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13 Different Types of Tiles for Flooring

Various surfaces made from different flooring tiles

When looking for the most suitable flooring, homeowners should be aware of the different types of tiles for flooring which is distinct from wall tiles and vary in materials and characteristics.

Homeowners nowadays like to integrate aesthetics into everything at home, including the flooring. When searching for a suitable type of flooring, tiles offer lasting beauty, functionality, and durability and have massive advantages over other flooring alternatives.

Once installed, they are easy to clean, have a longer lifespan than other flooring types, and do not require additional professional maintenance. As a result, floor tiles are no longer confined to ‘wet areas’ such as bathrooms. People are integrating these finishes into most other rooms of their homes.

However, when you look to purchase tiles specifically for floors, make sure you don’t end up getting tiles that belong on walls.

You should be aware of some major characteristics that distinguish flooring tiles from wall tiles. As opposed to the extremely slick wall tiles, flooring tiles should have a COF rating of 0.5 or greater to maintain a suitable level of friction to walk on. Similarly, floor tiles typically possess a water absorption capacity of 3%, much lower than that for wall tile, which can go as high as 10%.

As we dig deeper into flooring tiles, we find that there are many different types manufactured from various materials such as clay, metal, quartz, stone, and terrazzo. Each of these types has characteristics meant to serve the nature of use, style, the size, and available space for tiling. Here is a list of the most popular types of tiles for flooring:

Related: Staircases with Tile Flooring | Bedrooms with Tile Flooring | Types of Tile Removal Tools

Ceramic TilesFloor application for ceramic tiles

Ceramic tiles are among the most sought after tiles that are manufactured from clay materials. They are quarried, prepared, and then molded for use. You’ll be impressed by their ability to complement almost every interior décor you admire. The most significant features of ceramic tiles include their long lifespan, their versatility of use, and their high resistance to scratches and abrasion.

Their durability allows them to withstand years of constant foot traffic. In addition, they offer a wide range of design possibilities. Usually covered in a durable glaze, ceramic tiles come with incomparable patterns and colors.

However, ceramic tiles shouldn’t be installed outdoors because they can’t cope well with the heat, nor do they adapt well to the cold temperatures that winter brings. Moreover, they have a tendency to absorb water.

The following are some varieties of ceramic tiles:

Porcelain Tiles Cutting and measuring porcelain tiles

Because of the subtle difference between porcelain tiles and ceramic tiles, porcelain tiles are often classified as a type of ceramic tile. Porcelain tiles are manufactured from denser clay and treated at much higher temperatures than non-porcelain ceramic tiles. The resultant material is, therefore, much more sturdy and resistant to damage. In contrast to standard ceramic tiles, porcelain tiles can be used outdoors because of their negligible porosity and better resistance to frost and extreme temperatures.

Available in both polished and unpolished versions, porcelain tiles are suitable for various domestic applications as well as some commercial ones with light foot traffic. They are also available in glazed forms, but they are less robust in this form.

Quarry TilesQuarry tiles flooring application

While quarry tiles are often thought to originate from quarries, few are aware of the fact that they are manufactured from materials such as clay, shale, and feldspar that are ground together and molded into tiles. These minerals result in a harder flooring tile with low porosity that can be used both indoors and outdoors.

Mosaic TilesWhite and grey mosaic tile flooring

Mosaic tiles are highly popular for small room applications such as kitchens and bathrooms. Basically, these are tiles with smaller surface areas. Each tile measures less than 2 inches in both length and width. As a result, they are easier to install in smaller rooms. However, what leads to a spectacular finish is using the right tools for cutting. One of the best cutting tools is a RUBI tile cutter that offers incredible precision in cutting.

Source: Rubi

Marble TilesFlooring tiles made using marble stone

If your priority is adding aesthetic value and elegance to your home, marble tiles are an ideal choice. They’re manufactured from the highly durable natural marble stone. Because of the variability of the component materials extracted, marble tiles are available in almost every color. You also have a number of finishing options for marble tiles, such as polished, brushed, honed, tumbled, etc., making them ideal for any room application.

However, marble tiles are prone to stains and spillages because of their porous nature. Therefore, they are hardly used outdoors. But using an appropriate surface sealer before installation can lower its porosity. The sealer acts as an invisible protective layer on the tile surface, clogging the pores.

In addition, marble tiles are an expensive option, so you need to take into account the costs associated with using them for flooring.

