Material Comparison

Comparing ceramic tile and engineered wood

Tile is more durable and long-lasting than engineered wood.

Tile vs. Engineered Wood

Engineered wood flooring is composed of thin slices of wood less than ⅛” thick on top of plywood or high density fiberboard. Engineered hardwood is popular for providing the appearance of hardwood flooring with improved moisture resistance.



Engineered wood looks like real wood, because it is real wood. The section of the board that you see can be any species desired. The same as with hardwood, it can be deliberately distressed for a more vintage appearance, colored with a finish or lacquer, or left with its natural color and texture.


Financial Differences

Engineered wood floors have a purchase and installation price comparable to hardwood floors. They also come with a significantly shorter lifespan as they cannot be refinished.

Installing Engineered Wood

The installation cost of engineered wood averages $12.50 per square foot:

  • $2.50-10 per square foot for material, averaging $6.25 per square foot
  • $5-7 per square foot for installation, averaging $6 per square foot

At $12.50 per square foot, the total average installation cost for engineered wood in a 100-square-foot area would be $1,250.

Installing Tile

The initial cost for tile installation, by comparison, is initially more expensive.

  • $5-15 per square foot for materials, averaging $10 per square foot.
  • $6-8 per square foot for installation, averaging $7 per square foot.

That comes to $17 per square foot, resulting in a $1,700 investment to install ceramic tile in a 100-square-foot space.

Maintenance Costs

Engineered wood has a lifespan of 20-30 years depending on how much traffic it endures. Only the thin panel on the surface of engineered wood is actually wood. This means that it has a very limited number of times it can be refinished, if the  panel is thick enough to be sanded and refinished at all.

Assuming you can refinish your engineered wood floor, it will cost between $1.50 – $5.00 per square foot every five years. At an average of $3.75 per square foot over 100 square feet, that’s an additional $375 every five years.

The longer you have an engineered wood floor, the more it costs you. If you opt for flooring with a top panel thick enough to be refinished, then you are looking at an additional $375 dollars per every 100 square feet every 5 years.

At (Lifetime) Ceramic Tile Engineered Wood

(Not including refinishing)

Initial Cost $1,700 $1,250
10 years $1,700 $1,250
20 years $1,700 $1,250 – 2,500
30 years $1,700 $2,500
40 years $1,700 $2,500 – 5,000
50 years $1,700 $5,000


Health & Safety

Engineered wood’s safety has a number of variables that depend upon the brand and quality. Depending on the adhesives used to bind the plies together, you may have a significant amount of the probable carcinogen formaldehyde present.

The lack of shock absorbency in engineered wood can be harmful to your body. Unless you plan on always wearing shock absorbent shoes or slippers when indoors, the hard impact will eventually start to hurt. Your feet take the brunt of the impact, and once they begin to hurt your posture will naturally change to avoid hurting them further. This puts the stress of the impact on the next joint up, the ankle. Eventually the ankle begins to hurt and you adjust again. This continues up through the knees and hips. Prolonged walking over hard surfaces such as engineered wood can lead to hip, back, shoulder, and neck pain.


Environmental Sustainability

The environmental benefits of engineered wood include using significantly less trees than traditional hardwood floors. What otherwise would be lost as scrap can be broken down and reassembled as fiberboard and plywood for the inner plies of the board, meaning less waste.

Engineered wood still has a relatively short lifespan compared to ceramic tile which can last well over 200 years if properly maintained.

Extra Resources

Download #OutsideTheBox: Your Field Guide to Tile…and get started now!