Thanks to the ease of modern technology we are witnessing a tile revolution. For those of you familiar with porcelain tile, you know that it is an excellent choice for both cost and durability. But the complaint has always been, natural just looks so much better. There are many that will agree with this statement, but we think that this is all beginning to change. As tile professionals we live and breath tile. Never before has a porcelain tile looked or felt so real than the wood-like porcelain tiles available today.
While we realize this tile has been on the market for over a decade, our team has observed a massive migration of wood buyers to wood-porcelain buyers. A decade ago you could scarcely find a few colors or styles in a wood tile to match even a close likeness to a nice wood laminate floor. Today, the high market demand for wood tile has opened the door to thousands of wood tiles with numerous options to delight any style preference, room, or budget. It seems there is a wood plank tile out there for just about everyone and their real-like quality only keeps improving. You will most likely find that even some of the most seasoned professionals will be confused when looking at an installed wood tile floor today.
how do the tile manufacturers do it?
The major proponent behind making porcelain tiles look so real is the HD technology our manufacturers utilize to photograph and imprint images onto their tiles.
wood tile styles
Unlike real wood, wood porcelain plank tiles are everywhere or waiting to be produced. Their beauty and strength has placed wood tiles in residential and commercial settings alike. Designers and Architects are consistently finding new ways to adorn spaces with these deceptively real-like planks. From outdoor patios, pool decks, public courtyards, bathrooms, walls, and of course floors – we can’t help but ooh-and-ah from what we see.
shopping for a porcelain wood tile
While some look more real than others, the key to a good wood-porcelain floor lies in the size and color you choose. It’s true, some are better than others. In years past, wood-porcelains have often been likened to that of a nice laminate floor.
But today, the most natural, realistic wood tiles are matte (non-shiny), ideally embossed or textured to match the wood grain, longer and slightly wider in size, such as a 6”x36” or 8”x48” tile or larger. Finally, the pattern should be able to be found in other natural hardwood floors and the color variation should closely match the staining process done to a wood floor. These guidelines will not only help you to narrow out the low-quality tiles, but just like the real thing will endure because of their natural appearance.
porcelain compared to hardwood flooring
It’s also not difficult to argue that a porcelain wood tile is more cost-effective and sustainable to any hardwood or laminate floor. According to a study conducted by the Tile Council of North America in 2009, the expected life cycle of a natural hardwood floor is 50 years –the same as a porcelain tile. The cost of wood per square foot, however, is considerably higher than a porcelain tile. The study documents that for every square foot of natural hardwood you have your floor will cost you an average of $.42 per square foot every year for 50 years. Laminate, another wood alternative, will cost $.71 per square foot every year over it’s 25 year expected life cycle. That’s half the life cycle and 2 times the expense of a porcelain tile. All this compares to a porcelain tile’s $.35 per square foot every year for 50 years.
Once a hardwood floor is installed, you have dents, scratches, water damage, expansion, contraction, and cracking to worry about over time. Depending on the type of hardwood floor, in order to keep your floor in shape there is always regular maintenance required for upkeep. Typically, every 10-12 years your hardwood flooring must be stripped, sanded and waxed to help maintain it’s beauty. The process is both time and labor intensive and when it is done professionally, the cost can range in the thousands.
the virtues of porcelain
As you know there is virtually no-cost to maintain any porcelain tile. All it needs is good cleaning every once in a while – no chemicals necessary, and no stripping, sanding and grinding to keep it looking new. What’s more it will not be damaged when water gets on it, your floor will not dent, scratch, and/or fade from sun exposure. And did we mention how sustainable it is? No need to worry about cutting down a forest to get your floor! So inside or outside, residential or commercial, a porcelain tile is out and ready to be distributed for anyone. America’s obsession over wood tile porcelains is evident and there are no signs of things slowing down any time soon. Because lets face it –we all lead crazy, busy lives; and with perfect replication, beauty and elegance of natural wood, and the low-maintenance of tile, why would you choose anything else!