One of the many things to consider when deciding between wood effect tiles and timber flooring is their durability and resistance to damage, either superficial or structural. Let’s take a look at a number of possible mishaps that can befall either material, and compare how we would expect either product to fare.
We’ll examine the performance of laminate, engineered, and solid wood floors in a variety of stressful situations, and see how ceramic or porcelain wood effect tiles would bear up under similar conditions.
The surface of timber floors will deteriorate over time through general use. Good quality laminate floors, being made of compressed board can often wear better than solid or engineered timber floors. It might have a manufacturer's guarantee of over 10 years, and sometimes up to 25, by which time the surface finish will simply be worn out.
Laminates are generally not repaired due to the nature of their construction, and must be replaced at the end of their lifetime.
Natural timber floors, produced from the harvesting of various species of trees, are far more vulnerable to the effects of everyday traffic. As the finish wears away, and the raw timber becomes exposed, it will become discoloured, but only in the areas of most traffic. One part of the home that often deteriorates soonest is the “work triangle” – the path between the sink, the fridge, and the cooker.
At this stage, the planks must be sanded back and refinished. There is no such thing as an “average” home, but a busy household might expect to do this after 10 years or even sooner if installed in a hallway. While a costly process, the result should be a floor that looks as good as new. A solid or engineered wood floor can last for decades if maintained properly.
Wood Effect Tiles
Wood effect tiles, in practically any situation, could last for generations. The glaze is so hard that years of wear and tear have a negligible effect on it. Indeed, it is fast becoming the surface of choice for shops, restaurants and even busy airports, as owners recognise the huge advantage that comes with installing durable ceramic or porcelain wood effect tiles.
Scratching and Denting
Solid wood and engineered wood differ very little for the first few millimetres of depth from the surface down. The wood itself will be authentic, in that if it says oak on the box, it actually is oak, and in virtually all cases will be coated with a protective lacquer, or oil. Depending on how hard or soft the timber is will dictate how prone it is to scratching and denting. A Brazilian Ebony, for example, will be more resistant to damage than Pine.
Everyone is familiar with the usual culprits of moving furniture, toenails from dogs, stones caught in shoe sole treads, and of course high heels. Especially high heels. Careful as one might be, it’s virtually impossible to guard against all of these threats over the lifetime of the floor. And that’s before anyone drops anything, or the painters are in with their ladders.
Laminate flooring, for want of a better phrase, is a “photograph” of a real floor mounted on a durable backing board. This tends to be more resistant to this kind of damage, as the board, and in particular the thicker ones, can be quite strong.
On the plus side, both solids and engineered can be revived to their former glory. With laminate, however, all you can do is look on, and be sad. In a later blog post, we’ll look more closely at the issue of maintenance.
Wood Effect Tiles
So how do our wood effect floor tiles perform against such a barrage of abuse? The answer, as you may have suspected, is outstandingly well. Coated in a glaze that is fired at up to 1,200 degrees Celsius, the surface is, well, teak tough. It is incredibly difficult to scratch the glaze – perhaps the sharp end of another broken tile, or anything else exceptionally hard and pointed, and then it needs some force.
One disadvantage to using tiles is that if they do sustain such damage, it will manifest itself in the form of a chip. The body of tiles are usually cotto or greyish in colour, and it will be immediately obvious if there is a blemish, and it cannot be repaired. As yet, we’ve never heard of a “dent” in a tile.
To Wrap Up:
This resistance to traumatic damage is the main driver of people’s move away from the natural product towards the manufactured kind.
Hopefully we've been of some use in assisting you make your choices. Regardless of your style preferences and long term plans for your property, it’s nice to be wisely informed before you make your choice.
Note that all the images above are of wood effect tiles, and you'll find our full selection of wood effect floor tiles here.