2018 Ceramic and Porcelain Tile that Looks Like Wood: Pros & Cons, Reviews

Did you consider installing hardwood floors in your home because you like the way that it looks? Before you choose to do so, you should know that there could be very good reason for you to not actually go with that option but rather go with tile instead.

To better understand what type of flooring you should be going for in your home, it’s important to better understand the different options and their respective pros and cons. Ceramic and porcelain tile that looks like wood is gaining in popularity because it offers a lot of advantages and very few downfalls.

When you’re ready to proceed with the installation, we can also help connect you with the most relevant ceramic tile installers near you to help get the project done at a price that works for you.

grey tile

Pros and Cons

Before making your decision, it’s important to know the pros and cons of ceramic and porcelain tile that looks like wood, and understanding how it compares to actual wood.

Pros

  • The ROI – Tile has a lot of benefits, but the fact is that it helps increase the value of your home too, especially when done in a manner that creates consistency in the look of the home. The production processes of tile has come a long way, and the availability of the tile that in fact very much resembles wood is due to the improvement in how they’re being made. The colors that were added to tile were previously mainly due to the glazing that was applied to them, however their beautiful designs are no longer necessarily due to that. We’ll talk about the technology in a later section. That warm feeling that was previously delivered by using wood for your home improvement needs can now be achieved with tile instead.
  • The cost – although tile isn’t known for being the cheapest material around, you can get the look and feel of high-end hardwood at a much lower cost. We’re personally extremely excited about the further developments, and how tile will be used for purposes, and even at a very appealing price too.
  • Less variation in price – since the tile is being created using special technology, the look of cedar vs mahogany won’t actually change how much it costs to produce the look, and that means the different looks won’t have significantly different price tags simply because one resembles a more expensive type of wood than the other. With actual wood, you’re at the mercy of what it costs to grow those different types of wood, and you may not be able to afford the more expensive types. The cost of the material is rather consistent, which is great, even when you want to create a more high-end look.
  • Its lifespan – because of how durable it is, this is a type of material that will show very little wear, even after a lot of years. If you wait 15 years, we’re sure that the wooden alternative would at least show fairly obvious signs of wear. With tile that looks like wood, you’re pretty sure that signs of wear will be minimal at best, and the likelihood that you won’t be able to see any wear at all is pretty significant. When you buy wood for any home improvement project, you know that it comes with a fair amount of maintenance, especially if being used in a place that takes a serious beating, like if you get wood siding for your home’s exterior. Also, the material isn’t ideal to be used everywhere in your home either.
  • The required maintenance – the previous point brings us to this point. When you want a material that doesn’t require a lot of maintenance, tile’s a great option. There’s no need for specialty cleaners, that usually carry the price tag associated with anything that has the name “specialty” to it.
  • Flexibility – not all types of flooring are able to go in all the different rooms of the house. For instance, you generally wouldn’t use wood as the bathroom floors because of the inherent problem with wooden and moisture. The advantage to tile is that you can put it in  all the different rooms you’d like. Whether you’re turning a garage into a room, or remodeling your bathroom. Where other materials have problems because of their inherent properties, that’s not an issue with tile. Although the tile itself may be able to withstand the humidity, it’s important to protect the grout and ensure that is protected also, since it’s a porous material.
  • A lot of different options – whether you want ceramic tile that looks like wood, or you’re going for a different option, tile comes in many different designs and varieties depending on your desired look. If you want something truly unique, you can even get companies to create custom tile for you. Either way, there’s a bunch of different options available that can fit your project without being your unique print.
  • A good option for your pup – not all floors are dog proof. Some scratch too easily, and some are just not ideal if your puppy has an accident. When you have any pets, you want to make sure you have flooring that they’re not going to ruin, but also some that is easy to clean.
  • Good for people with allergies – allergies can get really bad if you live in a house that doesn’t have good air quality, and what you put on your floors will greatly affect the air quality. When you’re concerned with the air quality, it’s not a good idea to be installing carpet in your home.
  • Sustainable – Ceramic tile is a very sustainable option to go with that doesn’t contain all those chemical additives that worsen the air quality and might give you problems over time. Wood-look tile has the additional benefit that its life doesn’t end along with your floor, as the material can be used for other purposes after, including being used for driveway after being smashed to pieces.

