Digitally Printed Porcelain vs. Traditional Hardwood

Porcelain tile has come a long way. Thanks to manufacturing advancements and innovations in digital printing processes, today’s porcelain finishes mimic a variety of materials that are often difficult to discern with the naked eye. The new technology affords detail so precise that these products can mirror the look and feel of a traditional hardwood floor.

Porcelain tile

Image: Centura Tile

“More designers are open to this because they mimic the look of real wood but provide you with ease of maintenance,” said Elizabeth Livingston, Architectural & Design Consultant for Toronto-based, Centura Tile. “This technology has resulted in incredible detail and vividness of surface designs applied to porcelain, resulting in tile virtually indistinguishable from actual marble, stone and wood, as well as the ability to create an endless number of unique designs and colours.”

Digitally Printed Wood Finishes

The digitally printed porcelain finishes are especially well suited to commercial use such as restaurants, hotels, spas, entertainment and retail spaces, making it a perfect fit for any high-traffic area that requires durability and long wear. This type of porcelain can also be offered in slip resistant finishes where required.

Porcelain tile wood look

Image: Centura Tile

“Digital porcelain tile can be used anywhere you would normally use wood,” said Livingston. “Many of our manufacturers now have 20mm thick exterior pavers to complement their interior lines allowing for a seamless transition from interior to exterior. The 20mm thick tiles or planks can be installed on our deck or patio system or can be loose laid or cemented in place.”

Livingston further explains that unlike real wood, porcelain is UV resistant, chemical resistant and offers long-term aesthetic appeal for a wood finish look that can extend outdoors if required. Wood porcelain planks can also be installed on walls to add visual warmth, while deterring vandalism in public spaces.

Porcelain tile bathroom

Image: Centura Tile

No longer limited to traditional sizes, tile can now be manufactured in what are called planks, or tiles that are rectangular in shape. Manufacturers now offer tiles in an assortment of thicknesses from 3.5mm to 20mm thick pavers. Options as thin as a 3.5 mm thick profile can be used for walls, or ventilated façade systems, or on the under side of soffits for large structures such as universities or office buildings.

Centura’s line of thin porcelain tile comes in various looks of wood, natural stone, luxury cement, oxides and decorative finishes. Sizes are available in 10mm and 12mm with panel sizes as large as 1620mm x 3240mm.

“When you have wood the available finishes are limited,” said Livingston. “When you have a wood porcelain plank the finishes are generally a natural finish, but some lines are available in a polished finish as well as a textured finish for wet areas. The digital possibilities are endless.”

Porcelain tile kitchen

Image: Centura Tile

Manufacturers can now choose the wood and marble they want to replicate as part of their line. Clients can then choose custom digital on porcelain slabs at a premium. This is generally used when they want to do a company logo or custom images such as photography. With the gains made in the digital printing currently available, anything can be replicated. For example, if a hotel chain would like a specific image on the porcelain tile it’s now possible.

“We can do digital printing on tiles like wood grain or ones made to look like precious stones. We can also produce mosaics at a premium,” said Livingston.

Benefits of Porcelain Tile

The benefits of porcelain tile over hardwood are compelling for budgetary and location requirements:

  • Investment 

    Porcelain will wear longer than hardwood and luxury vinyl tile (LVT) but is more expensive than LVT. However, porcelain tile offers long-term advantages over traditional hardwood in terms of investment.

  • Durability 

    Porcelain tile is much more durable and can withstand higher impact from such things as heavy foot traffic and dropped objects.

  • Damage and Replacement 

    It’s much easier to replace a specific area when compared to hardwood floors. When wooden floors are scratched it can be costly to fix, often requiring sanding, refinishing, or full replacement. The long wear and durability offered by porcelain tile avoids this problem. It is also easier to fix ‘spot’ areas.

  • Maintenance 

    Porcelain tile is very easy to maintain. A simple sweeping and mopping is all that is required for ongoing maintenance.

  • Moisture Resistant 

    Hardwood expands and contracts with moisture and dry conditions. Real wood is not well suited to areas that have regular contact with water. As it is not compromised by moisture or water, porcelain tile is well suited for commercial kitchen and bathroom areas.

  • Radiant Heating Options 

    Porcelain tile, unlike hardwood has a radiant heating feature if the installation requires heated flooring. It also stays cool in warmer climates due to the porcelain qualities.

  • Size and Application Options

    There are a variety of sizes available, and rectangular shapes can be suited to different shapes, lengths and widths. Traditional hardwood typically is offered in sizes based on a limited number of plank sizes. Wider plank sizes are often much more cost prohibitive.

Porcelain tile bathroom

Image: Centura Tile

There are many benefits associated with installing porcelain tile floors over traditional hardwood. When creating and designing spaces indoors or out there are versatile solutions that the new wood look finishes provide.

The creative possibilities are virtually unlimited with an array of sizes, patterns and colours. With the durability and long wear digital porcelain floors provide, both the design and investment are protected for years to come, making this a solid option for both high traffic areas and long-term investment requirements.

For more information about porcelain tile flooring installation solutions please contact us today at info@darwinfisher.com.

For more information about porcelain tile products and finishes, please see Centura Tile

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