It took me a long time to come around to warming up to this idea:
The idea of using fake or imitation decor, materials, etc.
Take, for example, laminate wood flooring: I’m not been much of a fan of the stuff, although it does have its place. I used it in my mother's kitchen because she needed something easy to clean but with some "give" for standing. Tile and even wood flooring is too hard for her to stand on for any period of time.
Many laminate wood look flooring products look great, but when you walk on it, there’s a difference you can actually hear.
Each step made upon it makes a “tap” sound, kind of like walking on a dance floor with tap shoes. Each step is hollow sounding because the flooring is floated and well, it is laminate, not wood.
When wood look porcelain tiles came out, I kind of smiled and thought…
“I’ll never use those.”
Back then, the “boards” were about 18” long. And with real wood boards being much longer than that typically, who did they think were they fooling?
Also, the grout joints were huge. There was a lot of irregularity in the edges, so they had to be bigger.
It was just so obvious that those wood look tiles were nothing more than imposters. However…
That was then, and this is now...
Today, wood look tile flooring is quite different in comparison to its former self. I mean really...
This stuff looks just like real wood!
Even long “boards” are now available, sometimes featuring lengths that stretch up to 36" long. They have rectified edges where you can butt the tiles together, with grout lines that are barely visible, if visible at all! And the depth and texture of the tile truly provides a beautiful depiction!
Lately I’ve been seeing this stuff everywhere.
All tile distributors seem to carry wood look tile these days — and I love it!
Now you can enjoy the look of a wood floor, even within your home’s wettest place, the shower.
You can enjoy the look of a wood floor in the busiest restaurant or grocery store or building lobby, in commercial spaces, where wood flooring was once thought to not be durable enough.
I really love how these products are opening up new opportunities for designers to use a wood look tile.
There are gorgeous options available that actually make wood look tile a truly desirable design element. I’m not talking here, however, about choosing a wood-look tile with the intention of it “faking” wood necessarily, but with the intention of instilling the flavor of a wood-visual in a space.
It’s like faux bois — you know it’s not real wood, yet you respect and appreciate the artistry required to produce an authentic-looking replica and you get the hint of nature it inspires.
Because, if you're thinking of installing wood look tile all over your new home because you think it will be durable and pull of the look of a real wood floor, think again, because…
What's the one thing that will give it away?
Drop a quarter on a wood floor. Now drop a quarter on a wood look tile floor...
Hear the difference? Of course you do.
Walk across a wood floor in leather soled shoes...
Now walk across a wood look tile floor in leather soled shoes...
Hear the difference? Of course you do.
Walk barefooted across a wood floor...
Now walk barefooted across wood look tile.
Feel the difference? Of course you… (Oh you get the picture! ;-)
I always like to keep in mind the resale value of a home and what would be considered of value installing in a big way in your home.
I consider what a real estate agent would write up in the description of the home’s “For Sale” ad. You don't often see… “Tile flooring throughout!” However… “Hardwood flooring throughout” ...paints a prettier, more attractive picture that’s undoubtedly a selling point prospective homebuyers would be eager to seek out.
The bottom line, regarding wood look tile flooring:
It’s not wood. Everyone will know it's not wood. Maybe not right away, but after a bit. However, with that said…
Use it for what it is: tile; tile that deserves to be appreciated, because the material is of quality, the look is interesting and it evokes a natural element in a space.
Ultimately, when you’re choosing the type of flooring you want to use throughout your home, the question you have to ask yourself is this:
Do you want a wood floor or a tile floor?
That is the decision you’re making.
Remember, it can be durable and beautiful, but you're not fooling anyone. :-)
I'm adding this commentary because I've often worked with homeowners debating wood flooring or wood-look tile. I'd like to add one more consideration to the mix.
There is a place for every finish material out there.
I have used, as you can see above, laminate flooring, wood look tile, and real wood flooring in my projects. I think some flooring types are perfect in one scenario and not in another. It depends on the performance desired, the look, the budget, lots of factors.
However, what I tend to see sometimes, is homeowners jumping on the bandwagon for the latest and greatest thing and looking for durability over everything.
Here's the deal.
Wood look tile floors have less flexibility than wood flooring in the long term.
Let's say you are remodeling and dark wood flooring is really hot and on trend at the time. You want that durability of tile and you do a dark wood-look tile floor all through your downstairs, kitchen, living room, entry, etc.
Then the trend changes. It goes to a gray wash look that is popular and on trend.
Let's say 10 years pass. Your floor has held up perfectly....because it is tile. You go to sell your house. And because you put in tile instead of wood, you can't refinish your floors to another, more popular color.
Neither can your new potential buyer.
I have just finished working on a remodel of a large home that had traditional, 2 1/2" plank wood floors in the formal areas of the house. They were refinished in the remodel and have a nice, medium brown tone now, changed from the honey oak look they originally had. That medium brown goes with everything.
Whether or not the new finish is "timeless" is not really even a concern for longevity here. 10 more years down the road, when some other color flooring might be trending, it can be refinished again at a cost much less than tearing everything out and starting over.
With wood flooring, you simply have more flexibility down the road.
Now, does that factor into the decision for durability you might need now?
Just something to consider when you evaluate which is the best flooring for you. :-)
Need more design info on flooring?
I've combined all my posts with flooring design info, linked HERE, in a $5 downloadable pdf. It contains links with commentary to all my related flooring posts.