Wood vs. Tile flooring (smackdown)
August 12, 2008 3:42 PM   Subscribe

Should I choose ceramic tile or wood floors? Is it weird to have the same tile floor throughout the entire house?

what are the pros and cons? prices?
posted by kristymcj to Home & Garden (14 answers total)
Ceramic tile is less versatile, but preferable for bathrooms and mud rooms. Wood is classic and can easily serve an entire house where as tile throughout may look odd unless you're going for that Spanish Grotto look. Wood can be stripped and re-finished. With tile you're pretty much stuck with what you've got.

Cost varies wildly on both depending upon local markets, labor costs, and the materials themselves.

You should stop by the flooring department at you local home improvement store, they can give you the low down.
posted by wfrgms at 4:01 PM on August 12, 2008

we have wood (parquet) throughout the house (except bathrooms) - in retrospect it's not such a smart idea to have wood in the kitchen because if there's a leak it expands and goes wonky (although it has a positive side, i guess - you do find out if there's a leak, even if it's quite minor).
posted by not sure this is a good idea at 4:03 PM on August 12, 2008

I just stripped tile off of my kitchen floor and refinished the nice maple that was underneath. Having wood in the kitchen in a cold climate is preferable to me for making tea whilst wearing my socks on those cold mornings.
Pros: warmer floor, warmer feet
Cons: 3 days of stinky polyurethane and unusable kitchen.
Costs: I'd say this will vary from place to place and depend on how much work the homeowner is willing to do.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 4:08 PM on August 12, 2008

Tile lasts longer, but is often cold to the feet (not a problem in a hot location, but would be freezing in a cold climate, especially if you like going around barefoot), and hard (so that if you drop a plate or something, it's more likely to break). But also (as noted) won't swell when wet.
posted by jb at 4:18 PM on August 12, 2008

When we bought our house it had hardwood in the l/r, d/r and 2 bedrooms. The kitchen had white ceramic tile. The ceramic always looked dirty, even five minutes after it was mopped. We like to cook so it was kind of a pain in the ass to keep clean. The grout lines were never clean. It was cold. Dropped stuff broke. When we remodelled the kitchen we got (prefinished Bruce) hardwood floors. It is a very, very close match to the 50+ year old floors in the rest of the house. So it's not weird to have the same floor, it's warmer and quieter, it never looks dirty.
posted by fixedgear at 4:26 PM on August 12, 2008

We have the same ceramic tile throughout all living areas (great room, dining room, kitchen, entry, breakfast nook, hallways, bathrooms). No one has ever commented about having the same tile in several rooms (even disconnected). I'm also in real estate, and people generally enjoy the same "look" flowing throughout the house.

Pros: Durable, easy to clean up spills, looks much nicer than carpet.

Cons: Shows dirt easily, potential for chips and grout cracking (although we've had very little problems), grout can be discolored, cold to the touch.

In our last home, we had a distressed hardwood floor in all living areas. Absolutely fantastic, although more expensive than the tile option. It was great because it didn't show a lot of dirt, it was easy to clean up, and because it was distressed any light damage just added to the look. They were wide pine planks that were put rough sawn side up, installed and then stained quite dark. Quite a bit of manual labor involved, which adds to the cost, but it was the best livable flooring I've had.
posted by shinynewnick at 4:40 PM on August 12, 2008

If you do go with tile, consider putting in some kind of radiant heat system underneath it. We have heated tile floors in our bathroom and it's hard to comprehend how wonderful it is until you feel it. Only added $300 to the cost of our bathroom (materials only, we did the labor) and so worth it.
posted by HotToddy at 4:46 PM on August 12, 2008

One thing you don't think about when you put tile in living areas is how LOUD every little noise becomes -- even if you throw area rugs down on top of it. My parents traded up from w-t-w carpet to porcellain tile and hello, echo! The echoing is even more noticeable because they have high ceilings and a very open-plan house. TV noise bounces off the floor and goes down every hall and into every room. SO annoying.

