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Explore The Best Types Of Tile For Your Dream Home

Explore The Best Types Of Tile For Your Dream Home

Picture of the owner of Birkes BuildersDavid Birkes
Owner | General Contractor & Builder
Birkes Builders
Published On:
August 15, 2023
Last updated:
August 15, 2023
a large bathroom with a chandelier and two sinks

Introduction to Tiles: The Unsung Heroes of Design

Long before tiles became a staple in our kitchens and bathrooms, they graced the floors and walls of ancient civilizations. With a rich history, varied composition, and a pivotal role in design, tiles continue to present endless artistic and functional possibilities.

Brief History of Tiles: A Journey Through Time

Tiles have been sprucing up human habitats for millennia. The earliest known tiles were found within the pyramids of Egypt--crafted from polished blue faience they stood as a testament to beauty and durability.

But it was the Romans who brought tiling into everyday homes, using them for everything from functional flooring to intricate mosaics. As empires rose and fell, so did tile trends.

Ceramic tiles were traded along the Silk Road during medieval times while tin-glazed earthenware made a splash during the Renaissance. Fast forward to today, technological advancements have given us an array of tile types that are durable, affordable, elegant or rustic and so much more.

Demystifying Tiles: More Than Just Pieces of Clay

So what exactly is a tile? In its simplest form, it's a thin object usually square or rectangular in shape made from hard-wearing materials such as ceramic or stone. Tiles can be used for covering roofs, walls or floors both indoors or outdoors.

They fulfill both aesthetic and practical functions providing visual interest while also offering durability against wear-and-tear and easy maintenance. But not all tiles are created equal!

They can be crafted from different materials like ceramic, porcelain or natural stone each with their own unique properties. There are also differences in terms of finishes -- glazed tiles offer a protective layer on top making them more resistant to stains while unglazed ones provide more traction underfoot.

Why Picking the Right Tile Matters: Beauty Meets Functionality

Choosing your type of tile is crucial--it should not only complement your design vision but also cope with the rigors of use within its intended location--a shower wall has different requirements than an entryway floor after all! It's about creating harmony between aesthetics functionality; you need something that looks good but also performs well long term. The texture color pattern size shape--all these factors contribute significantly towards final look feel room (design-wise), but remember consider practical aspects too such as slip-resistance moisture resistance durability maintenance needs... After all finding perfect balance between beauty functionality heart successful interior design project!

The Big Players in the Tile Game

Just as in any game, there are some major players in the world of tiles that dictate the direction of the play. These big players: ceramic and porcelain tiles, have proven themselves with their stunning versatility and robust durability.

Let's delve into these popular choices and understand what makes them so special. When you think about tiles, it's likely that ceramic is the first material that springs to mind.

It's a classic -- our reliable old friend in home renovation projects -- always there when we need it. To truly appreciate ceramics, however, we need to dissect this category a little further.

We come across two main types of ceramic tiles: glazed and unglazed. Each has its unique quirks and characteristics that make it suitable for various applications.

Ceramic Tiles: Your Go-To for Versatility

Glazed Ceramic Tiles -- When You're Seeking Shimmering Resilience

Glazed ceramic tiles are lauded for their glossy finish which not only imparts an aesthetic appeal but also provides an extra layer of protection against stains -- a trait particularly useful in high-traffic areas or spill-prone zones like kitchens or bathrooms. This shine isn't just superficial shimmer though; it's also incredibly easy to clean--a wipe down with warm soapy water will usually do the trick nicely. Moreover, glazed ceramics offer a vast spectrum of colors thereby providing unlimited design possibilities to cater to every taste and style.

Beyond aesthetics, glazed ceramics hold up well over time. Their resistance against scratches minimizes wear-and-tear signs even after many years of use making them an economical choice for homeowners looking for long-lasting solutions.

Unglazed Ceramic Tiles - Embracing Raw Aesthetics & Robustness

If you're more inclined towards natural finishes then unglazed ceramic tiles might just catch your fancy. Devoid of the top protective layer, these showcase raw beauty unfettered by glossy sheen but reinforced with superior durability. The color palette here may be less varied than their glazed counterparts but don't let that dissuade you!