Granite Tiles Flooring tiles made using granite

If you’re looking to install tiles in an area with heavy foot traffic, granite tiles are the best option. They’re made from the dense and hard igneous rock, granite. The speckled minerals and unique veining of this rock not only distinguish it from other materials, but the combination of the two also means that no two granite surfaces are the same. As a result, granite tiles have a wonderful reputation in the flooring industry. Coming in a vast range of colors and offering high aesthetic value, luxurious establishments have a high demand for them.

The natural and durable material used helps produce a scratch-resistant surface. Apart from being resistant to acids, granite tiles come in light and small forms, making them easy to work with.

Yet, granite tiles are highly porous and prone to stains like marble tiles. But once polished, they perform well when it comes to resisting scratches.

Source: Active rain

Travertine TilesThe application of travertine tiles in a luxury bathroom

Travertine tiles are manufactured from travertine, a type of limestone that is a byproduct of hot springs, natural artesian springs, and caves around the globe. The material is available in varying colors and comprises of pits and a rough texture produced by air bubbles and organic matter. The stylish surface of travertine tiles enlightens your interior space and brings a natural look to it.

The longevity of the travertine material can be judged from the fact that the ancient Roman structures you see in Italy today were constructed using this material. Hence, travertine is ideal for building temples, sculptures, and theaters. Contemporarily, it is considered perfect in the construction of walkways, bathrooms, pool decks, and other applications where water exposure is high. As an environmentally-friendly material, travertine is 100% biodegradable. It’s durable as well as easy-to-repair.

Even though it’s a cheaper option as compared to other high-end materials, travertine can still be expensive, and many people can’t afford to install tiles made from this material.

Slate TilesSlate tile flooring

Slate, acquired from natural mineral deposits, is among the most popular materials used in the flooring industry. It helps produce exceptionally durable tiles and induces natural beauty to give that gorgeous look to your floor. The material has the potential to keep the room warm, and its high slip resistance ensures a safe flooring option.

Although slate tiles are a cheaper flooring solution compared to marble and granite tiles, they’re still considered high-end, requiring you to pay more than you would for ceramic tiles.

Source: Tile restoration

Sandstone Tiles Sandstone tile flooring

Sandstone tiles are designed to give a rich, natural feel to your outdoor areas. Among the most common applications include pool surroundings, patios, and walkways. Available in various colors, styles, and sizes, sandstone tiles provide a fantastic earthy appeal to wherever they’re used.

Terrazzo TilesTerrazzo tile flooring

Terrazzo tiles are composed of multiple other material types that mainly include marble, granite, quartz, and glass. The preparation process involves curing, grounding, and polishing. The resultant surface is long-lasting, smooth, shiny, and attractive, making it ideal for public buildings. However, it isn’t the best type of tile material for installation in homes because of its slippery nature.

Onyx TilesA close-up of an onyx tile texture

Manufactured from a translucent, calciferous stone called onyx, onyx tiles appear very similar to marble tiles. The unique translucent appearance resulting from the onyx stone’s rich mineral density makes it perfect for use in your living room. However, given the fragile nature of the stone, it lacks the strength required from a tile. Therefore, onyx tiles are produced using resin, mesh, or fiberglass backing to enhance their strength.

Onyx tiles come in various surface forms that possess unique characteristics which determine their use. They’re available in different colors and are often used indoors and for light traffic flooring applications. However, it is important to blend the colors to present a pleasing color variation. Also, a dry layout ought to be performed before the actual installation to ensure the best outlook.

The preparation and installation of onyx tiles demand specialized skills of a professional. Hence, you should be prepared to pay more for the installation of these tiles.

Source: Gemmil homes

Wooden Tiles Wooden tiles concept

Based on the latest preferences and reviews, the wooden tiling style is becoming trendy and popular. What’s unique about wooden tiles is their ability to expand and contract with the different levels of humidity in your home. Let’s consider the options available within this category:

Hardwood TilesLuxury hardwood floor application

Hardwood flooring tiles are widely known for increasing the value of homes. As soon as homeowners install hardwood on their floors, the value of the property increases owing to the non-depreciating value of wooden floors. Unlike other surfaces, hardwood floors do not require replacements every few years, and they are easy to maintain and care for after installation.

While many other types of floors easily show any stains or dirt, hardwood tiles don’t. Even though it may show a bit of wear, hardwood floors are sure to last a lifetime.

