durability and ease of maintenance are at the top of the list.
Ceramic tile is extremely durable. While a well-maintained solid wood floor can last centuries, tile floors are known to endure for millennia. Ceramic is also highly scratch-resistant, making it impervious to dog toenails and skid marks from moving furniture. If a tile does become damaged, it is easier to repair a small area than with wood flooring.
One criticism of tile flooring is about it being cold to the touch. Tile, because it is a dense material, does retain temperature more than other flooring types. However, this is also a potential advantage, because when tile warms up, it retains heat longer. Because of this, tile floors are an optimum material for use over radiant heat flooring systems. Wood-look tiles let you combine the aesthetics of wood with the energy efficiency and even heating of radiant flooring.
Tile is also easy to maintain. Beyond vacuuming and mopping as needed, application of a liquid tile sealer product every three to five years is the only requirement. Tile sealer helps preserve the finish surface and also prevents moisture from entering the grout lines.
Wood Look Tile Floor Installation
Wood-look tiles come in widths from 6 inches to 10 inches and lengths as short as 6 inches and as long as 48 inches. These sizes and shapes mimic those of wood planks, and the tiles are called tile planks. Sizes and lengths can all be the same or mixed and matched, creating a unique style and pattern of your own invention.
Any tile floor needs to be installed with accuracy, precision, and advanced planning. Preparing the subfloor correctly is crucial for a perfect outcome. The subflooring must be solid and made of a material that will accept the adhesive or grout base used for installing the tile.
Not all wood-look tiles are made the same, and there are important quality differences to consider before choosing a tile. Wood-look tiles have an image printed on the surface which gives the appearance of wood. These patterns are repeated, but there is a big variation in how often, depending on the manufacturer and tile quality. At the less expensive end, wood-look tiles have fewer patterns. This means it is easier to pick out the repeating pattern. At the higher end, these tiles only repeat the pattern every 100 or more tiles. In this case, most people will never see the repeating pattern.
Another consideration is the type of ceramic used to make the tiles. Red clay, white clay, and various grades of porcelain are used in the manufacture of tile. Tiles with a higher amounts of porcelain are more resistant to breakage and scratching, and fewer tiles are lost to breakage during transport and installation when using high quality porcelain tiles.
Scratch resistance is measured on a scale developed by the Porcelain Enamel Institute called the PEI abrasion test rating. A rating of 1 is for the softest and most easily scratched and 5 is the hardest to scratch. For most residential situations, a PEI rating of 3 or higher is recommended.
Another quality feature to be aware of when considering wood-look tiles is the edge of the tile. Higher quality tiles have edges which are precision finished. These are called rectified edges, and they allow closer placement of tiles for a smaller and less noticeable grout line. Using rectified tiles makes the finished job even closer in resemblance to solid wood flooring.
The cost of installing wood-look tile flooring is similar to solid wood. However, the labor needed for installation can be less, reducing overall cost. Even when the cost of installation between wood and tile is the same, tile floors need less maintenance and repair on average than wood, reducing the cost over the lifetime of the installation.