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Wood-Look Tile: Your Complete Guide

December 20, 2020

If you’re interested in wood-look tile, we understand. 

Why? Because we think wood-look ceramic tile is terrific! It offers tons of benefits and very few drawbacks. Plus, if you compare tile vs. wood floors, you’ll find that wood-look tile gives you the best of both worlds—the beauty of hardwood, plus the durability and water-resistance of tile. Win-win!

Needless to say, if you’re contemplating buying hardwood floors, we’d recommend looking into wood-look tile instead—and that’s probably why you’re here.

Because the fact is, while wood-look tile is great, there isn’t a ton of information out there about it. Not nearly as much as other types of flooring like vinyl plank and laminate, anyway. And we know you have questions.

What exactly is wood-look tile made of? What brands manufacture it? Is it expensive? How do you install it? How much does it cost to install? And what are the advantages and disadvantages of wood-look tile in the first place? 

That’s why we’ve created this complete guide to wood-look ceramic tile. Below, we’ll answer all of those questions—and more—to help you decide whether wood-look tile is right for your home.

Still have questions after reading? Contact our flooring experts directly!

Table of Contents

What is the Tile that Looks Like Wood Called?

We’ve seen this question all over the internet, so we’re going to answer it right now. Believe it or not, the tile that looks like wood is called… wood-look tile! 

Yep. Nothing crazy. Sometimes people call it “wood-look ceramic tile”, even though it’s often made of porcelain (which is technically a type of ceramic). We guess the person in charge of creative names was on vacation that day.

Either way, there are many types of wood flooring, and many types of tile. But this is the only surface that combines the two. You might sometimes hear it referred to as “wood grain tile”, “wood plank tile”, or some such variation. All those names refer to the same product. 

What is Wood-Look Tile Made Of?

Wood-Look tile living room floor

Wood-look tile is an environmentally-friendly flooring option, as it’s made of either ceramic or porcelain. Both of these materials are made from fired clay (an entirely natural substance). They’re then printed with images of wood grain, and sealed for durability. 

These high-resolution images can perfectly mimic different wood flooring types—so if you’re looking for a sustainable wood flooring alternative, it’s a great way to go.

Porcelain vs. Ceramic Wood-Look Tile

Picking out your new floor requires so many decisions. Did you know that even once you go with tile as your flooring choice, you still have decisions to make? That’s right, not all tiles are quite the same. You need to decide if you want porcelain or ceramic wood-look tile.

Ceramic Wood-Look Tile

Ceramic is created when clay is fired in a super-hot kiln. It bakes into a durable, waterproof, natural material. 

There are a couple of things to consider when you purchase types of tile made of ceramic materials, though. The first one is hardness. While ceramic is hard, porcelain (which we’ll talk about in a moment) is harder. 

Hardness is rated on the PEI scale, which goes from 1 to 5. The higher the number, the harder the material. We’d recommend purchasing ceramic floor tiles that score a 3 or higher on the PEI scale.

Additionally, you should also look at the Coefficient of Friction Rating (COF) rating. This system ranks how resistant to slipping a tile is. The more “grip” a tile has, the higher its ranking will be. For flooring, most experts recommend a COF ranking of .50 or higher.

This is where ordinary ceramic has the advantage over porcelain. The COF rating of ceramic can often be higher than the COF ranking of porcelain.

Porcelain Wood-Look Tile

Porcelain has a reputation for being brittle. But in reality, it is one tough cookie. In fact, porcelain tile is one of the most durable types of flooring around. It’s generally harder, more resistant to chipping, and more water-resistant than ordinary ceramic. 

Porcelain is also made from clay and baked in a kiln the same way ceramic is. The only difference between the two is that porcelain’s clay is more refined, and it is fired at a higher temperature. The result is a denser, more durable, and more waterproof tile. 

Most wood-look tile you’ll find on the market is actually made of porcelain, rather than ordinary ceramic. However, because porcelain is a type of ceramic, it’s often called—you guessed it—wood-look ceramic tile.

Just remember: for most people, they mean the same thing! From here on out, we’re going to use both terms interchangeably.

What Colors and Patterns Does Wood-Look Tile Come In?

Wood-look tile comes in a variety of colors, just like actual wood does. Some manufacturers design their offerings to look like specific hardwood species. Others create their own patterns. It just depends.

Want the look of ash flooring, but with better waterproof qualities? Or maybe you love the look of pine or Douglas fir, but don’t want to deal with the pros and cons of pine flooring or any Douglas fir flooring pros and cons? Well, wood-look tile can give you the precise look of any of the three—but with none of their inherent disadvantages.

