Porcelain Tile vs. Ceramic Tile Comparison Guide

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Porcelain vs. ceramic tile: Is this a war between two vastly different types of materials or is it simply a war of words? For consumers, the terms porcelain and ceramic are often used interchangeably as if they were the same thing. And this is understandable since ceramic and porcelain tiles are used for the same applications, are installed the same way, and have largely the same merits and drawbacks as a flooring or wall surface material.

At the same time, tile shop salespeople often claim a world of difference between the two, probably to justify porcelain’s cachet and its higher prices.

Is there really a difference between porcelain and ceramic tile?

How to Install Ceramic Floor Tile

Porcelain and ceramic tile are both are part of the larger category of tiles that can generally be called ceramics—a category that includes all rigid tiles shaped from natural earthen clays and hardened by heat. In the modern tile industry, however, porcelain tiles occupy their own category, assigned there because they meet certain specifications.

Porcelain vs. Ceramic Tile: Major Differences

According to the industry group that decides whether a tile is a porcelain or ceramic, everything boils down to whether the tile can meet a set of highly controlled water absorption criteria. Both ceramic tile and porcelain tile usually receive a surface glazing that makes them hard to distinguish from one another.

Porcelain Tile

Porcelain tile has a water absorption rate of 0.5 percent or lower as defined by the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) section C373. To test this, the fired tile is first weighed, then it is boiled for five hours and left to sit in water for 24 hours. Then it is weighed again. If the tile weighs less than half of one-percent more as a result of water-absorbing into its surface, it is considered porcelain.

To achieve this density, a special kaolin clay mixture is used, which is finer and purer than most ceramic clay. It usually contains notable levels of quartz and feldspar mixed in. Porcelain tiles are fired at temperatures ranging from 2,200 to 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit. To the consumer, it generally suffices to say that porcelain is a dense, fine-grained, smooth tile that is more impervious to water than ordinary ceramic tile.

Porcelain tile virtually always receives a surface glazing treatment—a coating of liquified glass material—while some forms of ceramic tile are left unglazed. As a rule porcelain tile is more impervious than ceramic tile and is thus subject to less water infiltration.

Ceramic Tile

Tile defined as ceramic uses a coarser clay with a smaller ratio of fine kaolin clay, and it generally lacks some of the additives used in porcelain clay. Ceramic tile is fired at lower temperatures, generally no more than 1,650 degrees Fahrenheit. Ceramic tile can be slightly more prone to water infiltration than is porcelain tile, though these differences are fairly minimal if the ceramic tile is glazed.

 Ceramic TilePorcelain Tile
Composition Coarse clayFine kaolin clay
Water Absorption> 0.5 percent0.5 percent or less
Cost$.50 to $35 per square foot$3 to $35 per square foot
Typical UseIndoor floors and wallsIndoor and outdoor floors and walls (in mild climates)
HardnessSofter than porcelainHarder, more brittle than ceramic
Resistance to WaterGoodExcellent

Appearance

Ceramic tile and porcelain both are often manufactured with a glazed surface coating, and at a glance, they may be indistinguishable.

Porcelain Tile

One recent innovation with porcelain tile is the ability to manufacture them to resemble different materials. While ceramic tile generally has solid color and pattern, porcelain tiles are available that are remarkably good at mimicking natural stone such as marble or even wood grains. This makes porcelain tile an excellent choice where you want the look of wood without wood’s susceptibility to water damage.

Ceramic Tile

Most ceramic tile that is not categorized as porcelain is a solid color, and simulations of wood grains or natural stone are not common with basic ceramic tile.

Best for Appearance: Porcelain Tile

Porcelain tile has the edge when it comes to appearance, for the simple reason that it is available in more colors, patterns, and surface finishes, including tiles that resemble wood grains and natural stone.

Water and Heat Resistance

Both ceramic and porcelain have very good resistance to heat and are sometimes used on countertops.

Porcelain Tile

Porcelain tile is denser, heavier, and more impervious to water, and thus is a better choice than ceramic tile for outdoor locations, although outdoor use is recommended only in mild climates. Porcelain tile has excellent resistance to heat, making it a good choice for countertop surfaces.

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is somewhat more susceptible to moisture infiltration, though the differences are minimal if the tile is glazed. Ceramic tile has excellent heat resistance, making it a good choice for countertops.

