What is it? Porcelain tile is a type of ceramic tile that is fired at a higher temperature than standard ceramic, making it denser and less porous.
Best for: Use stain- and impact-resistant porcelain tiles on floors, walls, backsplashes. It’s easy to clean and comes in a wide variety of styles.
But: It requires a special setting material designed to adhere non-porous materials—DIYers often buy the wrong one. Check with the manufacturer to be sure you’re using the recommended adhesive.
What is it? A mix of clay, minerals, and water, ceramic tiles are fired at high temperatures. Glazed styles are then treated with a liquid glass coating and fired again, creating a hard, stain- and scratch-resistant surface. Unglazed tiles are sometimes referred to as “quarry” tiles.
Best for: Ceramic tile is typically affordable, durable, easy to install and comes in a nearly endless array of colors and designs.
But: Colors can vary from lot to lot and ceramic is not ideal for high impact areas. Handmade or “art” tiles can be extremely pricey.
What is it? Thin pieces of glass sold individually or as a mosaic, sometimes with other types of tile, on a mesh backing.
Best for: Colorful, reflective, easy-to-clean glass tile is best for walls and backsplashes. Some glass tile is rated for use on floors. The wide range of colors gives glass tile great “wow” factor.
But: It can be expensive and difficult to install. Because the tiles are transparent, the adhesive is visible through the tile. Unless you’re highly skilled, getting professional-looking results is difficult for a DIYer.
What is it? Hand or machine pressed one at a time, using mineral pigments, cement, a mold, and an hydraulic press. The pigment composition is a mixture of high quality white Portland cement, marble powder, fine sand, and natural mineral colour pigments. They are expected to have slight imperfections, which give them character and depth.
Best for: Best for accent walls or floors as they typically have a design split between 4 tiles to create an overall pattern.
But: They can be very porous so not recommended for wet areas and may require special sealing products. Because they are cement based they are prone to damage from acids and etching, etc. The patterns may also be "trendy" and may not be as timeless as other tile options on the market.
What is it? Pieces of natural stone—granite, slate, travertine, marble, onyx, sandstone, to name a few—cut into thin, regular pieces, stone tile has a rich, one-of-a-kind look.
Best for: Use stone on walls, backsplashes, or floors. Get the look of a granite countertop for less by using granite tiles instead of a slab.
But: Most stone tile can be damaged by exposure to water, pigment, or acid, so be prepared for extra maintenance. Seal on installation and reseal every 10 years.