Wood Tile Flooring: Renovation Diary

15 Mar Wood Tile Flooring: Renovation Diary

We bought our 1980s split-level house “as is.” It was 2010, the bottom of the real estate crash, and we got a great deal. But with it also came a great deal of work: a 30-year-old air conditioner, bad sewer line, unfinished landscaping, plumbing problems… It’s taken a lot of time and savings just to make the house function well.

Almost six years later, we’re getting to the fun part: ushering the house out of the 80s! As much as I love that decade, I don’t love its decor. (Think: brass, faux marble, putty-colored walls, frosted glass, and cracked tiles)

Part 1: Searching for the perfect warm, inviting floors

Top of our wish list was replacing the old, cracked ceramic tile and stained carpets throughout the house. I’ve always loved the look of hardwood floors, but living in the desert, we need something more durable that requires little maintenance. So we started researching porcelain and ceramic “wood look” tiles — the warm, organic look of wood without the worry of scratching, staining, or warping.

We settled on porcelain. It’s more durable than ceramic and seemed to offer more options visually. After comparing several choices, we settled on a 6×24 plank, textured (hand-scraped look) with a dark, thin grout line. We had our installer lay the tile in a random pattern to make it look more authentic.


The old tile was on every level of the house, even around the fireplace:



I found this gem from 2010… do you see Miles in the mess?



I wouldn’t have trusted myself to install these, so we hired it out, and I’m so glad we did. Our concrete subfloor was uneven and had to be sanded down, there were dozens of cuts on the stairs and along the walls. Plus the sheer size of the job — nearly 1,300 square feet of tile — would have taken us months. The professionals finished in a week.

We also had the walls painted a warm white to offset the dark color of the flooring. The color is Benjamin Moore’s “Ballet White” and the trim is “Simply White.”




We still need to hang some artwork, but here’s how it looks now. We chose slate tile for around the fireplace and had the TV mounted, which freed up some floor space:



I always avoided this area of the house because it felt cold with all the white tile. But now I love spending time reading by the window.

Here’s how the tile looks going up the stairs:


Close-up of the texture and grout lines:


So far, it’s been very easy to clean with mild soap and water.

A tip if you decide to use wood look tiles: Remember that the finish is essentially a glaze and color variations can happen from one production run to another. When you order, make sure the dye lots on all your boxes of tile match. Home Depot let us place a special order (no extra charge) to make sure all our tile came from the factory on the same day.

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