The earthy tones lend themselves beautifully to rustic decors or minimalistic modern spaces seeking an organic touch. The lack of glazing doesn't compromise on strength; instead it enhances slip-resistance making unglazed ceramics ideal for outdoor patios or wet area flooring where safety is paramount.

Porcelain Tiles: The Tough Guys on the Block

Full-Bodied Porcelain - Color Consistency at Its Best

If sturdiness had another name, it would be full-bodied porcelain! With color running through its thickness due to finely ground minerals pressed together under intense pressure during creation - this tile type offers unmatched consistency making minor chips almost invisible! This feature extends both its aesthetic lifespan (no visible chipping) as well as practical usage (high resistance against heavy foot traffic).

Full-bodied porcelain works wonders anywhere from commercial buildings to residential halls showcasing timeless beauty with impressive resilience! Blessed with low water absorption rate which makes them frost-resistant too; these can bravely face harsh climates without flinching thus broadening their application scope beyond interiors into exterior spaces too!

Glazed Porcelain - Added Armor Against Elements

Porcelain gets an extra dose of protection when coated with glaze adding another layer against staining while opening up even more design possibilities thanks to customizable surface colors/finishes made possible by this process!

In fact, modern printing technologies can mimic textures such as wood grains or natural stone veins on glazed porcelain surfaces giving you luxurious looks minus maintenance hassles associated with those materials!

Ideal where style meets functionality like kitchen backsplashes or shower walls; glazed porcelains win hearts not just visually but also due to ease-of-cleaning coupled with superior stain resistance -- truly mastering balance between beauty & resilience!

Natural Stone Tiles - Mother Nature's Own Masterpiece

What could be more awe-inspiring or visually engaging than the works of art that Mother Nature herself has created? Natural stone tiles bring an organic, almost elemental grace to any space they inhabit, and each type has its own distinct characteristics and charm. If you have a penchant for all things natural, these types of tiles may just be your ideal choice.

When it comes to durability, aesthetic appeal, and sheer variety of textures and patterns -- the natural stone category is truly in a league of its own. Each piece is essentially a unique creation, etched by time and elemental forces into an irreplaceable masterpiece.

From the timeless elegance of marble to the rugged appeal of slate, let's unearth some of these geological wonders. Beyond their visual allure, natural stone tiles also stand up well to wear-and-tear.

They are robust and durable with proper care -- but this does need emphasising: regular sealing is paramount when choosing natural stone tiles because they can be porous. Now that we've set the stage, let's delve into some popular varieties.

Granite Tiles - For When You're Feeling a Bit Fancy

"The Classy Powerhouse"

If your d�cor leans towards the opulent or extravagant side or you simply enjoy living luxuriously, granite tiles might pique your interest. Nothing spells grandeur quite like granite underfoot (or overhead if you fancy a ceiling installation!).

This igneous rock has long been associated with luxury in home design due to its rich colors and intriguing speckled patterns. Granite's strength rivals that of commercial diamonds.

This quality makes it practically immune to scratches while also being highly resistant to heat damage; perfect for kitchen countertops where hot pots can often pose hazards! One thing's for sure; opting for granite means opting for enduring elegance backed by robust functionality.

Besides their elite look and feel, granite tiles are low maintenance thanks to their non-porous nature -- stains become less threatening when you have granite as your ally! So go ahead; feast royally without fear!

Marble Tiles - Classic Elegance in Every Vein

"Timeless Beauty Etched in Stone"

Marble boasts an unparalleled reputation as one of the most elegant materials known to humankind since antiquity; indeed even Michelangelo couldn't resist sculpting his masterpieces from this royal stone! Marble creates an ambiance steeped in timeless sophistication with its distinct veins inviting intrigued eyes on a visual journey across millennia. Slightly softer than its cousin granite underfoot but no less striking visually -- marble imbues any room with an air of refined luxury which might just make you feel like royalty yourself!

Another fascinating aspect about marble is that it ages gracefully over time developing what is often referred to as 'a patina'--giving it character not found in other materials. The main point to consider while opting for marble though is being prepared for regular sealing due to its porous nature which makes it susceptible staining liquids like coffee or wine spilt on unsealed surfaces will quickly seep into material causing discoloration so remember prevention better than cure here!