Best for Water and Heat Resistance: Porcelain Tile

Porcelain has slightly better water resistance, making it possible to use it in outdoor locations in regions with mild climates. Ceramic tile is generally not recommended for outdoor locations in any environment.

Care and Cleaning

Porcelain Tile

Porcelain tile is very easy to clean up by damp-mopping with a mild water-soap solution. The cementitious grout filling the joints between tiles needs to be periodically sealed to guard against stains and mildew.

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile has the same care and cleaning needs as ceramic tile—routine damp-mopping and period sealing of grout joints.

Best for Care and Cleaning: Tied

Porcelain and ceramic tile have the same needs for care and cleaning.

Durability and Maintenance

Porcelain Tile

Porcelain clays are denser and thus less porous than ceramic clays. This makes porcelain tile harder and more impervious to moisture than ceramic tile. Due to its through-body composition, it is considered more durable and better suited for heavy usage than ceramic tile. Chip a porcelain tile, and the color continues all the way through; as a result, the damage is nearly invisible. Porcelain is an easy material to maintain, requiring only period sealing of the grout lines.

Ceramic Tile

Chip a ceramic tile and you find a different color underneath the top glaze, which means that chips are likely to be quite visible. The clays used for ceramic tile are less dense than porcelain clays, which means ceramic tiles are somewhat more prone to cracking and breaking. Unglazed ceramic tiles may also need to have sealers applied to the entire tile, not just the grout lines.

Best for Durability and Maintenance: Porcelain Tile

As a harder material that has solid color throughout, porcelain tiles are stronger and more durable, and chips are less likely to be visible.

Installation

Both forms of tile are installed using similar methods. Tiles are adhered to an underlayment of cement board using a mortar-based thin-set adhesive. Once the tiles are set, the joints between tiles are filled with mortar-based grout, which is sealed against moisture once it dries. There are slight differences in how ceramic tile and porcelain tile are handled, based on their differing densities.

Porcelain Tile

Porcelain tile is more brittle and may require the experienced hand of an experienced tile-setter to cut properly. A wet tile saw is the recommended tool for cutting porcelain, while an inexpensive snap cutter generally works fine with ceramic tile.

Ceramic Tile

While ceramic tile is less dense than porcelain tile and thus less durable, it is also a far easier material for do-it-yourselfer homeowners to cut manually, by wet tile saw, or with a snap tile cutter.

Best for Installation: Ceramic Tile

Although techniques are very similar, ceramic tile is slightly easier to install, since it is a softer material that is easier to cut.

Cost

Porcelain Tile

Porcelain is more expensive to manufacture than ceramic tile, resulting in higher retail prices. Porcelain tiles begin at about $3 per square foot, running to $35 per square foot.

Ceramic Tile

With all other factors equal, ceramic tile is cheaper than porcelain tile. Ceramic tile tends to run about 60 to 70 percent of the cost of porcelain tile, on average. Ceramics can be purchased for as little as $.50 per square foot or as much as $35 per square foot.

Best for Cost: Ceramic Tile

As a general category, ceramic tile is less expensive than most porcelain tiles. But there is a surprisingly large range of prices for both types of tiles. Note that the very highest quality designer tiles tend to cost roughly the same for ceramic and porcelain.

Lifespan

Both ceramic and porcelain tiles are very durable building materials, provided they are well cared for.

Porcelain Tile

Porcelain tile is a harder substance and wears better than ceramic tile, but its hardness can also make it more susceptible to cracking under structural shifting in a building.

Ceramic Tile

By some estimates, a ceramic tile floor can last from 75 to 100 years if the grout is maintained properly and sealed regularly. While it theoretically is softer and doesn’t wear as long as porcelain tile, it also tends to resist cracking due to structure shifting somewhat better than does porcelain tile

Best for Lifespan: Tied

Both materials can be lifetime surfaces if they are properly maintained.

The Verdict

There is not a clear winner when it comes to choosing ceramic tile or porcelain tile. Both are similar building materials, and most forms are equally suitable as a flooring material, wall covering, or countertop surface. While you should make sure that the tile is rated for the use (tiles rated for floor use are typically thicker and the product will specify that this is an allowed use), your choice of ceramic or porcelain tile really boils down to what particular tile style appeals to you visually.