Cons

It wouldn’t be fair to only mention the advantages to it without mentioning the cons of wood-like tile.

  • No slip-resistance – if you’re one of those people that tend to fall anywhere and everywhere you go, you should know that polished or glazed tile tends to be slippery, especially when wet, and that in itself is the reason why some people would rather not install it in the bathroom. If you’re remodeling the home for seniors, you will want to go with an option that provides better protection against falls. Kids are also at risk of falling when they’re running over slippery tile, and it’s not a very comfortable material to fall on because of how hard it is. You can get textured variants of it that will help make it significantly less slippery, however, while you still get that beautiful wooden look. Go for designs that are grooved and handscraped for those places where the risk of falling is higher.
  • No easy installation – while you may think of yourself as quite the handyman, we really do not encourage you to try and install this material by yourself. There’s just too much that can go wrong, and you’ve suddenly wasted a lot of not-too-cheap material. You don’t want to do that. A subfloor requiring repairs is just one thing that could end up making your project less than perfect, and those things will easily show. Your subfloor needs to be protected properly, or bacteria and mold could become serious issues. Since you don’t have experience with installing tile, you might also easily find that the beautiful design you had envisioned didn’t turn out as intended after you were done trying yourself.
  • It’s not for people with cold feet – tile is known for its cold feeling, and not everyone enjoys stepping out of the bed in the morning simply to be met by a cold floor. There are luckily things you can do to avoid that feeling, such as install it on top of radiant floor heating, which in fact is a very efficient way of heating your house too. This way, your feet will never have to be cold again as a consequence of a cold floor. If you live in an area that doesn’t need much cooling in the summer, and therefore doesn’t really need an HVAC system, you could end up saving money on your energy bill by having this installed. However, it should ideally be done as part of a major home remodel, as it’s not too cheap to retrofit.
  • It’s too hard to stand on for long periods of time – if for whatever reason you need to be standing on it for a long time, a lot of people would either rather choose carpet or vinyl flooring that are both more comfortable for the feet. While it can look beautiful, you should just know how hard it is.
  • It can crack – tile is very durable, and especially if you get one of the harder types, but tile can crack, and when it does, you’ll need to replace it. At that point, it’s really good if you have spare tile left over from the installation, because you could have a hard time finding the same color again.

What’s The Difference Between Ceramic and Tile Floors?

We made a whole article dedicated to the difference between ceramic and tile floors, that you might want to consider reading. It talks a lot about why you can’t just assume you’re actually buying porcelain floors when you’re trying to, because it’s often mislabeled. In fact, most people don’t know the technical difference between ceramics and porcelain. We don’t blame you! They’re very similar, but they do have one main difference that you should know about, especially if you’re buying tile that’s intended to go outside.

There’s usually a substantial difference in price between the two materials – porcelain is significantly more expensive than ceramics, traditionally, but it has to do with how the two different materials are fired. Porcelain, if you choose to go with the standard used by standard groups, have water absorption rates below 0.5%, whereas it’s not the case with ceramics. What that means is that after being submerged in water, it will end up absorbing less than 0.5% of its own weight worth of water.

You can probably imagine that it’s not ideal to have a tile that absorbs a lot of water and is then placed outside to experience the freeze and thaw cycles. If so, they’ll break extremely quickly.

When you’re trying to find the right tile for your floors, you will also want to take another look at a scale that indicated durability, and that is the PEI scale, which goes from 1 to 5. The lowest rating will only be suitable for ceramic wall tile, while you will want to find tiles that have at least a 3 rating when intended for floors. If you are planning on using the floors for commercial or industrial purposes, the rating should be even higher.

Porcelain’s better ability to withstand water is what makes it a better option for bathrooms and other places with a lot of humidity.

It’s always a good idea to ask professional bathroom tile companies about their recommendations.

Tile Certifications to Look Out For

The term “porcelain” is to indicate that you’re dealing with a tile that has substantial water-resistance, but unfortunately a lot of imported tile does not actually have the properties defined by the standard groups. This means they might have water absorption rates as high as 3% instead of less than 0.5%. As you can imagine, that can cause significant problems.

