Although tile that looks like wood has been around for years, I don't think there is a home improvement store or tile distributor anywhere in North America that hasn't succumbed to this tile trend. Advances in digital technology have made these tiles look as good as real wood floors. They come in a variety of finishes, from glossy to matte, and with the appearance of almost any species of wood. Initially designed for work areas such as kitchen and bathrooms and outdoor areas as well. There are good reasons to choose this type of tile, some of which might entice you to do your entire home.
First, there is the visual warmth that a wood floor gives. These tiles can be used in all rooms for a unified look, from the entry hall to the living room and dining room to bedrooms. These can eliminate transitions from dry rooms to wet areas such as bathrooms, kitchens and even basements.
Then, there is the ease of maintenance. The cleaning process becomes much easier...no wax or threat of scratches or dents on these "wood" floors. Since they are made of porcelain, these floors can be easily vacuumed or swept and then simply mopped with water. In addition, there isn't the routine sanding and refinishing every couple of years as there is with wood floors.
An additional benefit of this porcelain wood-like tile is temperature control. Porcelain is a great thermal conductor. It will pick up the air temperature whether you are heating or cooling it. If installing in a colder climate, radiant heat can be installed underneath the tile for a warmer experience.
The variety of tile sizes, shapes, color and textures make wood-like tiles extremely adaptable to any style of decor. Some tiles have knots and patterns in the tile, which can make them more appropriate for a traditional look, more country looking or even for a beach-style decor. Sleeker, evenly colored tiles are more appropriate for transitional or contemporary decor.
Some would argue that these wood-looking tiles also have an environmental benefit. Since these tiles are porcelain, no trees are cut down, thus creating an added bonus. These are some of the reasons wood-looking tiles are so popular today.
There are some caveats when considering wood-like tiles. In kitchens and other areas where one stands for a long period of time, porcelain tile can generally be tough on your feet and back. To mitigate fatigue, gel mats or runners are recommended in the work areas.
Depending on the subfloor of your dwelling, the cost of installation can vary, sometimes even more than wood or other type of flooring. Some installations may require the addition of cement boards or self-leveling mix. Porcelain tile, although considered as one of the most durable flooring, is also susceptible to cracks and chips in heavily trafficked areas.
Finally, as is the case with most trends, wood-like tiles will one day be dated. As a friend, I only recommend these tiles in areas where nothing else will do. Namely water-prone areas and beachfront properties.
Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Florida. His website is www.josephpubillones.com. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones, or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.