A Guide to the Different Types of Tile

Updated: Apr. 27, 2023

Tiles are attractive and durable on walls, and they're even better for floors. Here are 10 of the most common types of tile for floors.

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White or Blue ceramic wall and floor tiles abstract background. Design geometric mosaic texture for the decoration of the bedroom. Simple seamless pattern for backdrop advertising banner poster or web
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Multi-Purpose Glazed Ceramic

Perhaps the world’s premier floor and wall tiles, ceramic tiles are made from kiln-fired clay. Before firing, they are coated with a silica-based glaze that provides a hard, shiny surface. The glaze makes the tiles waterproof and provides unlimited potential for color variations.

  • Size: 4-in. x 4-in., 6-in. x 6-in., 12-in. x12-in., 18-in. x 18-in. and 12-in. x 24-in.
  • Durability: Can last from 75 to 100 years.
  • Installation: Adhere with mastic or thin-set mortar and grout the joints.
  • Cost: From $2 to $5.50 per square foot.
  • Maintenance: Low maintenance. Clean with soap and water.
  • Color variety: Unlimited.
  • Manufacture: Ceramic is made with all-natural materials. Processing consumes water and firing releases variable amounts of greenhouse gases, depending on who does it.
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Terra cotta floor
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Artisanal Unglazed Ceramic

Unglazed ceramic tiles, also known as Saltillo or terracotta tiles, have a rough, slip-proof surface and a uniform earthy color. Without a glaze, the clay is porous and has to be sealed to prevent staining and mold. Because they are slip-resistant, unglazed ceramic tiles are often used in kitchens and mudrooms.

  • Size: 4-in., 6-in., 12-in. and 18-in. square. Also, 3-in. x 6-in., 2-in. x 8-in. and 12-in. x 24-in.
  • Durability: 75 to 100 years with proper maintenance.
  • Installation: Adhere with thin-set mortar or mastic and grout joints.
  • Cost: From $1 to $7 per square foot.
  • Maintenance: High maintenance. Must be resealed every year or two.
  • Color variety: Mostly reddish brown, but other earth tones are possible with the addition of oxides to the clay.
  • Manufacture: Same as ceramic tile.
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Porcelain wall tile seamless texture, mapping for 3d graphics
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Durable Porcelain

Porcelain tiles are molded from special fine-grained clay and fired at very high temperatures to make then extremely hard and almost totally waterproof. Glazed and unglazed varieties are available. Porcelain is the preferred tile choice for bathrooms, but it can be used anywhere.

  • Size: From 1/4-in. x 1/4-in., all the way to 24-in. x 24-in.
  • Durability: Life expectancy is 60+ years.
  • Installation: Adhere with mastic or mortar and grout the joints.
  • Cost: From $2 to $6 per square foot.
  • Maintenance: Very low maintenance. Occasional cleaning with soap and water.
  • Color variety: Limitless variety of solid and patterned colors.
  • Manufacture: Porcelain and porcelain glaze are sourced from natural minerals. Processing may release a limited amount of greenhouse gases.
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Tiles On The Floor/Wall, Tiled Wall Texture
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Luxurious Natural Stone

Granite and marble are the two most common materials for natural stone tiles, but you can also find slate and sandstone tiles. Natural stone is durable and attractive, although it can stain if left unsealed. Natural stone is great for countertops and wet areas like bathrooms, kitchens and patios.

  • Size: Squares are available from 4-in. to 24-in. Standard thickness is 3/8-in., but 18-in. and 24-in. inch squares are considered large format and are usually 1/2-in. to 3/4-in. thick.
  • Durability: Stone tiles last 100+ years.
  • Installation: The tiles are adhered with thin-set and the joints grouted.
  • Cost: From $5 to $10 per square foot.
  • Maintenance: Occasional cleaning with a non-acidic cleaner. Reseal every one or two years.
  • Color variety: Natural colors
  • Manufacture: Obtained from quarries worldwide and shipped to factories for cutting and shaping.
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New paving made with italian travertine stone blocks of rectangular shape for pedestrian zone - "nseamless pattern image useful for renderings applications
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Ageless Travertine

Travertine is often considered stone, but it actually comes from limestone deposits that collect around hot springs. Used since the time of the Romans, travertine can be polished, brushed, honed or tumbled, and the tiles have natural earth tone hues. They are suitable for upscale living rooms, hallways and courtyards.

  • Size: Travertine tiles come only in large sizes: 12-in. x 12-in., 24-in. x 24-in. and !2-in. x 24-in.
  • Durability: Lasts as long as stone with proper maintenance.
  • Installation: Installs like ceramic tile: Set in thin-set and grout the edges.
  • Cost: Depending on quality, cost can be anywhere from $3 to $30 per square foot.
  • Maintenance: Travertine is porous and must be resealed every year or two to maintain its appearance.
  • Color variety: A variety of light brown earth tones.
  • Manufacture: Travertine tiles are cut from naturally occurring limestone deposits in a process that has a low environmental impact.
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Worker making vinyl flooring
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Utilitarian Peel-and-Stick Vinyl

Peel-and-stick flooring tiles are made from vinyl, and they can be anywhere from 1/4-in. to 3/4-in. thick. They are the go-to flooring option for utility spaces and basements, and they also work well in kitchens.

