Choosing Wood Effect Tiles - A Buyers Guide

If you’re thinking of using porcelain planks on your next project then you’re in good company – they’re one of the hottest trends in the design community right now and it’s easy to see why. Not only do they give your home a beautiful and natural finish, they’re also surprisingly affordable and incredibly easy to live with.

With so many different variations and sizes available it can be quite daunting knowing where to start so hopefully this article will help you on the way. Please remember to get in touch with us if you need any advice at all. We’re a friendly bunch!

Why buy wood effect tiles?

A wood effect tile is exactly what it says on the tin – a tile that looks just like a solid wood floor. I could write a whole blog post about the benefits of choosing porcelain over solid or laminate floors but that’s not my aim today. Instead, I’ll be giving you some useful tips to consider if you’re thinking of using these wonderful tiles to help you get the look you desire.

What type of design should I go for?

If you’re just starting your search then there’s plenty of places to look for a bit of inspiration – why not start with our collection of wood grain tiles or flick through a copy of your favourite interiors magazine?. Then have a wander around your home and think about what style would suit you and you family the most:

Lighter colours such as Oslo White help brighten up dark rooms.
Strong, dark tones have a rich, exotic feel and add an air of luxury
Distressed tiles are great for the on-trend, vintage look and are inspired by reclaimed and weathered planks (below left)
Warm mid tones such as Forest Oak are perfect for neutral and timeless design schemes (below right)
Reclaimed vs warm tones

It’s always a great idea to try out a sample in your own home – you’ll be able to see how the tile looks at different times of the day as the amount of natural and artificial light changes. You can order two samples free of charge from our website.

Is it best to go for a smooth surface or a tile with texture?

This entirely depends on the look you wish to achieve and the room the tile is going in.

Many wood effect tiles have a smooth or slightly bumpy surface which is designed to mimic the softly worn surface of a well-loved timber floor. These tiles are suitable for most rooms and they feel extremely comfortable and realistic underfoor – especially with underfloor heating.

A few other tiles – such as our Alpine collection – are quite textured as if they’ve been weathered and hand-scraped over time. Not only does this give the floor additional character, it also increases the anti slip rating of the tile so it’s often a good idea to use these tiles in wet areas – in your bathroom or outside for example.

In September we’re off to Italy to view the latest tiles for our Autumn and Winter collection. We’ve been promised some incredible polished planks so keep a look out for these!

I can’t decide between what size plank is best!

It’s easy with tiles to think that bigger is better but this isn’t necessarily the case. I tend to split wood tiles into one of three different sizes categories and each has it’s own merits:

Small planks – up to 60 cm long
These are really versatile and can be used pretty much anywhere. They’re the ideal size where space is at a premium – in second bathrooms and cloakrooms or in smaller living spaces.

Medium planks – up to 90 cm long
Great for open plan extensions, family bathrooms, and kitchens where the larger floor area allows you to really appreciate the design and size of the planks. Larger tiles help increases the visual perception of space.

Large planks – up to 120 cm long
The length of these planks results in fewer grout joints resulting in an ultra contemporary and realistic finish, especially if your chosen tile has rectified edges. Use these in the bigger rooms in your home.

As a guide, I always think you want to have a run of three full tile planks along the length of your room.

Different laying patterns

Many of our customers lay their wood tiles with staggered joints for a classic and realistic finish. This pattern has a timeless charm and appeal and looks great whether in a small bathroom or spread over a larger floor area. It’s important to remember not to stagger the joints by more than a third as some tiles bow ever so slightly.

If you’re using smaller 15 x 60 cm planks another great look is the fantastic herringbone pattern. It may take your tiler a little longer to tile those zig zags but we think it looks amazing and it certainly adds a bespoke, personal touch to any home. Take a look in the i
Herringbone and Staggered Joints

Once your tiles have been laid we always think it’s best to match the grout to the colour of your tiles – the best laid floors have a joint that’s visible but not over bearing.

Porcelain or ceramic?

Compared to traditional floor coverings such as carpet or laminate, ceramic tiles are pretty hard-wearing but porcelain tiles are something else. They’re fired at temperatures over 1,000 degrees making them incredibly durable and resistant to water, stains and scratches. As our name suggests, we’re pretty keen on porcelain tiles and we’d definitely recommend these over ceramic planks as once laid, they’ll keep their good looks for a very long time with only a minimal amount of care and maintenance. 95% of our planks are made from porcelain for peace of mind.

It’s also important to bear in mind that porcelain tiles are suitable for use in high traffic areas and they’re frostproof so can be used safely outside. The latest trends in architecture blur the boundary between indoors and outdoors and using the same tile on your patio as in your living space is a great way to achieve this contemporary look.

Digital printing

Natural materials such as stone and wood are full of knots, veins and shading which give the materials their inherent charm and character. The latest tiles are produced using ‘digital printing technology’ which faithfully recreates the finest exotic woods and marble at a fraction of their cost – so expect to see lots of shading and variation between individual planks, as you would with the real deal.

Older wood effect tiles may have been produced using obsolete technology and you’ll find the ‘print’ on the tile repeats again and again. It’s not what you want to see when you’ve invested good money so it makes sense to choose the latest designs.

Last but certainly not least

Ask your supplier to confirm if your chosen tiles carry the CE Mark. This means they’ve been assessed and meet the required EU standards.

If in doubt, stay away – the last thing you want to do is use substandard product. A newly tiled floor should last for years and this is one of the reasons why we only use Italian and Spanish factories we trust – the quality and finish of all our tiles is exceptional.