From vitrified to pebble – we’ve got you covered! Discover their strengths, weaknesses, and choose the perfect type of tiles for your dream space.
In today’s architectural landscape, tiles play a pivotal role in defining the aesthetics and functionality of spaces. From the grand halls of ancient palaces to the cozy corners of contemporary homes, tiles have journeyed through time, adapting and evolving. Their popularity is attributed to their diverse range, which caters to varying tastes, budgets, and applications.
Whether it’s the opulent sheen of marble tiles that give a luxurious look or the rustic charm of terracotta tiles that provide an earthy feel, the choices are vast. Additionally, with advancements in technology, newer types like vitrified and ceramic tiles have surged in demand, becoming staples in modern homes for their durability and design flexibility.
As urban living spaces constantly reshape themselves, understanding the types of tiles available becomes crucial for any buyer. This not only empowers buyers to make informed choices based on application areas but also enables them to align with the latest design trends. Dive into this article to explore the world of tiles, unlocking the potential to transform spaces with elegance and panache.
1. Vitrified Tiles
Originating from the Italian word ‘vitrify,’ which means ‘to turn into glass’, vitrified tiles are known for their glass-like texture and shine. Created by a process that combines clay with feldspar, quartz, and silica, these tiles are fired at high temperatures, resulting in a smooth, impermeable surface. They come in multiple varieties, including full body, double charge, glazed, and soluble salt.
Vitrified tiles are very popular and are the most popular segment in India. They are known for their durability and low maintenance. They are resistant to stains, scratches, and moisture. Popular vitrified tile brands are Kajaria, Somany, Nitco.
2. Ceramic Tiles
Ceramic is one of the oldest known tile types, and have been used worldwide, from Mesopotamia to the Indus Valley. Made from clay that’s shaped and fired in a kiln, they can be either glazed or unglazed. With their versatility, they’re ideal for walls, floors, and countertops.
Ceramic tiles are available in diverse designs and are very durable. Popular brands in ceramic tiles are Johnson Tiles, Asian Granito, Orient Bell.
3. Marble Tiles
Marble tiles have been symbols of opulence since ancient civilizations. Made by metamorphosis of limestone, these tiles exude luxury. Their veins and swirls give each tile a unique pattern. Popularly used in living rooms, bathrooms, and as countertops, they come in various hues from pristine white to deep black.
Mable is elegant and adds real estate value. Some popular brands in marble tiles are Bhandari Marble Group, A-Class Marble.
4. Terracotta Tiles
Evoking a rustic charm, terracotta tiles have roots in ancient cultures from the Indus Valley to Rome. Made from red or brownish clay, they’re shaped and then baked in a kiln. Mostly used for outdoor areas, patios, and roofs, they offer an earthy warmth.
In India, the word ‘terracotta’ often brings to mind traditional ‘matkas’ or water pots. Terracotta tile have natural look and are eco-friendly. Some popular brands in terracotta tiles are Bengal Tiles, Wienerberger.
5. Granite Tiles
Granite tiles have historically been the hallmark of luxury, emanating from ancient architectural marvels to modern-day homes. These tiles are crafted by slicing large granite blocks. Renowned for their robustness, they’re a popular choice for kitchen countertops, exteriors, and areas with significant footfall.
Their unique grain patterns coupled with their durability make them a sought-after choice. While they are heavy and can be on the pricier side, their longevity and resistance to scratches make them worth the investment. Companies like Aadhunik Granite and Shree Ganpathi Granites & Marbles are some of the leading manufacturers specializing in granite tiles.
6. Quartz Tiles
Quartz tiles, a marvel of modern-day engineering, blend quartz, resin, and sand. Their origin lies in the quest for a non-porous and stain-resistant alternative to natural stone. Commonly used for kitchen countertops, bathrooms, and wall tiles, they bring a sleek finish to any space they adorn.
Although they come with a premium price tag and aren’t as heat-resistant as other stones, their resistance to chemicals makes them a valuable addition. Brands like Technistone and Johnson Marble & Quartz have made a name in the quartz tile industry.
7. Kota Stone Tiles
Hailing from the historic city of Kota in Rajasthan, Kota stone tiles are a type of fine-grained limestone. Historically, they’ve been a go-to for exteriors, corridors, and areas with heavy traffic due to their durability and non-slippery nature.
