Looks Like Wood, Wears Like Tile

What looks like wood, but cleans up like ceramic tile? Wood tile, of course. For decades, homeowners have chosen wood floors over other coverings, including carpeting, because of the rich look of wood, as well as its durability and ease of care. With the availability of wood-look ceramic tile, however, some homeowners are making another transition, and incorporating this new tile design into many areas throughout the home.
What are some of the advantages of wood-look tile? Just as ceramic floors can stand up to heavy traffic, so do wood-look tiles. These tiles are resistant to fire, moisture, stains and are almost immune to damage from shoes, high heels, dropped pots or pets.
Because of their ability to stand up to moisture, homeowners who are interested in experimenting often begin by adding tiles in kitchens or bathrooms. But as the tiles become more sophisticated-looking, designers and residents are choosing them for living rooms and great rooms as well, in part because of the many varieties of styles and colors now available.
Wood—look ceramic “planks” can be purchased in widths of 6, 8, 12 inches or more, simulating wide-plank wood floors. Colors and grains abound, and tiles are made to emulate almost every type of wood, including chestnut, maple, oak, mahogany and teak. Some tiles even come with an aged or “distressed” look to create an old-fashioned style. Other tiles can create a sleek and contemporary feel with the use of tiles that look like narrow wood strips in dark colors. The tiles can be placed in fashion similar to traditional hardwood flooring patterns or can be used to create unique patterns of color and design.
In almost all cases, “wood” ceramic tile is less expensive than hardwood flooring. There is a range of pricing, but tiles can be purchased from under $2 a square foot to $7 per square foot. As with other tile, it is a good idea to purchase extra tiles when laying out a floor, for use in case of errors or mishaps. These tiles can be found in home improvement stores as well as on—line.
The choice of grouts is an important consideration to make sure wood-look tiles appear natural-looking. While some installers have suggested that these tiles can be laid without grout, most professionals disagree, noting that no matter how tight the tiles butt up against each other, there is always the opportunity for dirt, debris and water to enter between them.
To keep grout lines to a minimum, allowing for the most natural look, any grout purchased should be fine-sanded grout.
When it comes to installation, some homeowners prefer the do—it—yourself method, while others prefer to have the tiles professionally installed. A tile-cutter is an essential tool for the project, but anyone who has laid ceramic tile in the past will have little difficulty laying wood-look ceramic tile.
In addition to kitchen and bathroom floors, homeowners are also finding use for these tiles on the walls, especially in shower stalls and bathroom enclosures.