While wood floors are one of the most popular flooring styles for homes and businesses, they aren’t always appropriate, or the right material to use in these instances. Wood can scratch and is susceptible to things like moisture, which can cause warping to occur in homes with high humidity levels.

For those that love the look of wood, but want something easier to maintain, there is an alternative; ceramic and porcelain tile floor that look like wood. These man-made tiles have a grain and texture similar to real wood, but have the ease of care that comes with tile, giving you the best of both worlds.

Benefits of Tile over Wood

While there are many different types of wood flooring available, there is also a wide range of durability and maintenance factors involved in choosing a wood floor. More durable floors are often created from exotic hardwoods, which are aren’t as sustainable or environmentally friendly as a tile floor can be. And domestic woods that are more sustainable, are often softer and require more maintenance and care.

Solid hardwood floors can only be installed above or at grade, which means that homeowners wanting the look of wood in their basement levels need to look for other materials. Tile, however, can be installed anywhere, including concrete basements, giving you more options for the look of your home or business.

Tile is also incredibly easy to care for. It doesn’t scratch, chip, or dent like hardwood floors do, and does not require periodic refinishing to maintain its looks and durability. Properly installed, a porcelain or ceramic floor can last forever without changing its appearance. The floors require no special cleansers, and can be swept, mopped, or vacuumed without worrying about whether the cleanser or beater bar will scratch or harm the floor.

Tile also remains cool underfoot – ideal for those who live in hot climates that want a cool floor. And for those looking into radiant heating for their homes, tile floors can be installed over electric mats or hydroponic coils, without the drawbacks or considerations of wood. Because the clay won’t dry out, shrink, or swell, there is no worry about maintaining humidity levels within the home, regardless of climate or heating system.

How They’re Installed

Despite the fact that these tiles so closely resemble real wood floors once installed, they are put in like any other tile. Because the planks can be quite long, proper leveling techniques should be used to ensure a flat surface and most manufacturers recommend a 1/3 offset to avoid a visual bowing.

Some wood lines can have up to 68 different faces to create the natural look of real wood, which never duplicates. In order to ensure a good mix of patterns and colors, arrange the tiles in a dry-fit layout prior to installation.

All installations should follow appropriate TCNA guidelines using an insured installer. More information and a handbook can be found on their website.

Design Options

Both ceramic and porcelain tile floors made to look like wood come in several different colors, widths, and lengths of plank. It’s common to find the planks in both 6” and 8” widths, but some product lines may also come in smaller or larger variations.

The tiles can be installed in many of the same patterns that are popular for hardwood flooring. For example, by mixing different lengths of planks in one installation, it’s possible to create a random look pattern. However, by using planks of the same length throughout the installation, you can also create a long running-bond or offset tile pattern. Using the smaller planks, it’s also possible to create more decorative wood-look floors such as herringbone, box, and parquet style floors.  Please be aware that creating intricate patterns can mean higher installation costs and a longer install. It takes more time and attention and therefore installers tend to charge a bit more.

By mixing more than one color of tile flooring into one installation, you can also create borders for the room. For example, by running a dark colored tile three planks in from the wall, and moving around the entire room, you can define the edges of the space and add depth and dimension to the area.

You can also switch the pattern of the tiles within one installation to define specific areas of a room. For example, if using the tiles in a dining room, consider switching from a running bond pattern in the bulk of the room to a herringbone pattern just beneath the area where the table will be situated, creating a type of “rug” on the floor that helps to define the space.

Other options include running the tiles at an angle to the walls, rather than square, to help create the illusion that the room is larger than it is, or angling the planks out from the center of the room in a “starburst” pattern.

Invest in a Better Floor

Ceramic and porcelain tile flooring that looks like wood is an excellent alternative to real wood. The material is durable, easy to care for and maintain, and can be installed in numerous patterns, styles, and colors. Installed properly, a wood-look tile floor can last for many years without maintenance, care, or refinishing. Consider installing a wood-look tile floor in your home or business to get the look of real wood without any of the drawbacks.