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Tile That Looks Like Wood Flooring

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Tile That Looks So Much Like Wood Flooring It May Scare You
Tile That Looks Like Wood Flooring Infographic
© Lee Wallender; licensed to About.com. All Photos Within © Marazzi USA
If you'd seen tile-that-looks-like-wood eight or even five years ago, you would have laughed. But now, tile manufacturers have improved--if not perfected--the art of duplicating the look of wood--in ceramic or porcelain tile form. It's all due to sharp graphics and better texturing.

Is it an uncanny simulation? No. Does it look convincing from a distance? Yes (more on that later). Is it attractive? That's all in the eye of the beholding homeowner.

Why would someone do this when the world is overrun with solid hardwood flooring stores, online retailers, and installers anxious to put real wood in your home?

Many good reasons:

  • Tile Durability, Wood Looks: Tile is more durable than wood in some ways. For instance, if you have a pet (claws, anyone?), tile will never show scratches.
  • Ease of Installation: Real solid wood flooring usually requires professional installers. Tile, by contrast, is very much a DIY job.
  • Wood Floor in Bathrooms?: Ceramic tile is perfect for bathrooms' wet environment; wood--an organic substance--is terrible here. If your heart's desire is wood floor next to a bathtub, you can finally get it.
  • Exotic or Expensive Woods: Not in the mood for cutting down the Amazon rainforest? Or for emptying out your bank account to buy super-expensive hardwoods? You can buy the approximate look of ebony, mahogany, or other rare woods for a fraction of the price with certain lines of ceramic or porcelain tiles.

Q: Does It Really Look Like Wood? A: Who Cares?

If you want it to look like wood, you can probably convince yourself of this. After all, the brain is a powerful organ.

But let's trot out a five-dollar word: skeuomorphism, meaning an object that simulates another object. Fake wood-grain paneling on a station wagon is a prime example of skeuomorphism.

I've always found that wood-look ceramic tile looks like wood from a distance--i.e., before entering the room. Upon entering, the illusion begins to break up. Upon looking down, I am unconvinced.

But that doesn't mean I don't like it. It has a just-off-kilter, surreal quality that I find attractive.

And I think that's the biggest question you need to confront: are you looking for a clever simulation or for something that is its own self?

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