Tile Guide: Choosing Materials

October 21, 2019

Learn more about the different tile materials and where you can use each tile.

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Tile Guide: Materials



So, you're starting a project and have no idea where to start...

There are endless materials to choose from and that decision shouldn't be purely aesthetic-based. Consider the durability, maintenance, and application before making any selections.



first things first. 

Hire an interior designer. It's easier than ever to find one with a style you adore, just browse around on Instagram. The reason to hire a designer is pretty simple: they are a trained professional and you are not.

Even if you know exactly what you're looking for, their knowledge is invaluable. Interior designers also receive trade prices and have access to sources that homeowners do not.

Ultimately, they save you time and money on material costs. It's their job to create a functional, beautiful space AND stay on budget.

with that out of the way,

let's talk tile materials.


Porcelain tile is the most durable and versatile option. There are endless options when it comes to shape, size, and style. It's also the easiest tile to care for.

Porcelain tile is ideal for heavy foot traffic areas of the home, like kitchens and bathrooms. Inevitably, you will drop a mug or two on your kitchen floor. Porcelain will not scratch or dent.

It's suitable for wet areas like the shower floor and walls. Porcelain also comes in a variety of designs, including convincing wood and natural stone imitations.


Stone requires a bit more maintenance than other materials. Often requiring a sealer, stone is porous and requires special care. You will need to avoid harsh cleaners and certain stones may not be suitable for wet applications.

Ultimately, the maintenance is worth it when this is the result. Natural stone effortlessly elevates any space.


Ceramic tile is gorgeous and adaptable material. The glaze options are limitless, you can even create a one-of-a-kind custom color.



Applications include showers, pools, and walls. Depending on the glaze, ceramic tile may not be suitable for floors.


Glass is a more versatile option than you might think. There are a variety of finishes that you simply can't achieve with other surfaces, like an iridescent or gold glass look. 


Glass tile is suitable for any wall application. Certain formats are suitable for the floor. Keep in mind that it's still glass. Some mosaics may be too sharp for your feet.

Glass is typically a smooth surface that is super slippery, especially when wet. Generally, pieces must be fairly small in order to be suitable for the floor.

The more grout, the better the grip your feet will have! You should always check the manufacturer's installation guidelines or ask your tile professional.


Concrete is an adaptable material ideal for many styles. Use it indoors or outside without issue. 



As their environment influences them, concrete tiles will develop a patina and change over time.

Different textures are available depending on the look you want to achieve. Create a rustic, traditional, or contemporary look based on the finish you select.

encaustic / cement

Encaustic tiles may be trending, but they certainly aren't the new tile on the block! They've existed for centuries. One thing to keep in mind with encaustics or cement tiles is they require an expert to install them.

Confirm your installer's experience in encaustic installation by asking for past client's referrals or pictures from past projects.

Be aware that the grout must be lighter in color than the lightest color on the tile, as the grout could stain the tile if not.

Encaustics will patina over time and easily scratch, adding plenty of character. Don't forget, there are still ancient encaustic floors in Europe, so durability isn't an issue.

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