Choosing the flooring for your home is one of the most significant decisions you’ll make in terms of the long-term, overall look and feel of your space. It’s a big financial decision, and theoretically once it’s made you aren’t going to be changing it for at least a number of years – or ideally, for many years to come. But especially if you’re choosing between real hardwood flooring and laminate, you’re pretty much stuck between two very different choices: authentic and long lasting but difficult to maintain and expensive, or inexpensive and easy to clean, but not so durable and not quite the real thing. But what if you could have the best of both worlds? It might sound too good to be true, but for once, it really isn’t – porcelain tiles printed with wood patterns (also called wood tile) offer picture-perfect natural wood color and variety with durability that exceeds either wood or laminate, and is easy to clean and less expensive than you might think.
Porcelain Tiles That Look Like Wood
Wood tile?! you exclaim? I hear your collective eyebrow raise, but I assure you, I’m not talking cheap linoleum tiles or anything so mundane. In fact, the wood tiles I’m talking about are manufactured by Mediterranea, a US-based company with a proprietary printing method that allows them to print high definition images directly onto their porcelain tile. The result is hard, durable, easy-to-clean tiles that look exactly like hard wood, with a spectacularly natural looking degree of built in grain variation and color. Don’t believe me? Take a look! The Tumble Weed Wood Tile above is just that – tile! And unlike many wood tiles, Mediterranea doesn’t print their wood patterns on square tile – they’re the first company in the US to make 48″ long wood tile planks so they can be installed and arranged like a real hardwood floor.
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Wood Prints Captured In The Wild
With laminate wood flooring, you have to be very careful with how you lay the planks for the simple reason that there are only so many wood “grains” per style per package, which can easily end up creating an unintentional pattern that will make the non-natural nature of your floor more obvious. Mediterranea’s wood tiles are different because each collection doesn’t merely represent a few wood-like designs, they’re painstakingly designed to recreate real wood, with a much greater degree of variety in shade and grain like you’d have on a real wood floor. Many patterns (like the Wild Timber Wood Tile above) are even designed specifically to look weather-worn, reflecting our nation’s coastal boardwalks and rustic cabins, creating a unique aged floor without the wait or any of the difficult maintenance.
Plank Shaped Tile For Hardwood Style Installation
While you can’t simply drive a nail through a piece of wood tile, the design and installation process is similar to that of natural hardwood. With tiles in a variety of standard wood plank sizes, you can attain many of the same complex patterns and styles that you would with natural hardwood. Unlike interlocking laminate pieces, wood tiles can easily be installed at angles, as in the picture of this Cohiba Tile above, so you can get a greater variety of floor patterns without sacrificing style.
Naturally Water Resistant
One of the greatest advantages of wood tiles, though, is that they perform incredibly well in areas that both hardwood and laminate traditionally struggle. Maybe most notable is the fact that Mediterranea’s wood tile has a spectacularly low water absorption rate (either .08% or .29%), making it an excellent choice for… you’ve got it, the bathroom. This opens up a whole range of decoration options (especially for a vintage bathroom!) that are usually superseded by the fact that water damages wood. Especially with their weather-worn designs like this Native Timber, it’s amazingly easy to get a bathroom with a truly antique, old world style without having to worry about warping or splintering wood. Plus, because it’s tile, you can even install it as part of a heated floor while retaining the natural look of hardwood.
Durable And Easy To Clean
Mediterranea’s wood tiles are also very hard, ranging from 6-9 on the MOHS scale (diamonds are 10/10, for reference) with a glazed finish that’s rated for the highest levels of traffic, which means that not only are they easy to clean, but that they’ll hold up to rough treatment better than either laminate or most hardwoods. If your main hesitation about getting hardwood is that you have kids or pets, Mediterranea’s wood tile – especially this Mambo Red Wood Tile, which is both the hardest and among the most slip resistant – is an excellent solution, because it will hold up better than either wood or laminate to little feet and paws. Plus, the very high slip rating means you won’t have to worry about those little feet taking falls.
Environmentally Friendly Tiles
Second only to the fact that they look like wood!, my favorite thing about Mediterranea’s wood tiles is that they’re supremely eco-friendly. First, they’re made with as much recycled content as possible (this Raw Hide Tile has 30%, but some of their other designs have up to 51%), both from their own manufacturing process and from materials reclaimed from construction sites. In addition to the recycled materials, they only use locally quarried materials, which means they cut down on shipping costs, create local jobs, and qualify for all kinds of green-home benefits, especially for anyone living within 500 miles of their Tennessee facility. Plus, the wood tile is printed using 100% natural inks, so they contain no VOCs, completely nix outgassing, and leave the air in your home cleaner and more breathable.
So while wood tile might not be the very first thing that comes to mind when trying to decide what kind of floor to install, it might actually be your best option. Mediterranea wood tile is made to last a lifetime. Like the real wood it’s designed after, it’s meant to be a decision that stays with your home, but unlike real wood, it doesn’t require constant upkeep, and unlike laminate, it won’t need to be replaced a few years down the line. What do you like about wood tile? Would you consider installing wood tile as an alternative to hardwood or laminate flooring?
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