Natural Wood or Wood-Look Porcelain?

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Picking flooring is not an easy task; especially when there are so many options available.  Wood flooring is a popular choice in Houston.  It has a timeless appeal, natural variation and texture.  It is also warm to touch which is perfect to walk barefoot on cold nights.  It offers shock absorption; especially important for athletic surfaces.  It also is recommended for people who are prone to allergies since it is easy to keep dust free.  Minor scratches can be hidden when re-oiled.  The final benefit is the resale value of a home.  Buyers are willing to pay more for a house with hardwood.

Unfortunately, depending on the species wood can become very expensive to purchase.  Wood is at higher risk of damage when exposed to liquids.  If the wood is not dried immediately, it will warp.  It can get scratches and dents from furniture legs, heavy traffic, high heels and pet nails.  The wood’s natural color can fade overtime, depending on the type and quality, from UV light exposure.  With all these factors in mind natural wood will require money to be spent on re-sanding, re-staining, and re-finishing.  If the wood is dented or deep scratches, replacing the flooring will be the only option.  These steps can add up in labor costs close to the same as a new installation.  Wood expands and contracts with humid and dry weather. The recommended time wood needs to acclimate in the space is a minimum of forty-eight hours before installation.  If that is not done the installation will not be successful.

For those who want the wood look without the maintenance, wood-look porcelain is the best choice.  There are many benefits including durability, multiple application uses, and customizable patterns and less labor intensive.  Due to porcelain being non-absorbent and dense, exposure to liquids or pets’ nails will not harm tile.  This results in lower long-term maintenance costs.  Instead of having to transition from the wood to tile in wet areas, the wood-look porcelain can be continued through all the spaces.  It can also be installed on walls and ceilings in areas exposed to heavy moisture.  With natural wood, to create custom patterns is time consuming and therefore costly.  Porcelain can be cut and laid to the pattern without higher labor costs.  The bonus feature is with today’s advanced technology; high definition printing evoking a realistic appearance and texture of wood.  The print is not a repeat on every tile making the pattern more convincing.

With positives of any material, there are always cons.  Tile is unavoidably cold to touch.  Many home owners will automatically turn down porcelain for that reason alone.  Proper underlayment will need to be used to avoid the tile being too noisy when walked on to provide some sound absorption.  Wood look porcelain, in most cases, is glazed on the surface.  The color of the tile is only on the surface; not through the whole tile.  If the tile gets chipped, there is no way to hide it.   The final disadvantage is tile always needs to be grouted.  Even when the tiles are separated by one-sixteenth inch grout joint, it will still be slightly visible.  If a low-quality grout is used, moisture will inevitably be absorbed causing darkening and discoloration of the grout.

Both options offer great benefits but some disadvantages.   When making the final decision on which flooring route to take it will always be a matter preference in the end.  As long as the final result makes you happy, then that is all that matters.

Written By,
Mona Rahman