All About Tile Flooring: Choosing the Best Type

The flooring experts share the best tile flooring options to suit each room's needs.
By: Douglas Trattner

Photo By: Mannington

Photo By: Mannington

Photo By: Courtesy of AlysEdwards

Photo By: Mannington

Photo By: Inalco

Photo By: Mannington

Photo By: Tile Bend Oregon

Stain-Resistant Porcelain

"Porcelain is always a more popular choice than natural stone for the kitchen because it's impervious to spills," says James Brooks, owner of Floor Coverings International. When it comes to color and style, James considers the cabinets and countertops. "Look for a neutral tile without high shade variation to tie everything in the room together." And to be safe, pick a grout color a shade or two darker than you think you want — it will hide inevitable stains better. Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of Mannington

Durable Slate-Look Porcelain

"A laundry room or mudroom is going to get knocked around, so you want something strong," says Joseph Jovinelli, VP at FLOORMAX. But homeowners also want to keep things casual or rustic in there, too. The solution is slate-look porcelain, which, he says "looks almost indistinguishable" from natural stone, but is impervious to moisture. Given the vibration of the washing machine and dryer, Joseph says that extra care and attention need to be given to preparation and installation. Photo courtesy of Mannington

Small Mosaic Tiles

A small room means using small tile, says Joseph, who points to mosaics as the hot trend in bathrooms right now. Tiles of one inch and smaller are much easier to install in a small room compared to a large one, even coming as they do on 12" x 12" sheets. In addition to their spectacular appearance, mosaics are a practical choice in moisture-prone baths because smaller tiles mean more grout lines and traction. Photo courtesy of AlysEdwards

Vinyl Tile

The additional weight of tile flooring can become a structural issue in some areas of the home, explains Joseph, but that is definitely not the case in the basement, which has the most stable subsurface of the entire structure. That gives a homeowner the freedom to choose large, heavy tiles that may not work elsewhere.

For basements that double as rec rooms, he suggests wood-look porcelain tile. "It gives you that relaxed bar look," he says, but with the durability and moisture resistance of ceramic. Wait up to a year before installing basement tile to give the house a chance to fully settle. Photo courtesy of Photo courtesy of Mannington

Oversized Travertine Tile

While not common in bedrooms on a top floor due to load, noise and instability of subfloor, tile is a popular choice for ranch-style homes in the hot Southwest, says James. "Throughout the Southwest, you see really beautiful travertine or natural stone flooring throughout the house, including the bedrooms," he says. "Natural stone has a cooler feel under foot." And in climates that experience some seasonal chill, stone works great with radiant heating because it maintains and distributes the heat better than wood. Photo courtesy of Inalco

Stone-Like Porcelain

What can be a better pairing than a wine cellar and Italian cobblestone? A cobblestone that won't permanently be stained by every drop of wine. James suggests passing on the natural stone in favor of stone-look porcelain. You get all the charm of an Old World grotto with all the chip and moisture protection of hard-wearing ceramic. If the house is a new construction, he says it's crucial to allow the slab to fully cure before laying the tile. Photo courtesy of Mannington

Natural Stone Tiles

"Because natural stone comes from nature it can withstand the elements," says Joseph. That makes it a great choice for outdoor flooring like walkways, outdoor kitchens or around the pool. While almost any natural stone can withstand the elements, slate often is preferred over choices like travertine or marble because of its texture, which is less slippery. Though stone can survive drastic temperature swings, grout cannot. Those who live in chilly climates will have to swap out the typical mortar for cement or dry gravel. Design by Jamie Durie

Slip-Resistant Slate

Entryways are more prone to temperature extremes than almost any other room. They also take the most abuse and you can see why durable tile edges out wood, vinyl and carpet when it comes to practicality. James suggests natural products like slate. "Slate has natural color variations that will hide wet or muddy prints, especially when combined with darker grout lines." It also boasts a textured surface that reduces the risk of slips and falls. Photo courtesy of Tile Bend Oregon

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