Top Brands

Most companies that manufacture ceramic tiles also offer a good selection of porcelain tiles. Some popular brands include:

  • Marrazzi: This Italian company has a broad distribution in the U.S., and it’s products are even available at big-box home improvement centers.
  • Daltile: Owned by flooring giant Mohawk, Daltile is an upper-end manufacturer who sells both ceramic and porcelain tiles at specialty tile stores and at its own showrooms.
  • AmericanTile: This company offers one of the broadest selection of ceramic and porcelain tiles available, ranging from tiny mosaic sheets to expansive floor tiles. There are many affordable options available.
  • American Olean: Offering many lines of ceramic and porcelain tile, American Olean sells mainly through specialty tile and flooring shops, as well as through contractor sales.

In addition, many of the giant flooring corporations, such as Shaw and Armstrong, also offer porcelain and ceramic tiles.

How Porcelain Is Certified

For years, tile manufacturers and tile distributors did not see eye to eye on the issue of how to define porcelain vs. ceramic tile. By 2008, the debate had reached such a fevered pitch that the manufacturers, represented by the Tile Council of North America (TCNA), and the distributors, represented by the Ceramic Tile Distributors Association (CTDA), formed a third-party organization to settle the differences and come up with a standard definition for porcelain tile. They called this new group the Porcelain Tile Certification Agency (PTCA).

According to the PTCA, it is not simply enough for a tile to be “impervious” (a favorite tile term, meaning that it is good against water). The tile has to meet those ASTM C373 standards of water absorption by sending in five tile samples for testing, paying a fee, submitting a participation agreement, and renewing certification every three years. After certification, a company may use the PTCA Certification Mark branding. At last count, 28 North American tile companies had received certification as producing authentic porcelain tile.

The PTCA’s fight did not end with the establishment of water absorption criteria. Today, about 70 percent of the tile purchased in North America is imported. The PTCA indicates that much of the imported tile that is prominently labeled as being “porcelain” is not porcelain.

In one independent blind test conducted by the TCNA, 1,466 tiles were tested for the water absorption criteria that would qualify those tiles for porcelain status. The conclusion was startling. Close to 23 percent (336 total) of the tiles tested that were labeled as “porcelain” were falsely labeled. In other words, they absorbed water over that 0.5 percent benchmark. In some cases, the so-called porcelain tile had an alarming 3 percent absorption rate.

This is an on-going fight for the PTCA, especially since more and more tiles are being imported. As a self-policing, self-funded organization, the PTCA lacks the resources to test every single tile that crosses the international border for water absorption criteria.

One way to determine if a porcelain tile is truly porcelain is to check the box for the PTCA Certification Mark. Currently, this is the distinctive green and gray logo that reads “Certified Porcelain Tile 0.5% water absorption,” with a diamond-shaped tile forming the “O” of “porcelain.”

However, the PTCA mark is subject to change. Plus, dishonest tile companies may fraudulently mislabel their boxes. That being the case, the only way to know for certain if that tile is truly porcelain is to check it against the PTCA’s on-going database of tile makers and their series of porcelain tiles. 

The PTCA’s sole interest is in assuring that tiles that are labeled as porcelain meet or exceed water absorption rate standards. But it can also be helpful to look at standards defined by American National Standards Institute (ANSI) A137.1, which says in part that porcelain tile can be defined as tile that is produced with a “dust-pressed method of a composition resulting in a tile that is dense, impervious, fine-grained, and smooth with a sharply formed face.” It is important to note that ANSI A137.1 also references those important ASTM C373 standards of water absorption rates.

10 Common Bathroom Mistakes You Should Avoid

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Experts offer ways to dodge pitfalls that can keep you from having a beautiful, well-functioning bathroom

Putting in a new bathroom isn’t cheap, especially if you want a unique look with a premium touch, so you’ll want to be sure that it delivers. Although that striking freestanding tub or statement tile may make your heart beat a little faster, it’s the layout that largely determines how well the space works.

Four experts were asked to share the layout mistakes they regularly see inexperienced bathroom renovators make — and how you can steer clear of them.

We also scoured for photos and designs that successfully avoided these 10 missteps to achieve bathrooms that look great and function beautifully.

1. Fixtures That Are Too Big

“Too often I see [60-inch-long] freestanding baths in rooms that are only [70 inches] in length,” says Frances Cosway, an interior designer and principal at White Pebble Interiors, and the author of Your Forever Home. “These bathtubs are simply too big for space. I also see vanities and showers that are the wrong scale, for the bathroom space it is being used for.”

