Tiling: the complete guide

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Time to renew obsolete tiles? Are you building your new home? Or maybe you want remove the old carpet dusty to lay a more hygienic and contemporary floor?

In this comprehensive guide, we will clarify the characteristics of the different types of tiles to help you find the best ones for each home environment.

How to choose tiles

Choose the flooring for home requires some caution. Once installed it is likely to stay there permanently so, in addition to reflecting our aesthetic taste, it must be resistant, easy to clean, suitable for the room in which it is placed.

To be clear, if for the bedroom or the living room we can be more flexible on the choice of material to be used, in environments such as bathrooms and kitchens it will be important to choose an option in which the ease of disinfection comes first.

However, with so many styles and material options, it’s not easy to navigate, so we’re stepping in here to help shed some light with our comprehensive tile guide.

Here is the list of all tile types:

1. Ceramics

With ceramic, you really will be spoiled for choice when it comes to shape, color, size and texture.

These tiles are ideal for any environment. They are resistant, very easy to clean and if we want we can choose them with extremely particular grains such as those that reproduce the texture of leather, wood or stone.

There are different types of ceramics, such as glazed, perfect for environments exposed to smoke, grease or dirt (such as the kitchen, technical laboratories or bathrooms). Could be single or double cookingsmall or large format…


  • Glazed ceramic does not absorb water
  • Very resistant
  • Not expensive at all
  • Extensive catalog of models


  • Less water resistant than porcelain (but also much cheaper than porcelain)

2. Cooked

Terracotta tiles are certainly a choice of great charm that takes us back in time.

As they are only composed of water and clay, they have a porous surface which, even after treatment, does not have the same refractory capacities as an enamelled ceramic tile, for example.

Specifically, it captures dirt and is more difficult to clean, precisely because of the porosity. But, after all, one of the peculiarities of terracotta is its worn and imperfect appearance.

Terracotta tiles create a warm and cozy environment, particularly suitable for enhancing rural contexts, such as a renovated old farmhouse or a country house.


  • Very resistant
  • Average price, affordable
  • Wide choice of shapes, colors and sizes
  • Warm and welcoming


  • More difficult to clean

3. Vinyl

Widespread abroad, in recent years they have also appeared at home.

Vinyl tiles are an affordable, versatile and practical choice that will appeal to DIYers.

A useful clarification: I am not talking about the simplest tile stickers but just for tiles with adhesive back.

They are very easy to install, lightweight, virtually bulky adhesives to apply over existing floors or other smooth surfaces.

These tiles replicate the texture and appearance of other tiles, in higher quality models it is difficult to tell them apart at first glance. They are waterproof, easy to clean, mildew resistant.

There are models that reproduce floor tiles and others that reproduce tiles for wallsincluding those for application in the shower or as a backsplash in the kitchen – even faux mosaic.


  • Easy to apply
  • Wear, water and mildew resistant
  • Easy to clean
  • Economic
  • Extensive catalog of models


  • Less durable over time
  • Lots of poor quality models
  • Less beautiful than real tiling

4. Natural stone

There is a real return to natural stone, especially for the bathroom. There are many types of alternatives on the market, with unique colors and veins.

Natural stone is elegant and exclusive, and the price confirms it. Whether marble, granite or travertine, prices can be up to 10 times higher than for ceramic tiles.


Sophisticated, timeless in appearance, the marble it has a nice glossy finish and is easily found in many different sizes.


  • Elegant
  • Wearing
  • Variety of colors and types


  • Expensive
  • Delicate
  • It requires special care to be cleaned


Beautiful, durable and versatile, the granite it is a natural material available in many different styles and colors that looks best in rustic settings.

Excellent for kitchens and bathrooms as it is particularly resistant to humidity and dirt.


  • Wearing
  • Easy to clean
  • great charm
  • Wide choice of types


  • Sliding
  • Expensive
  • Its particular appearance may not reflect all tastes


the travertine it is another very robust and fascinating natural material that lends itself very well to being used as flooring.

Unlike marble and granite, it has soft, monochromatic shades that make the environment more relaxing – excellent for the bathroom.


  • Warm and relaxing appearance
  • Very resistant
  • Easier to cut than marble and granite


  • Its natural surface is porous so it must be well treated before being installed.
  • It needs special attention to be cleaned

5. Glass

The glass tiles are really beautiful. They are suitable for covering walls or for use as an insert between ceramic tiles, especially in the bathroom.

They are found in many colors, although the most popular are the mosaic ones.

The different shades will reflect natural light making the environment lighter and more lively. Self installed correctly glass tiles are tough, slip resistant and mildew proof. They are also very easy to clean.

The only downside, they tend to show dirt, especially fingerprints and dust, so they will need to be cleaned frequently.


  • Aesthetically beautiful, bright and light
  • Easy to clean
  • Sustainable
  • Water and mildew resistant


  • Dear
  • They scratch more easily

6. Slate

Slate is another natural material that has always been used abroad as a floor covering (and which I personally like very much) but which has only recently taken hold here in Italy.

This black stone is extremely durable (so much so that even cutting boards are made of it) and if properly cared for, retains its original splendor virtually indefinitely.

Its dark color with slight nuances and very fine veins, with its rough texture, it adapts to any environment and will bring out the complements. It is particularly indicated in the kitchen, in the bathroom and in the outdoor spaces of the house and can be declined both towards modern furnishing styles as well as rustic and traditional.


  • unique look
  • Very resistant
  • Sustainable
  • Not slippery


  • Dear
  • Cold
  • Not suitable for those looking for a uniform look (each tile is unique)

7. Porcelain stoneware

Porcelain stoneware is an elegant choice that offers many more advantages than ceramic: it is more resistant, durable, does not scratch, absorbs less water and is less dirty.

Made with a different process than ceramic, its performance is of a higher level.

Porcelain stoneware also offers many alternatives in terms of color and size, including those that replicate the look of other materials such as wood or stone.

Very popular, for example, are porcelain stoneware tiles that reproduce parquet.

And being an excellent conductor of heat, porcelain stoneware is perfect for those who have underfloor heating.


  • Extremely durable
  • Many styling options
  • Perfect for underfloor heating
  • Excellent water resistance


  • Depending on the type, they can be very expensive

8. Steel

the steel tiles they are used to give a strong decorative accent to the environment, not surprisingly, they are found in public places such as restaurants or bars, but they can also be used at home and being very resistant to humidity and in the heat, they lend themselves to being a kitchen backsplash or as a bathroom covering.

These tiles are often composed of a mosaic with complex textures, once installed the final effect will be surprising. They are also very durable, easy to clean, with a glossy finish that catches the eye.

They are found in steel, copper, gold, silver… in traditional formats or simply as inserts, like glass tiles.

Given their peculiarity, they are more likely to be used in combination with other types of tiles.


  • Individuals
  • Very resistant
  • They give light
  • Water, heat, fire and mold resistant


  • Very expensive
  • Ideal only as an insert or to cover a limited surface


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