Purchasing flooring has traditionally meant a compromise between appearance and durability. It’s starting to change.
Wood, prized for its warmth and texture, isn’t the best choice in high-traffic areas like family rooms, kitchens, hallways, and mudrooms because it scratches and dents easily. However, more durable flooring like tile can feel cold and unattractive.
Today, however, the holy grail of flooring – the look of wood plus the strength of tile – is a reality. Wood-look porcelain tile, a relatively new type of flooring, does not have the “gift” of a new wood floor, but in terms of appearance, it is a very good facsimile. . And Consumer Reports tests show it’s tough enough to hold up in high-traffic areas like hallways, kitchens and basements.
“Tile is the highest-rated flooring among the categories we test,” says Enrique de Paz, who leads flooring testing at Consumer Reports. “It does not wear, scratch or stain. Its color won’t fade, it’s waterproof, and it’s surprisingly non-slip, even when wet. Porcelain tiles are the best choice for bathrooms, mudrooms, laundry rooms and probably kitchens. Why the qualifier for kitchens? “It can crack when something heavy falls on it,” says de Paz. Tiled floors are also unforgiving when it comes to falling glassware or crockery.