So, I’ve shared many times that when we moved into our current home, we had to do any and all remodeling on a tight budget. I knew the look I wanted, but….we certainly did NOT have the funds to go all in all the way. Maybe someday, but not right in this season. So! Instead, I researched and carried out quite a few inexpensive farmhouse hacks to create the look that I wanted but on a serious budget. Some of these are not forever-solutions, but you know what? I was tired of waiting until I could afford EVERY single EXPENSIVE thing that I’d dreamed up. I wanted my home to feel a certain way, and, while budgets were a bit tight, I found a way to make it happen! In this series, I’ll show you some of our tricky little farmhouse hacks to get the look…but on a budget.
Farmhouse hard wood floors vs. wood tile plank floors
When we moved into this home, I was big pregnant with our third daughter and my husband was fresh out of four years of pharmacy school. I had stayed home during those years, decorating cakes on the side as a way to help support the family….in other words, we were on a budget, a TIGHT budget, when it came to fixing up the house to suit my style.
One of the first changes we knew we needed to make was the flooring. It was part Spanish-esque tiles, part yellow hard woods, and a WHOLE lotta old carpet. My husband has pretty bad allergies, and I knew we needed the carpet to go. On top of that, one of my favorite design elements is when the flooring in a home, or at least in large connecting and visible rooms, all has continuous flooring. It makes the space suddenly feel bigger, more free flowing, spacious and not choppy. And I love hardwood floors, however the budget, the fact that we have so many teeny tiny kids (i.e. scratch and spill monsters), and the fact that I wanted the same flooring in kitchen and bathrooms (…again….spill and splash monster zones…) kind of ruled out hard wood flooring. After a friend had new floors installed, we realized the answer…
Our inexpensive farmhouse hack?
Wood look tile plank flooring!
I realize that you can definitely hunt up some super cheap wood floor options AND some super expensive wood tile options, and then you’re all like, “What is she even talking about with this ‘inexpensive’ phooey??” It all depends on your style. We were looking for wide, long, medium tone with greyish brown coloring, and most of the hard wood floors we looked in those categories would have cost triple what we paid for these floors. The prices of the floors in my style preferences were ranging anywhere from $5-9 a square, and that just wasn’t going to be possible with our budget.
Want to know how much we paid for an entire house-full of wide, long, medium tone with greyish brown coloring wood look tiles…?
$1.70 per square.
How, you ask?
Well, here’s where the second layer of this farmhouse hack comes in. Our tile is called Style Selections Natural Timber Cinnamon in 8x48in planks, and it sells for around $4 a square at Lowe’s. However, we found the same exact tile on eBay for less than half the price by using the search term “factory seconds tile flooring.”
When Lowe’s needs to replenish tile stock in a few stores, the tile company does a run of tiles and sends them out, but many times they run more tiles in that batch/lot than the stores can actually hold at that time. The stores try to sell tiles that have come all from the same run/batch/lot to ensure continuity of tile prints and patterns, etc. So basically, the extras are bought up at a super low price by factory seconds companies and the resold to the public, marked up a bit…but still way cheaper than buying directly from the big box store. Does that make sense? The warehouse ran too many tiles, they need to get rid off them so they can keep moving on new runs, thus they sell cheap to factory seconds companies, which then resell to US for a lower price than the originals!
One thing to note: when ordering factory seconds, I’d recommend ordering about 15-20% more tiles than your project calls for to account for broken or misprinted tiles. Our tiles were shipped via semi-truck, and, once off-loaded into the garage and unpackaged on install day, we realized almost every single tile on the base layer of the pallet was broken. Not a huge deal, because we’d ordered a bit extra, you see? We ended up with a few boxes left over to save in case of damage, and there actually weren’t any misprints that we saw!
Another tip when installing wood look tiles: use the thinnest grout line possible in order to emulate the shadow between hard wood floor planks, rather than a thick grout line that will cause your tile floors to read more like, well, tiles. A friend of mine suggested using a very dark grout as well, to further enhance that shadow effect. We had our install crew use the very thinnest spacers possible with the darkest grout we could use before going all the way to black, and I love when people are surprised to find out they’ve been walking on tiles rather than hard wood floors! Be sure to discuss grout composition and installation options with your crew beforehand.
A few aspects of wood look tiles to consider before purchase:
– They are a bit colder and harder than hard wood, but not by much. We had wood floors in one area prior to tile installation, and honestly, it isn’t that much different. You’ll only notice a big diff going from carpet to tile.
– Installation could be a little more expensive than solid wood, but, for us, that still equated to thousands less than going with hardwood floors.
– Tiles could possibly crack or chip. That’s why I suggest ordering extras, and, since we wanted the same flooring throughout the house, including “wet” areas like kitchen and bath, the prospective damage to hardwoods in those areas when compared to a possible tile chip was no contest.
– If you’re going from lots of carpet to lots of tile, just be prepared for things to sound louder at first. I mean, that’s only natural, since carpet absorbs sound. Our solution to this and to the cold/hard issue of tiles was to use inexpensive area rugs throughout the home. This adds coziness, a soft place for kiddos to land, and cuts down on noise and chilly feet…AND we can replace the rugs after stains/spills/damage accumulates over time a whole lot cheaper than if we needed to replace whole rooms full of carpet.
I hope this was helpful to you if you are considering a change in flooring now or possibly in the future! We shout from the rooftops to anyone who will listen about the benefits of wood tiles if you love the look of wood but have small kiddos or if you want a wood look in “wet rooms,” but are afraid of possible water damage. And be sure to search around for factory seconds in your area or online…you might find a steal of a deal for your own farmhouse hack!
Leave any further wood tile Q’s in the comments below, and I’ll try to help! As always, THANK YOU for taking time to make this little blog o’ mine part of your day. You’ve made it a happy place to be.
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