Ask Maria: Can I Combine Faux Hardwood Tile with my Oak Floors?

Oak floors with marble tile

via pinterest

“Maria, I have oak tongue-in-groove hardwood floors which connect to white tile in my white kitchen. With my upcoming kitchen renovation (in which the kitchen will stay white), I want to replace the white tiles, but I am not comfortable extending hardwood into the kitchen. I really do prefer tiles in a kitchen!

What do you think about those porcelain tiles that look like hardwood? What if I could find one in a similar colour to the oak, and then re-finish the oak (it needs it!) to match those tiles?

Would you advise this, or does it not work, in your opinion? In particular, the tiles will have grout lines, and the hardwood floor will not. (p.s., I’d be tempted to use the same tiles nearby in the front entryway, which also abuts the hardwood floor.)”

So the short answer is NO.

And here’s the reason why:

Any renovation where something old is staying and something new is being added, this is the question you need to ask yourself. Every. Single. Time.

“If I take ____ out and use this ____ instead, will it still look like I installed everything at the same time?”

Back in the 80s or whenever this hardwood floor was installed, if you wanted wood in your kitchen or entry, you would have installed it all at once.

Now that it’s 2016 and your finishes need updating, in order to make sure you don’t get a look which can only be described as ‘Yesterday and today all in the same interior’ you need to consider every decision from this perspective.

You will NEVER find a faux wood tile that will look identical to your existing oak flooring (or any wood flooring for that matter) and therefore, this eliminates that option right away.

In general, if I had to choose tile to go throughout my house I would definitely consider a wood look tile as long as it looks just like wood flooring when installed. See my post about that here.

Here are a few alternatives that I would recommend:

12" Hex Tile Classic Bathroom | Maria Killam

Decor Pad

Hex tile in a 6″, 8″ and 12″ sizes are now becoming a lot more available. It’s only taken about 7 years into the grey colour trend for it to arrive, but it’s here. I consider this floor to be timeless because it still gives you lots of options to personalize the space with colour.

And the next homeowner can do the same.

Ask Maria: Can I Combine Faux Hardwood Tile with my Oak Floors? | Maria Killam

Decorpad

The image above has the look of a wood floor but ignore that, focus on the colour instead. I had a very hard time finding the right image and this is the closest one I could find.

An overall pale grey and white floor installed in a herringbone pattern would also work with your oak floor. Note that the grey cabinets will date this bathroom fast. They would have been fabulous in a great, coral or turquoise shade (below).

Classic white bathroom with coral vanity | Maria Killam

BHG

Classic White Bathroom with turquoise vanity | Maria Killam

Realty Times

Keep in mind with herringbone, the tile you choose has to have perfect measurements. So for example with subway tile. If it’s 3 3/8″ x 6 1/4″ you can’t use it. Because your wall (or floor) will start looking crooked. It must be a perfect 3″ x 6″ or 4″ x 8″, etc. to work for a herringbone installation.

Of course NEITHER of these two floors will work if they don’t relate to the existing finishes in your kitchen.

If you have an 80’s oak kitchen or 90’s ginger cabinets for example, and you install either of these options I’ve just mentioned without painting your cabinets. You will still be left with a look that screams “new floors, old kitchen”.

12 x 24 marble floor

via Desire to Inspire

Although going all white on a large scale might seem boring, that’s what I would choose as long as it works. And make sure the marble or porcelain tile floor you choose is not overly busy either. Remember that any pattern gets amplified once it is installed wall to wall.

You’ll get tired of a really busy pattern much faster than a classic solid element.

Besides, simplicity is confident and bold.

I was recently in a 70’s home that was almost original. The new homeowners were planning a renovation and the interesting (NOT) thing about the entire house was that each room had a different floor.

The entry was the only room that had seen new flooring in over 40 years. It had relatively new, inexpensive laminate flooring. The living room had original green shag. The kitchen had original gold/yellow laminate floors and the carpet going up the stairs was brown and each bedroom had a different colour carpet as well.  And of course both bathrooms in the house had different laminates.

I realized that, quite possibly, one of the reasons why I often see different flooring in different rooms is because replacing ALL your flooring at the SAME TIME means that you have to basically MOVE OUT.

Eeeeeeek!!

Something to consider, if you are above to move into a new house and are having calm and rational  budgetary thoughts like “Let’s just replace the floor in a year or two”.

Not easy to do once you’ve moved in.

My advice, bite the bullet and replace the floor NOW, BEFORE you move in, if you can swing it.

If you want to see more tile that I like, you can browse my pinterest boards here.