By looking for tile manufactured by companies that have gone through the extensive process of obtaining the necessary certifications, you know that what you’re buying is in fact porcelain. There are two credible agencies that issue certifications for tile manufacturers after having them go through extensive testing – the Porcelain Tile Certification Agency and the Tile Council of North America. Their respective certification are labeled PCTA and TCNA. Most reputable tile manufacturers will also provide substantial insight into how their tile is made, which is why it can be an idea to go with a recognized industry leader.

Rectified Tile or Not? What’s the Difference?

Another thing you can look for is to make sure that tiles are rectified. Choosing this option means that you will get material that can be placed closer together with seemingly less space between them, and when you want something that seems seamless, that’s needed. After firing the tile, the edges of it could end up not being entirely the same size, and even if the difference is small, the look will be significantly different. Rectified tile has been sawed after firing to create edges that will match better with one another.

It’s not a process that does anything to the structural properties of the tile – it simply makes the edges more even, and it doesn’t affect the thickness either.

When you go with this option, the grout between the tiles will barely be noticeable, and you can even choose grout too to make it even less easy to see. Here’s what it can look like when you install those rectified tiles next to each other.

rectified tile

When choosing wood-look tile, you should also look at the quality with which it was created, since there are some manufacturers that undoubtedly make a more realistic wooden look than others.

The consistency in the colors of the tile are measured from V0 to V4. The higher the number, the more differences the material will have.

Porcelain’s water-resistance is a consequence of its

Cost

The cost of installing wood like tile will depend on a lot of different factors.

These include whether you go for ceramic or porcelain, and that is not just because there’s an inherent difference in the price you’ll pay to get the material, but the additional weight will also require that the pro is especially careful in making sure that the floor joists are able to handle the weight. Since they’re denser than ceramic, they’re also more difficult to cut, which will both make the rectified tile more expensive, but if the installer needs to do a lot of cutting, this also increases the overall cost of the project.

The cost of the material itself starts at as low as $0.69 per square foot, although this doesn’t include the cost of installation. The easiest way to make sure that you’re not paying too much for the installation, is by making sure to get quotes from competing contractors, which we’d be happy to help you with, completely free of charge for you and with no obligation on your part either. You will typically end up paying somewhere between $6 to $12 per square foot when you wish to get porcelain installed, but the price will depend on the individual project.

The easiest way to find quality material for less is by going for material that is being taken out of production, which however also will mean that you need to make sure you get enough to make sure you have extra in case something breaks unexpectedly. It’s generally recommended that you get as much as 15% extra to account for problems, and that is even more important when you try to install the material yourself. If you have too much leftover afterwards, there are other projects where they can be used.

Did Your Quote Include the Cost of Repairing the Subfloor?

Any reputable contractor will be quick to point out the need to make sure no repairs are needed for the subfloor, and you should be sure that the quote you receive addresses that potential need for repair. Since the size of the floor is the main factor affecting the job, you can easily see why bigger areas that need to be covered will run up a larger bill. Pros usually charge in the region of $5 per square foot, but that is also very dependent on which part of the country you live in, and the cost of subfloor repairs usually doesn’t involve that cost. If they’re necessary, this is something you cannot choose not to have done.

Cement board is needed to be added too before the tile can be laid on top of it.

Factors Affecting the Cost of Installation

While the size of the floor is the most direct factor that increases the cost, any moisture issues will need to be addressed before the tile can be installed, and additional waterproofing measures could be recommended, which will include a waterproof membrane to keep potential moisture problems away.

The Color of the Grout

Since grout will be needed between the different tiles, this will need to be matched to give your tile floor the best finish, but a good pro will be quick to point it out too. It needs to strike a balance between thin grout lines that create an almost seamless transition and too much grout, that will, however, provide better protection.

Maintaining Wood-Look Tile

The durability of the material makes it one that’s very easy to maintain, and it’s not like carpets that need to be repaired and cleaned frequently, especially if something is spilled on them. Mild floor cleaner is enough to do the trick, and can usually be used on either of the two types of surface. It’s important to mention that the grout is probably the most vulnerable part of this whole thing.

Vacuuming or otherwise removing dust and hair is a thing that will need to be done as would be necessary with all flooring materials.

Steam mops can be used when a more serious cleaning is needed and shouldn’t be causing your floor any problems. Another alternative you can look into is a microfiber mop which will also get the job done. Grout lines are the first thing you will notice changing color, and to help them keeping looking good, you can get them sealed. They can also be specifically targeted to keep any unwanted color away.