Hardwood tiles are particularly desirable among first-time homeowners. Installing hardwood floors in your new home adds your own taste and personality to your living space without requiring any extra effort on your part. People highly prefer homes with hardwood flooring. Hence, even if you’re looking to sell your home, hardwood flooring is a great idea.

No one likes spending much on cleaning. Expenditures like carpet cleaning, stain removing, and steaming can all be curbed by installing hardwood floors. You don’t need a sophisticated vacuum cleaner for cleaning hardwood floors; a wood soap and a mop are more than enough to maintain a shining wooden floor.

Hence, by using hardwood flooring, you can not only improve the charm and beauty of your home but also ensure a high property value for both sale and rental purposes.

Source: Paine floor covering

Faux Wood TilesFaux wood tiling concept

Combining the natural beauty of wood with the durability of tiles, the faux wood tiling style is the hottest trend in the flooring industry. More durable and water-resistant than hardwood, faux wood offers unlimited designs, is free of termite risks and demand little maintenance. Although the tiles look like they’re made of wood, they’re actually made of ceramic material.

Faux wood tiles are rapidly substituting hardwood for a number of reasons. While hardwood flooring can easily get scratched from foot traffic and furniture movements, faux wood offers outstanding resistance to scratches. This makes them ideal for high foot traffic applications that can last for decades or even a lifetime.

People often struggle to find the right flooring material for use in moisture-prone areas such as bathrooms and kitchens. Unlike hardwood and many other flooring options, faux wood tiles do not absorb water. Hence, they function incredibly in wet application areas.

Even though it’s easy to clean hardwood floors, they demand regular refinishing, re-staining, and resealing. One the other hand, because faux wood tiles are actually made of ceramic material, only minor maintenance using basic tile cleaners is required.

Moreover, in contrast with hardwood, faux wood is not susceptible to a termite attack. Hardwood floors infested with termites cannot be fixed. The only solution is to replace the entire floor with a new one which can empty your wallet in no time. Hence, to avoid any such issues, faux wood tiles should be considered for flooring in areas with a history of termites.

Besides this, faux wood tiles offer countless different designs featuring different colors and textures. Plus, you can now get customized wood flooring finishes of your choice which are not easily available in the market. This has been made possible with the discovery of the recent inkjet technology. For instance, because of high demand, the perfect piece of reclaimed wood is extremely expensive and not easy to find in the market. Faux wood can offer the texture of reclaimed wood cheaply and without much effort.

Finally, you’ll save a lot of money with faux wood tiles. Even though they offer so many benefits over hardwood flooring, faux wood tiles are much cheaper than hardwood flooring. Omaha magazine states that a single square foot of faux wood tile is much cheaper than what you’ll pay for hardwood. In addition, lesser maintenance costs for faux wood tiles lower the associated costs even further.

Source: Improvenet

Quartzite TilesQuartzite tiles flooring

Quartzite is a metamorphic rock that ensures a natural yet beautiful look for flooring applications. The rock is produced when sandstone rich in quartz is treated at high temperatures and pressures. Its high durability, attractiveness and high slip resistance makes it a popular option for flooring tile applications at homes, particularly in the kitchen. You don’t have to worry about bacteria penetration as the non-porous nature of this material helps to keep liquids out.

If you’re looking to bring that luxurious look to your homes but don’t wish to spend much, quartzite tiles are perfect as the stone is relatively cheaper than the other stone types.

Even if you’re looking for a high-quality flooring solution for outdoor applications such as pool surroundings and driveways, quartzite tiles are a great choice.  To achieve a darker, marble-like finish, quartzite can be crystallized and sealed with a darker shade.

 

To sum it up, you have plenty of flooring options to choose from when it comes to flooring tiles. These were the most commonly used types of flooring tiles, and there are many other less known types out there. There’s no best or worst choice. Which type of flooring tile you want solely depends on your taste and preferences as well as what functionalities your planned application demands.

Once you decide on the flooring material, you’ll need to enlist the services of a professional tiler, who will charge you depending upon the type of material and the complexity of installation associated with it.

FAQ

How long does tile flooring last?

Tile can last 50 years or longer if it is well-maintained and made from the best materials. Grade 1 tile is considered to be the best, and tile that has a PEI of 3 works well for homes while a PEI of 4 or 5 is generally recommended for businesses. Glazed ceramic, glazed porcelain and terra cotta are considered to be among the most durable materials for tile flooring. Unglazed tile should have some sort of sealant applied to keep it protected from moisture damage so that it will last longer, and additional seal treatments should be applied approximately every three years.

