Wood Look Tile: Pros and Cons, Cost, Best Brands (2019 Review)

Wood flooring is still the number one choice for most homeowners throughout the United States, but it isn’t an option for everyone. Budget constraints rule out traditional or engineered hardwood floors for a lot of consumers, and wood grain vinyl is not a comparable replacement.

Wood look tile is an interesting alternative if you want the look of wood in your floors or wall, but need something more affordable. If you’ve heard of this form of tile, but aren’t sure if it’s the right option for your home, keep on reading as we’re going to break down the pros, cons, and cost of wood look tile.

Wood Look Tiles Explained

The easiest definition of a wood-look tile is any tile that looks like wood. That’s a quick way to wrap your head around this niche even if it’s a little more complicated than that.  Tiles aren’t just made from clay or stone these days after all.

Tile is a word used loosely by manufacturers as you can find linoleum and luxury vinyl tiles in square or rectangular shapes. It’s also important to remember that some materials can mimic the look and texture of wood better than others, which may have an impact on which style fits your needs.

With that in mind, our focus is on traditional clay-based tiles this time around, so we aren’t going to go in-depth with other alternatives. The same goes for commercial tiles, as all of our choices are made for use on the floors or walls of residential homes. If you do need something a little more durable, some of the manufacturers we’ll touch on make commercial wood look tile that looks great in your home.

The Pros & Cons of Wood Look Tiles

One obvious drawback with wood look tiles is the fact they aren’t real wood, but there are other things to consider as well. That includes the advantages of choosing tile over hardwood flooring and cheaper woody alternatives like vinyl.

Wood Look Tile Pros

While we aren't going to go so far as to call tiles “green,” they are easier on the environment than other styles of flooring. You can recycle tile, and as there’s not plastic or adhesives to deal with, there aren’t any VOCs. Some products even have a degree of recycled material already in them, but they aren’t as eco-friendly as materials like reclaimed lumber from a manufacturing standpoint.

Tile is cheaper than wood floors, although how much cheaper varies depending on the style you choose and how many rooms you’ll tile. Have pets? They may not like the surface initially, but you won’t have to worry about scratches or stains in the long term. Whether you have messy children, pets, or just want something easy to clean, wood-like tile is a good fit.

Do you suffer from allergies? If so, tile, in general, is a good option due to the way the installation method and its surface. You will also get hundreds of options to choose from when it comes to colors and styles, whereas your options are somewhat limited with engineered flooring or hardwoods.

Wood Look Tile Cons

The biggest difference you will notice with wood look tile is the feel. Unless you have a radiant heat system, it’s not warm underfoot like wood. Manufacturing techniques have improved surface techniques to closely resemble wood, but you won’t mistake the two when it comes to touch or sound.

Ceramic tiles are slicker than wood as well and can be a serious problem when wet. Again, you can alleviate some of these problems with surface treatments and textures, but you need to consider placement in bathrooms and kitchens carefully.

If you plan to install tile flooring yourself, it’s not a quick process for beginners, and can be quite time-consuming. Tile can help increase the resale value of your home if it’s marble or tastefully done, but as everyone has different tastes, wood look tile could turn off potential buyers if it’s installed throughout your home and not in a few rooms.

How to Find the Best Wood Look Tiles

Picking out new tile is exciting and something you don’t want to take lightly. You may save money by choosing wood look tile over the real thing, but you will spend more in the long run if you don’t look before you leap…

Plan Ahead

We already mentioned how tile could be a bad idea in wet areas unless it has enough grip. Well, you should also consider your current flooring, and what’s underneath it, unless you’re installing wood look tile in new construction.

Is your home prone to settling? If so, those new tiles can crack or pop off, which may leave you with an expensive repair bill. Consider the subfloor along with the foundation of your home if you have had trouble in the past or live in an older residence.

If you have a lot of foot traffic in certain parts of your home, you will want to look at a more durable style of tile. Décor is not something to take lightly, so you may want to take a few samples home to see how the tile looks with your color scheme as well.