Solution: “Ensure that the bath, vanity, and shower are the right scale for your bathroom,” she says. If you are specifying a freestanding tub, make sure there is space around it for cleaning, as Cosway did in this bathroom.

“Freestanding baths, while fashionable, are not always the best option — particularly in a small bathroom,” Cosway says. “A [60-inch] freestanding bath is very small, and if this is your only option, a larger inset bath would be a much better use of space.

“Likewise with vanities — having a super large vanity that butts right up to the shower does not look good and is awkward to clean. Instead, choose a smaller vanity and allow some space between the shower or bath,” she says.

Tip: A freestanding tub should be about 8 inches from the wall, with at least a foot of space at both ends to allow for cleaning access, Cosway says.

Find a bathroom designer near you on HftStore

2. Having the Door Open to a View of the Toilet

Having the bathroom door open to directly face the toilet is neither stylish nor necessary, Cosway says.

Solution: “Tuck the loo behind the door or place it to the side where it’s not in full view when you open the bathroom door. Even more important, ensure that your main bathroom has a separate toilet so people do not have to wait for the loo when someone is using the shower,” she says.

If lines are forming outside your bathroom every morning, Cosway suggests upgrading your powder room so that family members can use it to get ready. You can do this by making sure it has an adequate sink, storage cabinetry and a mirror.

Tip: When planning the position of your toilet, allow at least 8 inches on both sides for elbow room, Cosway says.

3. Insufficient Storage

Focusing too much on aesthetics and not enough on function often leads to insufficient storage, Cosway says.

Solution: “Eye-level storage is critical in a bathroom. Rather than having a mirror adhered to the wall, choose a mirror cabinet recessed into the wall that incorporates storage for everyday essentials, such as your toothbrush, shaver and makeup,” she says.

Here are some of Cosway’s key measurements for medicine cabinets and vanities.

  • A medicine cabinet above a vanity should be the same width as the vanity or slightly smaller — never larger.
  • Recessing a medicine cabinet into the wall will give your bathroom a more streamlined look.
  • The right length for a vanity countertop depends on the size of the room. For a family bathroom or en suite, 36 inches is considered a standard minimum length, but 48 inches is a little more practical.
  • A double sink will need a countertop that’s at least 60 to 72 inches long.
  • The ideal depth for a vanity is 21 inches, although it will depend on the depth of your sink.
  • If you have a semirecessed sink, you may be able to make your vanity less than 21 inches deep.
  • When specifying your vanity depth, make sure you include enough room so that you can clean the sink and faucets.

4. Confining Storage to the Vanity

“Rookie renovators often don’t consider storage options beyond vanity drawers and cabinets,” says Maria Roussos, principal at interior design firm

“This often means the vanity ends up too clunky and dominating. As a result, the bathroom feels small and crowded.”

Solution: Roussos suggests thinking of alternative places to house bathing products, toiletries and toilet paper: “Can you work some custom [cabinetry] into the floor plan to store larger items? What about vertical wall-hung cabinets?” She points out that you also can use these to incorporate mirrors, lighting and towel bars, saving even more space in the bathroom and giving it a more purposeful feel.

Peter Schaad Design Studio

5. Poor Lighting

Roussos says inexperienced renovators often simply resort to downlights over the vanity, shower or toilet instead of putting in a proper layered lighting design. “As a result, the bathroom is often too bright and lacks ambiance, which makes it far from a relaxing space to spend time in,” she says. “Plus, the bright overhead lighting creates shadowing when you look in the vanity mirror —dreadful when you’re putting on makeup or shaving.”

Solution: Roussos suggests planning a layered design that includes several lighting sources. “It should feature lighting for ambiance; concealed LED strips are a great option, as they don’t consume much energy and can be left on to create a low-key mood. Put them under vanities and shaving cabinets, behind mirrors and in shower niches,” she says.

“Then add in lighting for other purposes,” Roussos says. “For example, incorporate task lighting to assist with grooming or putting on makeup, such as a pair of wall lights on either side of the mirror. These will illuminate your face from the front, which is the most effective and flattering direction.”

Tip: Ask your electrician to wire lights so that they can be turned on independently. This will let you adjust the lighting levels and mood, Roussos says.

Shop for Bathroom Tiles

6. Not Creating Separate Zones

“When space is plentiful, I often see uninspiring and empty-looking bathrooms, with all the fixtures around the perimeter of the room and an empty space in the middle. Creating zones would have made these bathrooms far more functional and welcoming,” Roussos says.

