Hardwood v. Lookalike Tile

July 9, 2013

Question friends, what do you think of all the wood lookalike tile that’s available to homeowners now? As much as I adore and I mean adore true hardwood, I’m drawn to the idea of a lookalike tile products that are now available from several sources.

Lookalike wood tile caught my eye last year in a restaurant in Canada and I thought it was so cool I got down on my knees to caress that floor, no joke. I’ve seen it installed in restaurants in the Bay Area too which makes sense since it looks like reclaimed or hand scraped wood but has the benefit of repelling moisture while maintaining a great look, even with tons of traffic.

wood look porcelain tile


Like wood, you can install it in side by side plank formation or get creative with a herringbone pattern.

wood lookalike tile daltile

south cypress wood look tile

sources 1 / 2

dana frieling tile floors

via Make Them Wonder

And have you seen some of the barnwood and shapely options for floors and walls?

wood lookalike tile

source  12

If you’ve ever wanted the warmth of wood in a bathroom but the practicality of tile, this product seems to be just the thing to get the best of both worlds.

ariana floor tile


Tile is cold and hard underfoot which is fine by me in summer but in winter not so much, so radiant heat is definitely a consideration (and additional expense). I love the fact that up close it looks pretty amazing, and when grout lines are tight or close to non-existent, the tile looks so much like the real thing.

hardwood lookalike tile floor

The idea of a surface that will take the wear and tear of foot traffic, pets, and kids has a lot of appeal. But there’s always that lingering question of how it will affect resale value and whether the product will stand the test of time.

I’m curious what you think. Is wood lookalike tile fakey faux or modern and fab? Have you installed a wood lookalike porcelain tile in your home? I’d love to hear your thoughts!


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153 Responses to “Hardwood v. Lookalike Tile”

  1. Angela says:

    I love the look of wood look tile. We strongly considered it in our major remodel (still going on.) Some looks more authentic than others and you’ll be able to spot what you like right away. We ultimately decided to use real hard wood because the installation of the tile was going to cost so much. We were able to negotiate the tiles down to $3.50 a square foot, but underlayment and installation were going to triple that. We purchased real hardwood for $4.29 a square foot in wide hand scraped planks. Since it just takes felt underlayment and DH knows how to do it so the costs stop there. We were talking about a lot of square feet, so the price was a major consideration. Also, one thing we learned while shopping–to get that real hardwood look you need to use 1/16th inch grout lines with unsanded grout. If you are hiring the work done, this increases the cost since the larger grout spaces can help adjust a floor that gets slightly off square as the tiler works. There’s no room for imperfection with the smaller grout lines, but the smaller lines are essential to a real wood look.

  2. Krista says:

    We currently live in CA and we love it! We installed in on our entire first floor and it looks amazing as well as stands up to a one and two year old who can drag and drop anything and I don’t have to worry. We love it so much that we are also using it in a house we are building in UT!

  3. My husband and I just built our dream home, so we have looked at all the options in depth. Wood look alike tile is gorgeous and practical. On the plus side: gorgeous, easy to maintain, can hide dirt (until you get to it), ultra-durable. On the negative side: can be cold (do instal radiant heating on a timer in bathrooms and areas you will walk around in bare feet … it’s pricier in the short run, but you will love it); the house echos if you have too much of it. Keep it classic. No patterns other than what you would do with a real wood floor. For resale value and comfort under your feet (tile can be hard on your feet and back when you stand on it for a long time (such as when making endless meals for the family), hardwood is still the way to go. It’s classic, never goes out of style, can be refinished, warm on the feet. My choice was to use it in our mudroom and bathrooms. Hardwood is throughout the rest of our home. (Our last home also had it and the floor is still looking good 16 years, three boys, and one active Australian Shepherd later. Good luck!

  4. Eileen says:

    I installed the wood look vinyl plank floating floor 4 years ago in my living room. It’s so great with my dogs that I also installed it in my kitchen, master bedroom and master bath. It is installed directly over a concrete slab. It is not horribly cold in the winter, it is holding up great so far, everyone that sees it thinks it’s real wood, and it is quiet. Best yet, I installed it all by myself. No special tools are required. My neighbors think it looks so great that two of them installed it too!

  5. SooZ says:

    We installed Cerim wood-look porcelain tile years ago in a master bath reno and it still looks fabulous! We used the ‘Ellinton’ color which looks great with the cherry furniture in the adjoining master bedroom.

