Ceramic and Porcelain Tile Flooring Options

Clay-base ceramic tiles are an ideal choice for kitchens, baths, basements, porches, laundry rooms, and other moisture-prone areas. Floor tiles are extremely durable; water-, stain-, and wear-resistant; and easy to care for. An array of colors, patterns, shapes, and sizes is available. Tiles larger than 12 inches square are currently the most popular choice.
Tile ratings

All tile feels hard, but some types of tile are actually harder than others. The body of a tile, sometimes called the bisque or biscuit, is produced to meet a specific need or use. Although thickness is one gauge of strength, composition of the tile and the temperature and duration of firing also determine its strength. To help you determine whether the tile you are considering is appropriate for a particular location, check the tile's rating, as determined by the Porcelain Enamel Institute. Hardness ratings are as follows:

  • Group I, Light traffic. These tiles may be used on residential bathroom floors such as a guest bath where bare or stocking feet are the norm.
  • Group II, Medium traffic. These tiles are designed for use in interiors where little abrasion occurs. They are not recommended for kitchens, entries, or stairwells.
  • Group III, Medium-heavy traffic. These tiles can be used anywhere inside a home, including kitchens and baths.
  • Group IV, Heavy traffic. These tiles are very hard and can be used in homes or in light to medium commercial areas.
  • Group V, Extra heavy traffic. These tiles can be used anywhere.


To prevent chipping and cracking, tile must be installed over a firmly supported subflooring. Broken tiles cannot be repaired, but they can be replaced. Tile grout, if left unsealed, can be difficult to clean.

Warm solutions

Tile can feel cold underfoot, but it can be warmed with radiant or hydronic heating coils.

Traction and shine

Whatever tile you choose, glossy finishes have a tendency to show finger- and footprints and can be slippery when wet. For better traction choose a honed finish.

Pro Tip:Choosing the right flooring materials

Whatever flooring material you choose, it should be serviceable for your lifestyle. Take the following into account before you decide:

  • Cleanability. For easy-care flooring choose vinyl, laminate, or ceramic tile -- smooth surfaces that clean up with a sweep and a rag. Other materials will require a bit more upkeep to maintain their good looks.
  • Durability. With the ability to endure an onslaught of abuse from children, pets, and heavy traffic, ceramic and stone tile, laminate, and concrete rank at the top. Although marks will show on hardwood, the surface can be refinished.
  • Longevity. Standing the test of time are stone and ceramic tiles, hardwood, cork, and concrete. Most other flooring materials will eventually need replacing.
  • Moisture resistance. For rooms prone to highly humid conditions, such as kitchens and baths, use materials that are more water-resistant, such as tile, vinyl, and certain types of laminate (check manufacturers' warranties).
  • Allergens. If you're particularly sensitive and concerned about your home's indoor air quality, choose a hard flooring material, such as ceramic tile or hardwood, that contains few crevices or grooves to harbor dust mites and allergens.


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