How to Combine Tile and Wood Flooring: A Guide for Creating a Custom Look

By Joe McGuinty
Last update:

You might want to create a unique look in your home, or you could have two types of flooring that you absolutely love. If you’re currently planning a new renovation project for your home, or if you’re hoping to renovate in the future, you may have wondered if it’s possible to use both tile and wood flooring in your home design.

With the right strategies and forethought, combining multiple flooring types is definitely possible — and worth the effort. A carefully planned project will leave you with one-of-a-kind flooring that you’ll be proud to show off. 

By understanding how to combine tile and wood flooring through these tips for design and installation, you can use these materials to create durable and beautiful floors.  

What Do You Need to Install New Flooring?

When it comes to installing either wood or tile flooring, you’ll need to start with a few common items:

  • Hammer
  • Tape measure
  • Pry bar
  • Eye and ear protection
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Utility knife
  • Level
  • Clamps
  • Pencil
  • Duct tape

There are some tools and equipment that you’ll need specifically for the installation of tile and wood flooring. This includes a laminate cutter for the tiles and a table saw for the hardwood flooring. 

For laying hardwood floor planks, you can use wood putty and nails. Use an electric drill to make it easier to position the nail holes. In laying the tiling, you’ll need caulking, a putty knife, and finishing nails.

How to Combine Tile and Wood Flooring: A Step-by-Step Guide

You’ll want to keep these tips for installing mixed flooring accessible as you start your project to help you with the installation process.

1. Decide What to Lay First

There isn’t a steadfast rule in regard to the order in which you lay 2 different flooring surfaces. Since ceramic tiles are more permanent, it might be a good idea to lay them first. 

2. Install the Underlayment

Sweep the area clean to remove dust and debris before installing the underlayment. Whether you use fiberboard or concrete board, make sure the material is at least ¼ of an inch in thickness. 

To install the underlayment, spread a layer of mortar that has a thickness of ⅛ of an inch throughout. Once you press the underlayment into place, secure it with nails. 

When applying vapor barrier paper over the underlayment, place the material flush against each wall. Seal the paper into place with 2-sided butyl tape.

Measure and compare the thickness of the wood and tile flooring. They’re likely to be uneven. After applying the vapor barrier paper, you can nail ½ inch wood planks to compensate for the difference between tiles and wood. 

3. Lay Down the Mortar

Lay down a generous layer of mortar. While you want a good thickness, avoid being too excessive. Too much mortar will cause it to bleed between the tiles and wood planks. 

A rule of thumb recommended by professional installers is to make the mortar ¼ to ⅛ of an inch thicker than the flooring manufacturer’s recommendation. 

4. Install the Tiles

You can then begin installing ceramic or glass mosaic tiles according to your design plans. You’ll need to know how to combine tile and wood flooring in a way that makes the entire floor seamless. To achieve this, use transition strips where the tiles will meet the wood flooring.

There are several types of transition strips. You can find strips that slip beneath the tile and wood flooring for an invisible transition. Alternatively, a reducer strip creates a visible bridge between 2 different flooring types. A T-strip creates a more secure bond by gripping the tile on 1 side and the wood plank on the other side.

5. Secure Hardwood Floors in Place

Finally, you can lay the wood flooring planks in place. Walking on wood flooring can create an echo, but you can eliminate that noise by using padding beneath the wood flooring. Use carpenter nails to secure each tile in place.

Tips for Blending Tile and Wood Flooring

As you learn how to combine tile and wood flooring, it can help to consider a few pro tips:

Go for a Lighter Finish

If you’re remodeling a smaller room, choose tiles with a light gray or cream-colored finish. You can also choose hardwood with a lighter finish. These options can help you create the impression of a larger space.

Use Dark Hardwood to Capture a Cozier Atmosphere

Just as light colors can make a room feel bigger, darker colors will have the opposite effect. Install hardwood with a dark finish to create a more intimate setting. 

Avoid Matching Your Flooring

Matching your tile flooring and hardwood too closely can create a monochromatic look. Try to contrast your 2 types of flooring. Look for styles and colors that complement one another.

Examples of Floors that Mix Wood and Tile

If you’re having trouble imagining the design you want for your home, try these ideas to help you get started:

Create a Tile Border

You can frame your wood flooring by creating a ceramic tile border that extends around the perimeter of the room. Use white tiles to frame dark wood or switch the tones. 

Create a Tan and Beige Center

When mixing wood and tile floors, consider using the wood flooring for the majority of the room. In the center, create a ceramic or glass mosaic focal point with your tiles. 

Use Wood for a Simple Criss-Cross Pattern 

An easy way to combine wood and tile is to run wood planks between the tiles. You’ll use fewer tiles as you create a pattern that appeals to you. 

FAQs About Using Tile and Wood Flooring Together

The answers to a few frequently asked questions can give you a little more insight into your project. 

How Do You Transition Between Wood and Tile Floors?

A transition strip is effective for setting wood flooring next to tiles. Another alternative is to use a seam binder, which you‘ll fasten to the subfloor. The seam binder can also connect 2 different types of wood flooring. Make sure both types of wood have the grain flowing in the same direction.

Can You Mix Tile and Wood Floors?

By following this step-by-step guide, you can mix tile and wood flooring together. During the planning stage, it can help to lay out the tiles and wood planks. You’ll be able to see how your design looks before you make any permanent changes. 

Do You Grout Between Tile and Wood?

Surround each tile with a grout barrier. This includes tile edges that meet other tile edges as well as those that meet the walls or wood flooring.

A Detailed Plan Will Help You Get Professional Results

Combining tile and wood flooring can create a unique and memorable look. With a little extra planning, you can get the results you expect from your flooring project. 

Did you enjoy this guide? Make sure to share this article if you found it useful, and leave a comment with your thoughts below.

Photo of author

AUTHOR

Joe McGuinty
I’ve been working with floors for over 12 years. I started as a flooring contractor, primarily in materials selection. Then, I switched careers into accounting, so my wife and I began buying, renovating, and re-selling homes on the side. You’d be surprised how much value you can add to a home simply by adding new floors.

Leave a Comment