Slate Tiles - Rustic Charm at Its Best

"The Natural Choice For Casual Elegance"

If opulence isn't quite your style perhaps rustic charm appeals more? Slate could well be answer then- offering raw earthy tones textures these seemingly simple yet captivating stones find home equally comfortably both inside outside house thanks versatility durability rugged good looks slate brings touch nature infused casual elegance wherever goes certain rough-and-tumble charisma cannot help but fall love with!

Apart from being gorgeous look slate non-porous making ideal choice wet areas like bathrooms kitchens where water common hazard additionally highly resistant slippage giving safety edge bonus points increased grip during rainy seasons outdoor installations rest assured won't miss step literally metaphorically!

The color variety another winning aspect ranging deep blacks misty greys multicolored assortments match virtually any decor theme want show off creative side wild medley colors pieces unique shape size turn boring floor wall remarkable work art barest minimum effort now who wouldn't sign up that?

Travertine & Limestone - Subtle Sophistication

"The Understated Stars Of The Show"

If loud not really thing set stage tranquility subtlety home travertine limestone perfect partners crime these sedimentary rocks known warm neutral hues effortless sophistication bring table whether outdoors indoors able inject calm serene aura sure soothe senses end long day work>

Limestone especially appreciated soft delicate appearance makes excellent backdrop minimalist contemporary designs whereas travertine often identified characteristic pitted surface lends texture depth space looking add touch class without appearing over top these two surely top list considerations>

A word caution though while undoubtedly beautiful both minerals relatively soft porous hence require care maintenance keep them looking best ensure longevity include annual sealing prevent staining damage remember little tender loving care goes long way maintaining undying beauty value home investment worth taking time effort>

Specialty Tile Types -- When Ordinary Just Won't Cut It

Glass Tiles: Let Your Space Sparkle with a Touch of Glass

Craving to infuse your space with a splash of sparkle? Glass tiles might be what you're looking for!

These little bundles of joy instantly transform any room from drab to fab. They have a unique ability to reflect light, giving your room an airy, spacious feel, and are perfect for creating an eye-catching backsplash or as accent pieces in a larger tile installation.

Glass tiles are available in an array of delightful hues, letting you play Picasso with your personal space. Their non-porous nature makes them resistant to stains and mildew -- ideal for kitchen and bathroom areas.

But don't be fooled by their delicate appearance: glass tiles are extremely durable and can withstand the test of time if properly installed and cared for. However, it's important to remember that not all glitter is gold.

Glass tiles can be pricier than other tile types because of the specialized manufacturing process they undergo. Additionally, they can scratch easily if not handled properly - but their beauty often outweighs these considerations!

Metal Tiles: The Metamorphosis from Industrial to Chic

If you're seeking that perfect blend of modernity and industrial style, turn your gaze towards metal tiles. Originally found gracing the surfaces in commercial settings like restaurants and breweries, these hardy performers have steadily made their way into residential spaces. Metal tiles offer undeniable durability coupled with ease-of-maintenance - simply wipe away grime or fingerprints using a soft cloth!

From stainless steel to copper or brass varieties - this diverse tile category offers both glossy polished finishes and rustic patina effects. Using metal tiles does require some level of commitment though.

They tend to showcase scratches more obviously than other materials. Plus, if you live in an area prone to high humidity levels or coastal regions, certain metal types may tarnish over time without regular care.

Cement Tiles: The Modern Twist on Old World Charm

Cement tiles elegantly marry old-world charm with modern sensibilities - making them beloved by interior design aficionados worldwide. Often handmade and incorporating natural pigments, these beauties boast vibrant patterns which make each tile unique - think about having an art piece right under your feet!

The dense nature of cement makes these tiles highly durable - suitable for both indoor applications like bathroom floors or kitchen backsplashes as well as outdoor spots like patios or walkways. On the downside though -- cement tiles do call for some babying as they're porous in nature; seal them regularly to keep stains at bay!

Mosaic Tiles: Small Pieces Making Big Statements

Mosaic Tiles; talk about tiny but mighty! These miniature masterpieces allow you to push the boundaries of design without breaking away from traditional tiling concepts.

