From the Floor Up

The Rise of Wood Tile

Posted by Daltile Team on Sep 22, 2015 8:30:00 PM

Why Tile that Looks Like Wood is Better than Ever

When we first started making tile that looks like wood, we admit, it was pretty basic. But we’ve learned a thing or two since then and our porcelain wood tile has come a long way. Today, our faux wood tile includes classic looks like cherry and oak, exotic wood grains like acacia and pecan, and reclaimed wood looks like barnwood and aged wood.

Yorkwood Manor in Pecan 6 x 36

Visual Mimicry

The popularity of stone is really where it all started. Everybody loves stone but the price point is usually where things get stuck. Tile aimed, for many years, to look like stone but with a more feasible price and easier maintenance. It was a hit! Porcelain and ceramic tile had the look of stone with durable features. With success in stone looking tile, we turned our attention to other popular flooring materials that we could duplicate in tile--wood.

Daltile’s head product designer, Massimo Ballucchi says that “wood is the preferred flooring material in American homes. So what Daltile did is bring the wood-look to places that it could never go before like the basement, bathroom, and outdoors. Porcelain can easily go to these places and create unique looks.”

And that’s just one reason why wood-look continues to grow in popularity.

See Wood-Look Tile

Plank Shapes

As Daltile started to put wood grain patterns on tile, it quickly became evident that if we wanted it to look more like natural wood, we’d need to offer a plank tile—long narrow tile—just like the ones so common in most wood flooring. We started out with a 6 x 24. As technologies have developed, larger tiles have become available and now we offer tiles up to 48 inches long.

Wide planked wood floors are beautiful, but rare and expensive. We quickly learned that tile is much less likely to bow and warp, allowing for wider tiles and more accessible wood-look designs.

Daltile brought the wood-look to places that it could never go before like the basement, bathroom, and outdoors.

-Massimo Ballucchi, Daltile Product Design

Tru-Edge

One major difference between wood and wood tile is that tile requires grout. In an effort to close that gap, we found a way to shrink those grout joints down. Tru-Edge is a process of rectifying the edges, or making them very precise, so less of a grout joint is needed.

Currently, Daltile has several tiles that look like wood that have a joint requirement of 3/16”. This makes tile much closer to wood in how it is laid out and in the finished product.

Reveal Imaging™

The idea of wood-look tile actually began about 10 years ago. Massimo Ballucchi, Daltile product designer, says that “compared to today’s standard, it was very rudimentary, but it was a start.” It was a new idea and wasn’t very well received. It didn’t really get off the ground.

Fast forward to a few years ago and a second attempt that went much better. This was mostly due to the strides made in ink jet printing technology. New imaging and printing technology, called Reveal Technology, made a far better visual possible. So Daltile product designers went out into the world to find inspiration.

Seasonwood in Orchard Gray 12 x 48 and 8 x 48

Mr. Ballucchi said “We have been able to get different wood species, scan them, and then replicate them in a very realistic format.” Now the market can’t get enough of wood-look tile. We’ve come a long way in just a decade.

Printed tile is extremely durable and easy to maintain and the visual precision gets better with each passing year. Our most recent wood tile looks will have you doing a double take. You’ll want to touch it just to make sure that it isn’t really wood. Reveal Imaging has allowed us to recreate barnwood and other reclaimed looks with ease.

Tile that looks like wood is better than ever. It’s easy to imagine what might be possible in the future equipped with the experience and technology we’ve embraced over the years. Keep an eye out for the next big thing in wood tile with Daltile.

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Topics: Wood Look Tile, Trends

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