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June 10, 2020 by Chelsea Allard

Consider Wood Look Porcelain Tile for Your Bathroom

Background on tile and wood look porcelain or wood tile bathrooms

Tile started to become a mainstay in American bathrooms about a century ago due to its tough, sanitary nature. While tile trends have certainly evolved over time and will continue to do so, one of the more relatively recent innovations we’ve utilized over the last several years is porcelain tile that looks like wood.

Natural wood gives a beautiful, organic, and unique look to home design which is why it’s still the number one flooring choice of Charlotte area homes. The natural imperfections and variations of hardwood add interest and visual appeal, bringing subtle texture to your spaces and unifying more open floor plans.

But when it comes to bathrooms or other wet areas like laundry or mudrooms, natural wood isn’t always the best choice. Because wood is porous and apt to cup when exposed to water or significant humidity, the general guidance is to avoid putting it on floors or walls in bathrooms. Some people do it anyway, and are diligent about water spots and ventilation, but most people just avoid it to be safe.


The variation of these gray toned wood look porcelain floor tile planks, marries the rest of the white and gray materials in the bathroom and provides some visual texture and warmth.

We were excited when the first faux wood tiles appeared on the market around 2013 but the selection was limited. With new advancements in technology and manufacturing, the industry has boomed since then and you can now get the natural wood look without the hassle of natural wood maintenance.

High quality and great selection mean the sky’s the limit in the application of wood look porcelain tile today!

Porcelain tile that looks like wood is resilient, water-resistant, and so similar in appearance to the real thing you might be tempted to reach out and touch it to make sure it’s tile! Grout lines and tile rigidity are what give it away on close inspection, but for durability and resistance to moisture, it’s a fantastic option for bathroom floors, shower or accent walls behind tubs, and messy spaces like laundry rooms and mudrooms.

Apply Wood Grain Porcelain Tile as Flooring in Your Bathroom

Before you select tile flooring for the bathroom, consider how you typically use the space. Large-format tiles with a smooth, shiny finish get slippery when wet. Do you get water on the floor when you step out of the shower or tub? Is the bathroom used by children who may be less aware of their splashes and drips? If the answer is “yes” then a tile rated for wet areas is ideal, but the additional texture is even better. Because adding texture to the tile makes it look more realistic, most wood look porcelain tiles are especially slip-resistant.

Minimize the Grout

If you want the spacing of your porcelain tiles to resemble actual wood, it’ll be important to select a style that has a rectified edge, meaning it’s perfectly straight and square. Usually rectified edges are found on higher-end, premium quality tiles.

Unfortunately, due to the longer plank-like nature of wood look tiles, most have a natural tendency to warp ever so slightly, making tiny grout joints impossible if the edge isn’t rectified. ¼” spacers are typically what’s used, but it will vary based on each manufacturer’s recommendation.

If tiny grout joints are important to you, make sure to bring this to the attention of your bathroom designer, so he or she will be able to pull selections that would be more appropriate for that type of installation. Selecting a complementary grout color similar to the tile will also help them to be less noticeable.


A coordinating grout color helps to minimize the grout lines in this master bathroom floor. Variations in each tile make them look more realistic.

Get the Look You Like with Less Maintenance

Real wood is beautiful, but it has a life cycle. It will need to be refinished, repaired, or replaced eventually. Refinishing is an involved process that’s best done every 10-15 years as part of a larger home remodeling project. But for those high-traffic or wet areas that get heavy use, digital technology makes it possible to duplicate the look of any kind of wood so you can use tile instead.

Installing porcelain wood look tiles makes for less maintenance over the lifetime of the floor. No resurfacing, refinishing, waxing, or shining is required. We always recommend using a high-quality grout with a built-in sealer so you don’t have to worry about periodic resealing either.

The increasing popularity of wood look porcelain tiles are driving the demand for higher-end options. Some of the more expensive product lines come with a greater variety of grain patterns which make them look even more like real wood. Whether you want something the mimics bamboo for a contemporary look or a rustic reclaimed style for your modern farmhouse, there are options for both and everywhere in between.

Shower Wall Application

Wood look tile accent walls are a great way to add texture to any space, but the contrast between that and sleek plumbing fixtures makes it especially effective in a bathroom remodel. Because it’s tile, there’s no need to worry about the expansion of the pieces due to high humidity like you would if you installed real wood on the wall.


In this contemporary bathroom example, the small space looks larger because they used the wood look porcelain tile as an accent wall in the shower and repeated it on the bathroom floor which draws the eye in.

 Project by Jeff King & Company via Houzz

Porcelain wood look tile opens up a whole new world of design options for bathrooms and wet areas in our clients’ homes. The large linear format lends itself well to several different tile patterns and fewer grout lines mean it’s easy to keep clean compared to a subway tile or mosaic.

Open Your Mind and Bathroom to Wood Porcelain Tiles

We remodel beautiful bathrooms to create spaces our clients are proud to call home. Take a look! When you’re ready to remodel your Charlotte-area bathroom, schedule a consultation.