From simple checkerboard patterns through intricate murals depicting scenes from mythology -- mosaics offer unlimited creative freedom! They come mounted on mesh sheets making installation easier than ever before.

Nonetheless -- tread gently with mosaic designs; use them sparingly lest they overpower your decor theme. Remember; aim for moderation when it comes down to making impactful statements!

Getting Down to Business with Tile Sizes & Shapes

The Wonderful World of Standard Sizes for Every Application

When it comes to tile sizes, the options are virtually limitless. However, there are a few standard sizes that seem to have won the popularity contest in most households and commercial spaces. The most ubiquitous among them are 12x12 inches, 16x16 inches, and 18x18 inches.

These classic square dimensions have proven their worth time and time again across different applications, from bathroom floors and kitchen backsplashes to outdoor patios. If rectangles tickle your fancy more than squares do, there's good news for you too.

The common rectangular tile sizes include the tiny yet impactful subway tiles measuring 3x6 inches or the elongated ones coming in at a chic 12x24 inches. With these versatile dimensions at your disposal, you can create a myriad of stunning patterns like herringbone or stacked bond that will make heads turn.

Perhaps you're wondering about thickness? Typically residential tiles range from about 5/16 inch to 3/8 inch.

Commercial floor tiles are generally thicker - between 3/8 inch and up to half an inch. The thickness often depends on the material of the tile and its intended use.

From Squares and Rectangles to Hexagons and More: Exploring Shapes Beyond the Norm

Square or rectangular shape too mundane for your creative spirit? Not an issue!

Tiles come in a wide array of shapes these days that allow you to express your unique style boldly. One such statement-making shape is hexagon--these six-sided beauties can lend anything from retro flair with small monochrome hexes to modern sophistication with large format ones.

If you're an aficionado of all things vintage then penny round tiles (yes, they're as cute as they sound!) could be just what your space needs for that whimsical touch--with their petite circular form, they look stunning as bathroom floor or on kitchen backsplash. And let's not forget about arabesque tiles - inspired by Middle Eastern designs these ornate pieces are perfect for adding some exotic allure into any space; think feature wall behind your bathtub or a striking entryway floor design.

In short, when it comes to tile shapes - don't be afraid to venture beyond squares and rectangles! Whether it's hexagons or penny rounds or arabesques you fancy; remember this simple rule: dare more - bore less!

The Art of Choosing Grout for Your Tile

Color Matters More Than You Think

Choosing grout isn't merely about adhesion and durability; it's also a color statement. Many people overlook the visual impact that grout color can have on their tile work.

Focusing on your tile and forgetting your grout is like crafting a masterpiece painting but neglecting the frame. Selecting the right grout color can dramatically influence your design outcome.

Matching your grout to your tile can create a uniform, seamless look that allows tile patterns or unique shapes to shine. Conversely, using contrasting colors will accentuate each individual tile and draw attention to the overall layout.

But there's more - remember that lighter shades can make a room seem larger, while darker hues might offer cozier vibes. Additionally, dirt tends to be less visible with darker shades -- so think about how much cleaning you're willing to do!

Sanded vs Unsanded Grout -- What's the Difference?

Think all grouts are created equal? Think again! There are two primary types of grouts: sanded and unsanded.

Sanded grout comprises fine sand particles which add bulk and strength, preventing crack formation even in wider joints. It's ideal for floor installations or heavy-duty applications where tiles may endure significant wear and tear.

Unsanded grout lacks this sand component making it smoother and more pliable - perfect for narrow joints typically found in wall tiles or delicate glass mosaics where sanded variety could scratch surfaces. So before you pick up just any old bag of grout from the hardware store aisle, take into account both aesthetic considerations like color as well as practical ones such as joint width and tile type.


And there you have it - from ceramics to natural stones, sizes to shapes, glazes to facets of natural beauty; we've excavated every nook of our topic. Delving into this world makes one appreciate how these humble pieces transform our living spaces with their enduring charm. Remember that each type carries its unique essence influenced by its creation process- so choose carefully!

And don't forget our chat about appreciating color in choosing not just tiles but also their sidekick- the unassuming yet indispensable 'grout'. Here's hoping our journey has imbued you with inspiration aplenty for creating unforgettable spaces adorned by these miniature marvels.

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