  • Size: The most common size is 12-in. x 12-in., but you can also find 9-in. x 9-in. and 18-in. x 18-in. squares as well as 6-in. x 36-in. planks.
  • Durability: Not very long-lasting, with a lifespan from five to 25 years.
  • Installation: Tiles can be adhered to any flat surface. No underlayment is required.
  • Cost: $1.50 to $2.50 per square foot.
  • Maintenance: Sweeping and occasional mopping with soap and water.
  • Color variety: A wide selection of colors and patterns.
  • Manufacture: Energy-intensive. Tiles are pressed from PVC plastic that has been heated to a liquid.
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Work on laying worker installing new vinyl tile laminate floor.
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Luxury Vinyl Tile (LVT)

Luxury vinyl tiles are typically installed as floating floors, and the tiles snap together like laminate planks. They consist of a rigid core, a vinyl design layer and often a cork underlayment. They are waterproof and suitable for any room in the house.

  • Size: Tiles are typically 16-in. x 16-in. Planks are also available in the following sizes: 4-in. x 48-in., 18-in.x 36-in. and 9-in. x 72-in.
  • Durability: LVT lasts from 10 to 20 years, on average.
  • Installation: You install LVT by snapping tiles together. No adhesive is required.
  • Cost: From $2 to $7 per square foot.
  • Maintenance: Occasional sweeping and mopping with soap and water.
  • Color variety: LVT come in multiple colors. Patterns can resemble wood, natural stone or ceramic tile.
  • Manufacture: The core is usually made from recycled materials and the covering from PVC.
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Glass tiles
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Classy Glass

Glass mosaic tiles have long been popular for walls and backsplashes, and now glass is trending as a floor tile material, particularly in bathrooms. Glass is durable and flashy, but designer tiles can be very expensive. Tiles for countertops are usually 5/16-in. thick, but tempered glass floor tiles can be from 1 to 1-1/2 in. thick. Glass tiles are more difficult to install than other types.

  • Size: Mosaic sizes include 1/2-in. and 1-in. squares, and larger sizes include 2-in. x 8-in., 3-in. x 12-in., 4-in. x 12-in. and 4-in. x 16-in.
  • Durability: Properly installed glass tiles can last for decades.
  • Installation: Because glass is difficult to cut, and the adhesive is visible, installation is usually a job for pros.
  • Cost: Anywhere from $7 to $30 or $40 per square foot.
  • Maintenance: Use only non-abrasive cleaning agents to avoid scratches.
  • Color variety: A large variety of colors and patterns is available
  • Manufacture: Layers of glass are fused by heating in a kiln. Raw silicate materials are plentiful, but the process consumes fossil fuels and releases greenhouse gases.
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brown textured cork
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Earthy Cork

Cork is hypoallergenic and provides good thermal and sound insulation, and the best way to get it on your floor is to install cork tiles. They snap together like laminate planks to form a floating floor, so installation is easy, and they are surprisingly durable. Our cork floor has been going strong for 20 years and looks to last 20 more.

  • Size: Available in 12-in. x 12-in. squares and 12-in. x 24-in. or 12″-in. x 36-in. planks.
  • Durability: Cork flooring lasts 20+ years.
  • Installation: Snap-together planks. No adhesive required.
  • Cost: $5 to $10 per square foot.
  • Maintenance: Vacuum and mop with a damp (not wet) mop. Needs periodic resealing with polyurethane.
  • Color variety: Earth tones ranging from golden oak to dark walnut.
  • Manufacture: The cork wear layer is sustainably harvested from cork oak trees, The core is made of recycled materials.
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Empty Studio Background
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Trendy Cement

Cement tiles have been popular in Europe since the 1800s and are currently making a splash in North America. They have a cement core and a surface layer of sprayed Portland cement combined with marble dust and natural pigments.

  • Size: Squares range from 2-in. x 2-in. all the way to 12-in. x 12-in. Various rectangular sizes are also available.
  • Durability: Some European tiles have lasted for more than 100 years.
  • Installation: Set in thin-set mortar and grout the edges. Tiles must be sealed before grouting and light colored grout is recommended.
  • Cost: From $10 to $30 per square foot.
  • Maintenance: Sweep and clean with soap and water. Cement is porous, so the tiles must be resealed periodically.
  • Color variety: A wide selection of colors and patterns is available.
  • Manufacture: They are made by casting cement into the tile shape. They are sustainable, because the raw materials for making the cement are rock and minerals, which occur naturally and are plentiful.