We use cookies to give you a better experience of Bona's web.Read about cookies on bona.com

United States

Wood-Look Tile Install Guide

Consumers love wood-look tiles, but they can be a challenge to install. Learn the challenges and solutions for a successful wood look tile installation.


The look of natural hardwood flooring can’t be beat—its timeless quality makes it flexible for every taste. However, no floor is perfect. Today’s consumers want easy, no-fuss floors while enjoying the look of high-end styles. To this end, many flooring manufacturers are making it easier for consumers to enjoy the look of hardwood without actual hardwood. 

Since many wood-look options are cheaper than the real thing and are relatively easy to install, consumers often think that their DIY skills are enough to save them from extra installation costs. However, when it comes to the popular option of wood-look tile, it’s important to stress to your customers the need for a professional installer. Installing wood-look tiles are more challenging than regular tile. It’s a large format tile, giving installers a smaller margin of error. Here are some tips to help make installing wood-look tile easier.


Substrate Prep

Proper preparation of the substrate is necessary when installing wood-look tiles. Installers need to make sure the substrate is flat and fix any imperfections before installation. Any dips must be filled, and peaks must be leveled. The Tile Council of North America recommends 1/4” maximum deviation from planarity every 10 feet, 1/16” deviation for every foot, and 1/32” deviation between adjoining edges to have a flat substrate. After the floor is prepped, be sure to use a mortar designed for large format tiles.


Proper Offset

To create a more natural appearance in wood-look tile floor, it is important to consider how the tile is offset. Traditionally, tiles usually had a 50% offset, much like the installation of brick. However, industry standards suggest an offset maximum of 33% to help reduce lippage.


Grout Concerns

Because consumers want wood-look tiles to mimic natural hardwood to the best of its ability, they may instinctively prefer very thin grout lines between tiles. Industry standards set the thinnest line of grout to be 1/16” with a recommended minimum of 1/8” thick. This recommended minimum makes installation easier and helps reduce the appearance of lippage between tiles. Using narrow grout lines isn’t impossible—it just needs more precision and an experienced installer. If narrow grout lines are to be used, discuss the option of rectified tiles with your customers.

Helping customers get a floor they love can be a worthwhile challenge. The wide range of flooring materials and their ability to mimic natural flooring can make customers unprepared or uninformed of their options. It’s up to professionals to share their knowledge and expertise to guide customers to the floor of their dreams.


The Bona professional website has lots of helpful resources and information to keep flooring contractors up to date on product info and industry best practices. Learn more about our resources for professionals.