We have, literally, been researching and planning to replace all the flooring on the first floor in this home since last August. We were initially going to go with a bamboo, but the one we were looking at wasn’t very thick and we didn’t feel confident it would outlast the daily wear and tear of our 150 pound dog, Greta’s scooter rounds, or the long Idaho winters–which mean a lot of snow and wetness. We moved on and started looking at the hardest hardwoods available, which would be a lot more durable and then we ran into another problem. Our subfloors. We have particle board subfloors on top of strand subfloors. Almost every hardwood flooring company we talked to said that any sort of warranty would be voided if we put flooring on top of these kind of subfloors. We talked about replacing the subfloors, which would be very labor intensive considering there’s a layer of tile and two layers of subfloors. Our other option was to use a special underlayment (the same one John and Sherry did) before putting down the hardwoods, but unfortunately the flooring company we were talking with said that the warranty could still potentially be voided since we would still be technically laying it on top of particle board subfloors.
Through this process, we were introduced to the idea of wood tile–not technically wood–but surprisingly realistic. Intriguing! We ordered 9 different samples and were finally feeling like there was hope for us. We really love the look of wood floors–that’s something we wanted. But, and maybe I’m asking too much, I didn’t want to baby my floors. I don’t want to put little socks on Charly, or worry about our guests removing their wet shoes immediately after entering our home or follow wet foot prints with a towel. I don’t want Greta (or future children) to not be able to ride their scooter in the house–which I get is a completely absurd thing to do, but something she loves and we allow. Maybe faux wood tile is for us? Here’s a look at the 9 samples we ordered:
While we could see an application for almost all of them, for our home three of them we liked right away. Number 6, 8 and 9.
We stared and moved those three around for over a month. Researched more about each one’s color variance, printing method (it matters!) and watched how it collected dust and hair throughout the day.
Right off the bat, our favorite was this great deeper brown (but still mid-range) option called Hickory Vintage (number 8). The color was rich and warm and the print was pretty cool. The downside was this was the only option out of our top three that was roto-printed (instead of ink-jet). It would have the least variation from tile to tile meaning it would probably look the least realistic when all lined up next to each other. The other clear downside, seen from the photo below, was it showed every speck of hair and dust.
The second option we considered (number 9) was called Fronda Roble. The graining was gorgeous and it hid hair and dirt the best out of all three. A couple things we didn’t love were the slightly pink undertones and the size. At 8″x24″ it felt more tile-sized than your average hardwood–even most of the wide planked ones that are popular today.
The third option we looked into was called Nordic Brown (number 6). You can see a couple “Charly hairs” (as we so lovingly call them around here every second of the day) but for the most part it disguised things pretty well. The more we looked into and researched this option, the more we liked it. First, it was printed (like the previous option) using an ink jet. This means the variation and repeating pattern is greater than older roto-print type printing applications. It’s the most realistic you will get because they are based on actual digitial pictures of wood flooring. We dug deeper and discovered that, on top of a large pattern variation, this type of tile actually has about 9 different shade variations as well, which would give it a nice realistic touch.
In fact, if you scroll up, the one we deemed “too light” (actually called Nordic Light) is the same flooring, but a different color–which gave us more confidence that some tiles in this collection might have some of that graining that the Nordic light showcased, and some might be just long strands like shown here. Perhaps the thing that sold us most on this one, which if you haven’t guessed is the one we decided on, was the photo on the manufacturer’s site:
We are really excited to get this project done. We called around for estimates to lay the flooring, and were quoted $17 THOUSAND dollars–cue heart sinking–so we’re doing it ourselves and sharing every detail along the way. From tearing our our existing tile, to laying the heated flooring system to laying the tile itself.
To be honest, the task is daunting. From the mess of demolition to making sure every tile is perfectly level, it should be enough to make us postpone the whole project indefinitely. But, on the contrary, we finally feel like we found something that is perfect for our needs and wants, and can’t wait to see it all come together after the dust settles. Onward!