Solution: Consider dividing a large bathroom into separate zones for the bath, shower, vanity and toilet. “This may be as simple as putting a stud wall into the center of the room,” she says. “Creating zones will enhance your experience of the bathroom and make it feel more luxurious.”

7. Not Considering Existing Infrastructure

“What’s behind the wall is a big deal when you’re renovating or changing a bathroom layout,” says Daniela Santilli, bathroom marketing leader for Reece, an Australian supplier of plumbing and bathroom products.

Solution: Make sure you work with your plumber to figure out if the new layout will work with current plumbing points and infrastructure,” she says. “You might need to rethink your layout if you don’t want to move these existing points. Remember, while changing plumbing points can give you the layout you really want, it can also blow out the budget.”

8. Measuring Incorrectly

Santilli warns that inaccurate measurements can end up being costly when you need to work multiple elements into your layout. “It’s a common mistake not to take account of the little things, such as the way a door will swing or the gap between the toilet and the vanity,” she says.

Solution: “Always measure twice before you select fittings and fixtures for your bathroom to make sure they’ll fit. Think how doors and drawers will open and how you will move through the space. Your builder, plumber or project manager should also be able to help you with this process,” Santilli says.

9. Storage That Lacks Function

Jenefer Gordon, principal at interior design firm Eat Bathe Live, says failing to consider exactly how you use your bathroom means that the items you keep there often don’t have a proper home. “They end up being left out on the vanity, creating a cluttered look, or stored far from where you actually use them,” she says.

Solution: Consider how you use the bathroom and exactly which items need to be stored there, and then measure them and give them a dedicated spot, Gordon says. “For example, electric toothbrushes and shavers can be stored in a recessed mirrored cabinet with power inside, shallow drawers with dividers are great for makeup, and towels and standing toiletries can be placed in deep drawers,” she says.

10. Not Considering the Location of Accessories

Not giving enough thought to the location of accessories, such as towel bars and shower storage, will affect how the whole space functions, Gordon says. “It can mean frequently used items have to be positioned out of reach, or wall-mounted accessories end up in the way of drawers or cabinetry doors.

“You also need to plan where accessories will go, so you can install enough secure fixing points,” she says. After all, nobody wants to have a wobbly towel bar or the toilet paper holder to fall off the wall — “which is what can happen when they’ve only been screwed into a plaster sheet,” she says.

Solution: “Think how you’ll use and move through space when planning where to position accessories on your bathroom layout,” Gordon says. Put towel bars within easy reach of the shower, bath and vanity. Put hand towel bars where they won’t prevent vanity drawers and doors from opening.

Also ensure that structural supports are in place before the walls are finished so that accessories have something to attach to, she says.

Tip: Consider a recessed tiled niche in the shower instead of a shelf affixed to the wall to give the area a more open feel, Gordon says.

Fiddlehead Design Group, LLC

Tell us: Would you plan your bathroom layout differently next time around? Share your do’s and don’t the comments.

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House Planning: How to Choose a Tile for Your Rooms

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Glass, Ceramic, Porcelain…? Three Basic Questions Will Help You Make the Right Pick

Fancy techniques aside, tile simply refers to any kind of durable material that can be laid in rows over a surface. While people have interpreted that to mean everything from solid gold to broken seashells, in kitchens and baths it most commonly refers to stone, ceramic, porcelain, and glass. All of these materials are beautiful, strong, and come in a variety of shapes and colors.

So, how do you decide which material, cut, and size is best for your bathroom or kitchen?

Like most problems in design, this is an issue of functionality and practicality. However, it can be resolved by answering three questions:

1. Where will this tile be placed?
2. What is your budget?
3. How often will this tile be used?

1. Where will this tile be placed?

Deciding exactly where the tile will be placed will help you narrow down size and material. Are you using this tile for a backsplash? A counter? Floor? Walls?

Most commonly, stone, ceramic, and porcelain are used for counters and floors. Glass is mostly used for walls and back-splashes. This shower has a ceramic mosaic floor (which provides a solid grip in an otherwise slippery shower), accented with easy-to-clean rectangular glass tiles.

Glass tiles are a common choice for bathrooms and kitchens today because they’re easily recycled and come in a wide variety of colors and finishes. Mosaic tiles — usually shaped in rectangles, squares, or “pennies” — have become increasingly popular.

