Hardwood vs Wood Look Tile Flooring

Hardwood vs Wood Look Tile Flooring

Decisions, decisions, decisions! From the time we awaken until the time we go to sleep, daily, our minds are bombarded with choices and decisions. When it comes to our home, some decisions carry true weight and deserve much contemplation. Considering this article, you no-doubt may be facing such a choice. With the permanence and cost associated with our homes flooring, it is common for homeowners to feel overwhelmed or stuck in picking the right flooring options. With this in mind, we will consider the pros and cons of hardwood floors and wood look tile flooring. By the end of this writing, you will be fully equipped to make the best flooring choice for you and your family. So, please take a breath, grab a glass of lemonade, and let us dive right in.

Categories

Hardwood

Wood-Like Tile

Durability

Less durable overall, but can be sanded and refinished to extend its life.

Overall more durable, can last 20+ years.

Maintenance

Trickier maintenance. You can't wet-mop and you have to sweep frequently.

Easier to maintain, you can mop, sweep and vacuum easily.

Allergen Resistance

Great for people with allergies

Great for people with allergies

Kid-Friendliness

More vulnerable to scratches and spills, making it less kid friendly

Super durable, can stand up to a beating from multi-kid households

Design Variety

Finite materials, higher quality materials are considerably more expensive

Basically limitless design opportunity

Cost

Wide range, but generally more expensive

Generally cheaper than traditional hardwood

One by one, we will compare wood look tile (porcelain or ceramic tile) with traditional wood flooring. The areas of comparison are as follows;

​Durability

When thinking about durability of both hardwood flooring (see the full guide) and wood look flooring, it is best to consider exactly what we are defining. The concept of durability ranges from longevity to resistance against dents and scratches. Resistance to moisture is also a durability factor. Considering all of those factors in one, traditional wood floors are one of the most durable options. For a family with pets and children, the wood floor option may be especially appealing. Having the capacity to sand and repair your floors, multiple times, is a major PRO for hardwood floors. However, wood like tile offers a special aspect to the durability of your flooring options.

For the busiest homes, wood look tile is generally recommended for two durability-specific reasons. First, spills from children will not stain your floor. Second, you will eliminate any noticeable wear-and-tear in high traffic areas caused by energy filled children or your enthusiastic family dog. Considering you may still damage wood like tile, it is less of a burden to replace the chipped tile, than to sand and refinish your wood floors.

Pros and Cons Recap

Hardwood flooring is less resistant to moisture, dents, and scratches when comparing it with wood look flooring. However, it can be sanded and repaired multiple times. Wood tile flooring is more durable and is simple to replace. Especially when considering the alternative of sanding hardwood.

Weather Suitability

If living in a humid environment, or if the risk of your floors being exposed to water regularly is high, hardwood floors is a risky option. Water and humidity is catastrophic to hardwood floors. Engineered hardwood is a viable option if wood floors are a must for you. The outer veneer layer has suitable water resistant properties intrinsic to the engineering of this type of wood flooring. On the opposite end of the spectrum, very hot environments over long periods of time, will damage standard hardwood as well.

The most resistant flooring, one that is suitable for all weather environments, is that of ceramic wood look tile. With a proper moisture barrier below, and a conventional seal above, wood like tile can be used virtually anywhere in your home. When it comes to wood look tile made as porcelain tile pieces, the chances are that this tile is manufactured to be stable in cold environments. Due to the ability of porcelain wood look tile to deflect water, as long as you do not have a situation where you have a wet floor that then freezes, porcelain wood look tile is another suitable option for a cold or frozen environment. 

Pros and Cons Recap: 

Hardwood floors cannot take repeated exposures to moisture. Whether it is explicit water or regular humidity, moisture spells death to hardwood flooring. Wood tile has the ability to deflect moisture, and is more suitable for inclement weathered environments.

Cleaning

To the unassuming homeowner, the consideration of how to clean your hardwood floors often comes to mind after the wood floors are installed. This is not a huge concern, as long as you keep a couple of points in mind. Recall that water and humidity can wreak havoc on your hardwood flooring. Therefore a dry mop, or the use of a special wood flooring vacuum should be used for regular cleaning purposes. Keep in mind, wood floors are susceptible to scratches and dents, so regular sweeping with a dedicated hardwood-vac is crucial.

With wood look tile made from either porcelain tile or ceramic tile, cleaning is as simple as can be. Simply using a micro-fiber cloth with standard cleaning agents to clean and maintain the shine on this type of tile. 

Kids and Pet Friendliness

Some of these considerations have been outlined previously. The major point to weigh on is this. Having a house with children or pets will undoubtedly cause scruffs and scratches on hardwood floors. Even coating your wood floors with recommended finishes does not exclusively prevent water and stain damage. Though ceramic wood like tile and porcelain wood like tile are much more poised to take the “heat” of the busy household traffic, they are not slip resistant. 

Design Variety

Natural patterns are differentiated within the texture of hardwood floors. Remember though, hardwood flooring as a natural product, typically can have color ranges of light to dark, red tones, or anything in between. For high-traffic areas, heavier and denser White Oak products are recommended. Whitewashed or lightly whitewashed wood flooring is gaining popularity. Red Oak has a reddish natural tone and hue, while Ash is known to stain very well and therefore can support many colors. Ash is actually a stronger wood for design purposes, when compared to Oak.