  6. Dawn in Sac says:

    I sell real estate in Sacramento and came across this “faux wood” flooring about five years ago and was amazed and the quality of reproduction in texture, color and richness. When I saw it I knew they we on to something. Two years ago we installed it in our kitchen laundry area since we could only really have tile due to the issue of water. I love the look of hardwood floors in kitchens and baths but quite frankly have seen very few that hold up to exposure to water and time. Our floors have held up magnificently and people are shocked to find out it is ceramic tile, not wood. I now recommend this type of flooring to clients for its durability, cost and ease of installation. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE real hardwoods, but when wood is not a viable option it is good to know there is a great alternative that can provide the same warmth, look and feel. Plus, wood-tile has the added benefit of not having to refinish, worried about scuffs, or rough and tumble kids and pets. In addition, it does not have the limited life that come with laminate floorings. There is nothing more unattractive that walking into a home for sale and seeing faded laminate from windows and bad raised plastic floor joints that hold laminate floors down–and not to mention the clicking sound when you walk on them.

    Buyers notice these things and the response to the tile has been nothing but good. Good luck with your decision. Look forward to here more….

    Dawn in Sac

  7. Julie says:

    We installed “wood” porcelain tile in a covered patio/outdoor room and love it! It looks like hardwood, but can stand up to the outdoor elements. We have hardwood inside, and picked something in the same look, though a little lighter. They are not right next to each other, but you can see one room from the other and they do not look weird in the same line of sight. We opted for one that was fairly distressed, since we have a pool and didn’t want any slipping accidents, and it has been great. We are currently working on remodeling the rest of the back yard, and are actually carrying the tile out onto the patio to connect that spaces. People are always startled that it isn’t actual wood.

  8. CentsationalGirl says:

    Such a great idea to carry it outside too Julie!

  9. CentsationalGirl says:

    Thank you Dawn, we’re thinking about resale a few years down the road once the improvements are complete so that’s definitely an important issue!

  10. CentsationalGirl says:

    Thanks Angela for the tips on installation, yes precision will be key and the labor increases the price, but we’re pretty good at tile work or we can help with the install to keep costs down. The home is split level so the tile would be in the entry, kitchen, breakfast nook and living room and we’d use hardwood in the family room and master bedroom on different levels…. I’m so thankful for all of this feedback!

  11. Kim says:

    Hi Kate, I agree with you about the lookalike wood tile. I love it! Our neighbors installed it throughout their whole house I believe. After seeing it, I noticed it in a restaurant also! I think it’s a smart idea because it’s more durable. Our neighbor mentioned that it’s more expensive but if you do it yourself, that is not an issue!

  12. Karen says:

    We have real hardwood in our home along with carpet. A year ago we remodeled our master bath and opted for the wood tile and I couldn’t be more pleased with it. We even carried it over into our walk in shower. Our tile man cut it into tiny 2×2 squares and tiled the entire shower floor. On the main bathroom floor we did a simple side by side plank. We also opted for the radiant heat underneath. We live in Michigan and have some pretty cold winters so we were thrilled to be able to have the option of warming it up underfoot. We also turned it sideways and used it as our baseboard trim as opposed to a real wood baseboard trim. It really is a beautiful product.

  13. Brianne says:

    We’ve been looking at tile a lot lately as we’re having our front and back porches tiled with slate and porcelain. I had a chance to look at so, so many options and the wood look is gorgeous. Personally, I don’t think it would work in our space but I just love it.

  14. Dee says:

    I have the wood plank ceramic tiles in my bathroom. It was a nightmare to lay down. In fact I had to scrap the project and start again. The floor must be absolutely level. No give whatsoever. The first planks I installed were 12 x 18. The longer and Skinner the tiles the harder it is. You need a special leveling wedge not those spacers to keep the tile level at both ends. It was one big mess. I am not new to installing tiles, I have done the entryway, kitchen, utility room and another bathroom.

    I ended up releveling the floor, bought 24×12 tiles, used the leveling wedge and finally it looks great. I spoke to a tile person, and he said I chose the hardest tiles to lay down. I must say it looks fantastic, but I would never want to try and do a big space DIY, I would hire someone.
    Oh I love the funky shaped tiles above, where can these be purchased? I have never seen them anywhere.

  15. I love the look, but it is COLD. My parents have it all through their house and it makes the whole house so cold. You have to wear socks all the time.