Oh, and remember: wood-look tile isn’t usually sold in the traditional square shape you’d find with most types of floor tiles. Rather, it’s often sold in planks—just like real wood.

Is Wood-Look Tile Expensive?

Compared to most other flooring options, wood-look tile is not particularly expensive. Think of it this way: have you ever looked into the cost to replace carpet with hardwood or the cost to install engineered hardwood floors?

The cost to install wood-look ceramic tile is comparable, if a bit more expensive. The difference is due to labor, however—not the materials themselves (and we’ll talk about that in more detail below).

As far as materials alone are concerned, wood-look tile costs just about the same as many other hardwood floor alternatives

In fact, at $2–$12 per square foot for materials, the price range of wood-look tile is almost identical to the price range of vinyl plank flooring.

How Much Does it Cost to Install Wood-Look Tile?

Unfortunately, when it comes to the price to install wood-look tile, you’re probably going to be paying a little more than you would to install other types of flooring.

That’s because tile can be a bit more labor-intensive to install, and because a shortage of skilled installers is currently plaguing the flooring industry.

This isn’t an issue with wood-look tile alone, though. It’s an issue you’ll encounter if you want to install any types of floor tiles.

Luckily, some brands now offer snap-together tile flooring. This is an easier, cheaper, more DIY-friendly way to install tiles. Unfortunately, these surfaces come with all the inherent disadvantages of floating floors, such as noise and wear issues. 

Can You Find Cheap Wood-Look Tile?

Sure! You can find a budget version of nearly any type of flooring. Obviously, this is a little more difficult when it comes to super-rare surfaces like ebony flooring, but you can definitely find cheap wood-look tile. 

Just remember: cheaper isn’t always better. In fact, we’d recommend skipping the ultra-budget options for most floors. These surfaces can lead to issues down the road, and they generally look less realistic.

Do You Need to Grout Wood-Look Ceramic Tile?

If you were hoping to get out of grouting your new wood-look tile floor, sorry, friend, you’re out of luck. Grout is the nature of the beast. It is important for more than just holding your tiles in place. Grout adds to their durability, makes them waterproof, and also keeps dirt and debris from sneaking in under your floor.

Pro tip: when buying grout, purchase 10–20% more than you think you’ll need. If you have extra left over at the end of the project, you can save it for another time. Trust us on this one—you can’t put a price on not having to run back and forth to the hardware store.

Quality Guidelines for Wood-Look Tiles

Installing wood-look ceramic tiles

When you are picking out your wood-look tile, you’ll definitely want to choose a product that has been certified and inspected for quality. All the best hardwood floor brands have quality certifications for the same reason.

The Tile Council of North America and the Porcelain Tile Certification Agency are two independent agencies that offer certifications. We would only recommend purchasing products that have the stamp of approval from one or both of them.

After all, the best engineered wood flooring brands all feature stamps of expert approval from multiple agencies. The same is true for tile!

Advantages of Wood-Look Ceramic Tiles

Wood-look ceramic tiles have several of the same advantages you’ll find in the best engineered wood flooring. Namely, they’re moisture-friendly, budget-friendly, and look fabulous.

Wood-Look Tile is Eco-Friendly

Tile is one of the most low-VOC flooring options around. And that is so important when it comes to your health and the health of your loved ones. 

VOCs, or Volatile Organic Compounds, can have harmful effects—especially for vulnerable groups. So the less exposure to them you have, the better. 

And it Can Be Cheaper Than Hardwood

We get it—you love the look of hardwood flooring. We do, too! But if you’ve researched teak flooring pros and cons, for example, you’ll know that beauty comes at a steep price. That doesn’t mean you need to scrap your design plans, though.

If you want the look of expensive exotic wood on a budget, opt for wood-look ceramic tile instead! It’s a great way to get the pricey look you desire at an affordable cost.

Wood-Look Tile is Durable

While wood-look tile isn’t technically wood, it is definitely one of the most durable wood flooring alternatives out there. It is designed to withstand heavy traffic, so it’s perfect for your rowdy family or if you frequently entertain. Tile has a long lifespan.

And Wood-Look Ceramic Tile is 100% Waterproof

Tile is one of the least porous materials out there. You can put it anywhere and not worry about water damage. It’s naturally waterproof and doesn’t need any sealants or chemicals to help repel water. Hello again, eco-friendliness!

And it’s true—sometimes, we have to make compromises in looks for practical reasons. Sure, the best cork flooring products are all beautiful, but they would never be practical in a bathroom. The pros and cons of cork flooring include the need to constantly seal it just to make it water-resistant.