While their natural rough texture may require polishing, their affordability and endurance make them a staple in many Indian households. Firms like Kota Stone Company and Agrawal Marbles specialize in these indigenous tiles.
8. Vinyl Tiles
A product of the 20th century, vinyl tiles gained popularity due to their cost-effectiveness and versatility. Constructed primarily from PVC vinyl, they’ve been a choice for bedrooms, offices, and areas with moderate foot traffic.
The assortment of designs and the ease of installation have fueled their widespread use. However, they might not boast the same durability as stone or ceramics. Manufacturers such as Wonderfloor and Armstrong have been pioneering advancements in the vinyl tile space.
9. Wooden Floor Tiles
Wooden tiles, with their roots deeply embedded in history, bring warmth and a touch of nature to spaces. Whether crafted from thin wood slices or engineered from a mix of wood fibers, they’ve found their way into living rooms and bedrooms around the world. Their natural appearance, warmth underfoot, and potential for refinishing make them a favorite. But, care needs to be taken to protect them from water damage and scratches. Companies like Greenply and Pergo are at the forefront, continually innovating in wooden floor tile segment.
10. Porcelain Tiles
Derived from a refined clay, porcelain tiles are fired at very high temperatures, making them denser and less porous than ceramic tiles. Their origin traces back to ancient China, from where they spread to other parts of the world. These tiles are known for their strength, resistance to moisture, and versatility in both indoor and outdoor applications.
Because of their low water absorption rate, they are ideal for places with high humidity or where freezing can occur. While slightly pricier than ceramic tiles, their durability makes them a worthy investment. Companies like RAK Ceramics and Kajaria are leading manufacturers of porcelain tiles.
11. Slate Tiles
Slate tiles, with their roots in the early architectural designs of Europe and Asia, offer a natural and rustic look. Formed from fine-grained foliated rock, these tiles are known for their durability and slip resistance, making them suitable for outdoor areas, bathrooms, and kitchens.
They come in a variety of colors and can be split into thin sheets, making them versatile in design. However, they may require sealing to prevent water absorption. Asian Granito and Johnson Tiles are known for their slate tile collections.
12. Pebble Tiles
Pebble tiles offer a unique, organic look, derived from naturally rounded pebbles from riverbeds or beaches. Often used for shower floors, bathroom floors, or decorative accents, they provide a massage-like feel underfoot. These tiles bring a bit of nature indoors and are often associated with spa-like environments. Their uneven surface might pose a cleaning challenge, but their aesthetic appeal is undeniable. Island Stone is a brand known for its pebble tiles.
13. Cement Tiles
With their origins in 19th-century Europe, cement tiles, also known as encaustic tiles, are made by hand using a blend of cement, sand, and mineral pigments. Revered for their vibrant patterns and colors, they have been used in palaces and homes alike. They’re not fired like ceramic tiles, but they’re dried, which gives them a unique matte finish. While they can be heavy and might require sealing to prevent stains, their bespoke designs make them stand out. Bharat Floorings & Tiles is a renowned company specializing in cement tiles.
14. Glass Tiles
A modern invention, glass tiles have found their place in contemporary homes, primarily used for backsplashes or as decorative wall tiles. Their translucent nature and ability to reflect light give an illusion of space, making them suitable for smaller rooms. They’re non-porous and resist mold or stains but can be prone to scratching. Brands like Saint-Gobain and Asahi India Glass have a strong presence in glass tiles.
When choosing a tile type, always consider the specific requirements of the area, the climate, and the expected foot traffic, along with personal aesthetic preferences.
15. Limestone Tiles
Limestone, a sedimentary rock, offers an elegant, earth-toned aesthetic, making it a popular choice for both interiors and exteriors. Historically seen in ancient structures, its fine granular composition and versatility have made it a favorite. Suitable for bathrooms, kitchens, and living rooms, they can be a bit porous and may require sealing to prevent stains. Brands like Topcu and Daltile offer a range of limestone tiles.
16. Sandstone Tiles
Known for its characteristic grainy texture and earthy tones, sandstone has been used in architecture for centuries. Its porous nature makes it essential to seal these tiles, especially when used outdoors. Perfect for patios, decks, and around pools, they offer a rustic, timeless appeal. Marshalls and Stonemart are well-known suppliers of sandstone tiles.
