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While hardwood floors have certainly come of age these past few years, tile flooring is still the most popular flooring option. With its versatile nature and natural looks in a kitchen or bathroom, it’s hard to imagine a home without decorative tile.
Given its vast popularity, tile manufacturers have done their best to give homeowners as many options as possible. However, some present unique advantages, in price and function, that others don’t.
Below, I will list the major types of floor tiles, as well as some of their characteristics, costs, advantages and disadvantages.
Of all the tile types, ceramic offers far and away the most design possibilities and many experts agree that it’s the best bang for your buck. Ceramic tile is also known for its resistance to stain and colorful applications.
According to our ceramic tile (material) cost estimator, this decorative tile is made by mixing natural mineral clays and water. Typical tiles are 1/2” to 3/4" thick and most commonly measure 4X4”. Different sizes are available, but are less common. The finish can be smooth and glossy or made with a less shiny matte coating. Some tiles are left with a more natural finish, such as terra cotta.
Types of Ceramic Tile
As I said, there are numerous types and designs of ceramic tile:
- Porcelain Tile: Water resistant and can include different coatings. Some homeowners install porcelain tile that has been covered with a slip resistant finish.
- Terra Cotta Tile: Has a very natural and earth-toned look, but it should be sealed to resist staining and extend wear.
- Glazed Tile: Can be single or double fired. Single firing creates a sturdier tile. Gloss finishes are attractive, but may scratch.
- Mosaic Tile: Tends to resist staining and are moisture resistant. Additionally, they won’t chip as easily as other types.
- Quarry Tile: Are typically installed outdoors where the temperatures are moderate to high and rarely reach freezing. They were created as a durable option to outdoor weather.
Ceramic Tile Costs
To determine the total cost of ceramic tile, you must look at the installation and materials costs. As our material estimator points out, most homeowners pay a maximum of $1,200 or a minimum of $425 for 500sf of ceramic tile. According to our friends over at HomeAdvisor, with the material costs included, the average cost of a ceramic tile project is $1,912.
To hear more about ceramic tile costs, let us connect you with a flooring contractor nearby.
Ceramic Tile Advantages
As I previously mentioned, ceramic tile will be cheaper than most tile options on the block. Ceramic is very durable and unless you are bowling in your house, it’s very hard to crack. Given its hard texture, ceramic tile is very easy to clean and compared to other tile types, you have an abundance of designs to choose from.
Ceramic Tile Disadvantages
No flooring comes without its downsides. Given its exterior, some homeowners don’t enjoy standing on such a hard flooring material. Ceramic tile can’t be softened either. Additionally, hard tile surfaces also bring the cold. Ceramic tile does not hold heat very well. While ceramic tile is great in the summer, it’s not as nice in the winter.
Finally, installing ceramic tile involves a variety of different kinds grouts and tools. Just like this Lowe’s commercial, installation, whether it be shower or floor tiles, can be tricky.
When it comes to the upper echelon of tile floors, many people choose stone. While ceramic tile is a durable option, there isn’t a safer or more reliable tile option than stone. With proper maintenance, it should last a lifetime.
Types of Stone Tile
Homeowners who select stone tile will have a few options to choose from:
- Granite Tile: Gives your flooring a unique character that can’t be matched. If your floors see very heavy traffic, granite is the way to go.
- Marble Tile: Gives a home that elegant or traditional appearance so many desire.
- Slate Tile: Of all the stones, slate does a great job of resisting fading and chemicals, which makes cleaning slate tile floors that much easier.
- Limestone Tile: Is formed by settled sedimentary rocks that pressurized at the bottom of the ocean. Limestone tile can look very similar to wood, a good alternative if you’re looking for a more modern touch.
Stone Tile Costs
As a whole, stone tile is more expensive than ceramic tile. However, if you can’t live without stone, limestone would be your best bet, as we point out in our limestone material cost estimator.
While it’s not a huge disparity, the average cost of a stone tile flooring project is $2,083, which is about 9% higher than ceramic tile.
Stone Tile Advantages
There is not a more durable tile floor than stone. Depending on your stone type, homeowners can also add a distinctive appearance with the speckled materials in granite or the wood-like features in limestone. Once stone tile is polished, it resists scratching like no other tile. As such, it’s a tremendously popular flooring option for kitchens.
Stone Tile Disadvantages
Unlike ceramic tile, stone tile is not always stain resistant, making maintenance costs higher and cleaning times longer. In order to prevent stains, homeowners will have to seal their stone tile floors so water doesn’t seep in.
Of course, the big one will be price, as stone tile is more expensive that ceramic.
The Others: Faux Wood, Glass or Metal
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One up and coming option in the tile flooring arena is faux wood tile. As my colleague Alyson Yu recently discussed in The Next Hot Trend In Tile: Faux Wood Tile, faux wood is indeed a ceramic or porcelain tile that emulates real wood. More often than not, homeowners will not be able to distinguish real wood from faux wood tiles.
Finally, while they are not widely known, glass or metal tile give homeowners an exclusive look and feel many of their neighbors will never see. They’re primarily used for decorative purposes (like walls) and as you probably assumed, come with a higher price tag than ceramic.
Even though wood is gaining momentum, tile remains the most popular flooring option on the market. If you’re looking to save a buck and want an easy to maintain floor, go with ceramic. If you’re willing to spend the money and want a more durable option, then stone is calling your name.
I hope I've helped you decide between the different types of floor tile materials, now its time to start your project, if you need help, there are expert flooring contractors ready to help.