The battle between the two classics, tile and wood, is a tough one to choose from for every homeowner. Tile and wood flooring are two of the oldest options that still top the popularity contest. So, which one is better for you?
Well, there is no one-word answer to this question. Each of these options comes with a unique set of properties. However, depending on your specific needs, you might lean towards one more than the other.
This article will compare tile vs wood floors across various fundamental flooring properties to help you pick the perfect flooring. Let’s get into it.
Table of Contents
Floorings that are made out of wood are wood flooring — the definition is as simple as that. It is a versatile flooring material with many colors, species, and sizes. Its versatile look makes it a perfect fit for any space, whether it be a contemporary interior or a classic one. It’s natural, eco-friendly, and durable. Depending on the type of wood flooring you get, it can be refinished multiple times throughout its lifetime.
There are two main types of wood flooring –
Solid wood: Solid wood floors are made of solid hardwood planks. It is long-lasting and costs more in comparison to other engineered wood. It can be refinished four or more times and can last 30 to 100 years. However, solid wood flooring is susceptible to dry and humid weather damage.
Engineered wood: Engineered hardwood consists of a thin layer or a “veneer” of solid hardwood bonded over a plywood substrate. The surface hardwood layer gives it an identical look to solid hardwood flooring. It is a much more affordable alternative to solid hardwood. However, high-quality engineered wood can be refinished one or two times only, with an average lifespan of 20 to 40 years.
Tile flooring refers to hard-wearing flooring made up of tile blocks with gaps between them that are usually sealed with grout. Typically, tiles are made of porcelain and ceramic. But there are other types of tiles in the market as well. Tile flooring is extremely durable and long-lasting. They are also easy to maintain and water resistant. However, tiles have a hard underfoot and are expensive to install.
Some of the most popular types of tiles are –
- Fired stone
Tile VS Wood Floor
Depending on the type of tiles you get, it can cost you somewhere between $9 to $65 per square foot. Although the average cost of porcelain and ceramic tiles is around $1.50 to $5 per square foot, designer and natural stone tiles can cost significantly more.
Here is an estimation of per square foot price of different types of tiles –
|Type of tiles||Price per square foot|
|Ceramic||$5 to $44|
|Porcelain||$3 to $10|
|Slate||$12 to $35|
|Granite||$20 to $50|
|Marble||$10 to $65|
|Limestone/Travertine||$10 to $44|
|Fired stone and Resin||$10 – $50|
The price range of wood floors varies greatly depending on whether it is engineered or solid, if it is vintage reclaimed wood, hand scraped, or if it is finished. The wood species used in the finished product also impacts the price.
Here is an estimation of per square foot price of different types of woods –
|Type of wood floor||Price per square foot|
|Solid unfinished or prefinished plank||$6 to $12|
|Reclaimed hardwood plank||$15 to $33|
|Hand-scraped plank||$10 to $20|
|Engineered wood plank||$2.5 to $10|
Most affordable: Tie
Although tiles have more affordable options than hardwood, high-quality, natural stone tiles can still cost more than hardwood. Also, with the engineered options, wood floor has become more affordable.
Although appearance is subjective, tiles offer an abundance of design options. You not only get different textures and finishes, but you can also play around with tile sizes and create patterns during installation. The stone tiles have a more earthy and neutral look, while marble and porcelain bring a more sharp and clean aesthetic. Since color is added to the tiles during the manufacturing process, you also have a wide spectrum of colors to choose from. However, one common complaint against tiles is that the grout will eventually get discolored and requires regular maintenance.
Wood-like tiles are also great if you want to create a wooden look without installing an actual wood floor. It offers the durability and easy maintenance of tiles while mimicking the beautiful, classy hardwood.
Wood has a unique, organic look that still beats all other flooring options. The natural look and softness of it effortlessly alleviate any space. Wood also offers different colors, including shades of brown and gray. You will also get lots of stains, grain types, and finish options. The wood floor also comes in a variety of plank sizes and thicknesses.
Most aesthetic: Tie
Both tile and wood floor offers a wide range of design option. Even though tile has more options, the classic look of wood floors does not fall behind in terms of appearance.
