Tiles With A Difference

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Mora wood effect from Topps Tiles

I have never been a fan of faking it. I much prefer the real thing and that goes for jewellery, furniture and handbags. I have written before about my experience of fake Eames chairs and I remain firmly of the belief that if you can’t afford a particular designer, find another you do like that you can afford and buy that instead. I can’t afford Prada unless I find it second hand at my local vintage shop and that is where my bag came from.

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Legato marble effect from Topps Tiles

Recently I have relaxed my stance on this. Well, not as far as designer furniture goes – I still think there there are loads of amazing designers who are making wonderful pieces at affordable prices and you don’t have to have bust a gut for an Eames or a Wegner – although God knows I would LOVE  a set of Wegner wishbone chairs. Anyway, that’s another tale. When it comes to fakery, I will admit to a slight shaking of the principles.


It began with the fake plants. Given that I have already killed two this year (and it’s only March) and the fake one continues to fool everyone who visits, I’m starting to think that may be the way forward.

Andira rural oak tile

And then there’s tiles. I have floorboards all over my house. Painted white. With rugs on top. It’s a look I love and I wouldn’t change it. Except… except… I really hate radiators. Well, not the old school style cast iron ones but I don’t have any of those. I have modern white ones (painted to match the walls where required). This is because underfloor heating doesn’t work with suspended floorboards.

marble effect Legato tiles

Now call it age, call it improved technology, but suddenly I find myself considering the advantages of tiles that look like wood or stone. You basically can’t tell it’s not the real thing and you can have heating underneath so it’s practical as well. Not to mention draught proof – the wind that whistles up into my hall from the damp basement below has to be felt to be believed.

Antler stone effect tiles

When we did our bathroom recently we wanted a wet room shower corner. But we have floorboards in that room that is open to the bedroom next door. We didn’t want to tile the whole room, especially as we were only really replacing the shower, so we created a large area on the floor that was calculated to be bigger than the splash zone and tiled that area leaving the rest as floorboards.

callow raw finish tiles from Topps

We then put heating under the shower area but had to leave the rest of the floor. Now, I’m thinking, we could probably have found floorboard tiles to match the bedroom and tiled the whole bathroom floor with heating underneath. You live and learn. At least I do. So I’m telling you so that you can benefit from my mistakes. See – the selflessness… These tiles are all by Topps Tiles and they call it their “Get the effect, love the difference” range. I could get on board with that. Only I’m not redecorating my bathroom again. Ever. Never. Well not for a couple of years at least.








Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. It may look convincing but does not feel like wood. It is too hard. We have underfloor heating and wood planks. It is not massive wood but 3-ply sandwich boards, the top in oak and the under cross boards in fir, I think. It works fine. You cannot make it as hot as the tiles but its warms the room well and never feels cold to walk on. Of course, it wouldn’t work in a splash area, but if you are thinking about underfloor heating for the whole house, it’s a perfect solution as far as my experience goes.

  2. first experienced these tiles in Norway in a bathroom with radiant floor heating and I will use them in my next reno. Step out of a tub or shower onto a dry, warm floor? hell yeah. And the river cruise ships are using them #VikingRiverCruises… very nice. I am with you on the anti-fake and have the hardest time even wearing costume jewelry but these are fakes to love, I think. Keep up the good work!

  3. We stayed in a house in the Pyrenees when we were skiing which had ‘wooden’ floor tiles, they were actually fabulous and highly practical. I wasn’t sure I was a fan, but having seen these I was converted!

  4. I am an evangelist about fake wood tiles. I first saw them a couple of years ago used on a wall in CP Hart. I was having wood floors elsewhere in the house but didn’t want them in the kitchen because I’ve had wooden floors in kitchens before and they can stain so badly. So I put them on the floor. The tiles I chose are amazingly realistic – I don’t think I have seen 2 that have an identical print on them – and because they are frostproof my architect had the genius idea of continuing them out onto the “deck.” Except unlike a wooden deck they don’t rot or get slippery. You just whizz outside with a pressure hose and the Jeyes fluid and they look like new again.

  5. Those marble effect tiles are AMAZING and having compared them recently to the real thing, they are so worth considering! I truly couldn’t tell the difference and when installed in a shower, the effect is there without the maintenance of real marble.

    Does anyone else find the entrance with the white subway tile incredibly cold???

    1. I do, Monica – but they are all stock photos from the Topps Tiles website, so I’m not sure if it’s actually someone’s home or just something staged.

      I will be checking out the parquet floor tiles though: I’m in a Victorian maisonette and my own ground floor hallway is just a pass-through area, to get to the living space upstairs. Might work very well.

    2. Of course. They were Albini tiles in Wild Sand by CP Hart. There is a pic on the CP Hart website – all the variations in the Wild Sand pic are part of that one colourway. You will need to get your builder to lay them out so they look nice – ours carefully put all the dark ones together so we would have had stripes had he not been made to rearrange them randomly!

      I got 40% off because CP Hart had just started doing its own tiles. At the time I hadn’t seen anything like them – there is a lot more available now so you may well find something as nice or nicer for less.

  6. I don’t want to sound like a hardcore lunatic but I just hate hate hate fake! Leaving aside the fake designer thing (about which we are in complete agreement), I just can’t do ‘wood effect’ etc even if it’s really well done. It all started with a bathroom that had lino with wood grain. I know … I still shudder. Needless to say it was the only bit of the house that had been ‘done up’ (I use the quote marks advisedly) and it had to change. Rashly I pulled it up. But what to use? Everywhere else is now stripped floors and white paint and rugs – see how much we agree on – but that wasn’t possible in the bathroom. After a lot of searching, I found a porcelain tile that was quiet (and 25% off in the sale) but then came the eye watering quotes of installing them. Was it worth it? Yes yes yes!

  7. so love the tiles, although as one who lives with underfloor heating – honestly I’m having to consider putting in some fab old style radiators as only background heat and not super warm. Can’t beat underfloor on tiles though, we the cat that is and I love it in the bathroom and it can also be put up the walls too – no steamed up mirror!

  8. I like “wooden” floor tiles, especially in the bathroom. They are a great choice, although not the only one, to go with radiant hear

  9. I don’t think you should change your bathroom EVER!! And even though you may be regretting not having used these fab fake wooden tiles, you do have a beautiful contrasting floor from tile to wood, which you wouldn’t have achieved tiling the whole room. Having said that the examples of fake tiles above would definitely add some visual warmth to areas in the home and no drafts too boot. ?

    1. Bur does it FEEL right? From the pictures it’s believable but does it have the right texture and isn’t it too cold?

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