Wood-Look Tile vs Wood Floors

wood look tile being installed

If you’re a person that wants the real wooden look, tile might just not cut it, but otherwise, there are a lot of reason why the look-alike is a better option.

Real wood doesn’t offer the same protection against moisture that tile does, and especially not porcelain, which means it needs to be sealed to have a lot of those same properties that could mean you can otherwise use it in spaces that get significant amounts traffic, although they should still not be placed in places like bathrooms. Shower installations are even more off-territory for the real thing, where tile will look beautiful.

In comparison, cedar siding is a popular type of wood used outside, and although durable when compared to other woods, it will start deteriorating rapidly with no sealing or paint to protect it against things such as termites.

Between tile and wood, tile is also the better option when it comes to using radiant floor heating.

What is Digital Inkjet Print and How is it Used to Create These Tile Options?

Maybe the biggest thing to happen in the tile space is the introduction of the inkjet technology, because of the impact it has had on the design possibilities that it has brought along. You now no longer must get material that could look like another type of material, but also feel like it with texture that feels like wood.

The design of the tile is actually printed on the tile by overlaying the tile with color. The technology has come so far that it can be hard to tell tile that uses this technology from the actual thing, and that is also even if you’re talking about natural stone.

Brands & Reviews

There are obviously different brands that produce this material, and different options for you to choose from, which is why we’ll walk you through some of your different options.

Marazzi USA

When you want quality product, going with a manufacturer that has been around for a long time is a solid strategy, and these guys have been around for more than 30 years. Yes, you inevitably get some experience from being around that long.  With more than 6,000 employees and operations in a lot of different countries, this is a tile manufacturer you can trust.

They have a range of different designs for you to choose from, and they also engage in eco-friendly and sustainable production processes. Yes, that means you can feel good about yourself knowing that you didn’t go with a company that will create a huge burden for the environment.

With more than 20 lines of this specific tile and more color combinations that you would need, they’re worth looking into. Their product can be purchased for as little as $1.99 per square foot. The most expensive options they offer comes in at $6 per square foot typically.

Porcelonosa

This is a high-end option that you can go with and has been founded more than 40 years ago. It’s a family-owned business, originally from Spain, the place known for making the Spanish-styled clay roof tile also, although that isn’t a product made by that company.

With more than 70 different colors and varieties spread across their two main collections, Seedwood and Parker. They’re also known for being good options for bathrooms because of their anti-slip properties, and while you will want to check, they make varieties that can withstand the harsh outdoor climates too, even during the winter.

When you  want something that stands out, although it isn’t cheap, look into this company.

Daltile

These guys have been around even longer than most of their competitors – since 1947. Yes, that is more than 70 years in the tile manufacturing industry. With 11 manufacturing plants and thousands of employees, they really ship out a bit of product.

They have more than 17 different collections, available in any color you might want.

MS International

They not only produce wood-look tile, but they’re also one of the biggest tile manufacturers when natural stone is the look you go with.

Other Popular Styles

Is tile not the right option for you? Then there are other options you can consider too, that can give you the wooden look.

Actual Wood

Getting the thing that this material is meant to look like could be the second best solution, especially if you don’t want to retrofit the floor with additional heating. There’s nothing more real than the real thing, and when you go for actual hardwood, it can be sanded and refinished even if it ends up getting scratched.

Laminate

If you don’t want either tile or solid hardwood, laminate flooring is another option you can get installed. It’s no longer the same poor quality that it previously was known for being if you go back 40 years, and the range of options available is also impressive, as well as very affordable. It’s not the ideal floor if you’re installing it in a space that suffers from moisture problems, however, where tile will perform a lot better. The advantage with this is that it’s significantly easier to install, feels softer and doesn’t weigh nearly the same, so you are less likely to have to do extensive repairs to the subfloor.

It doesn’t add much value to your home, though, so you will want to install it for its other features if you choose to do so.

Luxury Vinyl Plank

Vinyl flooring is a type of material that shares some benefits with laminate floors. It’s lighter and feels warmer to walk on than tile does, and then it’s not quite as hard either, making it more comfortable to stand on over longer periods of time. It’s also a very affordable option, and when your budget is a big concern, it can be a serious contestant.