What You Need to Know About Wood Look Tile

by Sam Ferris
Country style wood look tile planks in kitchen
Photo courtesy of Emser Tile.
If you?ve remodeled your home during the past three years, you?ve probably heard about wood look tile. As the flooring industry?s newest darling, it is the top alternative to hardwood floors for designers and builders. While it hasn?t been around as long as hardwood, laminate, and vinyl floors have, wood look tile is primed to stand the test of time. It?s durable, it?s stylish, and it?s versatile.
Here?s an in-depth glance at wood look tile, including what it is, how it measures up to other flooring types, where you can install it and more.?
What is wood look tile?
Most buyers aren?t sure what wood look tile is. It?s a relatively new flooring type, so there is, understandably, a little bit of mystery to it.

It isn?t complicated, though. Wood look tile is a porcelain or ceramic tile that features a glaze that looks like hardwood.

The glaze is applied via digital inkjet printing, a method that has seen plenty of technological advances in the last three years, according to Floor Covering News. That?s why wood look tile is starting to look a lot more realistic as of late. ?

This glaze can feature a wide range of looks, including that of reclaimed wood, hand scraped textures, grains, knots, and so on.

The skinny: It isn?t wood, it isn?t laminate, and it isn?t vinyl. It?s 100 percent tile. The key thing to pay attention to when you?re buying is whether it?s porcelain or ceramic (click to see our breakdown of these two tile types).
You?re probably wondering: what?s the difference between wood look tile and laminate? Vinyl? Hardwood? Here?s a brief description of what each of these flooring types is and a rundown of the pros and cons when we compare it to wood look tile.??
Wood look tile vs. laminate
In short, laminate floors have four layers that feature a mixture of high density fiberboard, melamine resin and pattern (the surface of the laminate).

Needless to say, it isn?t tile. However, both laminate and wood look tile feature wood patterns on their surface.
Laminate does have advantages to wood look tile:
  • It?s usually less expensive (laminate runs $3-$6 per square foot)
  • It?s easier to install
  • It?s more scratch resistant
  • It?s easy to remove (you can take it with you when you move)
There are certainly disadvantages as well:
  • It?s not as high-end
  • It doesn?t last as long
  • It doesn?t handle foot traffic as well
  • It?s harder to clean
  • It doesn?t hold up to moisture like porcelain wood look tile does
Wood look tile vs. hardwood
Solid hardwood is made from one solid wood piece. Engineered hardwood is comprised of several layers of plies.
Even though wood look tile is surging in popularity, there are still reasons to buy hardwood instead:
  • It sells homes
  • It?s timeless
  • It can be refinished (even though you don?t need to do that with today?s warranties)
  • It?s the real deal, not an imitation
  • It costs the same as a large, quality wood look tile ($7-$10 per square foot)

But hardwood does have downsides when compared to wood look tile:
  • It requires more maintenance
  • It scratches easily
  • It isn?t ideal for areas with high moisture, which limits where you can install it
  • It can?t survive heavy foot traffic as well as wood look tile
Wood look tile vs. vinyl
Vinyl and wood look tile are both easy to clean and scratch resistant. Vinyl has three key advantages:
  • It?s easier to install
  • It?s less expensive ($1-$6 per square foot)
  • It?s softer on your feet, a characteristic that will benefit homeowners with feet and knee problems

It also has three main disadvantages to wood look tile:
  • Homebuyers prefer wood look tile (and hardwood, for that matter)
  • It won?t last as long (though it does have a longer shelf life than laminate)
  • It can show foot traffic patterns because of its soft surface
What does wood look tile cost?
Brown grey wood look tile in kitchen
Wood look tile is comparable in cost to hardwood floors, though you can certainly less expensive options. Photo courtesy of Emser Tile.
Wood look tile is normally a high end flooring product, but there are styles available at budget price points.

First quality wood look tile starts at around $3 per square foot. These tiles are typically 6x24 in size and can be either ceramic or porcelain.

Larger tiles ? 6x36 or 9x36 planks ? will cost a bit more, at around $5 per square foot. These tiles are usually porcelain and may be color body porcelain, where the tile?s glaze extends throughout the entire piece of tile. The glaze might feature hand scraped properties and look like authentic hardwood.
Long planks, measuring anywhere from 48 to 60 inches in length, cost $7-$10 per square foot. They are color body porcelain tiles with impeccable glazes. Styles range from hand scraped to reclaimed wood to beach-style textures.??
What it costs vs. hardwood floors
While the cost of wood look tile can be comparable to that of hardwood floors, it?s generally less expensive.

Hardwood floors cost anywhere from $5-$11 per square foot. Because you can find wood look tile under $5 per square foot, wood look tile can save money in large remodeling projects.
However, a large wood look tile (48? or longer) will cost roughly the same as quality hardwood flooring, anywhere from $7-10 per square foot.?
How to choose the right wood look tile for your home
Consider your home's style
Wood look tile mimics the design of actual hardwood, but there?s more than one style of hardwood, as you know. Here are three finish options for wood look tile and the style of home they complement best:
  • Hand scraped finish, which is ideal for traditional and rustic homes
  • Driftwood or beach wood finish, which can work in a plethora of spaces, from coastal and rustic to contemporary and even modern designs
  • Grains and knots, the perfect look for country and farmhouse designs
Any of these finishes can thrive in transitional spaces.?
Consider the size you want
Large wood look tile planks installed in a kitchen
Big wood look tile planks, pictured above, can make your kitchen space seem more expansive. Photo courtesy of Emser Tile.
There are several standard sizes for wood look tile:
  • 6x24
  • 6x36
  • 9x36
  • 6x48
  • 8x48
We?ve shortened the list, as there are additional sizes and shapes available depending on the manufacturer. Widths are normally 6-12 inches and lengths range from 24-60 inches.

The size you choose can define how your space looks. Longer planks can add dimension to entryways and living rooms, giving these areas a seamless, expansive appearance. Shorter planks create more movement, which can provide contrast to clean decorating styles.?
Where can I install wood look tile?
Wood look tile planks installed on an outdoor patio
If you're seeking creative flooring for your patio space, you might consider wood look tile. Photo courtesy of Emser Tile.
Virtually anywhere. The only spot to think twice about is outdoor patios and porches, but if the tile has grip and is manufactured well enough, it can enjoy a long shelf life in outdoor applications.

Wood look tile is especially useful in the following spaces:
  • Kitchens
  • Bathrooms
  • Living rooms

Before wood look tile existed, the only high-end option for these spaces was hardwood floors. But hardwood floors scratch easily and require a lot of maintenance when they?re installed in high-traffic spaces and in rooms susceptible to moisture.

Wood look tile solved these two issues. Porcelain is an excellent choice for bathrooms and kitchens because it doesn?t absorb much moisture. Neither porcelain nor ceramic scratch easily, especially color body porcelain.
The skinny: Bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens, bathrooms, home offices ? wood look tile can survive it all. You?re hard pressed to find a space in which it won?t last.??
Why do homeowners, designers and builders like wood look tile?
Because of all the reasons we listed above.

OK, that was snarky. In truth, wood look tile is well-loved because of how versatile and durable it is. It lasts longer than vinyl and laminate. It?s easier to clean than hardwood. It isn?t averse to moisture. You can install it in any room in your home.
And, because it?s a man-made product, wood look tile can reinvent itself as trends change. There will always be in-style options. ?

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