Tile & Wood

Not Just for Your Floor
By Trish Amundson

Graceland mansion is notable for its eclectic dEcor, including a 15-foot-long white sofa; velvet, fur and leopard-skin upholsteries; and green shag carpet on the floor, walls and ceiling. Elvis’s former home reflects styles of the 60s and 70s. At the same time, it represents a decorating trend that has remerged and improved: corresponding wall coverings and floor coverings to create a smooth, distinctive and sometimes seamless look. This is a trend you “can’t help falling in love” with.

DURABILITY AND CLEANABILITY OF TILE

According to Mindy Junge, managing member at Junge’s Flooring, a common material used for both floors and walls—especially showers and backsplashes—is ceramic tile. The material is known for its durability and cleanability. It allows you to easily mix and match collections that vary in tile size and design to add appeal.

You can introduce color and texture by combining the beautiful look of different materials. “Popular wall tiles currently are the subway tiles and natural stone,” says Junge. A variety of installation options gives you the ability to create a unique look that fits your style, such as a checkerboard, herringbone, brickwork, diamond, windmill, basket-weave or a pinwheel layout. “It comes down to personal preference and taste,” she says. “There are many different designs and colors to choose from.”

BEAUTY OF TILE

Experts at jungesflooring.com describe the benefits of installing tile on your floors and walls to enhance areas of your home:

  • Thin, linear tile in white can make a bathroom sophisticated yet serene if used on both the floor and walls. Calming, yet modern and stylish, the combination creates a subtle visual impact while maintaining a relaxed feel.
  • Using floor tile on kitchen walls will enhance the clean lines and sleek, smooth surfaces that characterize the modern kitchen. Equal parts functional and stylish, tile provides the perfect easy-to-clean kitchen surface as well.
  • Versatile gray tiles are available in a variety of shades, and the combined effect of gray shades for both wall and floor tile creates effortless sophistication. You can get creative and layer the gray tones by using one for the floor and one or two different varieties on the walls.
  • In smaller rooms, tile can transform the overall feel. Mosaics and tile that require several grout lines could feel too busy, but medium-sized tiles in longer or hexagonal shapes can help create an eye-catching design that flows visually from the floor to wall. Tiles with surfaces that reflect light will also help make
    a space feel more airy and bright.

Junge’s cautions, “Never use wall tile for floors, but you can use floor tiles on walls! Since wall tile does not need to hold up to foot traffic, unusual and exotic tile materials can be used for bold, unique, eye-catching installations that allow decorators and homeowners to completely break up any monotony within rooms. Glass, leather, tin, steel and of course stone can be used on walls for a dazzling effect.” The company suggests consulting a professional about the weight of floor tile to be used on a wall, which will help determine the combined weight of the surface to ensure it meets maximum weight restriction guidelines.

TILE WALL COVERING

Wall tile is becoming a favored wall covering, and Missy Bakken from DeGeus Tile and Granite and DeGeus Carpetsplus is familiar with the popularity of coordinated tile installations. “The trend for consumers to install tile on flooring and walls is a very popular choice in bathrooms,” she says. The company offers products including ceramic tile and a variety of natural stones such as travertine, granite and marble. These options can stand the test of time in both aesthetic appeal and durability. Each product has distinctive characteristics and looks and varies widely in performance and cost. DeGeus carries a wide selection of products for floors and walls, from large-format tile measuring 12 inches x 24 inches and larger, to stone and glass mosaics for custom showers and backsplashes.

WOOD WALL COVERING

Repurposed wood as well as other options can add natural beauty and character wherever it is installed. On walls, it can add texture and appeal while hiding dings and dents—and can complement your wood floors. Current trends in wood wall applications include shiplap, self-adhesive wood planks and reclaimed wood, plus a few options available from your flooring store.

Installation method and stability of wood or wood-like materials will vary based on the specific material chosen, which should carefully be considered when selecting products for your floors, walls or for both. Solid wood flooring is very durable but can shrink or expand based on humidity levels. Engineered floors can have greater dimensional stability in extreme temperatures to help avoid buckling or rippling.

“Wood-look tile is an established favorite. In fact, wood-look tile is looking better and better with each new product introduced,” say the DeGeus professionals (degeusflooring.com), who describe how the trend is shifting toward more creative uses of wood-look tile. “This includes the materials being installed in interesting patterns and also making a strong appearance on the walls. Everything from the barn wood look to aged painted planks is making an appearance.”

LVP (luxury vinyl plank) is another popular wood-look option, which is waterproof and can be used in all floors of the home. “It provides an excellent choice for consumers in lower levels or even main levels of the home,” says Bakken. LVP can be installed by the professionals, and it also can be installed by the do-it-yourselfer. “We have a few products like LVP that are much more user friendly for consumers to install,” she adds.

WOOD-LOOK FLOORING

An improvement over wood paneling of the past, wood-look flooring can be used on walls to add character and style. For instance, armstrongflooring.com states that three of the company’s laminate flooring options are designed for wall installation, too. Wood-look laminate options resemble rustic barnwood, weathered concrete and reclaimed metal—and they’re just as easy to maintain as a laminate floor, with protection from scratches and fading. These options can be easily installed over drywall on any level of the home. Also available are matching baseboards and molding to complete the look for full wood walls, panels, wainscoting or other accents.

Lumberliquidators.com includes a video about how to upgrade a single wall or an entire room in your home with wood flooring. You’ll learn how the process works best on straight, dry and clean walls and is not recommended for use over wallpaper or paneling. The website advises against using heavy wood flooring for this application and provides helpful installation tips, including details about measuring, needed tools and installation.

OPTIONS FOR EVERY BUDGET AND ABILITY

Your budget will help determine a lot about the best floor and wall covering options for you. The cost of tile will vary based on your selection. “There is tile that can be quite expensive,” says Junge. “But if installed correctly, it can essentially last a lifetime.” Installation can be labor intensive, too, whether paying for the service or doing it yourself. “We recommend do-it-yourselfers get the appropriate waterproofing and installation materials and directions,” she says. If this is not done, future repairs can be very costly. Consult a professional first.”

Engineered hardwood is generally less expensive than solid hardwood, but ultimately the quality and species of wood will be the biggest price determinants. LVP tends to cost less than tile and hardwood.

Several materials can be used on both floors and ceilings to create a harmonizing or unified look. Carpet is still a very common and cost effective option for flooring, but on the walls, it will likely make you make you feel “all shook up.”

Trish Amundson is a Rochester-area freelance writer who enjoyed touring Graceland.