The beauty of nature, the strength of porcelain | by Benedetto Marzullo

Article published in: "Wood-look tiles in interior design"

Part of a growing trend, wood-look ceramic tile offers many advantages over traditional parquet flooring but without losing the warm, welcoming look of the original material.

Wood-look ceramic tile, a product that has been part of a growing trend in the sector for a number of years, combines the appeal of a natural material with the performance of a high-quality industrial product. In this trend, porcelain tiles in a wide range of sizes but with the characteristic look of wood are used on floors in place of traditional parquet. In some cases this new material even outdoes wood itself and delivers solutions that surpass the characteristics of the original material, including colours, shades, grain and effects that are not present in real wood and cannot in fact be replicated in nature.

But first things first. Functionality, practicality and beauty are characteristics that everyone looks for in their ideal home. But some natural materials such as marble, stone and wood are often difficult to maintain, as well as being very delicate. Thanks to their intrinsic characteristics, porcelain tiles offer a number of advantages over traditional wood floors while maintaining their typical warm and welcoming appearance. These include strength, resistance, durability and ease of cleaning coupled with enormous decorative potential. Wood-look ceramic has high wear resistance, making it suitable for use in high-traffic areas and ideal for creating continuous floors extending throughout the home. In particular, its low porosity makes it perfect for use in wet areas like bathrooms and kitchens. Due to its excellent technical characteristics, it can also be successfully used in exterior spaces such as terraces, balconies and verandas. Its surface finish is unaffected by exposure to sunlight without the need for any kind of treatment or specific maintenance, and the version with anti-slip finish is perfect for swimming pool surrounds. All of these are reasons why ceramic parquet is a very popular alternative amongst both architects and end users.

The strength of wood-effect porcelain floors lies in their ability to provide a faithful reproduction of the surface grain, textures and details, as well as the tactile feel of natural wood. Moreover, they are resistant to abrasion and foot traffic and come in a wide range of sizes, from small 7.5×45 cm and 11×50 cm strips up to 15×90 cm, 30×120 cm and 20×120 cm, 30×120 cm and 40×120 cm rectified planks, and even 20×180 cm and larger. They even come in sizes and versions that are unknown in the world of original parquet, such as the novel square sizes from 34×34 cm to 90×90 cm. Another important aspect from the perspective of sustainable architecture is the fact that porcelain is the best material for use in conjunction with a low-temperature heated floor system as its value of thermal conductivity ensures excellent performance of the system. And now that some natural woods have become extremely rare and are no longer available for use in building, wood-look porcelain has become a very eco-friendly alternative. As the producers proudly point out: “No tree has been cut down to produce your floor”.

As we were saying, the aesthetics of ceramic parquet sometimes even surpass those of the natural product. For example, porcelain is available in ultra-modern finishes and colours such as grey, white and brown, patterns based on aged, timeworn and sunburnt wood and an original strip effect design. It reproduces the look of bleached planks and the effect of large filled knots, grain and colour variations, or alternatively wood entirely free of knots – something that is very difficult to achieve with natural wood. Some producers offer highly original pickled finishes, while others recreate the appeal of old, timeworn wood that has been restored and painted. But of course these are not actually “stripped” or “aged” wood-look ceramic floor or wall tiles but an authentic artistic interpretation. Perhaps this is another reason why wood-look ceramic is so popular.

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