Tiling Advice and Tips - What Different Types of Tiles Are There?

There are many different types of tiles for wall tiling, floor tiling, porch and conservatory tiling and even swimming pool tiling which you can find for your tiler to lay or fix to your surfaced to be tiled, but it helps to know the difference between types of tiles and also find out which ones are right for your particular jobs. Tiles can be broadly categorised as follows in terms of the materials that they are composed of:

Ceramic Tiles

One of the most popular types of tiles. Ceramic tiles are widely used in bathroom and kitchen wall tiling. Ceramic tiles can be glazed or unglazed, with glazed being the most popular in home improvement. Unglazed ceramic tiles tend to be used more in commercial tiling.

Quarry Tiles

Quarry tiles are made from fired earth or clay. These types of tiles have been around for many years and have been used widely in the UK alone for hundreds of years. They are extremely durable and are used often on commercial workplace floors, for example in commercial kitchens or food preparation areas. However, they are also very popular in home improvement and considered very traditional. Period kitchens look particularly fetching when quarry tiles are laid. They are also good for porch floors and verandah's and even some conservatory floor tiling. Bear in mind though that quarry tiles tend to be very thick so tiling jobs using these types of tiles can be more costly due to the increased labour times and blades used for cutting the tiles. Tilers with good business sense will have to incorporate this additional labour and disposable blades for tile cutting into their quote.

Terracotta Tiles

Terracotta literally means "cooked earth". Again, similar to quarry tiles these are fired. They are not as durable as quarry tiles and they are extremely absorbent. If you are using terracotta tiles you will most likely need to use a tile sealant to finish the tiling job to the correct standard and to avoid problems with loose and damp floor tiling.

Porcelain Tiles

Similar to ceramic tiles and very hardwearing and durable. They tend to be more expensive than the basic ceramic tiles on the market. Again, you can buy them glazed or unglazed. Their absorbency levels are lower than that of ceramic tiling. Very popular in home improvement jobs.

Mosaic Tiles

Very small tiles made from lots of different types of tiling. Using mosaic tiling to carry out wall or floor tiling in bathrooms or kitchens can take an age. You should bear this in mind if you are looking for quotes from tilers for these types of tiles as the labour costs are likely to be much higher than if the tiles are of a standard or even large size. There are however nowadays mosaic tiles which have been placed onto a form of meshing which saves a lot of time. You can buy these at most home improvement stores or online tile suppliers. Even so, because the mosaic tiles tend to move around on the mesh you should still expect to pay more for mosiac wall or floor tiling jobs than when using standard or large size tiles. Remember this - the larger the tile, the less time and labour costs should be involved.

Natural Stone Tiles

This is generally a term which describes a group of tiles rather than defining a particular type of tile. Any type of tile which comes from natural sources such as granite, marble, slate and limestone. These are all quarried and belong to the group of natural stone tiles. They tend to be very hardwearing. Some of them are quite porous so may need to have a tiling sealant applied to find the tiling job properly.

The following types of tiles could be said to belong to the 'natural stone tile' group:

Metamorphic Marble Tiles

These are tiles which have literally changed form one type of materials to another. For example, stone can metamorph into marble over the years due to a number of changing factors such as heat, light, pressure, weather and the presence of certain catalystic minerals within its close environment.

Dolomite Marble Tiles

Marble tiles with more than a 40% magnesium carbonite are known as dolomite marble tiles. Extremely hardwearing and durable but not a very high sheen finish, unlike other types of marble tiling.

Magnesian Marble Tiles

Marble tiles with more than 5% magnesium carbonite content but less than 40% carbonite content are know as magnesium marble tiles. These will provide a higher reflective polish or 'sheen' than dolomite marble tiles. Again, these are durable tiles and extremely hardwearing.

Calcite Marble Tiles

The highest 'polish' or 'sheen' category of marble tile. When marble has less than 5% magnesium carbonite it is known as 'calcite marble'. The sheen is very high and very reflective but this type of marble tile will require a little more care to maintain as it can be easily discoloured by alkalis and acids coming into content with it.

Limestone Tiles

Often mined from areas near the sea. Limestone contains 'lime' from the sea. It is very easily discoloured and colours range from white through to black, grey, brown and yellow - so, a very wide range of colours to choose from. May require some care to avoid staining.

Granite Tiles

Granite tiles come in roughcast or smooth finishes and are becoming increasingly popular in home improvement jobs. It is better to use a rough finish on bathroom floors as smooth finish granite can be very slippery and could cause tripping hazards. Granite is very hardwearing and tiles can be bought in different levels of thickness. However, bear in mind again that the costs of laying granite tiles can be more expensive due to the length of time taken to make the tiling cuts and the amount of disposable tiling blades used on tile cutting equipment with granite wall and floor tiling.

Slate Tiles

Very durable, very hardwearing tiles which require little aftercare. Slate tends to be much more waterproof than other tiles making them an ideal choice for external tiling and even roof tiling. Slate tiles are becoming increasingly popular in interior home improvement jobs, featuring in bathroom tiling, kitchen tiling, splashback tiling and other areas such as fireplace hearth tiling. A very versatile type of tile.

Travertine Tiles

Travertine comes largely from rocks which are near or within mineral springs. The colours can range from white in its purest form through to yellow and brown tints which can arise as a result of reactions with the mineral springs from where it was mined. It is a beautiful tile and is commonly used in architectural buildings. Some of the more famous buildings using travertine within their architecture are the Getty Centre in Los Angeles, the Basilica in Paris and the Coliseum in Rome. Still widely used today largely for its fabulously aesthetically pleasing appearance.

Glass and Mirror Tiles

These are becoming increasingly popular in home improvement and within commercial organisations such as reception areas of modern offices and hotels and restaurants. Glass tiles come in a huge range of colours and sizes. They are easy to clean and very durable and hardwearing. They are aesthetically pleasing and good for the commercial market as well as the modern home.

Handmade Tiles

Exactly as described. These are custom made tiles created under commission possibly by a homeowner or architect wanting a completely bespoke look and feel for their tiling job. This is an expensive option however if you want something unique you can find suppliers who provide beautiful handmade tiles.

Whichever tiles you choose always ensure that you use the services of a professional tiler and check reviews on past jobs first.

Tile Style Inquries

If you need any type or style of tile in Toronto, then please contact us by phone at 416-757-TILE (8453),
or by filling out the form on our contact us page.