17. Onyx Tiles
A form of quartz, onyx tiles are synonymous with luxury. Translucent and offering a rich palette of colors, they’re often used in opulent settings, often backlit to enhance their beauty. They can be fragile and might require regular maintenance to keep their sheen. Companies like M S International, Inc. and Onyx Tile & Stone provide exquisite onyx tiles.
18. Travertine Tiles
Travertine is a form of limestone that forms around mineral spring deposits. With a naturally pitted surface, it offers a distinct, aged appearance. Commonly seen in ancient structures, including the Colosseum in Rome, it’s used in modern homes for floors, bathrooms, and backsplashes. While its porous nature requires sealing, its timeless beauty is undeniable. Brands like Emser Tile and The Tile Shop specialize in travertine tiles.
19. Saltillo Tiles
Originating from Saltillo, Coahuila in Mexico, these types of tiles are known for their rich, terracotta color. Handmade and sun-dried, they bring a warm, rustic charm to any space. Often used in Southwestern and Spanish colonial style homes, they require sealing to protect against moisture and staining. Rustico Tile & Stone and Tierra y Fuego offer a wide range of Saltillo tiles.
20. Geometric & Encaustic Cement Tiles
These are not to be confused with regular cement tiles. They are made using multiple colors of cement to create intricate patterns. Their revival from Victorian-era popularity to modern homes speaks to their timeless design. Suitable for floors and walls, they can be a centerpiece in any design scheme. Cle Tile and Villa Lagoon Tile are notable brands for these tiles.
Strengths, Weaknesses, Cost Comparison and Usage for Types of Tiles
|Types of Tiles||Strengths||Weaknesses||Cost||Usage|
|Vitrified||High durability, low maintenance, stain-resistant||Can be slippery, costlier than ceramics||Medium||Indoor & Outdoor flooring|
|Ceramic||Versatile, wide range of designs||Can chip easily, porous if unglazed||Low||Walls, Floors, Bathrooms, Kitchen|
|Marble||Luxurious look, unique patterns||Expensive, can stain easily, regular maintenance required||High||Living rooms, Bathrooms|
|Terracotta||Earthy aesthetic, eco-friendly, natural insulation||Can crack over time, porous (needs sealing)||Low||Patios, Roofs, Outdoor areas|
|Granite||Durable, heat resistant, unique look||Porous, requires sealing, heavy||High||Countertops, Floors|
|Limestone||Natural look, versatile||Can scratch and stain easily, porous||Medium||Walls, Floors|
|Quartzite||Durable, unique shimmer, non-porous||Limited color range, can be expensive||High||Walls, Floors, Countertops|
|Cement/Concrete||Customizable, durable||Can crack, porous (requires sealing)||Medium||Floors, Walls, Outdoor|
|Sandstone||Natural aesthetic, non-slip surface||Can weather over time, porous||Medium||Floors, Walls, Outdoor areas|
|Travertine||Elegant, versatile, natural look||Can scratch easily, porous||High||Floors, Bathrooms|
|Glass||Modern look, resistant to stains, easy maintenance||Can break easily, expensive||High||Walls, Backsplashes|
|Slate||Durable, unique look, non-slip||Can split along layers, requires sealing||Medium||Floors, Roofs, Outdoors|
|Onyx||Exotic and translucent look||Soft, can scratch or chip easily, expensive||High||Walls, Backlit installations|
|Pebble||Natural, massage-like feel on feet||Uneven surface, maintenance of grout||Medium||Shower floors, Outdoor paths|
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Shilpa Ahuja is a designer and editor of Decorisk Magazine. She has worked in hotel interiors at The Park Hotels, India, and has completed several home interior design projects as a freelancer.
She completed her Masters in Design Studies (MDesS) degree from Harvard University Graduate School of Design. She also has a Bachelor degree in Architecture (B.Arch) from Chandigarh College of Architecture. Her work has been published in Indian Design & Interior magazine and exhibited at Harvard University and at Aroma Hotel, Chandigarh.
Shilpa is also the Editor-in-Chief of Shilpa Ahuja Digital Media, which includes ShilpaAhuja.com, one of India’s most-read digital fashion magazines. Originally from Chandigarh, she is currently based in Chennai, and can be reached at [email protected].