Wood-look tile, on the other hand, can give you the exact look of cork flooring, in your wettest bathrooms, without any worries at all!

That’s why wood-look tile makes such great mudroom flooring. It even earned a spot on our list of outdoor flooring options for the same reason! Even the most water-resistant wood flooring can’t hold a candle to wood-look tile.

Plus, You Can Use it to Create Amazing Patterns

If you’ve had your eye on some gorgeous wood floor patterns like 3D basketweaves or herringbone parquet, rest easy. You can achieve the same wood floor designs with wood-look tile.

This is a great option if you want to give your kitchen or guest bathroom a wow factor.

Disadvantages of Wood-Look Ceramic Tiles

Though wood-look tile has a ton of advantages, there are some drawbacks when you compare it to other types of faux-wood flooring. Of course, it all depends—there are some engineered wood disadvantages shared by wood-look tile, and some that are radically different. Either way, here are some of the material’s biggest downsides.

Wood-Look Ceramic Tiles Can Be Cold

Brrrr… we’ve all experienced the feel of cold tile on our feet. You may not want to add wood-look ceramic tile to your list of flooring options if you are debating between carpet or hardwood in the bedroom, since it can be chilly in the morning.

Though with the money you save by choosing tile, you could easily treat yourself to some peel-and-stick carpet tiles for a cozy path to the bathroom!

They Can Also be Slippery

“Slippery When Wet” isn’t just a rockin’ Bon Jovi album. It’s also a good thing to keep in mind around tile. Remember what we mentioned about those Coefficient of Friction ratings!

That said, you can find some brands of non-slip tile that have been hand-scraped to mimic real wood. The scraping is a bonus, because it improves traction. But overall it doesn’t make the problem completely go away. It only helps, not solves, the issue.

Tile Isn’t Easy to Install

Again, we mentioned this above, but it’s worth talking about again. Grout is never fun. Or easy. But that isn’t the only headache involved with laying wood-look tiles.

There are several key steps to properly laying tile flooring. For example, tile requires an excellent subfloor—otherwise, you may end up with an uneven (and more breakable) surface. If you’re asking yourself “what is subflooring?”, you will want to find out before you start your project.

It’s no small task to lay tile, either. Spacing the grout lines is very tedious. The most beautiful flooring isn’t always the easiest flooring to install. Sometimes, it’s worth the extra money to get a pro to do it for you.

Our advice? Find a top-rated flooring store near you. They’re better at handling this stuff than even the most seasoned DIY-er could ever be.

Wood-Look Ceramic Tile vs. Other Hardwood Flooring Alternatives

Kitchen with wood-look ceramic tile

Wood-look tile isn’t the only game in town if you want the look of wood flooring, but need something else. There are other fake wood flooring options out there, each with its own unique set of pros and cons. How do they stack up?

Wood-Look Tile vs. Vinyl Plank

There aren’t a heck of a lot of disadvantages of vinyl plank flooring. The best types of vinyl flooring options are waterproof, affordable, and easy to install. 

Plus, while vinyl flooring isn’t as hard as wood-look tile, it is extremely sturdy. In fact, its only real problem is that it isn’t very environmentally friendly. Even low-VOC vinyl flooring options aren’t particularly great for the Earth, and off-gassing can be an issue for some of the best vinyl plank flooring brands.

Still, when it comes to professional labor, the cost to install vinyl plank flooring is significantly cheaper than the cost to install tile—so there are advantages and disadvantages of both options.

Wood-Look Tile vs. Laminate

If you compare wood-look tile vs. laminate, you’ll find that laminate is generally cheaper to purchase and install—but it is not water-friendly. 

In fact, unless you purchase a specialty waterproof laminate like RevWood, you can’t really put it anywhere it could even see water.

Additionally, wood-look tile will generally add more revalue to your home. And while there are some non-toxic laminate flooring products out there, tile is a much more eco-friendly flooring option.

Wood-Look Tile vs. Bamboo

The best bamboo flooring is sustainable, durable, and very beautiful. And like tile, it’s very hard. But while you can refinish bamboo flooring if it gets scratched or faded, you can’t refinish wood-look tile. You probably would never need to, but it’s worth noting anyway.

Wood-Look Tile vs. Cork

Cork flooring looks wonderful and feels just as amazing to walk on. However, its inability to play well with water is only one of a few disadvantages of cork flooring. Plus, the cork flooring Lowe’s and other big box stores sell is not usually high-quality—meaning you might be paying a bit extra for the good stuff.

