Natural hardwood floors have always been the flooring product of choice when it comes to houses. Just flip to any episode of “This Old House” and watch as homeowners jump for joy when they see hardwood floors buried underneath layers of neglect. When properly preserved, there is no denying that hardwood floors are just stunning!
Still, what happens when hardwoods just don’t work for your lifestyle or geographic location? Queue in the wood look tile. This flooring product inhabits the properties of ceramic or porcelain while simultaneously resembling real wood. But how does it stack up against the real thing?
Hardwoods: The Advantages
Since hardwood flooring is made from natural resources, the result is an organic and authentic type of plank that cannot be easily replicated. Just think of how gorg knotty pine logs look in a log cabin! Each of those pieces of wood have a story to tell.
If your planks are composed of oak or a harder type of wood, they have the ability to last for decades, even centuries. Because many wood varieties can be stripped, refinished and re-stained, it is relatively easy to restore them. As a matter of fact, restoring hardwood floors rather than replacing them helps to reduce our impact on the Earth.
Wood Tile: The Advantages
Unlike hardwoods, wood look tile is composed of ceramic or porcelain. That means that if you’re O.C.D. about uniformity, you will be over the moon with these tiles. In addition to having a consistent color and texture, they are resistant to moisture and water. And while you do have to grout wood look tile, that’s a small price to pay for a relatively inexpensive and pet-friendly product.
To make matters better, wood look tile does not expand and contract like wood does, making it ideal in perpetually warm climates. In other words, states like Florida, Texas, and Arizona can utilize a product that stays cool to the touch but looks almost exactly like real wood. For those of us that get all four seasons, installing radiant heating under wood look tile is a good way to keep things warm year round.
Hardwood: The Disadvantages
Although hardwood flooring is beautiful to behold, it can be a challenge to maintain. Easily scratched or dented by things like high heels, it is important to consistently protect real wood. Adding area rugs, putting furniture pads under furniture and abstaining from wearing shoes in the house are ways to keep wood floors from getting ruined over time. Even with all the care in the world, wood is highly susceptible to damage from things like the sun, excessive exposure to water, kids playing or pets running around.
Wood Tile: The Disadvantages
Wood like tile isn’t all fun and games either. Yes you can mop the heck out of it, but if even one tile cracks or gets damaged, it needs to be completely replaced. Make sure that you stash some extra tile in the same exact dye lot or else the likelihood of ever matching this tile is pretty much non-existent.
Another issue with tile in general is that it reflects sounds, making noise levels in these spaces harder to bear. Luckily this problem can be easily solved by adding layers of fabric in these rooms, such as drapery, rugs and upholstery.
When it comes to families, you may want to opt not to install wood look tile in children’s bedrooms, playrooms, or in family rooms. As young children are learning to balance it is easy for them to take a tumble and hurt themselves on this extremely hard flooring.
The Final Verdict
Clearly when it comes to hardwoods and wood look tile, the advantages and disadvantages are abundant. If heat or humidity is an issue, I would definitely go for wood look tile instead of hardwood flooring. Likewise, if I had pets or didn’t want to be deal with the maintenance of hardwoods, I would have wood look tile installed in my home.
On the other hand, the allure of hardwoods is difficult to deny. As much as I love wood look tile, there is nothing like perfectly installed natural hardwood floors. Luckily for me, I do not have to choose between hardwoods and wood look tile; I have them both. Living in an area that boasts all four seasons allows me to entertain both of these flooring options.
What about you? Which one of these looks makes your heart sing?