When it comes time to pick out the perfect tile for your home, there are many things that you want to keep in the back of your mind. Certain types of tile may suit you better in one area over another type. With that in mind, not all types of tile are ideal in certain areas throughout the home. Below, we will discuss some of your various tile options along with the pros and cons of each to help you get a better idea of what will work for you.
Before we jump into the different types of tiles, it is important to review what PEI ratings are, as knowing this information will come in handy. PEI stands for Porcelain Enamel Institute, and they developed the PEI ratings. This rating system is designed to help customers better understand what their expectations can be for the wear of their porcelain tiles during different applications. It is known to be the only reliable measure of this.
Here is what the ratings mean:
- PEI Class 1 – This rating means that the tile should have no foot traffic. These tiles are recommended to only be used on the walls. They can be used in both residential and commercial applications.
- PEI Class 2 – This rating means that the tile can accept light foot traffic. It is recommended for use in both the bathroom and on the walls.
- PEI Class 3 – This rating means that the tile can accept light to medium traffic on it. It is best recommended for the walls, counters, and floors. Normal foot traffic can occur.
- PEI Class 4 – This rating means that moderate to heavy foot traffic can occur on this tile. It is recommended for all types of residential applications. It is also recommended for medium commercial applications as well.
- PEI Class 5 – This rating means that heavy to extra-heavy foot traffic is accepted by this tile. It is recommended for all residential uses as well as heavy commercial applications.
Porcelain tile is a popular option in homes and is made from firing clay material at a very high temperature. The result is a tile that is smooth, finely grained, and dense. When looking at porcelain tiles, they are known to be less absorbent than ceramic tiles, which means they will not damage as easily from water and are suitable for areas where there is a lot of exposure to water or moisture.
Glazed porcelain tiles are extremely durable and offer a lot more damage resistance than some of the other options out there. You will find that because of this, these tiles are often recommended for most indoor residential areas.
When looking at porcelain tile, you will find that it generally has a PEI rating of 5. This means that it is a good choice for areas that receive a lot of foot traffic on a regular basis. One thing homeowners do want to keep in mind though is that porcelain tiles do not retain warmth, so the tiles will feel cold on the feet when the temperature outside drops.
Porcelain tiles are not recommended as a DIY project and should be completed by a professional. The tiles themselves are hard to cut and inexperienced homeowners could make some mistakes and damage the tile itself.
Tiles that are made up of clay or a clay mixture and then fired are part of the ceramic family. These types of tiles are placed into two main groups, which include porcelain tiles and non-porcelain tiles. Tiles that are NOT porcelain are called ceramic tiles.
Ceramic tiles come with a PEI rating of anywhere from 0 to 3, which means that at best, they are ideal for light to moderate foot traffic. Ceramic tiles tends to absorb water more than porcelain does and is often prone to wear and tear over time. Therefore, if used in the bathroom, it is important to keep an eye on it and look for signs of damage or even mildew.
This option costs less than porcelain does and is considered to be very affordable, which is why many homeowners do choose it. It can also be done as a DIY project helping to save you money on the overall project.
Ceramic tile is flame-resistant and strong. It is not known to conduct any electricity or heat and is considered to be a hygienic option. There are many different styles and colors available, which allows you to customize your space the way you want. Most people choose to have ceramic tiles on the floor in their bathroom.
Marble is a natural stone that is highly desired by many homeowners, especially as a countertop. Marble comes in a variety of colors that are unique due to the individual veining that occurs on the stone. This means that you would be hard-pressed to find two marble tiles that look identical to one another.
This material is more porous and softer than the other two options above. You will find that it is commonly used for shower and bathroom flooring and on walls in the kitchen or bathroom. If you do plan to use marble in the kitchen, you have to make sure it has been treated properly, otherwise, it will not hold up well.
If you have high-traffic areas, you do not want to use marble tiles as they will wear down quickly. Marble is a very high-end material and is much more costly than the other options above. You will need to hire professionals to install any marble tile as it is not a DIY job.
Slate tile is best suited for use in walkways, wet bars, countertops, and flooring. It is a dense material and holds up well. One of the biggest downsides to slate is that it only comes in a small selection of colors, which include grays, blacks, and greens. It is possible to find it in other colors, but this is not as common.
