Today I want to talk about a flooring option which you may not have given much consideration. You can use it in any room in your house to give a look of modern elegance or the feel of rustic warmth. If you haven’t looked into wood-look tile as an option for your remodeling projects, then you really ought to; it’s all the sturdiness of tile with the aesthetic appeal of wood.
So what is wood-look tile? What sets it apart from your other options?
Quite simply, it’s a tile like any other, but printed with the texture of hardwood. You might not even notice the difference until you get up close and personal with it. So let’s go over some things you might not know and some things you might think you know, and really get to the base of this flooring option.
For me, upkeep is the biggest selling point. Whereas you’ll run into a lot of time and money sucks with keeping your wood floors nice – polishing, resurfacing, etc – tile is so easy. You keep it clean with a mop and have it refinished once every 5 years or so. It won’t get shredded by pets or shoe heels, and it holds color much longer than your typical wood.
You’re also not limited to where it can be installed. Outdoors, indoors, kitchens and bathrooms, bedrooms and dining rooms; it’ll hold up anywhere. You won’t get sun damage, and it resists moisture, so it’ll keep well even through rain, steam, and spills. You could literally use this in your shower if that’s the look you want.
And if a tile happens to crack, or some grout starts looking less than nice, it’s very easy to fix for a relatively low price.
“Sure, it’s strong,” you say, “but isn’t it kind of ugly?”
Well I would first remind you of the subjectivity of aesthetic value, then assure you that this technology has come a long way in recent years. We’re at the point where you can pretty much choose whether you want it to look more like wood or tile, and the installation will match it.
If you want it to look more authentic, you’ll want to choose a grout that matches the tile really well, and then keep the lines thin. You’ll get the best results from ordering tile with rectified edges, so you can get the tiles really close together with very little visible grout joint. The other key to making it look real is to check that you have quality tile that doesn’t just copy-paste the same grain pattern over and over, but uses multiple designs to convey the true diversity of wood.
Maybe you’ve heard that wood-look tiles are especially susceptible to warping. That’s false for the most part, but there are elements of truth to it. The problem isn’t in wood-look tiles specifically, but they’re usually ordered really long to mimic actual wood planks, and any tile over 15 inches might warp in the manufacturing process. This is another issue that’s solved with ordering rectified edges. Rectified tiles are harshly culled so that you get the flattest tiles with the straightest edges. Then it’s up to the installer to use only the best tiles from the case to get the cleanest end product. So it’s not a wood-look problem so much as it’s an installation issue, meaning you want to be sure to get the best people.
“But Paige,” you say, “I live in Chicago, and tile is cold.” I hear you, really, and I come with solutions.
You could just wear socks, or you can install subfloor heating to combat cold tile. Makes your home seem all the more spa like. My recommendation is for hydronic radiant heating, which is an energy efficient system that pumps hot water through tubes below your floor. The heat carries up through the tile and supplements your home’s heating system so you can turn down the thermostat.
Be advised, radiant heat is a little on the expensive side when it comes to the installation, but you will probably save enough on your energy bill to make up for it.
Now that I broke the seal on it, let’s talk cash. Depending on where you go, real wood might be cheaper than tile. There’s a lot of variables involved, from material to labor cost to shipping, so you’ll have to go through your budget carefully. But here’s where you get savings from wood-look tile. Because the print on the tile is manufactured, you can fake any exotic wood you want – it doesn’t actually have to come from the Amazon rainforest. And, as we discussed, tile floors are much less needy, so you don’t have to spend that much on keeping them nice. Even if the upfront cost is a little high, you can be sure that it’ll be cheaper in the long term.
If wood-look tile is something you’re considering, feel free to drop us a line.