Here are some classic black and white patterns that would also look fabulous if the cabinet were painted turquoise or green or hot pink:

Ask Maria: Can I Combine Faux Hardwood Tile with my Oak Floors? | Maria Killam

Domaine

Ask Maria: Can I Combine Faux Hardwood Tile with my Oak Floors? | Maria Killam

Architectural Digest

Ask Maria: Can I Combine Faux Hardwood Tile with my Oak Floors? | Maria Killam

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All the kitchens that I’ve shown you have one thing in common. You’re not stuck with a colour scheme you have to live with FOREVER.

That’s the first clue you’ve chosen something that will stand the test of time.

Which floor is your favourite?

Related posts:

The Timeless Floor Everywhere in Italy

The Right Way (and Wrong Way) to Install Porcelain Wood Floors

It’s a Charcoal Floor Intervention (Don’t Miss This One)

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  1. I had the same idea and my contractor had the same response – specifically, even though my wood floor has something resembling grout lines, the tile would never be the same exact same colour, length and width as the wood planks. I went with something that contrasts with the maple instead.
    This was all part of a kitchen facelift that combines new and old successfully enough for me – it is possible.

  2. When we built our home in the seventies, it was “the thing” to have all different flooring and finishes……really bad design. If I could only go back with the knowledge I have gained from your blog, I wouldn’t have had to live with such an ugly mess and wasted money all those years. It’s only taken me almost forty years to get a cohesive calming interior that feels right.
    I use your blog as research to help many of my friends who use me as their “personal ” decorator. Unfortunately the hardest part of helping my friends is getting their husbands to trust me…….can’t believe how many men have such strong opinions about things that they really have no clue about.

    • So true Kathryn. And the challenge you have is you’re not charging your friends (which I admit is hard to do) so they treat your advice like they are polling you along with everyone else. That’s why the husband is so hard to convince as well, but I can’t tell you how many times I have heard “Well I’ll let him choose this one. . . gotta give him something?” Why? If it doesn’t work with the overall plan that a professional has created, it makes NO SENSE to suddenly put a unicorn in the room design wise.
      Thanks for your comment, maybe someone will read it to their husband and it’ll save ugly from being installed.
      Maria

      • I have found out recently how true that is. I’ve been trying to help a friend & her husband has vetoed almost every suggestion I’ve given. And then it dawned on me that he didn’t trust me because I’m not a professional & I wasn’t charging. I can’t say that I blamed him. Now when she asks for my advice on something decor related I just smile & say “Ask your husband.”

      • Maria, your answer was spot on. I spent 10 days down in Florida helping my friend pick out her flooring and tile and paint colors on a new home that they are gutting. Because the husband refuses to use real wood we went with a light medium brown tile that had some distressing, reminded me of distressed oak. Picked out all the bathroom tile and paint. They are going with white kitchen cabinets and they want a wood island, so I told them fine, just don’t go with the dark mahogany like they used in the previous home. I have found light fixtures and told them what furniture to keep and what to sell…….all is good, right? This morning I found out my friend changed the flooring to whitewashed wood tile……because she was waffling and polled her friends and they thought the original flooring was too dark. So the husband said no go on what I picked out. So now she wants me and to pick out new paint colors……gurrrrr. I told her the reason I didn’t suggest a whitewash look was because I was afraid it might be too trendy and this is their forever house. Why my friend thought these other people had a better idea is beyond me, I spent several days helping “the other people, because they can’t even pick out a bedspread or a lampshade.

  3. A very informative post, Maria. My favourite floor would be the last one but coming into second place I would go for either the marble looking tile or the pale herringbone floor. I’m assuming that the herringbone floor is wooden and not a faux wood tile. It shows why it’s so important to get it right as floors don’t get changed very often and stay in place for many years. I just love these posts and what they teach us.

    • Maria & Kathryn,

      The ‘free’ advice thing is an ongoing issue, but I don’t know how not to.. especially when you’re sitting in their LR and the question gets asked. I mostly don’t mind but still..

      So, about the men in those scenarios. I once had a client whose husband went along with anything I wanted to do, once I’d established my credibility. Then, one day he announced that there was no way he was going to let me paint his collection of large, Santa Clauses, Cloud White. Too funny…

  4. Maria
    I don’t think you should even put a wood tile and a wood floor any where close to each other.
    They don’t even look close to me it would look like a miss .
    Like you tried to match and missed .
    But I love some of the tile floors in your pictures !
    Nancy

    • Hi Nancy,
      That’s absolutely right, you should NEVER have faux hardwood with real hardwood touching each other or preferably not even on the same floor, is that not obvious by this post?? Eeeek there’s something wrong with the copy then. Maria

  5. No, Maria, it came through loud and clear–no contiguous wood tile and wood floor.

    It was agonizing to move all the furniture out of rooms to allow for wood floor refinishing so that all the wood flooring throughout the house–new and old–would match. You told me that’s what I had to do, so I did. The only thing that made it possible was my choice of a European hard oil finish, because you can do your rooms one at a time and it still looks seamless. Having gone through that, I would never move into a house without getting the floors done first.