In reality, wood like tile has a print on it. Without going in to the various ways this print is accomplished, there is one thing to keep in mind when contemplating design capabilities of wood look tile. You will notice that some wood like tile repeats their pattern but a few times, while higher-end wood like tile has up to 100 faces, screens, and pictures printed on it. The more types of faces and screens, the more authentic to wood flooring the wood tile appears to be. 

Noise

Is a quiet home your desire? Perhaps, with a home full of regular commotion, you have written-off that idea? Which way you stand on that issue, has somewhat a bearing on if you should choose tile flooring or hardwood floors. The least capable floor in reducing noise is hardwood flooring. As a natural-product, that is less dense than wood look tile flooring, hardwood does not possess the ability to absorb noise well. If you must have hardwood flooring and a quiet home, Flooring Underlayment can be used.

Impact Barrier-Flooring Underlayment is the most technologically advanced noise cancellation product for hardwood floors. Another option would be the use of wood like tile
To a greater degree, wood like tile has condensed properties that allow for much more noise cancellation.

Concrete Compatibility

It would appear that placing hardwood floors on concrete directly, may not cause much of an issue. This is precisely the case if speaking about engineered hardwood. This specialty hardwood allows for the tranquility and warmth that natural wood provides, meanwhile adding stability and moisture resistant properties. Otherwise, hardwood floors should rarely be placed directly on a concrete slab. This is because moisture can slowly migrate up the concrete, and damage or destroy your beautiful hardwood flooring. A flooring expert can mitigate this risk by using vapor retarders and certain installation techniques though.

For tile flooring, it is possible to place the flooring directly on the surface of concrete. Again, some points should be considered. Is the concrete stable and in uncompromising condition? If cracked, do you plan on patching the concrete prior to your flooring install? Tree roots and the like often lift and crack concrete over time. Therefore, it is best to consider that your concrete will crack eventually. This presents the unfavorable circumstance of potentially cracking your tile flooring as well. Utilizing concrete board is the recommended solution to this.

Pros and Cons Recap:

It is generally frowned upon to place hardwood flooring directly on concrete. Even though you can place tile directly upon concrete, best practices dictate that you still use a concrete board.

Eco-Friendliness

Today, it is a definite plus to have available environmentally friendly and sustainable hardwood flooring. Several organizations certify sustainable harvested wood. The most recognized organization is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). If interested in having eco-friendly hardwood flooring, simply look for the FSC symbol. Then you will know a few things about your homes new floors. No clear cutting of forests, selective harvesting of old growth trees was used, fair wages for workers, energy efficient manufacturing and re-use or recycling of waste was utilized, and with a chain of custody guarantee, you know that this wood has been tracked from forest to floor.

Though the process of making wood like tile is not eco-friendly in the slightest. One does have options if considering the wood like tile option. If it is your desire to be as easy on “Mother-Earth” as possible, here are some points to examine. Does your tile use recycled material? If so, how much of the material is recycled? Was the wood tile made up of sustainable material like recycled glass or sand? Answering these questions will point you in the right buying direction for you.

Costs (Material, Installation, Trade-offs) 


Realistically, be it wood look flooring or hardwood flooring, the total costs is most likely a heavy factor on which direction you go. The total national average for material and installation of a hardwood floor is $4500.00- $6300.00. The standard breakdown is as follows.

For lower end materials, expect to pay $3-$5 dollars per square foot. Installation will range from 3-6 dollars per square foot. At the higher end of material cost, expect to charge your pocket book the amount between $8-$14 dollars per square foot. To install this higher grade material, national average dictates a cost between $4-$8 dollars per square foot. For wood like tile flooring, the national average for 200sq.ft is between $700.00 and $1800.00.

The breakdown for this is as follows. $.50 to $15 dollars for materials ranging from low to high-end. Installation typically costs between $4-$32 dollars. Understandably, this is quite a swing in price. Therefore it is best to follow the practical advice below.

Our best advice in this regard is to make sure you do all three of the following. The first is to get multiple estimates. Two to three estimates is usually what you are “shooting” for. Second, shop around for your material. After pin-pointing what color and design fits your lifestyle, simply begin to look at different brick-and-mortar, discount, and online flooring stores.

Lastly, save yourself on labor costs by removing and discarding your old flooring. Move furniture and fixtures to other rooms as well.

Final Thoughts

Decisions, decisions, decisions. Hopefully now the decision on which type of floor that fits you and your family lifestyle is beginning to take shape. The biggest factors to consider are as follows. What is the weather like the majority of the time at your residence? Remember the points about moisture, heat and cold. Where precisely in your home do you plan on placing your new floor? For example, the basement may have moisture issues and your main walk area may need to be protected from scuffs. Does this location receive heavy traffic or is it often in direct sunlight? Do you have children, pets, or older family that live with you? Consider the protection and slip-resistance best for your lifestyle. What is your noise expectations? Some flooring cancels top and bottom noise better than others. After considering the bulk of these questions, you are better able to decide what fits you. Whichever flooring you chose, you can be confident that it is the absolute best option, all things considered.
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