  16. Peggy says:

    The wood look tile was a great compromise at our house. We have had real wood floors for the past 8 or 9 years and they took a beating…..we don’t have pets or children at home but dropped keys, TV remotes and just plain old tracked in dirt took a toll on the look of the beautiful wood. We recently purchased an older home to remodel and began the debate of what flooring to install. My husband was adamant that he wanted the wood…..but I questioned the ability to keep it looking like new as this home has more indoor/outdoor traffic than our previous residence. About the time we needed to make our selection the longer 36inch planks became available with the hand scraped look. We made the choice to install this product in our entry, den and dining room…….I just love it. For us it is the best of both worlds, we have the dark rich color and grain pattern of the wood with a floor that is easy to keep and durable. It may not work for everyone and I appreciate the “real” vs “faux” debate….I usually stick to the “real” as well…………but at this time in our lives for this particular home….it’s a winner. The floors do have to be completely level, especially with the longer planks, but we were fortuante to find an excellent installer who did a wonderful job. I vote thumbs up!

  17. I’ve never heard of tile that looks like wood until now! Thanks for introducing me to a new product. It’s beautiful, and I would imagine it would be very easy to care for. I love the look with little to no grout line–I never would have thought that it wasn’t wood! Wouldn’t radiant heat underneath be wonderful?

  18. Jill says:

    I fought long and hard to get tile that looked like wood installed in our kitchen. But because we were converting it back to a rental property the possibility of moving back into our house when we moved home was highly unlikely. So instead we used up the remaining engineered flooring we had. Now that we are moving home and back into our house! I told my husband I am ripping up the flooring and installing the tile that looks like wood. I have hardwood floors throughout all three stories of our house, but our main entrance into the house is off the kitchen and hardwood floors would just take a beating from the ice melt we use in the winter.

    Ps I know I have been on vacation for a while and haven’t caught up on all my blog reading, but are you moving to SLC (Salt Lake City)?

    Still loving your blog after all these years!!!

  19. CentsationalGirl says:

    No not moving Jill, just investing! My sis lives there so we are looking at purchasing a house together – she’s the resident ! Real estate is SO much more affordable in SLC than where I live!

  20. NancySJ says:

    I’d never heard of this before. It is gorgeous AND practical! We have neighbors who replaced wood flooring with ceramic tile in their large entry and adjoining office, bath, and kitchen (with radiant heat below). Because the tile picks up colors in the rest of their decor, it looks as good as or maybe better than the wood. Whodathunk?

    Thanks for the eye-opener on this “new thing,” as always. By the way, I love your writing style too, all the practical tips, and all the beautiful ideas. Even when I get busy and don’t have much time for blog reading, I always find myself coming back here. You have been a huge source of inspiration and help. Thank you! : )

  21. Ms. Lizzy says:

    I have a love affair with wood!!! I too considered the wood look alike ~ but I am on my feet the 16 hours I am awake (I know, working on that with trying to learn how to relax) and my legs would be shot!! I’ve lived with tile in my last house and I just couldn’t do it again. ESPECIALLY in the kitchen were I am on my feet the most. I do think the look alike looks beautiful, but its not for me. I had engineered wood before and I would NEVER do that agin either. This time we went with thick real hickory. Even in the kitchen. BEST investment we EVER made. We got the character grade with knots and dings, and we have 2 dogs, 2 teenagers with tons of people in and out, and we live VERY HARD. Real wood ‘heals’ itself. REAL WOOD HANDS DOWN!!

  22. Nina says:

    I am so excited to see this post, because I’m currently in the process of picking a wood-look tile for our basement remodel! We definitely wanted to go with tile in our basement – wood on a concrete basement floor is a no-no, and I’ve heard of lots of people who have problems with vinyl peeling up at the seams when installed on concrete. Wood-look tile was the perfect solution for us; it can stand up to a potentially moist basement floor and still have the warm look of wood!

    My husband was skeptical because most wood-look tile planks are wider and shorter than a normal hardwood plank and he thought it might look strange, but after visiting Disney World a couple months ago – we were both sold. Disney has installed wood-look tile in numerous places throughout the park (most notably in the new Fantasyland expansion) and not only did it look incredible, it easily stands up to hundreds of people walking over it every day. I almost went to Guest Relations to find out who the manufacturer was!

  23. CentsationalGirl says:

    So kind Nancy, thanks so much!

  24. CentsationalGirl says:

    Ha, “Disney approved” Nina!!

  25. Janice says:

    I installed this in my 1st floor bath a year ago…dark Walnut “woos” tile, with creamy white vanity and white subway tile..very simple-My contractor didn’t like it, and many people thought it was a bad idea. (The one issue I had was with the grout lines-it should be laid with tight grout lines to make it look more realistic, and less “tile-ey”.)

    I love it (I knew I would)-everyone that sees the bathroom comments on the floor (all very positive!). I love real wood floors, but in certain applications, this tile is the way to go.

    I’ve also noticed many restaurants at the Jersey Shore using this flooring in their Post-Sandy renovations.