These glossy mosaic tiles work well on this bathroom floor because they’re easy to clean and provide traction during your post-shower dry down. Remember that a glossy floor tile isn’t the same as a glossy wall tile — before buying, explain to an in-store expert where your tile will be installed.

Floor tile has to be safe to walk on, so you want to make sure that the texture and strength of the tile is correct.

A no-slip grip and incredible strength make porcelain a common flooring choice. It’s an extremely durable and water-resistant material that can even be used outside.

Browse thousands of porcelain tile options

Ceramic tile is a good fit in bathrooms or other moisture-rich environments. It’s easy to clean and install, it’s waterproof, sturdy, and is a great value for the price.

Designers also like ceramic tile because its surface is ideal for paint or decal ornamentation.

When it comes to durability, natural stone is the crème de la crème.

It has a completely natural beauty, and since no two stones are exactly alike, a natural pattern will emerge on tiled floors or walls. Pay attention to maintenance requirements when choosing stone.

Some stones need to be sealed, otherwise they’ll stay porous and can become stained or even crumble. A smooth stone works well for kitchen clean-ups, but a textured stone floor will help prevent slips on a bathroom floor.

Consider shape and size. This is particularly important if you’re planning to install the tile yourself. 

Larger tiles have a distinctive look and are easier to fit and place than smaller tiles. If you’re using ceramic tile, check that all the edges are straight; this will make grouting much easier.

Also make sure that all of your tiles are the same size — the manufacturing process can result in variations up to 1/4 of an inch.

Square and rectangular tiles are also much easier to place than those with an irregular shape. These porcelain tiles with mirror inlays are absolutely stunning — but if this is a look you’re going for, it’s a good idea to call in a professional.

2. What is your budget? 

There’s a wide range of prices for tile. Some general estimates (not including installation):

Ceramic tile ranges from ₦700 – ₦7000 per square foot.

Natural stone ranges from ₦2,800 – ₦8,000 per square foot.

Glass tile ranges from ₦2,800 – ₦12,000 per square foot.

Porcelain tile ranges from ₦1200 – ₦10,000 per square foot.

This glass tile countertop is beautiful in this bathroom, and makes everyday cleaning easy. If you like this look, consider how much use your surface will get. Glass tile might not handle wear and tear as well as other materials.

Ceramic tile is usually less expensive than glass and when glazed is just as easy to clean.

3. How often will this tile be used? 

While there’s no set industry standard for tile durability, most tile is classified using PEI (Porcelain Enamel Institute) ratings, which are:

1: No foot traffic.
2: Light traffic
3: Moderate to light traffic
4: Moderate to heavy traffic
5: Heavy to extra-heavy traffic

A lot of porcelain tile is classified as a 4 or a 5. This makes it a great choice for a family kitchen.

It’s important to choose a floor tile that can stand up to the daily wear and tear of your household. Scuffs, spilled foods, cleaning supplies, dog scratches, etc. should all be taken into account.

Make sure to choose a tile that is specifically formulated for floor use. This natural stone tile shower is a great example, since it has a high COF (coefficient of friction) to keep it from being too slippery.

You’ll definitely want to do this when choosing a tile for your bathroom floor. Something with a slight raised pattern or texture will increase friction, even when wet.

If doing an entire stone or porcelain floor isn’t quite your style, consider doing what this family did, and create a kitchen “rug” out of tile. This part of the kitchen floor will probably be used the most by the family, and this tough and long-lasting stone won’t suffer the same damage as hardwood in this area would.

If you’re feeling resigned to a practical, durable tile to protect your kitchen from kids and your golden retriever, take heart. The backsplash is one area where you can get really creative.

This is an area that doesn’t take direct traffic, so you can be more free with materials and design ideas.

You still want to make sure that your backsplash can still take a few hits — as it’ll still have to withstand splashes of hot water, oil, grease and cleaning materials. These colorful ceramic tiles are a great fit for a backsplash behind a stove: they can withstand the heat and are easy to wipe off.

Ceramic is also a great choice for an accented bathroom backsplash …

Work with a professional to find your dream backsplash

Spore Design… as is glass for this beautiful mosaic backsplash. This is a great decorative alternative if you’re not quite ready to commit the money or work to tiling your entire bathroom in mosaic tiles, but still want to get the look.

What are your favorite tiling styles?

