The types of tile currently available can be staggering, especially if you fall into the rabbit hole of sub-categories. For floors, vinyl and carpet were originally the reigning materials, but tile has steadily taken over as the luxury option. You can also use tile on your walls, and it’s very popular in the bathroom for floor to ceiling tiles to create a streamlined and luxurious look. They’re durable, beautiful, easy to clean, functional, and you won’t have to enlist professionals to maintain your various types of tile.
Owing to this fact and the sheer variety of designer types of tile available, it’s easy to find one that is going to match your home’s look and feel. The size, material, style, and more will also get differentiated based on which part of the house you’re going to install them in. We don’t want this to overwhelm you, and this is why we’re going to outline the 17 most popular types of tiles and answer the most frequently asked questions below.
Adding tile to your home’s decor is a great way to increase the overall value of your home and get a lasting flooring or wall covering that will look nice for decades. Tile by Jim Howard / CC BY-NC 2.0
1. Ceramic Tiles
Ceramic is one type of tile that has become extremely popular due to the more delicate touch they add to your space, and they’re extremely versatile. You can complement virtually any decor type with this tile, and ceramic tiles are made out of clay. The long lifespan and the resistance to scratches and abrasions these tiles offer also work to increase their popularity, especially in heavy-traffic areas. They’re one of the most popular types of tile for flooring.
Due to the impressive durability factor, ceramic tiles get put down in areas where you see a lot of traffic, like hallways, bathrooms, and kitchens. The design possibilities are so numerous with these tiles because you can get them glazed in a huge range of patterns and colors.
However, these tiles don’t do very well in extremely cold or hot conditions, and these tiles also have a reputation for absorbing water. You could find them starting to develop cracks over time, especially if you drop something heavier on them. You can also get terracotta tiles made out of clay, but they’re rarely sturdy enough for functional use and they’re more decorative.
2. Faux Wood Tiles
Effortlessly combining the durability of tiles with the stunning look of wood, this type of tile is one of the hottest trends in the housing industry right now. More water-resistant and durable than hardwood, faux wood gives you unlimited designs. It also removes the risk of termite problems, and it doesnt need nearly as much maintenance as real wood. Even though they give the illusion that they’re made out of wood, they’re actually ceramic tile.
Faux wood tiles are quickly overtaking hardwood for flooring for several viable reasons. Hardwood flooring is relatively easy to scratch from foot traffic and moving furniture while faux wood gives you excellent resistance to scratching. This makes it fantastic for areas with a lot of use or foot traffic, and it can last for decades.
A lot of people struggle to find the correct flooring material to use in areas that are prone to moisture buildup like in the kitchen or bathroom. Unlike many flooring options and hardwood, faux wood tiles won’t absorb water. This allows them to function well in wet application areas. Also, hardwood flooring needs regular re-staining, refinishing, and resealing. On the other end of the spectrum, since faux wood tiles are a ceramic material, you’ll only need basic tile cleaners and minor maintenance to keep them looking like new.
Also, hardwood is prone to issues with termites while faux wood isn’t. You can’t fix any space that has a termite infestation if it’s actual wood. The only solution is to replace the entire area, and this can get very expensive very fast. So, if you want to avoid any issues, faux wood should be considered a top choice if you have termite problems.
Along with these points, faux wood tiles give you dozens of design options that feature different textures and colors. You can even get customized wood flooring finishes that aren’t available for mass production. This is possible due to semi-recent advancements in inkjet technology. For example, due to the high demand, the perfect reclaimed wood pieces to use in your home are very difficult to source and expensive. Faux wood is a cost-effective way to give you a textured wood look without a lot of effort.
3. Glass Tiles
Glass types of tiles are a very versatile option because of the nature of the material. Even though glass may seem like a much more basic tile, this is actually the exact opposite. Glass tile is available in a decent range of tile shapes from subway tile to mosaics, and it comes in reflective or opaque options with shiny or frosted finishes. There is a huge style range that you can use glass for, including retro, modern, and traditional.
You can also use this type of tile in a broad application range. They work just as well as traditional shower tile in the bathroom as they do for a backsplash in the kitchen because it resists stains. You do want to avoid using this type of tile in high traffic areas since the glass is prone to cracking and chipping.
4. Granite Tiles
If you have areas in your home that get a lot of heavy traffic, this type of tile can work well. It comes made out of a dense, hard igneous rock. This tile has a very unique look to it because it comes with natural veining and speckling due to the mineral content in the rocks. No two granite surfaces will ever be 100% identical.
The unique finish on this tile also sets it apart on a physical level from other stones. Granite tiles come in a large range of colors, and they are as associated with a luxurious look as marble is. These durable, natural types of tile are extremely scratch resistant and hardy, especially if you polish them. They’re also resistant to acid. However, just like marble, granite is very porous. This means that they’re relatively easy to stain.
5. Hardwood Tiles
Hardwood types of tiles can increase your home’s overall value. As soon as you install hardwood in your home, the value will increase since wooden floors have a non-depreciating value. Unlike other surfaces, you won’t have to replace hardwood tiles every few years as they wear out, and they’re much easier to maintain and care for after you install them. While other types of tile can sow dirt or stains, these tiles won’t. They can show a bit of wear as time goes on, but they can easily last a lifetime.