  26. Janice says:

    *should read *”wood” tile! oops

  27. Patti says:

    My husband and I saw it in Home Depot and were amazed at how much it resembled wood. The gym where I work out had hardwood (I thought) in the dressing room. When I reached down to touch it to see if it was real, I found out it was tile! It fooled me!

  28. Jenoside says:

    I love the ceramic wood-look tile. The warmth and richness of wood without all the scratches from dogs and kids. It might be a little colder (literally not hold heat as well) than wood, but I think that can be overcome by area rugs and draperies, among other textiles.

  29. Brooke says:

    So glad you posted this! We just installed “wood tiles” in our mudroom and love it so much we are installing it in our new master bathroom addition. We are heating the floor, so no cold feet for us! Needless to say we are loving this look of wood and the durability of tile.

  30. Andrea says:

    Great post and comments! We are building a home in a few years on a lot we recently purchased, and I’m already collecting great ideas for it. Your post and comments have definetly got the wheels turning here! We will have a walk out basement…..and this wood tile would be great for that area! I’ve also seen it out at stores and restaurants and think it is a very modern look. And thanks for the tip about the heated floors as well! I’ve just heard about you’re blog but will be continuing to keep up with it!

  31. Claire says:

    A local Restaraunt has tile wood effect floor and even though I love it it is super slippery when wet!! I’ve seen many of the staff who serve outdoors come in and almost go over.

  32. jenn says:

    I just started installing the vinyl that looks like wood and I really love how it looks and I especially like how super easy it was to install. http://jennnash.typepad.com/blog/2013/07/master-bath-progress-i-have-a-floor.html

    It’s easy on the feet and doesn’t require an underlayment or glue. I love those inspiration pictures you have too. I thought about getting the glue down version and laying it in a herringbone pattern, but I went with a regular straight install in the end for the easy and quick install. good luck with your choice!

  33. I was excited to see your post on wood look tile! I work for a tile distributor and have the fun job of selecting tile that we import and distribute. It’s so interesting to see the comments of homeowners. We too were initially skeptical of tile that looks like wood. In our territory real wood floor is very popular for the residential market. Commercially we have seen lots of interest – retail, car dealerships and the high end hotels have been using it for quite some time! You can not beat porcelain tile for durability!

    The tile industry has made dramatic advances in the last five years. Digital ink jet technology allowed factories to produce tile that looks exactly like stone. They quickly moved to replicating wood and it is amazing what is now coming out of the Italian factories. When we traveled to Cersaie last September the wood look DOMINATED the market with most factories presenting multiple wood look collections. The hottest selling trend in Europe is definitely wood look tile. So if you are considering using tile – shop around and you will be able to find the look that will work for your space. We have a awesome new one that arrives next week and I have 23 planks sitting outside my office to review! As a teaser – Italy is always designing and the newest idea is a mixed graphic concept (wood, concrete, stone) SUPER EXCITING!

  34. barbara says:

    I’ll bet that there are great ‘reclaimed’ looking options that would make a cool paneled wall/backsplash options that would be very fun!!

  35. CentsationalGirl says:

    Great to hear from an industry insider Melanie, thank you!

  36. Jess says:

    I have the exact one in the second picture! We installed it about 4 years ago throughout my living area and kitchen’s open floor plan. We absolutely LOVE everything about it! This was the best option for us because we live in a ranch so any hardwood was going to dull and wear out and need to refinished too often for us since the layout is pretty much one path.

    It’s also super easy to clean!!

    Our heating system is right below in the center of our home so it actually keeps our floors awesomely warm in the winter.

    Since ours, 3 of our friends have gotten it!

  37. diane says:

    Used this in a clients vacation home in Lake Tahoe and it is amazing…cannot tell the difference and will stand up to all those snow boots so much better than real wood

  38. Lori J says:

    We are getting wood looking ceramic tiled installed in most of the house next week. I am so excited to have it throughout the house with a 4 year old and 5 big dogs! Cost was cheaper than hardwood and the no maintenance and ease of clean up sold it for us.

  39. Kathleen says:

    I love the look of the faux wood tiles I’ve seen and I love the list of advantages, but I personally can’t get over the old fashioned idea that things should look like what they are. I think I’d rather have tile that looks like tile or real hardwood.

  40. Sarah E. says:

    I loved reading this post shortly after we decided to use wood tile in our home. We had water damage and have to replace the kitchen and bathroom floors (they share a wall… the leak started in the bathroom)… and after talking to our clean up guy, he said tile is by far the best because of the water issue. So we are going for it and I couldn’t be more excited!