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Choosing the Right Tile Type and Design That’s Right for Your Room

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Gloss, matte, glazed, metallic, terra cotta and more: Each has its own look and characteristics

There’s a huge array of tile types and finishes available, so it can be hard to choose the right ones. The location where the tile will be used — on walls or floors, in the bathroom, in the kitchen or elsewhere — will affect your choice, as will your budget and personal tastes.

1. Bounce the light with gloss

 Tiles with a highly polished finish, such as these large ones, can add a light and luxurious touch to rooms. Their smooth, reflective surface means they’re also easy to wipe down and keep clean (though watch out for smears and smudges). However, if you’re going to use them on the floor, always check with your tile supplier to find out about their slip resistance and traction.

Porcelain is often a good choice over ceramic, as it tends to be more durable.

2. Go for a cool matte. 

If you’re opting for shaped or patterned tiles, choose a flatter matte finish to prevent them from looking too overwhelming. These herringbone tiles are chic and modern, and the matte finish gives them a cool feel. If you’re going for matte tiles, be aware that they don’t have the same wipe-down properties of gloss tiles, so they might be a bit harder to keep clean.

3. Add shimmer with metallics. 

Gold, silver or coppery tiles can add sparkle, glamour and a touch of luxury to your home. If you don’t want wall-to-wall bling, try using them in a contained area, such as a backsplash. This look works particularly well with mosaic tiles for a jewel-like effect. In this bathroom, the silvery tiles add just the right dose of dazzle and glitter for an uplifting bathing space.

4. Jazz up subway tiles with a colorful glaze

 White subway tiles are the trend that keeps on giving, but a brick tile in a bright color can take the look to another level. These brilliant blue tiles have a shiny glazed finish that bounces light around. The finish is also super practical as it makes it easy to wipe up those tomato sauce splatters and coffee splashes.

5. Add another dimension

There’s a growing trend for 3D wall finishes, which let you add texture and interest to plain color. Lots of 3D designs are quite subtle — these wavy crackle tiles add gentle pattern to the bathroom.

Talk to your retailer about maintenance before you commit, and bear in mind that textured tiles may be trickier to clean and that matte tiles may need to be sealed or have a protective barrier applied to prevent damage.

6. Choose encaustic for character. 

Classic encaustic tiles can add a historical or Moroccan feel to your room, and the patterned designs allow you to keep the rest of the room simple. Here, they work well with the natural woods and soft gray shades in the room.

Genuine encaustic tiles don’t have a pattern printed on top. Instead, the design runs through them, so if you chip the tile, it won’t affect the design. However, they can be porous and prone to damage from acidic substances, so ask your tile manufacturer about the best way to seal them.

7. Hone your stone.

 If you want a smooth finish without the high polish, go for a honed travertine. Smoothing out the surface of this limestone variety allows the natural pattern in the stone to shine through, and it has a subtle sheen without the surface being too slippery. Honed travertine can come in satin or more matte finishes, so choose the one that will work best for you. Here, the honed travertine floor tiles give this kitchen a classic finish.

8. Warm up with terra cotta. 

Terra-cotta tiles have a classic, timeless look, and their warm color instantly makes a space feel cozy. They’re made from clay that’s been fired at high temperatures, and they tend to have a naturally matte finish. To prevent staining, the tiles must be sealed. For a more affordable option, you can also buy terra-cotta-effect ceramic tiles.

9. Go for rustic tumbled limestone.

 To give your room a bright but natural feel, try limestone tiles. Choose a tumbled finish for a look similar to the one here. It will give a distressed, rustic and naturally aged look. (The tiles are “tumbled” with sand and grit to achieve this.)

Limestone is hard-wearing, so it’s a good option for areas that get a lot of foot traffic, such as a kitchen. When you’re choosing tiles with a more natural finish, think about cleaning and whether it will annoy you that there are pits and crevices where dirt can get trapped.

10. Lay down some honed slate.

Slate is a timeless choice in kitchens, though its dark shade means it works best in rooms that have plenty of light. Choose a honed surface that has been polished to a flat, matte finish, as seen here. It will be easier to mop, as honing smooths the material’s natural surface undulations. For a more natural, rugged look, try a riven finish.

As well as being beautiful, slate is tough, durable and should last a lifetime, though it should be sealed to protect it. However, slate can be rather chilly underfoot, so it may not be suitable for a bathroom (though underfloor heating can be a good solution here). It can also be expensive, so look at the many slate-look ceramic tiles around for a more affordable option.

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