  6. My perspective on this is that tile, concrete, etc are very hard on my knees and back. Wood floors? I can dance all night!

  7. Any time you put faux next to the real deal, it just makes the faux look more faux. And that’s never good.

    When I replaced all the carpet & tile in our house with pre-finished wood floors, I had it done in stages. The living & dining rooms first. Then the kitchen. And the bedrooms were done last, one at a time. That way we didn’t have to move out. We just moved the furniture from one room to another.

  8. Very helpful post, Maria. Glad your questioner is partial to tile floors in the kitchen and isn’t wedded to wood floors because even if faux wood tile next to real wood floors wasn’t a total no-no, there is absolutely no way one could find an exact match or even a very close match. There’s not only color but also how the color reflects off different surfaces – wood reflects light quite differently than faux wood tiles do – at least that’s been my experience looking from my desk across the D’office/LR at samples near my 6′ wide feature window facing west. I’m not a fan of marble floors, and the hex floors seem more suited to bathrooms; however, I dig the Domaine floor complete with family pet. And something in that kitchen (or your reader’s kitchen) in a bold color such as the coral or turquoise you suggested or other bold color would be perfect.

  9. We are looking at houses in hopes of moving soon and there was one place we wanted (sadly had the 2nd highest offer) where we planned to put down hardwood floors before moving in. I’ve had wood look tile on my must-use list for a little while now, since my husband absolutely will not put wood in a kitchen because of what happens when there is water or plumbing problems. But as I imagined putting it in this house, I knew I couldn’t do it since it would be right next to real wood in two different doorways and I came to the same conclusion you have in your post. I’m still searching for tile I can enjoy that has sort of a farmhouse look. So far I’ve found a couple non-blotchy options in a 12×24 size which look pretty farmhouse-ish on Pinterest, like English country house flagstones, when laid with a 1/3 offset. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, so I do wonder how bad it will be on my knees and hips, but linoleum just seems so cheap looking even though it is comfortable.

  10. With experience gained in more than a dozen houses through the years, with respect to floors my vote is:

    ONE flooring surface choice. Period. Throughout entire home. Wood, preferably. It’s timeless. Durable. Comfortable. Forgiving. Beautiful.

    Contiguous flooring is pleasing to the eye and provides ultimate flow and flexibility with respect to furniture placement. In open concept spaces it blurs the line with respect to where one room starts and another ends. Consequently, spaces appear larger and the visually jarring choppiness created by multiple flooring surfaces is eliminated.

    From a maintenance standpoint? Far easier to have only ONE surface to clean. No need for a special tool/appliance for tile, another for wood, another for carpet, etc. The same tool/appliance/process can be used throughout the home which is considerably more efficient. A real benefit to those of us who tackle our own housekeeping duties!

    btw, wood floors work splendidly — and beautifully — in kitchens, baths and laundry rooms. In the kitchen, wood is considerably more forgiving than tile when a plate, glass, or utensil gets dropped on the floor; meaning there’s less chance of breakage. In the bath, on bare feet, its warmer and more pleasing underfoot. For those concerned about possible plumbing failures and water issues, know this: if you should ever have a serious water problem you’ll experience every bit as much mess and grief with a tile or laminate floor as you will with wood. NO flooring surface is impervious to a major water issue. None. Water does not unleash its fury solely on wood floors. The good news is that serious water leaks occur very rarely. Once in a lifetime, if that. Don’t allow such a minor threat to scare you away from the beauty and comfort of wood flooring.

    Finally, absolutely agree that, when it can be done, floors should be installed BEFORE moving in. Realize it’s not always possible to do so, but if you have the opportunity to delay your move-in date to accommodate floor installation, seize it. The wait is well worth it.

    • I totally agree, couldn’t have said it better myself! Thanks for your comment! I was sooo happy that I replaced all my flooring in my house before I moved in with the same pale floors everywhere. Maria

  11. Having had to refinish wood floors due to water damage, I know first hand how difficult it is to have to pack everything up and out, not fun! If you have the opportunity to redo the floors before you move in I would highly recommend it. On a separate note, the faux wood tiles are a great option especially in places like Florida where moisture and heat are an issue and you can find some really pretty ones, but the tile is much tougher/harder on your body, real wood has a lot more give.

  12. My favorite is the last one. It looks like painted wood, but the pattern could be done with tile. Our last house had hardwood in the kitchen, which really scared me at first. However, it’s much more forgiving on the back and knees, which is important when you’re standing and cooking. We had a couple of leaks from our fridge, which were scary. The floor swelled and warped! The first time I called a flooring guy and he said just to put a fan on it and dry it out. It was fine after a couple of days. In my opinion, you can’t beat the look of a continuous floor, especially if it’s an open-plan home.