Tile is one of the most durable flooring options — therefore, it works perfectly in high-traffic and outdoor areas. The PEI rating of a tile indicates the durability of ceramic and porcelain tiles. This rating determines whether a tile is suited for a particular area. Also, if tile flooring cracks or breaks, you can simply replace the broken tiles. But keep in mind that improper installation can crack and break tiles. The hard surface of tiles is also resistant to scratching. However, natural stone requires proper seals to protect it from scratches and stains.
Hardwood is prone to denting and scratching. However, if you get hardwood that scores higher on Janka Scale, it will endure wear and tear better in comparison. Proper sealing can help protect hardwood from warping, cupping, or staining. Since hardwood is prone to dents and scratches, many prefer hand-scraped and reclaimed planks where minor damage adds character. Also, you can refinish hardwood to remove scratches and small dents on the surface.
Most durable: Tile
Porcelain and ceramic tiles are much more durable when installed properly than hardwood. They are ideal for high foot traffic areas, commercial use, and wet areas.
Ease of Installation
Tile is not an easy-to-install flooring type since it requires special tools to cut it. Tiles are also not easy to plan, and space to create the most efficient floor plan. If you make any mistake in the installation, it isn’t easy to fix. Therefore, it is not an ideal flooring choice if you install it yourself. However, pre-cut tiles are easier to install since you don’t need to cut them yourself.
Tiles can be installed over any existing floors as long as they are level and have no major damage. As for the cost of professional installation, it usually depends on the type of tiles you get. Typically, the more expensive the tile is, the more it will cost to install. Ceramic and porcelain tile installation are the most affordable at $2 to $5 per sq.
The difficulty of installing wood floors depends on the type you get. Installing prefinished wood plank using the tongue and groove method is pretty simple. It can also be installed with radiant heating systems. However, before installing hardwood, you must ensure the subfloor is in perfect shape and condition. Otherwise, it can get damaged by moisture and holes in the subfloor.
If your wood floor requires finishing after installation, you might want to contact a professional. It is also better to hire a professional for unique patterns such as herringbone or parquet pattern. The total cost for wood floor installation, including labor and materials, can average up to $4 to $6 per square foot. However, the actual cost depends on your location and your wood selection.
Easiest to install: Tie
Unfortunately, neither tile nor wood floor is an ideal flooring option if you are a DIYer. They both require special tools and expertise to install properly.
One of the reasons why tile flooring is so popular is because of how easy it is to maintain it. Tile requires little to no maintenance except for regrouting once the grout deteriorates. It is scratchproof, which makes it even easier to care for. The tile is waterproof, meaning you don’t have to worry about any water-caused damage. In case of any damage, you can simply replace the damaged tiles instead of redoing the entire floor. However, it can be difficult to remove stubborn staining from tiles.
One major downside of wood floor is that it requires a lot of attention and care to maintain them. Wood is prone to scratches and dents. You cannot drag heavy objects on it without scratching the surface. Wood is not water-resistant, so you need to clean up spills immediately to avoid risks of water damage. It is also expensive to seal large areas. You will also need to reseal the wood frequently to prevent staining and moisture damage. In case of extreme damage, you have the option to refinish it.
Easiest to maintain: Tile
Tile is the clear winner in maintenance criteria of tile vs wood floor. The tile is extremely easy to clean and maintain — ideal for outdoor and commercial use. It is also preferred in high-traffic areas such as hallways, kitchens, and bathrooms.
Kid and Pet Friendliness
Tile floors stand moisture and spill well. Also, they are scratchproof — meaning your floor will not look beat up by your toddler running around the house or dragging their toys over the floor. It is also pet friendly as tiles won’t scratch easily from your cats or dogs trailing their nails across the surface. However, one downside of tile is it has a very hard underfoot, which can be uncomfortable for your kids. Also, tile floor won’t cushion falls in any way. Additionally, they can be slippery (depending on the COF rating) and even more so when wet.
Wood is natural, non-toxic, and does not offer growth of bacteria — properties that make it a great choice for kids’ room flooring. Wood is also fairly easy to clean and maintain as long you follow the correct method. Wood is slip resistant and has a comfortable underfoot. However, the downside of having a wood floor in a household with kids and pets is it scratches easily. Also, wood cannot handle wet spills well.
