Homeowners looking to renovate their home commonly opt to update their flooring first as a way of changing a home’s appeal in one fell swoop. While carpet is a simple go-to, many homeowners choose to upgrade with wood or tile flooring to give their homes a sleeker appeal and their floors a longer lifespan.
Between the two, tile flooring is a smarter choice than wood products for a multitude of reasons. Obviously the beauty of wood grain and color is hard to argue against. But, speaking solely of maintenance, the long-term effort of keeping wood’s luster and condition can be a daunting thought. These days tile flooring can achieve the same look as wood with less effort and more residual benefits. Tile is better than wood not just for maintenance reasons, but for other reasons as well. Take a look at our list below to help you decide if tile flooring is the right option for you.
Key Benefits of Tile Flooring over Wood
Tile is more durable.
Tile is also more waterproof. Wood flooring, on the other hand, requires regular treatment–a messy, expensive sanding followed by a reapplication of a polymer seal or wax coating–to keep it from absorbing harmful moisture and looking its best.
Other than an quick post-installation application of sealant on unglazed porcelain or natural stone tile (glazed and polished porcelain usually comes with a sealant already applied at the factory), and the occasional sponge wipe with sealant every few months, tile is maintenance free. With a product like engineered quartz, you won’t ever have to seal it, or even concern yourself with cracks or chips.
Tile is more eco-friendly.
If being eco-conscious is important to you, consider installing tile instead of wood because, hands down, tile is more eco-friendly than wood, and here’s why.
Wood flooring manufacturers like to advertise their products as being sustainable and sometimes even farmed instead of harvested, saving natural forests for nature instead of for construction purposes. We don’t disagree: Much of the lumber used for wood flooring is generally harvested from responsibly maintained forests. However, there are still outliers and “wood poachers” who illegally take from forests to sell to the exotic wood trade.
Even not considering wood’s origins, manufacturers still have to burn through a lot of electricity and fossil fuel in order to dry, saw, shape, and finish their product. This eats away at wood’s supposed eco-friendly aspects. That’s not to mention the extravagant expense of shipping product in from around the world. Ironically, these exotic woods are the very ones considered to be the most sustainable! They include bamboo, cork, cedar, and palm.
Many popular porcelain and ceramic tiles, on the other hand, are made in America. A number of natural stone tile products are also harvested right here in the US. These products don’t have to be shipped from afar to get them into your home.
BONUS: Porcelain tile can be recycled! And some specialty brands of glass or ceramic tile are made from 30-100% recycled product.
Tile can look like wood!
If you want the visual appeal of natural wood flooring without the hassle of wood maintenance, you’re in luck! Modern methods of creating porcelain tile flooring have resulted in wood-look tiles that are almost imperceptible from actual wooden planks. This means you can get any grain, cut, or type of “wood” installed in your home–giving you the exact look you want–for less than the cost of the real stuff.
Tile can be (safely) heated.
Though tile is naturally cooler in temperature than wood (and thus a great choice for warmer climates), it also conducts and withstands heat better. This means if tile is installed atop a radiant floor heating system it will be more efficient, and safer, than a wood one.
Don’t get us wrong: Radiant heating systems can be installed with wooden floors, but such systems risk damaging the wood (e.g. warping, cracking) or even starting a fire if the system isn’t installed correctly. You’ll not have this problem with tile, as it is non-combustible and direct or close contact with heating elements won’t damage it.
Tile can be installed anywhere.
Unlike wood, tile can go anywhere. It can be installed not only on floors, but on walls, ceilings, around fireplaces (where combustion risk exists), and high-moisture areas (e.g. bathrooms, laundry rooms) without issue. Even specially sealed wood floors–or high-end woods like teak that contain natural water repelling oils–aren’t impervious to the constant moisture of some living spaces. Special care still needs to be taken to keep them in top shape, lest the homeowner shovel out money to replace the worn flooring down the road.
Tile doesn’t have that problem. Even though some tiles (not all!) may require a simple application of sealant to keep them waterproof, that’s nothing compared to the level of maintenance wood requires.
Tile is Simply Better.
It used to be that tile couldn’t compete with wood because it couldn’t look like wood. Well, with that issue out the window, tile takes the hands-down lead for better flooring material.
From engineered to porcelain to stone to concrete, there are nearly unlimited variations in texture, shape, color, and style to choose from. Visit your nearest natural stone showroom in Palo Alto to see what options are available for your specific project.