  13. Sometimes some of the questions you pose in your posts require me to ponder and analyze. Not this one. Immediately, I said out loud. No. I really like several several of the tiles you posted Maria, the last one especially. Yes, for sure if at all possible re-do all the floors before moving in. We did not do that and so about a year after moving in we had to move everything out to re-do our hardwood floors which except for bathrooms and bedrooms is our entire house. I have had hardwood floors throughout including kitchen in the last two homes we have owned. Never a problem and I love the look of hardwood throughout. That’s my two cents.

  14. I understand the point of this article is that real wood flooring and fake (wood look) tile should not be placed adjacent to one another because it will just make the fake tile look even more fake and ugly. But I’m trying to understand what you mean by going “all white” in your advice to this homeowner… are you suggesting that she replace ALL of the flooring – tear up the real wood floors (yikes, I can’t imagine that’s what you meant!) along with the tile and replace it with all white flooring? Or are you suggesting that she keep the hardwood and just replace the old white tile with new white tile? Just want to make sure I’m understanding your advice. Could you clarify? Thanks, I love all of your posts!

  15. If redoing the kitchen to update it from the Tuscan trend, is it possible to make the it work with the existing beige floor tiles so that it all looks like it was installed together? For example, using cream kitchen cabinets, subway tile, etc. Or will it still look like the tile is “old”. (Imagine the floor tiles in the Palm Springs house you highlighted.)

  16. Fabulous and very useful post Maria – thank you! I have a 50s house and have been discussing this very issue (replacing vinyl tiles in kitchen) with faux wood tile to connect with the rest of the wood in the hall and LR/DR. My friend kept telling me it was just a bad idea to ever use “fake” anything. She suggested terra cotta tiles but I thought those would limit changing color schemes in the future. But perhaps there are timeless terra cotta tiles. Your article is very clear with your reasoning why to avoid faux wood tiles next to real wood. I was trying to convince myself that they would “blend” and I would be happy with the convenience of tile but you made up my mind. Thank you! I like the white tile from Desire to Inspire. I also like the hex tiles and herringbone options.

  17. Love the hex tile but for a kitchen? IDK hex tile just says bathroom floor to me. There are pros and cons for all flooring material but I love my wood look tile through most of the house with carpet in bedrooms. It is easy to clean. has a bit of texture (less slipping for me and the dogs) virtually indestructible and lovely to look at 🙂 My husband could care less about my design choices as long as I am happy.

  18. I put hardwood in my kitchen. Here was my reasoning. I could choose a tile I liked with knowledge that it would have a nearly 100% chance of looking dated in 10 years, or I could continue the hardwood in there. I don’t know the odds are of water damage in 10 years, but I know it is a lot less than 100%. The floor installer recommended I replace the water line to my refrigerator with a high quality metal braided one to improve my odds. Same in the bathrooms. So far so good. And when I drop breakable son the floor, they don’t always break. 😉

  19. Oh! I love the look of a black and white floor and have that in a bath. If this was a Spanish style place the black and white might not feel right correct? Personally I do not like wood in the kitchen (dealt with that in 4 places I have lived in and yep… no thanks it is hard on my legs and knees). Vinyl in the kitchen is my preference. Presently we are enjoying a vinyl plank which has a wood look and yes medium brown 🙂 ! I was considering a black and white lay down (no sticking or glue) vinyl that looked like tile. And btw have we talked about hardwood plank width? These wide boards I see all over the place feel trendy. Thanks!

  20. My kitchen, living and dining are all hardwood. At the far end of the kitchen is a small powder room. We chose wood looking tile that nearly perfectly matches the wood floors and are happy with the choice. However, the bathroom has a door, usually closed, and is not what you see when entering the kitchen, except from the garage. So in this instance it worked well. Our kitchen is integrated into all the other rooms and we love the continuous wood floors. It could be a problem if the dishwasher breaks and overflows, but a risk we were willing to take.

  21. Susan McCargar HerStory Home

    I completely agree that hardwoods and/or laminate woods cannot be mix and matched in the same house. We recently had flood damage in our rec condo which affected newly installed laminate. I would not even chance laying the “same” wood down as dye lots differ slightly and it becomes and obvious “redo”. Instead, I selected a lovely, large square, white marble tile with veining in same undertones to match laminate that will have transition strips butted up against each other where bedroom flooring starts. The look and performance of the tile will be wonderful and bedroom flooring need not be ripped out. The marble will flow through to our powder room (which is visible from kitchen/living/entry) and ensuite (tile was dated and the time to replace is while other work is already being done).

    As for different flooring throughout a house, I’ve seen some newer homes “updated” this way and the reason it occurs is weekend warrior DIY-ers who get deals on flooring and tackle one project at a time. Tragic but true.

    I completely agree with Maria. Bite the bullet and pay for the new flooring throughout prior to move in day! You will never regret it!