How To Maintain Your Wood-Look Ceramic Tile

Caring for wood-look tile is incredibly easy. One of the product’s best features is that it is far easier to care for than nearly any types of wood flooring. All you really need is some mild soap and cleaner. This is the ideal method to keep your grout in good shape, too.

You can also run a vacuum or static broom over your floor for general cleaning. A steam mop is fine for deeper cleaning, but you can get away without it.

Is Wood-Look Tile a Fad?

If Google searches are any indication, some homeowners are concerned that wood-look tile may be just another flooring fad. 

We’ve already established that wood-look tile is beautiful, durable, eco-friendly, and waterproof. None of these things is ever a fad. And the natural-wood look is always on point. Who can resist the pull of nature?

Is Wood-Look Tile Too Trendy?

If you are concerned that somebody will walk into your house and think, “Whoa! Look who hopped on the trend wagon!”, you can relax. Wood-look tile is not everywhere, even though we think it should be. It is unique, though. If anything, you will be the trendsetter!

Tips for Choosing Wood-Look Tile

Wood look tile close up

Don’t let the many choices for wood-look ceramic tile overwhelm you. Armed with this research, (and a few extra tips), you’ll find buying tile much less stressful.

Tip #1: Choose a Simple Pattern

As with laminate, wood-look tile features a printed image of wood grain. That means you run the risk of seeing the same wood grain pattern repeated in different tiles. Solution: go with a simple wood-grain pattern that will be less-easily-noticed if it’s repeated. 

Also: cheaper options generally feature fewer unique grain patterns. Buy a higher-quality product for less repetition!

Tip #2: Opt For a Rectified Tile

Rectified tile means that each of the tile’s edges has been finished by grinding, sawing, or laser-cutting to make laying them more precise—giving you very straight lines. These tiles can then lay more symmetrically, with thinner grout lines.

Tip #3: Choose a Longer Plank Length

It may be tempting to work with shorter planks for installation, but you’ll be happy in the long run with longer ones. Longer plank lengths look more realistic, and bonus: you’ll have fewer pieces to install!

Tip #4: Test a Few Different Options

Once you’ve narrowed down your choices to a few options, purchase a box of each type you’re considering. That way, you can lay several pieces out and get a feel for how each one would look.

Usually, you can return unused materials, but always check your flooring store’s policy first! If you don’t want to get stuck with a box of tiles you won’t use, a good return policy is critical. You can find a top-rated flooring store in your area that will help you out with that. 

Who Manufactures Wood-Look Tiles? What are the Best Wood-Look Tile Brands?

There are a lot of tile manufacturers, and these days, many of them make wood-look tiles. This is only a small peek into a few of the best ones, but they’re some of our favorites.

Daltile

Daltile is part of Mohawk Flooring, a huge name in the flooring world. They offer an unbelievably large selection of wood-look ceramic tiles, with 18 collections and over 75 shades and patterns. The best part is that you can easily find Daltile products anywhere in the country. Plus: Daltile’s RevoTile is one of the best—if not the best—snap-together tile floors out there.

Vitromex

Vitromex began in the late 1960s in Mexico. They take eco-friendliness seriously and comply with national floor safety standards. Vitromex offers wood-look tiles in over a dozen shades and price points. They even offer free samples!

Ragno USA

Ragno USA offers high-quality wood-look ceramic tiles made with 3D printers and HD ink. They have a handful of collections, and many more patterns and colors, all at affordable prices. These industry experts manufacture all types of tile, from glass to metal and beyond.

Florim USA

Florim USA is one of the largest manufacturers of tile in all of North America. Another environmentally friendly company, they use recycled materials when making their products. They offer an amazing driftwood-look tile in their vintage collection that just begs to be looked at.

MS International

MS International knows its way around natural stone and tile; they also manufacture stone slabs and hardscape materials. Their wood-look tiles range in shade from very pale to very dark, ensuring there is something for all tastes.

Conclusion: Is Wood-Look Tile Right for Your Home?

We can’t tell you if wood-look tile is the best fit in your home—only you can make that call. But we can tell you that you are not likely to regret installing it. Tile nearly always adds to the value of a home, and the wood look is stunning.

Once you decide you are ready to take the plunge, or if you have loads of questions, contact a flooring retailer near you. They would love to help you make the right choice! 

Alternatively, you can always contact us to ask any questions you have!

And for more info on all things flooring, check out:

About The Author

Courtney Daily

Courtney is a freelance writer who wears many other hats: kindergarten teacher by day, Broadway diva in the shower. She is a transplant Hoosier who originated in New England. When she isn't writing in her spare time, you will find her reading history books, arguing with her latest knitting project, or being beaten by her kids at most games.

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