The Ultimate Guide to Tile Material Types

Today we’re talking tile! Materials, colors, shapes, and patterns, with all the choices, this is one material that can get confusing in a hurry. Let’s start to break things down and make them simpler and focus on the different materials types available. 


Porcelain tiles are made of dry clay that has been pressed and fired to extreme temperatures for an extended period of time. This makes them very dense and strong. It also makes it possible to create enormous sizes. It’s a tough product, which means it’s less likely to chip, and the color runs all the way through the thickness of the tile, so even if you do get a chip, it won’t be terribly noticeable. They are highly impervious to water, or any other liquid; because of this, they are easy to upkeep and easy to clean. They are available in a variety of sheens, from matte to glossy, and because of all it’s positive attributes, porcelain is the most prevalent material used today. 


Ceramic tile has been around for hundreds of year and is made of clay, sand, and water, packed together to remove the excess moisture. It’s a very hard and durable product as well, but they aren’t as nonporous as their porcelain cousins. Because the color doesn’t go all the way through a ceramic tile, you’ll also see a chip more easily than you would in porcelain. They come in a wide variety of colors and finishes from matte to glossy, and because they can be a little slippery when they’re wet, you want to be careful about which ones you put on a floor. They also come in handmade versions that can make for a very custom design. Just like with porcelain, they’re available in an endless array of colors, and a vast variety of shapes and sizes. This makes for an infinite number of options when it comes to designing your unique project. 


Glass tiles come in an array of show-stopping colors and varieties. They require a skilled professional to install them correctly, so expect installation labor to be a bit higher. This is not a do-it-yourselfer type tile. It’s also not very scratch resistant, so you want to pay close attention to the mortars and grouts being used to install them. They are best used in accent areas and kitchen backsplashes where they won't see a lot of wear and tear. 


Stone tiles like marble, granite, travertine, and slate are cut out of the earth, and their variety of beautiful colors and patterns is only limited by mother natures creativity. No two stones are alike, making them truly unique pieces in your home. Most are a bit porous and require some sealers to keep them from staining. Some, like marble, are quite soft, and cracking and wear might be a problem in high traffic areas. Because of their higher maintenance, they are most often used in locations where they are accents or in kitchen backsplashes. But that’s not always true, some people still long for that classic marble floor. As beautiful and natural as stone is, just remember that it’s not an install it and forget it kind of product. You will need to take care of it for years to come. 


We’ve just touched on a few of the most common tile material types here, and if you have questions about other tile materials, questions about remodeling, or would like to schedule a free consultation with on of our project consultants, please don’t hesitate to call or email.