Wood Effect Tiles or Timber Floors – Which Would You Choose?

Would you know what to choose if you were given the choice between wood effect tiles or timber floors? More and more people are choosing to move towards wood effect tiles rather than natural timber or laminates, when seeking a wood-grain look for their floor. There are many issues to consider when making a decision, so let’s examine a few of them.

Wood Effect Tiles in Stunning Hipster Apartment

Floor Style

The modern technologies at the disposal of tile manufacturers allow them to replicate anything with incredible detail. Woodgrain is one of the materials they excel at replicating. It is almost impossible to tell the difference between a ceramic wood effect tile and the real product. It’s not just the colour and appearance that are copied so well, but the molds used in modern production processes result in the texture of the tile feeling exactly like the surface of a real timber plank.

There are now thousands of wood effect tiles on the market. And while you might expect them to be run of the mill copies of the most common and popular woods, there are, in fact, a bewildering assortment of sizes, colours, paint effects, distressed, aged, and even reclaimed styles available. Such tiles can give a dramatic look to a newly designed bathroom.

If variety and choice of styles are what you seek, then look no further than wood effect tiles.

Initial Cost of Flooring

Unless you opt for a cheap laminate, the price of solid wood floors or engineered planks can vastly exceed their ceramic counterpart. Porcelain tiles can be a little more expensive than red bodied ceramics, as they are manufactured to a higher specification. The longer length wood effect tiles are dearer again. But even at that, you would not expect to pay more for tiles than for timber. And that is compared to the more common varieties of natural wood, such as oak.

The real savings come when you want the likes of walnut or merbau. The price of tiles stays the same irrespective of the pattern beneath the glaze or the texture of the tile’s surface. The more exotic species of wood will always command a higher premium, whereas costs remain the same for tile manufacturers regardless of the style they are imitating.

Tile Devil, a supplier of bathroom and kitchen tiles in the UK, has several offerings of wood effect tiles which are excellent examples of the value that can be found.

In terms of labour, laminates will always win out. Engineered and solid wood need to be glued or secret nailed, and this is a time consuming process. You can expect a tiler to be slightly cheaper than the costs of such.

Only if your floor requires extensive preparatory work, such as filling and levelling on concrete substrates, would you expect a significant hike in the cost of the work. Then again, if you’re gluing solid wood floors to concrete, the substrate needs to be in good condition, and there may be some work there to prepare it correctly.

Wear and Tear on Floors

The beauty of laying tiles is, of course, that they’ll never wear down, scratch, dent, stain, fade or discolour. We’re all familiar with the everyday incidents and accidents that cause damage to wooden floors, no matter how hard they are. Eventually they’ll need to be replaced, refinished or sanded down for a full restoration.

While good regular maintenance practices can help prolong the lifespan of a timber floor, there is no realistically practical way of protecting it from the rigours of daily activity. They receive punishment, more so in the areas of highest traffic, and the time will come when remedial action will have to be taken. On the positive side, while expensive, a freshly refurbished wooden floor usually comes up looking brand new.

A wood effect tiled floor is really only at risk of sustaining damage from a heavy object being dropped on it. Tiles are exceptionally strong, fired at up to 1,200 centigrade. It’s one of the major advantages to contemplate when choosing the surface for your living area. It would take something like a hammer falling on them to cause any chipping or cracking.

Ongoing Floor Costs

Once wood effect tiles are properly installed, and grouted, that is pretty much the end of the expense. It’s always recommended that a few extra tiles are purchased and stored safely in case there’s an accident, and some tiles must be replaced. Bear in mind that it’s most unlikely something would happen to your floor that would require more than two or three tiles to be removed and replaced. A few hours’ work is generally all it takes to swap out any damaged tiles for new ones.

With natural wooden floors comes regular maintenance. Unless you’re willing to refinish your floor in maybe 8 or 10 years, or in the cases of high traffic, a full restoration including sanding and re-lacquering, you can expect the surface to deteriorate over time. Shop around with some of your local tradesmen, and you’ll see just how expensive this work can be.

Periodic maintenance is a significant cost that you must factor into to your decision when choosing between wood effect tiles and natural wood.

Floors and Water Damage

Water is the big enemy when it comes to wood. A large leak or minor flood resulting from a washing machine or dishwasher malfunction could easily destroy your floor. At best, so much moisture will be absorbed there’ll be warping, splitting or buckling. Laminates can be produced with water resistant cores, and these can mitigate the disaster somewhat, but if the water gets underneath, then your underlay can be compromised.

When washing your timber floor, great care must be taken not to use too much water. A bucket and mop is a sure fire way to cause harm to planks. Always follow the cleaning guidelines provided by the supplier.

With wood effect tiles, none of the above is a problem. You may experience some discolouration of lighter grouts, but they can be simply and cheaply restored by yourself with any number of suitable products.

Keep in mind that if you have a small bathroom and are looking for tips to make it feel bigger, large floor tiles can help to give a better sense of space, and you can spill as much water as you wish.

To Wrap Up

Hopefully this article will assist you in the selection process for your future flooring projects. Regardless of the size, budget, style preferences, or long term plans for your property, it’s always good to be fully informed before you make your choice.

Note that the image above is of wood effect tiles. You can find many more, which can be sourced online at Tile Devil.

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About Anne

Anne Lyken-Garner, the owner of DIY Projects is the published author of the inspirational memoir, Sunday's Child (available on Amazon). She's also a freelance writer, blogger and editor. She writes for, and manages 4 blogs. See how Anne can help you with editing your site at the Hire an Editor page above.

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One Response to Wood Effect Tiles or Timber Floors – Which Would You Choose?

  1. Ronan July 22, 2016 at 5:03 pm #

    Absolutely loved the wood flooring in my old apartment, but horrible milk stains caused by dropped cereal bowls meant I vowed never to go down that route again. Thanks so much Anne, these tiles are the answer. Can have that lovely wood effect and yet so easy to wash and keep clean. Brilliant.

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