There are many different types of tiles you can use for floors.
Each option comes with its own pros and cons. But ultimately the decision will most likely come down to budget and use. We’re going to go through some of the different types of tiles available for floors to help you make an informed choice about which type is right for you.
Possibly one of the most commonly known tiles available. Ceramic tiles are made by a decorative glaze being put over the top of clay. The tiles are then baked at a high temperature in a kiln. The high temperatures in this process cause the glaze to fuse to the clay.
Ceramic tiles are durable and versatile as well as being stylish – they can be printed with a variety of patterns. On top of this, they are also moisture resistant, almost completely anti-slip and great value for money. The durable nature and easy maintenance of the tiles make them a great choice for a home with kids or pets as well as for commercial use.
There are however a couple of things to consider with ceramic tiles. They can be very cold during the winter months and a bit of a shock to bare feet. If you’re laying these tiles in a kitchen or bathroom you may want to consider underfloor heating.
Porcelain tiles come in two variations – unglazed/matt and glazed/polished. They are made out of finer clay than that used to make ceramic tiles. They are also fired at a higher temperature than their ceramic counterparts which makes them very hard. Because of this, they are great for both commercial spaces and homes.
Unglazed/Matt Porcelain Tiles
As the name would suggest, unglazed porcelain tiles don’t have a layer of glaze on them. Unglazed porcelain tiles are naturally strong. Combine this with the fact that they are moisture, stain and slip resistant and they are an ideal choice for commercial use.
These tiles are available in bigger sizes so they are a great option for larger spaces.
Glazed/Polished Porcelain Tiles
These are a very popular type of tile and are possibly the most common ones used worldwide. Unlike the matt version, these tiles have a glaze applied before being fired in a kiln.
There is very little maintenance required with these types of tiles and the polished surface of the porcelain reflects light giving a high-quality look to the tiles. As with the unglazed version, the glazed tiles are moisture and stain resistant.
Similar to ceramic tiles, you can print patterns onto porcelain tiles. This means you can create the look of natural materials while still getting the benefits of porcelain tiles.
A method of tile making that dates back to Medieval times. Tiles are produced using different colours of clay to make patterns. The use of encaustic tiles was popular in Victorian times in the UK and they adopted the method to produce tiles on a larger scale.
When it comes to durability these are an excellent choice – original tiles can still be found in buildings even today. Again this makes encaustic tiles a strong choice for home and business and the beautiful patterns make them a strong focal point in any space.
These tiles are susceptible to damage so care needs to be taken when using cleaning products on them. For example, bleach would cause staining on the surface of the tiles, non-abrasive products should be used to keep them looking at their best.
Cement tiles and encaustic tiles often get confused for one another. This can be easily done as they look very alike, however, the difference is in how they’re made. Cement tiles are (funnily enough) made from cement, whereas encaustic tiles are made from clay. They are not fired in a kiln like other types of tiles but left to cure at room temperature.
When it comes to maintenance they are not easy to look after. Due to the porous nature of cement, they’re easily stained and require frequent re-sealing. Even pooling water can cause permanent marks. So maybe not the best choice for a kitchen or bathroom.
Designs found on cement tiles are similar to those you would see on encaustic tiles and they are considerably cheaper. But this is a fact that might not matter in the long run as you would likely have to replace them sooner.
Natural Stone Tiles
There are many different types of tiles that fall into the natural stone category. Natural stone tiles look great and really authentic. They are also hard wearing but some maintenance is required, for example, some materials need to be sealed. If you are looking to use natural stone in your home it’s a great option for rooms with underfloor heating as it’s a heat conductor.
We’re going to look at three different types of natural stone tiles for use on floors.
Marble is a natural stone made from metamorphic rocks such as limestone, which is transformed under extreme pressure and heat. It has been used as a building material for millennia. There are pros and cons to using this material for flooring.
Using marble gives the impression of luxury, it instantly adds opulence to any space it’s used in. As well as this, because it’s a natural material, you get a unique one of a kind tile from it. Tiles can be cut into a number of different shapes and sizes. It can also be easily polished, not something that is achievable with all types of natural stone.
As beautiful as marble tiles are, there are downsides to using them for flooring. Marble is very brittle meaning it’s easily damaged (scratches, crack, chips and breaks). If damage were to occur, the unique nature of the stone makes it difficult to replace a section of the floor. A highly polished marble floor looks great, but it is a hazard when it comes to slipping. Floors tend to be slippery even when they’re not wet and the hard nature of the material makes it unforgiving if you fall on it.
Another natural stone made from limestone. Travertine tiles come in earthy shades – browns, rust and beige tones. It is a stylish option for tiles and it also boasts strength and longevity. Using it as flooring adds an attractive quality to a room.
Similar to marble, this kind of stone produces unique tiles, meaning you can create a space that really is one of a kind. Travertine tiles don’t tend to be polished and this natural look lends itself well to resisting damage. Regular maintenance is required but this guarantees the tiles will last.
There are a few things to think about with travertine – the maintenance required is quite complicated. Travertine tiles have microscopic pores so there is a danger that any spills could seep into the material. To combat this the tiles need to be treated with a penetrating sealer followed by a surface sealer.
Like other types of natural stone, it’s a great heat conductor, but on the flip side of this, it also retains cold. Not much of an issue if you’re using it in a commercial space but something to consider if it’s being used in the home.
Slate is another natural stone which comes from metamorphic rocks. It’s normally grey in colour. However, this can vary depending on where the stone originates from.
There are advantages and disadvantages to slate tiles depending on where you are planning on using them. Slate is an extremely strong natural stone which is resistant to cracks, chips and breaks. If damage does happen repair is possible, the tiles are easy to remove and replace. It’s best to keep some tiles back from the batch you used to make sure you get a match. When it comes to heat, they are great for use in rooms with underfloor heating as they retain the heat well.
The strength of these tiles makes them really durable and a great choice for areas with high footfall.
Something worth considering it is the cost. Slate tiles are expensive, and while they may add value to your property it’s worth weighing this up against the cost of getting them fitted initially. Ongoing maintenance is also required to keep them looking great and depending on where you have them, they may need resealing.
Choosing the right tile has many considerations. Hopefully, this guide will have helped to distinguish the different types of tiles available. Find out how we can help you create a beautiful space, and see the services we offer here.