If you love the look of hardwood flooring but not the cost, then wood-look tile is a trendy alternative. Here’s more on the pros, cons, and costs.
By Kayleigh Roberts
What is wood-look tile? Well, it’s pretty much what it sounds like: tile that looks an awful lot like wood, at least from a distance. Up close, you can tell it’s not real wood, but wood-look tile is nonetheless trending now and comes with some unique advantages.
Here’s everything you need to know about wood-look tile to determine whether it’s the right flooring for you.
Photo by Stonica LLC
Wood-look tile vs. wood: How much does each cost?
Wood-look tile (which can also go on walls, like in bathrooms) comes in ceramic and porcelain. According to online estimates from FloorCritics.com, ceramic tile runs between $2 and $8 per square foot on average, while porcelain averages anywhere from $4 to $12, with installation averaging around $5 per square foot.
In comparison, real hardwood flooring costs an average $5 to 10 per square foot with installation running an additional $4 to $8 per square foot.
Photo by Mary Cook
Pros of wood-look tile
The biggest and most obvious advantage of wood-look tile for most homeowners is the cost. In most cases, tile is significantly cheaper than a traditional hardwood floor. But there are other advantages, too. Homeowners looking to refurbish a property in a humid climate, for example, should consider wood-look tile.
Photo by Synergy Design & Construction
“In Florida, we saw this trend starting in 2014,” explains Kurt M. Westfield, managing partner at WC Equity Group. “Florida features moist, humid climates and pests that can wreak havoc on improperly installed natural wood or laminate. Tile is simple to install, waterproof, and gives the appearance that many are seeking, without the cost and care associated with wood.”
Wood-look tile may also be a good option for people with allergies, since tile doesn’t harbor allergens the way carpets and even hardwood can. It’s also great for pet owners. Hardwood is more durable in many ways, but tile stands up to scratches from the paws of furry friends better than wood.
Photo buy Johnson + McLeod Design Consultants
Cons of wood-look tile
Like any other tile, wood-look tile will have grout lines, which require special care if you want to keep them looking clean and pristine.
“As a builder, we encourage homeowners to seal the grout after they move in,” explains Amy Cooper, marketing manager for Highland Homes in Lakeland, FL. Generally wood-look tile can be swept and vacuumed prior to wet mopping, although you should avoid cleaners with acid, bleach, or harsh scouring aids.
Other downsides include issues that come with any kind of tile, like its tendencies to feel cold on bare feet and get slippery when wet. And while wood-look tile is durable and will last a long time—typically decades—hardwood could last a lifetime if well-kept.
“Real hardwood will always be a highly desired amenity, not only for appearance but for longevity—it can be sanded down, regraded, stained, and even covered in tile or carpet,” Westfield explains.
Another consideration is that wood-look tile may be cheaper, but typically does not add resale value to a home. Westfield agrees that real hardwood will always win in terms of long-term value, but if you want to cut costs upfront, wood-look tile is your ticket.
Photo by Giffin & Crane General Contractors, Inc.
Kayleigh Roberts is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in The Atlantic, Marie Claire, and Elle, among other publications.