Wed, Nov 14, 2018
Many of my readers have told me that installing hardwood floors is at the top of their to-do list. Unfortunately, it just doesn’t fit into their budget.
Instead they want to know more about tile that looks like wood. Is it a good alternative to traditional hardwood flooring?
The answer might surprise you. But, before I tell you about what I discovered, let’s cover our bases. What is wood look tile, anyway?
Today, tile manufacturers use high-definition inkjet technology to print wood grain patterns onto porcelain and ceramic tiles. Not only does the tile look like wood but it also has grain texture, too. Cool, huh?
Although it is not wood and feels different when you touch it, I doubt your guests will even notice. Plus, tile is easier to maintain, costs less and is moisture resistant.
Can you believe it offers all of these benefits and it’s cheaper than hardwood flooring? What’s the catch?
If you’ve spent anytime looking at hardwood flooring prices, you’ll know that the costs add up fast! But, even if you have a small budget there’s no reason why you can’t get the wood flooring look you’ve been dreaming about.
Tile that looks like wood is available for $1.89 per square foot at online retailers like Lumber Liquidators. That means you could buy enough tile to cover your kitchen floor for less than $400! When compared to hardwood flooring you could easily save over $1000 in just one room alone.
Beyond price, there are many other reasons why homeowners are flocking to hardwood alternatives like tile. One of the main reasons is durability.
Let’s be honest, hardwood flooring looks so good you’ll probably want to put it throughout your entire home - I know I do. Unfortunately, real harwood’s number one enemy is moisture. That means you shouldn’t install it in your bathroom or kitchen.
Instead, consider porcelain wood look tile. It is more durable than ceramic tile and absorbs less water. Once it’s installed, you probably won’t even notice that it’s not real wood.
You may be starting to realize that I’m a big fan of this stuff. Well, you’re right and I could probably go on and on about the benefits for days. But, before I do, let me point out a few of the down sides.
Scratches and Refinishing
The first (obvious) thing I need to mention is that tile cannot be refinished and scratches cannot be sanded out like they can with hardwood. If a tile is damaged you’ll need to find an identical replacement tile to fill its place. Depending on when this happens it may be easy or nearly impossible to find a replica tile.
Also, if you plan to upgrade your decor or change the colors in your home, you won’t be able to change the color of your wood floors. The color you select is the color you’ll be stuck with.
I should also point out that if you plan to install wood look tile in a large area of your home, you’ll have a bunch of grout to clean. While this may not influence your final decision, it is something to keep in mind if you hate scrubbing grout lines.
If you’re thinking about installing your own flooring, let me give you a brief warning. Laying tile is much harder than it looks. Yes, you can save yourself a few hundred dollars by doing it yourself. However, you might get a cleaner and more professional result if you let a pro do it for you.
Don’t forget that laying tile also takes longer than install wood flooring. That’s because you have to lay the tile bed, carefully install the tiles and grout the tiles when they are in place. This means you’ll be on your hands and knees for longer than you can probably imagine.
Although both hardwood and tile can be installed by the average homeowner, tile is a much more difficult skill to learn. Not to mention, tile has much less margin for error - you’ll see every mistake you made anytime you walk on your new floors.
Tiles that look like wood are also much more fragile than standard square ceramic tiles. That’s because they come in long tiles that look like wood planks. They have a tendency to break in half during shipping and installation.
If you plan to order your tiles online, be sure to ask the company you’re buying from about their return policy for damaged tiles (or if they even have one).
Before you jump in your car and head to Home Depot to buy a cartload of tile that looks like wood, there are a few questions you should ask yourself.
Do you plan to install it yourself or hire a pro? If you are planning on hiring someone to install the tile, be sure to budget for the additional costs. On the other hand, if you are installing it yourself, give yourself an extra day or two in your schedule to complete the job. It will take much longer than you anticipate.
Will the tile be installed in an area where it could get chipped or scratched? Although wood like tile is durable and inexpensive it is less forgiving than natural hardwood.
If you plan to install it in an area where items are frequently dropped or slid along the floor, you might want to think again. One of the benefits of hardwood flooring is that it can take decades of abuse and be returned to its original condition with some sanding and refinishing.