An easy guide to choosing tiles

The evolution of design has increased the versatility of tiles. Though mainly used for kitchen and bathrooms, tiles are perfect for every room in a home.


Tiles offer quite a few benefits when compared to other flooring options. One particular advantage is the ease of cleaning that tiles provide, plus tiles are extremely durable and have a longer life span than other flooring options. They can also be used in interior and exterior areas on walls in the bathroom, kitchen, or any other area that may need a facelift. Before embarking on a tiling project you should know the various tile types and what areas they are better suited to.

Natural stone tiles

Natural stone tiles include varieties such as slate, sandstone, granite and natural marble (travertine) and are all different in appearance but are a once in a lifetime purchase as their colour doesn’t fade. An important consideration is that these tiles need to be sealed to prevent staining on the tiles.

Stone tiles have striking variations of both pattern and colour and may be a little more complex to install than ceramic and porcelain options due to their weight and variation in thickness for certain types. Natural tiles work well outdoors due to their durability and resistance to rain and sun, provided they’re sealed to prevent staining.


Mosaics are smaller tiles which come in a variety of materials including glass, metal and even natural stone. They create decor magic and are a great way of bringing colour and texture to any wall in your home. Glass mosaics have the added benefit of being readily available, they’re also easy to clean and give instant colour and vitality to walls. Mosaic tiles also have the ability of withstanding hot and cold temperatures, which makes them ideal for areas where extreme temperatures may be present such as the bathroom and kitchen.  

Ceramic tiles

These tiles are available in a wide variety of colours, patterns and sizes. Additionally, they complement almost any decorating style. Ceramic tiles also have a long service life and are both scratch and fade resistant. Ceramic tiles can also be used for both floor and wall tiles, but what’s important to note is that the two may not always be used interchangeably, as floor tiles are designed to have a higher abrasion resistance.


While porcelain tiles are manufactured from ceramic material, these tiles are fired at higher temperatures than ceramic. Porcelain is available glazed or unglazed –the latter may also be referred to as full bodied tiles. These tiles are resistant to moisture, deep abrasion and frost and can be used in outside areas, if they are not polished, as moisture will make them slippery. Porcelain tiles are suited to areas that have high traffic, such as the kitchen and bathroom.

You should also consider that porcelain and ceramic tiles now replicate the beautiful patterns of natural stone and are easier to install than natural stone tiles.

Another added benefit of tiles is that their abrasion resistance is tested. This is done by the Porcelain Enamel Institute (PEI) which has five ratings. This rating is international and measures the degree to which a tile’s surface will withstand wear. Generally all tiles are suited for domestic application – provided the PEI is correct. For use in domestic environments look at tiles with a PEI rating of one, two and three. PEI 1 can also be extended to bathrooms and bedrooms and is suited to areas where soft, elastic, non-abrasive footwear is worn. This rating is not suited to adjacent outdoor areas because grit can be brought in. Tiles used outdoors need to be abrasion resistant and require a PEI rating of three or higher.

The PEI 2 rating is also suited for domestic areas where a small amount of abrasive material can be brought in from outside such as the kitchen. PEI 3 can be used in both interior and exterior areas ranging from the entrance hall and kitchen to the patio. The PEI 3 rating may also be extended to areas that experience light commercial traffic.

 If in any doubt as to the rating of a particular tile, ask for assistance.

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