Types of Wood Look Tiles

While it’s true that manufacturers make tiles from cork, metal and other materials, wood look tiles typically fall into the clay class. If you’re not familiar with clay or ceramic, here’s what you can expect from these types of tile.

  • Ceramic – Traditional ceramic tiles are made from clay, water, and sand. They are pressed or extruded into molds which gives them their shape and then fired in a kiln. You can purchase ceramic tiles in a variety of colors and patterns, but also glazed or unglazed if you’re looking for something a little more natural. These tiles can be fired once or twice depending on the style.
  • Porcelain – Porcelain tiles also come from the clay family, but manufacturers use feldspar and other minerals in the mixture. It’s fired at a higher temperature than ceramic tile and needs to meet strict requirements to be classified as porcelain. These tiles have a distinct look and are ideal for areas where moisture is a concern.

Other Options

Ceramic and porcelain tile are the best choices, but there are other options to consider if you’re partial to wood look tile but want something that’s not made from clay.

You can find vinyl wood look tiles, and we’ve even seen linoleum tiles that resemble wood as well. Both are cheaper options than tile but aren’t as durable or water-resistant. While they can be easy to care for, they don’t hold a candle to clay-based wood look tiles.

LVT or luxury vinyl tiles are your best alternative if you can’t use ceramic or tile, but still want something that resembles wood. These “tiles” are designed to look like real wood with a printed layer on top. They can feel more like wood underfoot and are warmer, but high-quality products can be more expensive than tile or even engineered flooring.

Species & Pattern Repetition

Now that you know you want wood look tile, have you thought about the species you want the tile to mimic? You can find tiles that bear a resemblance to Beech, Ash, Oak, Maple and any other domestic species you can think of. The same goes for exotic woods like Brazilian Cherry or IPE, although there is a bit of a catch.

Some manufacturers and shops don’t label their tile with a species designation. That can be an issue unless you know what Walnut or Heart Pine is supposed to look like. You may see tile with the color of natural White Oak, but the wrong grain pattern as well. Some consumers may want a random pattern, while others prefer a more uniform look. That’s where pattern repetition can come into play with wood look tiles, although a bigger issue tends to be image quality.

If you want the best wood look tile, look for planks produced by an Inkjet printer. Most people know how impressive the image quality can be from modern printers, and they can replicate stone, wood, and other materials on tile as well. Rotocolor and other methods are still in use, but won’t provide the same quality although most tiles use hi-res digital photos these days.

Durability 

Longevity and durability can be a concern with any type of flooring. Some styles hold up better than others as well with stone considered the king of the hill and hardwood not far behind. Tile is harder than other materials, but if you want the most durable tile, you’ll want to go with porcelain.

Porcelain tile has a PEI rating, and you’ll want something from a 2 to a 5 for residential use in your home. Tiles rated at a 3 are built for medium traffic and is what the majority of consumers choose for regular usage. If you do have areas that get a lot of foot traffic, you may want to upgrade to a 4, but a PEI rating of 5 is generally overkill for most folks.

If you’d like to learn more about porcelains durability and feel like ceramic may be a better fit for your home, you’ll want to give our ceramic vs. porcelain tile breakdown a look. Thickness plays a part in durability as well; however, so thicker tiles can make a difference but may also raise the cost. Sizes range from ¼” to over a ½” along with tiles that are over an inch thick.

Shapes & Sizes

If you’ve never seen wood look tile in someone’s home or a showroom, you may be in for a surprise. Unlike traditional patterned or solid tile, most wood look ceramic, and porcelain tile is rectangular – not square.

While you can certainly find square wood look tiles, if you want your flooring to look like “real wood” you need to purchase planks. The installation process doesn’t change although the tiles are heavier, so they do require a little more TLC due to their length. You’ll also want to opt for the smallest spacers available considering hardwood and engineered planks don’t have gaps between the boards.

As for sizes, you’ll find the largest range of wood look tiles measuring 6 or 8 inches wide. That’s standard and wide in comparison to hardwood flooring boards and lengths are common at 24, 36 and 48 inches. There are also smaller 2 to 3-inch tiles in the same lengths if you like narrow boards or need smaller strips for a room.