  41. Ruth Anne White says:

    I live in a loft condo in an old brick high school building. I’m on the ground floor and currently have hardwood floors that were installed on the concrete slab. I have a lot of cupping and buckling because of the moisture. I have been thinking about cork flooring as an alternative when my hardwoods get so bad that I have to replace them. However, you have opened my eyes to another option. Considering the absolute moisture impermiability of porcelain tile, it might be just the thing for my 1,000 sq ft loft. Since I live in Georgia, the coolness would be a plus in the summer, but I would probably want to have the floors heated for winter time. Considering that even without A/C in the hot, southern summers, my place already stays about 77-81 degrees, and will stay about 65 in the winter even without the furnace going, I will probably save enough on my electric bill to defray some of the costs!

  42. Calliope says:

    If you
    Live in a seaside place ( i do -toooons of sand and dust) in a 10-month summer country ( Greece)
    Have kids
    Have a (rather stupid) dog
    Love your house aesthetic but not so much its maintenance
    Keep your windows open 24/7
    These tiles are perfect!
    Super easy to clean, in fact dirt and spills dont even show, cool on your feet in summer and for said dog (and far away from my all white sofa). I warm it up during winter with area rugs that I love.
    The installation price here is actually a lot cheaper than hardwood’s but I think that it pays off over time since no refinishing or special cleaning products are required.

  43. AmandaCB says:

    I fought long and hard to get wood look tile in our home! We used Interceramic’s Sunwood collection in Cowboy Brown in the 6×24 size. I can’t attest to durability yet as the floor was just grouted last week, but my tile guy was able to have very little leftovers after laying 2100sf. He did a random pattern and any cuts were utilized in other areas and it looks amazing. It was a bit expensive but real hardwoods and vinyl were not an option with a 150lb Great Dane and young son with lots of friends visiting. We live in South Texas so we don’t have to worry about under floor heating.

  44. Linda C says:

    We had the tile that looks like your second picture installed in the bedrooms in a second home in central FL. We were advised against using any laminate or real wood because of the humidity. I wanted something durable and easy to keep clean. And I wanted to make sure that we would not have any water damage. I do wish my installer had used thinner grout lines, but otherwise, we love it. Got it at Lowes. When we had a guest visit, he could not believe it was not real wood. He had to keep touching it. He now has decided to use it on a porch on a house he is building. It adds much more of a warmer look to the bedrooms than an 18×18 whitish typical square tile would, and suits the country where the house is located.

  45. Alana says:

    We homeschool our 5 children so are at our house 7 days a week. We installed hardwood looking tile in our dining room and continued it down the hall. We’ve had nothing but compliments about it, and it is so durable. We installed it touching on all sides, so there is very little grout involved. We love it and would never go back to hardwood in a high traffic area again. Ours is still sold at Lowes and was so reasonably priced compared to hardwood. Because we live in the South, cold feet are not often a problem!

  46. jamie says:

    Hi! We appreciate the mention in your blog and your post, “lookalike wood”, but I thought I would point out that our product is actually solid engineered wood! The tiles are actually real wood, not a porcelain or composite product. I can appreciate the functionality of faux wood products, but there is nothing remotely close to the actual real thing. All the best! Jamie

  47. CentsationalGirl says:

    So great to know Jamie, thanks for the correction, must have not read that correctly, your wood shapes are gorgeous!

  48. Ben says:

    Great post! I was gonna say that they were actually engineered wood but Jamie beat me to it. Anyway, keep up the great posts. Get a ton of DIY inspiration from here.

  49. Installing tile that looks like wood seems like it would be great for kitchens and bathrooms. Like you mentioned, tile is more water resistant than hardwood flooring and it is more durable, so you wouldn’t have to worry about scratching (especially if you have active dogs running around your home.)

  50. Deb says:

    We’re installing some in our basement next week! Delivery is on its way. I like the texture. Plus, our basement unfortunately floods periodically. We had to rip out carpeting. The concrete floor could have been prettied up, but it’s still concrete. I wanted the space to feel cozy for a media room. Wood tile seemed the perfect solution.

  51. Deb says:

    I should add, I wouldn’t put it on the main floors of our house. For resale, people expect real wood floors in our neighborhood.

  52. Barbara Bussey says:

    Has anyone used the wood tile extensively in their home in cold areas? We’re considering this for a home in Lake Tahoe and comfort during cold months is our only concern.

  53. Centsational Girl says:

    Hi Barbara, we just installed it in our Las Vegas fixer and we love it there in the desert. In Tahoe because of the snowy climate, I would definitely install radiant heat underneath !

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