It's also cold on the feet -- this is either a bonus or a major drawback, depending what the climate is like where you live.

Having spent enough time in their house to get the feel of a place with tile in every single room, I can say with certainty it's one thing I'd never do if I had the cash for new floors.
posted by brain cloud at 5:08 PM on August 12, 2008

We have wood floors in the front, more formal part of the house, carpet in the bedrooms, and 18x18 tile everywhere else. I love the wood, it looks great, but man, it was a lot more expensive and we baby it so much more. (To think all the money we spent on those floors and then bought expensive Persian rugs to protect them, thereby covering up our beautiful floors!) With 2 little kids and 2 dogs, I am so glad we have tile in the high walk way areas.

- More likely to dent and scratch. If scratches will drive you crazy, don't get hardwood.
- Need to be neater, i.e. blot up any water that gets spilled immediately, vacuum regularly to prevent scratches
- Potential for bad water damage (from leaks from fridge, DW, etc)….. especially with pre-finished hardwood
- May not be able to stand up to the use without a lot of babying
- the wood fades from sunlight so you have to move your rugs around

- standing on it for long periods can be tough on feet
- Grout will discolor easily if it is a light color or if you don't seal the grout each year. Generally, cementitious grouts require sealing while specialty grouts like epoxy and furans do not. If the grout darkens with water, it needs a sealer.
- may chip or crack
- less warm and inviting feel
- things will shatter when dropped

If you get wood you'll need to decide betweed solid vs. engineering (I'm not talking about laminate here). Pre-finished vs site-finished. Glue down vs. free floating. Micro-bevel vs. square edge. Strip vs. Plank. And of course what TYPE of wood, etc.
posted by texas_blissful at 5:29 PM on August 12, 2008

Yeah, what brain cloud said about the noise. Tile does not make for soothing acoustics.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:56 PM on August 12, 2008

Tile lasts longer

Not in my experience. The wood floors in my house are over 80 years old. The one's in my parents house are nearly a century old. I can't speak to Pergo or engineered floors, but hardwoods are lifetime floors if you take care of them.

My advice - tile the bathroom and kitchen. Seal and regrout as needed. Hardwood everywhere else.
posted by 26.2 at 6:58 PM on August 12, 2008

I don't think it's weird to have the same tile or flooring throughout the house, it seems to be pretty common here in Texas. I think the pros and cons on hardwood and tile have been well listed above.

However, there's a very nice medium in between tile and hardwood for floors. Cork. It's soft on the feet, renewable, warm, insulates from sound, resistant to moisture (although not as much as tile). While it does stand up to pets, dogs with long nails could dig into it. Cons, it needs to be sealed and deep dents may not self heal.

We recently installed it our kitchen and love it. It's much easier on the back and feet than tile.
posted by pokeedog at 8:06 PM on August 12, 2008

Also consider the resale value. Unless you are absolutely positively sure you won't be wanting to sell the house, pick something that appeals to the general public.

What kind of floor is found in other houses in the same price range and style? Take a weekend and go look at some open houses for ideas.

Something that fits your tastes and lifestyle perfectly might actually decrease the resale value. The saying in real estate is "nobody doesn't like beige." There's always going to be someone who hates red/blue/yellow/etc. AFAIK, nobody doesn't like wood, but some people will probably be turned off by tile.
posted by ebellicosa at 10:40 PM on August 12, 2008

There are other choices you might consider for flooring material as well, like cork, bamboo, and woven vinyl.

brain cloud is right about the noise - and if you have high ceilings especially it will be a nuisance.

Actually, the opposite is true for resale value of what ebellicosa says. Within reason, making a house your own makes it more appealing, not the other way around. See more about this concept in Sarah Susanka's book, Not So Big Solutions.
posted by yoga at 5:25 AM on August 13, 2008

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