Can tile flooring be repaired?

Tile flooring that has been damaged can be repaired. One of the greatest aspects of having this type of flooring is that only the damaged tiles need to be repaired or replaced, which can save a lot of money over buying a new floor. Hairline tile cracks can often be repaired with oil-based primer and clear marine epoxy. Tiles that are completely broken usually need to be replaced, and the grout for replacement tiles may take up to 24 hours to cure.

Is tile flooring waterproof?

Tile flooring can be made waterproof if glazed materials or sealants are used to keep the tiles protected from moisture absorption. Vinyl is one of the top-rated materials for waterproof tile flooring.

Can tile flooring be painted?

Not only can tile flooring be painted; doing so is often a great alternative to purchasing expensive decorative tiles. Due to prolonged moisture exposure, paint on bathroom tiles usually doesn’t last as well as it does in drier rooms of the home. Chalk paint often works best for solid color tiles while latex paint can be fitting for both solid and patterned tiles. A high-gloss or semi-gloss brand of oil-based paint can also be good for tiles and is known to withstand damage better than other paint types.

Can tile flooring be regrouted?

Regrouting tile flooring is possible with some grout mix and some tools like a ceramic chisel, utility knife and hammer. Tools can be used to remove the existing grout that is old or damaged. It is also best to apply a sealant to the tiles so that the new grout won’t penetrate beneath the surface when applying it. Any excess grout material resulting from the installation process can be scraped away so that no mess is left.

Can floor tile be used be used on walls?

Most types of tile used in flooring can also be used on walls and other vertical surfaces. Since floor tiles require so much durability to withstand foot traffic, using them on walls can additionally work well. However, any tiles that are applied to exterior walls will need to be resistant to frost and other harsh weather and environmental conditions.

Can floor tile be used for a shower?

Tiles that are made from waterproof materials or have been sealed to withstand moisture absorption can often be used in shower walls and floors with little problem. Mosaic porcelain tiles that measure one by one inch in size are often best for shower floors. Shower walls can be covered in glazed ceramic or porcelain.

Can floor tile be removed and reused?

Tile may be able to be removed and reused, but some materials pose greater challenges than others. For instance, trying to remove and reuse ceramic tiles can sometimes be nearly impossible because of the mortar that’s attached. However, removing mortar might be possible with a putty knife, a chisel or some other types of thin tools if great care is taken to not cause damage. The grout will also need to be chiseled out carefully for any chance of the tiles being reusable.

How is floor tile recycled?

The materials that are used to make floor tiles can often be recycled by taking them to a local household waste recycling center. Ceramic and glass tiles can be recycled to make other products as well as new floor tiles. The best way to prepare tiles for recycling is to break them up into small pieces using a hammer. Old tile pieces can even be reused in mosaic art projects.

Can floor tile be used as a backsplash?

Floor tiles often work great as backsplashes on walls because of their ability to resist water. As long as the tiles are made from waterproof materials or have the proper sealants applied to them, they should be fine. Backsplashes in kitchens and bathrooms that are made from floor tiles can help protect walls and paint from water damage.

Can floor tile be installed over linoleum?

As long as the linoleum was installed over concrete and attached firmly to the subfloor, floor tile can usually be installed easily. A new substrate should be installed over the linoleum if the linoleum was placed over an old wood floor or another surface that’s too soft or flexible. Adding tile over linoleum can be especially good if the linoleum contains asbestos fibers that can cause health hazards if the linoleum is removed.

Can floor tile be used for countertops?

Laminate floor tiles often work great for countertops. One of the main reasons why some people choose to cover their countertops in laminate floor tiles instead of granite or other natural stone is because of the cost savings. Natural stone or other laminate surfaces that are already on countertops can serve as excellent bases for installing laminate tiles. It’s best to use glue to secure tiles on countertops instead of self-adhering laminate tiles.

Can floor tile be installed on plywood?

A subfloor made of plywood should have intervening layers or multiple sheets of plywood on it to provide a sturdy base for floor tile to be installed. It’s also important to make sure that the subfloor won’t shift during the installation process. Thinset wet base with a high latex content should also be applied to the plywood or intervening surface layers to ensure that the tiles stick and hold in place.

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