Types of Tile

The many choices, origins, and uses of one of construction’s most-used materials.

In the world of decorating and renovation, few choices have quite as important of an impact as choosing what type of floor you want to install. From kitchens to bathrooms, your flooring decision has to take into account not only style and cost, but also functionality. The wrong kind of flooring, or an improper installation of the right kind, can end up turning your dream renovation into a costly mistake that requires more and more work. Though carpet, wood, cement, and other floor materials remain popular in houses and places of business throughout the world, no material is quite as versatile, customizable, or durable as tile.

A great addition any kitchen, bathroom, or living space, tile’s diverse usage can give your sleek modern design that extra streamlined touch, or your warm homey feel exactly the support it needs to come to fruition. Though we usually simply refer to tile as “tile,” the reality is there are quite a few different options when it comes to our favorite square surface, and not every one is right for every project. In an effort to clear up any misconceptions you may have, let’s take a look at the different kinds of tile that you can choose to add to your design, and how they will help give you the exact look you’re hoping to achieve.

Ceramic or Stone?

Tile, for the most part, falls into two distinct categories: ceramic or stone. Ceramic tile is made from natural white or red clay which is shaped into individual tiles and then fired in a kiln at high temperature. Decorative glazes are then added to give diverse colors, patterns, and even textures to the tiles, presenting seemingly unlimited customization options unmatched by stone. This process allows for large batches of tile designs to be created that work sequentially – ideal for projects like backsplashes and showers, areas that don’t tend to get a lot of wear-and-tear use but can really flourish with the right decorating touches.

Porcelain

The other type of tile that falls technically into the ceramic category is porcelain. Though it’s also made from natural clays, porcelain tile starts its life as pressed clay dust, and the final result is a sturdier title that is almost virtually water resistant. Porcelain, like traditional ceramic tile, is also glazed and fired, helping to create a much more durable tile that is perfect for indoor and outdoor use in your highest traffic areas.

Though non-porcelain ceramic tile tends to be more susceptible to damage and chipping, and porcelain ceramic tile tends to be heavier and more expensive, both serve as great choices when it comes to redoing your floors. If you’re ready to put ceramic in your house, be sure to browse our huge library of tile – you’ll be sure to find one that perfectly suits your vision.

Stone tile, unlike ceramic, is quarried directly from the earth – hand selected for its incredible natural artistry, diversity in color, and practical use. One the oldest and most common design and building materials used throughout human history, stone will give your space a one-of-a-kind feel that can’t be recreated by glazes or man-made designs. Though each cut of stone can offer you a different design quality or pattern, different stones are best for different projects. Let’s identify some of the most popular types of stone tile available, and see how they might be worked into your renovation.

Marble

If it’s good enough for the Taj Mahal and the Parthenon in Greece, then it is most certainly a great choice for your renovation project. One of the most diversely applicable stone tiles, Marble’s natural beauty and durability is its biggest draw. No two pieces are the same, yet every single one is a work of art.

Slate

Slate, a type of igneous rock, serves its purpose best in informal areas that may be prone to the presence of water (including outdoor patios, gardens, or indoor pass-through areas like vestibules). Naturally slip resistant, slate is a great choice for the budget-conscious designer who still wants a great final look for their project.

Granite

Granite, which comes from the latin word granum, (grain) is named for its unique speckled appearance. Though extremely common in counter tops, granite can be used in the highest traffic areas in commercial or home settings, and will bring beauty wherever it’s laid.

Quartz

Eye catching, elegant, and lacking the high-end price tag of some of the pricier stones, Quartz Tile has gained quite a bit of popularity in the last several decades.  Amazingly durable and skid-free, Quartz is available in a wide variety of colors and is perfect for indoor or outdoor application.

Sandstone

A gorgeous naturally smooth-looking tile, sandstone offers versatile options for designers, but generally isn’t recommended for kitchens or bathrooms because of its porous nature. Sandstone, however, can be a naturally stunning choice for almost any other area in your house.

Limestone

Naturally elegant, Limestone’s looks are often parodied by porcelain or ceramic tile. The real thing is quite soft and porous, and can make for a challenging and methodical cleaning and care regimen. Travertine, a deposited Limestone mostly formed by mineral springs, has its own unique visual quality with a pitted appearance.

Onyx

Available in a variety of shades, Onyx’s unique translucent looks are formed by millions of years of flowing spring water. Available in a diverse range of colors from brown to white, Onyx is an extremely fragile stone and requires expertise and caution when installing.

Final Thought

As you can see, tile isn’t just a word to throw around when planning your design. With its variety of colors, materials, textures, and use options, your choice of tile could very well be the make-or-break decision of your entire project.

As with any home improvement or construction project, consulting and hiring a knowledgeable and talented professional to help you complete your design, and make sure your installation is done correctly, is of the utmost importance. Don’t take the chance of ordering the wrong materials or paying a run-of-the-mill contractor for questionable results, let our expert staff help make your project as beautiful, and as perfect, as it can possibly can be.