Parquet and mosaic tiles are an option with wood look tiles, just not as popular as the traditional style. If you want square tiles, standard sizes are available from 2 x 2 inches all the way up to large format tiles at 24 x 24 inches.

Surface Finish

The type of surface or finish on your wood look flooring has a lot to do with how realistic it looks. There are two surface styles with smooth or textured with the latter being your best bet for against slippage. The finish has something to do with that as well considering you can also choose between glazed or matte tile.

Depending on the manufacturer and where you purchase the tile, there may be a few more options available from a finish standpoint. Pre-sealed tiles are a great choice if you’re going to install the tile yourself, but don’t want to seal it while multi-finish tiles are interesting if somewhat rare.

 Just remember to keep slip-resistance in mind which comes from a DCOF test. You can read more about that through the Tile Council of North America, but 0.50 is the number you’ll want to look for if slippage is a significant concern. 

Tile Certifications 

When looking for the best wood look tile, you are going to come across some certification you may be unfamiliar with. We’ve already told you about the TCNA, but there are several agencies that handle testing or set standards that may be important to you.

You don’t have to chop down trees to make tile, but they are still manufactured and harvested from the earth. If you want to ensure your tiles are greener than others, Green Squared certification is a good place to start. Some tiles will help you meet LEEDS requirements, and while they will cost more, they may help you save more in the long run.

Have your mind set on porcelain tile? If so, the PTCA is where you’ll want to turn. They have a list of certified product lines and set the standards that separate ceramic from high-quality porcelain tiles. If you or someone in your home has special needs, look for tiles that meet the standards set by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Wood Look Tile Cost

Have you decided what type of wood look tile you like? If so, you may be curious about the cost of wood look tile. Whether you’re ready to calculate square footage or are torn between two styles based on your budget, the same rules apply to this form of tile as with others. 

The price you’ll pay for wood look tile depends on everything from the thickness to style and brand. Smooth floors can be cheaper than textured planks in some cases, but we’ve also seen matte finish ceramic tiles priced higher than porcelain.

Sizing is an obvious consideration as well. A budget lineup of boards measuring 6 x 24 inches may only set you back $1.79 per square foot whereas you can pay well over $5.00 per square foot for 8 x 48-inch planks.

On average, you can expect the cost of wood like ceramic tile to run between $0.89 to around $2.80 per square foot. Porcelain is a bit more expensive at $1.50 to over $5.50, but generally holds up longer and there are more styles available.

DIY or Hire a Pro?

We consider tile to be one of the easier styles of flooring to install, especially if you’re dealing with matted mosaics. Well, things aren’t quite as simple with wood look tile for reasons mentioned in our sizes section. In other words, you’ll need some help unless you plan to install shorter tiles or squares.

One issue consumers run into is prep work. There can be a lot of it if your subfloor is bad or uneven. Adjusting longer tiles on thin set can be tricky if you’re not experienced and pattern repetition can slow things down to a crawl. You will have to use a few tools as well, although nothing electrical or overly difficult.

You can rent a tile cutter instead of buying one outright, but still need things like spacers, grout, sponges, and trowels. There are plenty of specialized tools that can make things easier (or more difficult) but the cost of those items in minor compared to the overall cost of the material. Weight can be a serious concern as well, so unless you have good knees and a strong back, you may want to think about bringing in a professional.

The price to hire a pro varies, but they can handle all the preparation and even order your tile if you want them to deal with your project from start to finish. If you are considering hiring a contractor to tile your home, our pricing tool will give you an idea of what to expect.

PRICING TOOL

Best Wood Look Tile Brands

MSI

MSI has been in business since the mid-70s, and they are one of the larger tile manufacturers in the world. They carry luxury vinyl tiles that look like wood and have a wide array of stone along with a small arsenal of styles from their ceramic and porcelain tile lineups.

There’s more porcelain to choose from MSI than ceramic, but both styles have shades and patterns that closely resemble wood. If you prefer ceramic, there are 19 styles across 5 collections, including natural tones like Taupe and Palm. There are also several unique shades like White from the Carolina Timber Collection and Nero, which has a chocolate hue.