It does come with a bit of a price tag and is pretty difficult to install on your own, so it is recommended that you hire a professional instead of trying to do it yourself. The slate needs to be sealed during installation to provide protection to the surface of the tile. If it is not sealed properly, then damage can occur quickly and shorten the life of the tile.
Despite its higher price tag, many homeowners choose slate as it offers a luxurious feel without the worry that it is going to crumble. Its distinctive patterns give it a lot of unique character too.
Travertine is a naturally occurring stone that is often sought after by homeowners because they enjoy the natural veins that run through it and give it the unique look it has. Travertine is usually found in a shade that varies from light beige to brown. You can have the tile finished and sealed for a glossy look or you can leave it unfinished and natural.
This tile is best suited for use on fireplace surrounds, vanities, tub decks, shower walls, entry walls, and floors. It is not recommended for use on wet bars or kitchen counters as juice and acidic compounds can cause it to stain and it does scratch easily.
The cost of travertine is a bit difficult as it can vary quite a bit. You can find it for as little as $10 per square foot and as high as $30 per square foot. Leaving the tiles in their natural form will cost less than having them finished.
This is not a DIY project and does require a professional as you need special tools to cut the stone.
Mosaic tiles come in a variety of different shapes and materials. The one thing they all have in common though is that they are small in size. If you are someone who does not want large cut tiles, then mosaic tiles are an excellent alternative as they measure in at less than two square inches. One of the unique things about mosaic tiles is that they come in tons of different shapes including hexagons, squares, geometric shapes, and rectangles.
DIY installation is ideal for mosaic tiles as they are usually sold in square sheets. On these square sheets, multiple tiles have been glued to a backing made from mesh.
These tiles are great for backsplashes, shower stalls, flooring, and also as accent walls. It is important to make sure you pay attention to the materials you choose as some may be more likely to get scratched or damaged with repeated use. Lastly, keep in mind that grout must be used and since the tiles are smaller, you will need more grout than other tile options on this list. While it is not necessarily a bad thing, it is important to simply remember that you will need to clean the grout often to prevent mold or mildew from forming.
Cement tiles are some of the most durable tiles out there. After all, cement in any form is pretty durable. The top layer on cement tiles has been pressed or stamped with different patterns and colors to provide a nice even look. The finished tiles are matte, so you should not expect them to be glossy like some of the other options.
You can customize your cement tiles, which is what makes them a good choice for homeowners who have their own designs in mind or want a really unique look to their space. These tiles are ideal for accent walls and backsplashes.
Do take note that cement tiles can be difficult to install, so it is recommended that a professional handle this for you. You will need to keep the grout cleaned well to prevent damage and staining. Cement tiles do also require sealing and re-sealing often to ensure that water does not get behind them and cause damage.
This tile option is more costly than ceramic or porcelain and is in line with the cost of travertine tiles.
Wait, what? Yes, you read that right. Metal can be used as a tile option and is chosen because it is very decorative, especially when used in the kitchen as a main focal point or backsplash. Metal tiles come in a variety of different textures and finishes for you to choose from with stainless steel being the most popular due to its lustrous shine. If you are not one for shiny things, you can opt for brushed nickel, which will provide more of a matte finish.
These types of tiles are very durable and do not succumb to fluctuations in temperature, which is why they are great candidates to be used in the kitchen. Not only are they durable, but they are easy to clean as well, so you do not have to put too much effort into keeping them nice and shiny.
It is unlikely that you will find metal tiles on the floor, but you may find a metal tile or two used in a flooring design. They are non-porous and do not require grout, which is a win-win for many homeowners.
Metal tiles can be installed by homeowners as a DIY project, or they can be installed by professionals if you choose.
Your Perfect Tile Choice Depends on Its Purpose
Choosing the perfect tile for your home will depend on what you want to accomplish as far as looks and function. Some tiles are more appropriate for use in areas than others, so you do want to pay attention to this. Many homes have porcelain or ceramic tiles installed in them, but you are not limited to these two choices. There are many choices out there for you.
As you shop for tiles for your home, consider what areas they are rated and recommended for. If you need assistance in choosing the right tiles for your home, talk to your local home improvement store or local contractor who can walk you through some expert recommendations.