Hardwood types of tiles are very desirable with first-time homeowners. Installing this tile in your home helps you inject your personality and tastes into your living space without a huge amount of effort on your part. People also highly prefer homes with this flooring, so if you’re looking to sell your home in the future, adding this flooring is a great idea.
No one likes to spend a huge amount on cleaning products. Things like stain removal, carpet cleaning, and steaming can get curbed by installing hardwood tiles. You also won’t need a sophisticated vacuum cleaner to keep these floors clean. A mop with wood soap is typically more than enough to keep your floor shining. So, by using this type of tile, you can improve the beauty and charm of your home while ensuring you get a higher property value to rent or sell it.
6. Marble Tiles
Marble countertops may be stunning, but so are marble types of tiles. It has close ties to luxury that exists to this day. This makes this tile choice for anyone who is trying to add sophistication and elegance into their home using tile.
Marble tiles aer one of the natural stone tiles that come in a large color range, and the colors will depend on the marble type you choose. They also come in a decent finish range, from polished and tumbled to brushed and honed, and this makes them ideal for any room in your home. There are several types of marble you can pick out.
Even though they’re beautiful, these types of tiles are more expensive. They’re also prone to staining from spills since they have a porous build. This makes them more rare, especially when you want outdoor ties. However, you can combat how porous this type of tile is to an extent if you apply a quality surface sealer that acts like an invisible protection layer that clogs the marble’s pores.
7. Mosaic Tiles
Mosaic types of tile are very popular, and they’re proof that people as far back as the 3rd millennium B.C. loved the aesthetics of this tile. Mosaic types of tile are made out of tile pieces and smaller tiles, generally glass that get put together in a decorative pattern to create a mesh-backed larger tile.
Every small tile is usually less than two inches long and wide, and this makes it very easy to install them in smaller rooms. To get a nice finish on this type of tile, you have to be very careful that you use the correct cutting tools.
These tiles are much easier to clean, and the grout lines make them much more slip-resistant and textured than other options. If you like complex colors and patterns, this can be a very attractive option. It’s also common to have light switches made out of this tile type.
8. Natural Stone
Natural stone types of tile are the most time-tested options on the market. It has been a captivating, elegant, and luxurious option since ancient times. If you look at the higher end of the spectrum in this category, natural stone includes:
You can transform this type of tile into any shape, and it comes in matte or polished finishes. It also works well as a large-format tile. You can put this tile outdoors and indoors. The natural stone allows your designs to shine, and it works very well on patios or inside as a backsplash in your bathroom or kitchen. However, natural stone tile is very porous, so you’ll want to seal it and reseal it periodically to keep it looking new and beautiful.
9. Onyx Tiles
As the name suggests, this type of tile is made out of a calciferous stone called onyx. It has a nice translucence, and it looks very similar to traditional marble tiles. The unique appearance of this tile is a direct result of the richer mineral density of the stone, and this makes it an excellent choice for your living spaces.
However, this is a very fragile type of tile. To strengthen them, it’s common to incorporate materials like mesh, fiberglass, and resin. The more unique surface determines the use of this tile material. The stones come in a range of different colors, and most people use them indoors due to the lighter color. Preparing and installing this tile type requires a professional, and this adds a lot to the final cost.
10. Porcelain Tiles
Because the differences between ceramic and porcelain tiles are so minute, it’s common to find this type of tile classified as ceramic. These tiles are manufactured from a denser clay material and they get treated at a higher temperature than any non-porcelain ceramic tiles. The result is a material that is a lot more sturdy and resistant to any damage. In contrast with more standard ceramic options, these tiles are popular for use outdoors because they have negligible porosity and are more resistant to extreme temperatures and frost.
They are available in both unpolished and polished varieties, and this type of tile is suitable for several domestic applications. They can do well in commercial settings with light use or foot traffic. You can also get them in glazed forms, but they are more fragile.
11. Quarry Tiles
Unlike what you’d assume from the name, these types of tiles don’t have origins from the dozens of quarries spread throughout the United States. Instead, they get created from grinding materials together like clay, feldspar, and shale before molding it into the tiles. This mineral composition lands quarry tiles squarely into the harder flooring tile category. They also have a lower porosity that means you can easily install them outdoors or indoors without them getting ruined.
12. Quartzite Tiles
This is a metamorphic rock that ensures you get a beautiful but natural look with this type of tile. The rock gets produced when sandstone with a higher quartz content gets treated at a high pressure and temperature. The attractiveness, high durability factor, and high slip resistance make this a very popular option when it comes to flooring tile in homes, especially in the kitchen during a remodel. You won’t have to worry about bacteria penetrating the tile due to the non-porous nature that locks liquid out.
If you want to bring a more luxurious feel to your home but you don’t want to spend a lot, these tiles are the perfect choice as this stone is relatively cost-effective when compared to other stone types. Even if you’re looking for a high-quality type of tile to install outside on your pool deck or driveway, this type of tile is a solid choice. If you want a marble-like finish that is much darker, you can seal and crystallize it to get a dark look.
