Tile Types 101

Choosing tile can be fun or frustrating – fun choosing what will complement your kitchen or bathroom, frustrating when you find out it’s not the right tile for that room, and you have to start from scratch.

Tile is an excellent way to redecorate your kitchen – ranging in cost from $1 - $30 per square foot, it can fit nearly any budget makeover.  Change the flooring in your kitchen to update a tired décor, and you may find you don’t need an entire kitchen remodel after all.

So learn the facts on tile types before choosing.

Porcelain tile is the most popular flooring choice for tiling projects.  And it’s not just for kitchens and bathrooms, entryways need to be impervious to the outside elements, and also be non-slip, so think porcelain if tiling an entryway.   As one of the strongest flooring tile, its known for stain resistance and durability and is recommended for use from bathrooms to outdoor spaces.  Glazed tile in particular is easy to work with, and the styles available boggle the mind.

We have a friend who recently tiled a sunroom in ‘slate’, when she proudly showed off her project, I had to tell her, she had actually used a slate look-alike porcelain tile.   You could barely tell the difference!  One difference you can tell though, is it’s less expensive and much, much easier to install than a natural stone tile.

And speaking of natural stone tile – it’s gorgeous!  And a great flooring choice, and the price can reflect it.  Marble, slate and granite are choices offered in natural stone, and they make a statement in any room in which their used. 

  • The downsides to the natural stone tiles - granite easily cracks  is porous, so it must be sealed and polished on a regular basis. Not only that, granite is tough to install, needing a hard, firm surface, usually a special cement or hardi backer board.
  • Marble looks like a million bucks, and higher end marbles can reflect that in the price.  But you don’t have to have top of the line, some of the lower end marble can do quite nicely, thank you.  But, like granite, marble has installation issues – professional installation is recommended, as there are particular subflooring issues that may need to be addressed.. 
  • Slate can be difficult to install as well, but goodness, does it have a distinctive look and those natural colors are so nice!  They can have a rough, uneven surface, and again, professional installation is recommended, while the ceramic tiles are much more DIY friendly.
  • Natural stone tiles can actually add value to a room, not only in looks, but monetarily.  You need to take in to account the actual physical weight of the stone, some flooring, particularly in older homes, may not be able to withstand the added weight.

Vinyl tiles have always been considered the lower end budget tile.  The least expensive choice in tiling, new designs and styles are making vinyl flooring a perfectly acceptable option.  They can also offer a tiling choice where heavier tile isn’t an option, or you just don’t have the proper surface for ceramic, stone or marble. 

It’s an easy DIY project and vinyl tiles can be placed over other flooring, which, if you’ve ever tried to remove old linoleum from a floor, can make it an even more attractive option. Vinyl flooring is also fairly durable and resist scuffs, dents, and grease, but may require an occasional heavy duty cleaning because the embossing can trap dirt.

When considering tiling choices – start by picking the type of tile before you even begin to think color and style – it helps narrow down your tile flooring options.