Kid and pet friendliest: Tie
Although tiles and woods have kid and pet-friendly properties, both of them need a little extra care to make them work in a house with kids and pets. For example, you can refinish hardwood floors frequently to deal with scratches. Also, you can improve the tile’s slip resistance by adding area rugs on top.
Although the slip resistance of tile depends on its COF rating, tiles tend to be more slippery than wood. The non-porous, smooth feature that makes it easy to clean also gives it a slippery underfoot. On top of that, add extra glaze or spills, and you running around the house in a hurry — that’s a surefire combination for a trip to the emergency room. However, you can avoid extremely slippery tiles by paying attention to their COF rating, indicating how slippery the tile will be in wet and dry conditions.
Slip resistance is one of wood’s best natural properties. The wood grains prevent the surface from being completely smooth and add to the grip of the material. Although wet spills can also make wood slippery, wood is not usually installed in areas that might get in contact with water frequently. The slip resistance of wood depends on the finish. Typically, glossy finishes make it more slippery, while matt finishes add to the slip resistance.
Most slip-resistant: Wood
Wood is a lot more slip resistant when compared to other flooring materials. However, to sustain this natural quality of wood, pay attention to the finish you apply to the surface.
One of the biggest pros of tiles is it is extremely easy to clean. You can mop tiles with water and your floor cleaner of choice, and you are good to go. You can even scrub tiles to remove stubborn stains. You can also deep clean your tiles using a steam cleaner. However, the grout of the tiles can be time-consuming and tedious to clean.
There is no doubt that wood is hard to clean. And wood shows every speck of dust and dirt, especially on the darker colors. Also, if you do not sweep or vacuum daily, the dust particles can scratch up the finish. You can mop your wood floor occasionally using a wood-safe cleaner and damp mop. You must dry the floor thoroughly and avoid leaving any standing water on the floor to avoid cupping.
Easiest to clean: Tile
Tiles are the clear winner in this round for being the easiest flooring option to clean. You can use them pretty much anywhere around the house, including outdoor areas and bathrooms.
Impact of Weather Fluctuations
Weather fluctuations do not have any impact on tiles whatsoever. Tiles are water and moisture-resistant. Which means the humidity level does not have any impact on the flooring. It works well in both dry and humid weather conditions.
Wood is a hygroscopic material. Meaning wood tends to absorb moisture from the air. On the contrary, wood will give off or release water and contract or shrink in size in dry conditions. You need to keep the humidity level in your house in a particular range for your hardwood floor to stay in the best shape through the test of time. The hardwood floors contract or expand when moisture fluctuation is left unaddressed—the shrinking and expansion cause the hardwood floors to create spacing or push against each other. The impact is worse in areas where humidity varies greatly with seasonal changes, which can cause the hardwood planks to move.
Handles weather fluctuations well: Tile
Since weather fluctuations do not have any effect on tiles, it is ideal for any weather conditions. Therefore, homeowners who live in areas that experience extremely dry or humid weather prefer tile flooring.
Even though technically ceramic tiles do absorb water, it’s in such little amounts that they can be considered waterproof. Ceramic tiles are porous to a small degree, meaning they have tiny small holes on the surface. These pores can absorb a small amount of water over a large period of time. However, the tile grouts are not waterproof. The grouts allow moisture to seep through, promoting mold growth and damaging the subfloor. You need to repair your tile grout frequently to preserve the water resistance of your tile floor.
Wood is a hygroscopic material that tends to absorb moisture from the air. It also absorbs wet spills, which eventually causes it to buckle. Also, excess moisture causes the wood to warp and buckle, causing structural damage. In extreme water damage cases, the wood can even rot from the water. Therefore, you need to clean up spills immediately and clean with slightly damp mops only to avoid water damage on the wood.
Most water resistant: Tile
Although tiles do absorb a small amount of liquid, it is as close to waterproof as flooring materials get. Its water resistance makes it ideal for humid areas such as bathrooms, laundry rooms, and outdoors.
Although we have compared tile vs wood floors across various basic properties, ultimately, whichever attracts you the most is the one for you. Tiles and woods are both incredible flooring choices that dominate the market for their unique features.
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