13. Sandstone Tiles
Sandstone lends a very natural and gorgeous vibe to any outdoor area, and it’s a very common type of tile to use on patios, walkways, and pool decks. This tile also comes in a decent range of styles, sizes, and colors to give you a very earthy feel and look. This is a sedimentary rock that has sand and quartz in the makeup.
14. Slate Tiles
A second popular material when it comes to types of tile is slate, and these tiles are a product of natural mineral deposits. This makeup ensures that they’re very durable while keeping a pretty look. The material is also capable of keeping your room warm, and it has a natural grainy texture toward it that makes it resistant to slips. Slate tiles are also more cost-effective than marble or granite, but they’re still more expensive than ceramic tiles.
15. Travertine Tiles
Created from a type of limestone that you find in caves and hot springs, this type of tile, like other limestone products, come in several colors. It offers a rough and pitted surface to add visual interest too. However, the finish on this tile is very stylish, and it gives you a very natural look to the space. Travertine is also very durable, and it was common in the Roman buildings you can still see spread across Italy.
Today, you use this type of tile to build walkways, pool decks, and other places or structures where water exposure is high. Along with being very durable, this is very easy to fix. It also has some huge environmental points by being 100% biodegradable and eco-friendly. It’s also more cost effective than other materials, but it can still be expensive when all is said and done.
16. Terrazzo Tiles
Terrazzo types of tiles are created using a range of different materials, like quartz, glass, granite, and marble. The preparation process involves curing, polishing, and grounding the materials to create a smooth, durable, shiny, and attractive finish. This is why they’re so popular to install in public buildings.
Despite the beauty factor, these types of tiles might not be a great choice for home flooring because they’re very slippery. If you get them, you’ll have to get several rugs to help reduce this issue.
17. Wooden Tiles
Wooden tiles are relatively new types of tiles, and they’re quickly gaining popularity. The tiles keep the ability of the base material to expand and contract depending on the humidity levels around them, and you can get hardwood or faux wood. We already touched on faux wood earlier in the list.
Hardwood floors don’t need to be replaced frequently, and they’re easy to install along with being low maintenance. Also, these types of tiles won’t show stains or dirt and they’re very durable. They add a lot of value to your home in the real estate game, so if you’re trying to maximize your returns, this is the way to go. Also, these tiles resist scratches, and this makes them popular for areas with heavy traffic.
Types of Tile – Frequently Asked Questions
Since there are so many types of tile available, it’s very common to have questions and concerns. We’ve picked out the most commonly asked ones and answered them below. Tiles by reclaimedhome / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
1. How long does tile last on average?
Tiles can last up to 50 years or longer if it’s made from durable materials and you maintain it well. Grade 1 tile is the best you can buy, and any type of tile that has a PEI of 3 works well for homes. Tile with a PEI of 4 or 5 is best for commercial buildings. Glazed porcelain, glazed ceramic, adn terra cotta are widely considered to be the most durable material available for flooring applications. Unglazed tile should get a sealant applied to protect it from moisture damage so that it lasts longer. You’ll apply a new seal treatment once every three years.
2. Is it possible to repair tile flooring?
If your tile flooring gets damaged, you can repair it. One of the best aspects of this flooring type is that you’ll only have to repair or replace the damaged tile(s) and not the whole floor or wall. This can save you a huge amount of money. Hairline cracks are usually possible to repair by using an oil-based primer and a clear marine epoxy. Any tiles that break completely need to get replaced, and the grout around the replacement tiles may need 24 hours to cure.
3. Can you regrout a tile floor?
Regrouting your tile floor is possible with specific grout mixes and some tools like a hammer, utility knife, and a chisel. You can use these tools to remove the existing grout if it’s damaged or old. You also want to apply a sealant to your existing tiles so that the new grout won’t get under the surface when you apply it. You can scrape away any excess grout when you finish to give you a neat finished project.
4. Is tile waterproof?
Tiles can be made waterproof if you add a sealant or glazed material onto the tile’s surface to keep the tiles from exposing moisture. Vinyl is one of the best materials to help waterproof your tile.
5. Can you paint tile?
Not only can you paint your tile or tile flooring, doing so is a great way to get decorated tiles without actually buying them. Due to moisture exposure, you should note that paint on bathroom tiles don’t last as long as drier areas of your home. Chalk paint works nicely for solid colored tiles while latex paint works well for patterned or solid tiles. A semi-gloss or high-gloss brand of oil-based paint can be great for tile because it can withstand damage very well.
6. Is it possible to put floor tile on the walls?
Most types of tile that you use in flooring can also go on the walls or vertical surfaces. Since floor tile requires a high level of durability due to heavy use, using them on walls can give you a more durable option. However, any tile you put on exterior walls has to be frost-resistant and survive harsh weather.
We’ve outlined 17 types of tile that you can consider for your next remodeling project. Some will work better for high traffic areas than others, and some are more cost-effective than others. You can mix and match types of tile to get different looks and boost your home’s value at the same time.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.