Your options open up considerably with Porcelain. The company currently has 32 styles spanning 10 collections, and all there are tiles with PEI ratings of 4 and 5 as well. There are too many shades for us to go over, but believe us when we say there is a style for everyone. Sizes range from 6 to 8 inches wide for most styles and lengths vary between 24 to 40 inches.

MSI ranks high on our list as their tiles are reasonably priced and easy to acquire. We also like the fact their tiles are Greenguard, and NSF certified and that they have COF and PEI ratings on all their products. If you’re interested in MSI wood look tile, you can find it online at Home Depot or Wayfair along with local flooring stores in your area.

Emser

Esmer Tile is another company that’s been in business for decades, and they’re one of the top brands around. They work with sustainable suppliers to provide consumers with eco-friendly products, which include stone, glass, ceramic, and porcelain tiles.

The Esmer wood look tile collection features a varied collection of shades and textures ranging from natural to unique. In fact, some of their porcelain tiles are extremely realistic, which gives them an edge over other bands in that regard. If you need tech specs, you won’t be disappointed considering they list everything from the DCOF rating to abrasion resistance class.

There are 18 styles collections of porcelain tile available from Esmer although some are a bit more wood-like than others. Each collection has its own series of colors, and while we didn’t put it to a count, they have one of the large catalogs around. The ceramic side doesn’t have quite as much to offer but is impressive nonetheless with weathered styles like Zephyr Breeze and mosaics.

Whether you need wood look tile that looks like it belongs in a beach house or something classic, Esmer has you covered. Like MSI, you can find their products through most major hardware stores along with sites like Wayfair and Amazon.

Daltile

If you follow our site, you’re probably familiar with Mohawk, a company that makes everything from carpet and hardwood to tile. Well, Datile is a subsidiary of Mohawk and one of our favorites due to their selection and the fact they carry extra wide planks.

Daltile has one of the easier sites to browse with 17 collections and around 70 different colors in all. Their flooring has a premium look but is suitable for almost any room in your home, and clearly labeled on-site. That means you won’t pick up floor tile that can’t be installed in your shower, but you can also find products for use on countertops, walls, and floors.

As for those collections, the Saddle Brook XT series is ideal for the outdoors while Season Wood will bring a rustic charm to a room. Timber Glen Contemporary lives up to its namesake, especially if you like Cherry, Hickory or large 12 x 24-inch tiles. Daltile has the same standard sizes as other companies, but with some unique sizes mixed in as well.

Daltile has dedicated dealers and showrooms in the United States if you want to get up close and personal with their products beforehand. Building supply shops are also an option, but most folks can pick up boxes and cases through online storefronts like Build, Home Depot, Tiles Direct, and Floor & Décor.

Rango

Some companies dabble in different styles of flooring, while others concentrate on one specific kind. Rango US is one of those brands, and while they don’t have as many collections as other manufacturers, we think you’ll be impressed by their wood look tile.

Rango has 4 collections of wood look tile with Cambridge Oak, Mt. Royale, Railwood and Woodcraft. Mt. Royal mimics Walnut and is available in five colors with a lightly textured surface. Cambridge Oak is only available in 3 shades but bears a striking resemblance to the wood it’s named after. Both of these styles are available in 6 x 36-inch planks, but you can also pick up 9-inch boards with the Oak line.

Railwood and Woodcraft are designed to look like aged wood. Woodcraft is a series made up of smaller planks measuring 4 x 28 inches. There are four colors while the Railwood collection is a weathered wood look tile in Black, Gray or Driftwood. These tiles come in the same size as the Cambridge Oak lineup but have a higher degree of random variation.

Rango doesn’t have the largest selection of wood look tile compared to their stone collections, but it’s a high-quality product. You can find their locally across the United States, although your best bet is to use their store locator tool on-site.

Those are just a few brands we feel stand out and are easy to acquire regardless of where you live. That said, it’s just a small fraction of the reputable brands available, as Marrazi, Tesoro, and Florim all have top-notch products as well.